By Adam Newman
Make no mistake about it, I’ve logged more miles and more hours on this bike in my review period than any other bike I’ve ridden for this magazine—maybe more than any bike I’ve ever ridden in the same amount of time. I’ve ridden it to work, ridden it on back roads both paved and unpaved, ridden it from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. in three days, ridden it from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in two days (ouch) and over hill and dale—and it has never batted an eye.
If that’s not praise, I don’t know what is.
Titanium bikes have had a hard time keeping up with the whiz-bang market share of carbon fiber and the swoopy tube shapes that dominate the modern bike scene. Once saddled with the dreaded “dentist’s bike” reputation, the material is making a comeback of sorts, with major brands once again offering high-performance titanium frames.
Lynskey, on the other hand, has never built anything but Ti bikes since the Lynskey family—founders and former owners of Litespeed— founded its eponymous brand in 2006. Though the Tennessee-based company can produce a wide range of styles, from conservative to custom, the Cooper line features stock geometry with more traditional tube shapes—all round in the case of the Cooper CX. The frame is designed around disc brakes with a 135mm rear spacing, so a set of quick-release mountain bike hubs will slide right in.
The frame I rode was finished in a standard brushed titanium look, and different brushed, blasted, polished, and painted versions are available for an extra charge, as are S&S couplers for traveling or custom braze-ons.
Though the bike shipped with 32mm-wide cyclocross tires, my initial use was as a winter road bike with slick road tires. The Ti frame meant I never had to worry about rusting, and the finish just shrugged off road grime and winter nastiness. You certainly wouldn’t confuse it with a full-blown road race bike, but it is more than stiff and responsive enough to serve as a regular road bike in the cyclocross off-season. A full set of rack and fender eyelets make it year-round versatile.
Being my first extended time on a titanium frame, I was surprised by the balance of the frame’s stiffness—comparable to aluminum— with the smoothness of a high-end steel frame. Out-of-the-saddle climbing was solid and stable, and even with the slightly higher bottom bracket, the bike never felt too tall or tippy. It may sound like hyperbole, but I’m really impressed with the ride. I knew it would hold up to the worst of my (ab)use. I loaded it up with 10-20lbs. of bikepacking gear and didn’t feel any extra frame flex like I have with loaded steel bikes.
Disc brakes are finally hitting the mainstream for road and city bikes, and I’ve been converted 100 percent. Having used the Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes with SRAM, Campagnolo, and Shimano levers in the past year, I think the first two give a superior lever feel than the latter, but they are all light years ahead of even the nicest rim brakes.
In all, the Cooper comes very, very close to checking all the boxes on my One-Bike-To-Rule-Them-All dream bike list. The only thing I would need to add is a 44mm head tube to run tapered steerer forks, as I predict high-quality, carbon forks for disc brakes with straight steerer tubes probably won’t be around for long. Then again, Lynskey’s more expensive model, the ProCross, includes this feature. If the knobby tires on the Cooper CX aren’t your style, the same frame is available with as the Cooper CMT with a more road and commuter oriented build kit with a rack and fenders.
If you’re looking for a solid bike that’s going to give you years—maybe decades—of reliable use, the Cooper CX is a bargain.
- Country of origin: U.S.A.
- Price: $1,895 frame, $5,139 as built
- Weight: 20.75lbs.
- Sizes available: XS, S, M, L (TESTED), XL