Cotic may be better known as a mountain bike company, but they already have a cult classic road bike to their name in the shape of the Roadrat, a do it all bike years ahead of its time, now they've followed that up with the launch of the eagerly anticipated Escapade.
The Escapade marks the return of a drop bar road machine to the Cotic line-up - the later versions of the Roadrat, and the current Roadrat3 being available as flat bar bikes only. The Roadrat particularly, in its drop bar version, was designed to be the one bike you needed to do pretty much everything - capable of running various different braking system, gear systems and tyre sizes.
We’re big fans of road bikes that offer a large degree of versatility here at road.cc. The Escapade fits this bill. It's an evolution of the Roadrat, and is a disc-specific steel frame and fork with big tyre clearance and rack and mudguard mounts. Cotic describe it as “a road bike with few limitations.” They've coined the term 'life bike' to describe both the Escapade and the Roadrat3 we'll settle for the more prosaic do-it-all bike cos there's no poetry in our souls.
One of the things that greatly adds to the Escapade's versatility is that it's available as either a complete bike (more details on the spec below) for £949, or as a frameset for £329, or as a frame only for £249 giving you the option to built it up exactly as you want. It would certainly be fairly easy to drop some weight off it - although this is not a bike that's all about being light - but an illustration our test bike weighs 10.7Kg - road.cc editor, Tony's old skool drop bar Roadrat - bought as a frame only weighs 10kg dead with full metal guards on it.
If you only have space for one bike in your life/garage and want something that can be turned easily to a variety of riding, or one that will complement a regular road bike in your fleet, the Escapade could very well fit the bill. A daily commuter? Check. A lightweight touring bike? Check. A fast and exciting road bike for Sunday jaunts? Check. That's certainly our experience of the old drop bar Roadrat - Tony rides his pretty much every day and it's taken daily commutes, long day rides, contiental cols, load lugging and light off-roading in its stride.
The Escpade a good looking bike too, built from custom butted chromoly steel with an Ovalform top tube and the 35mm down tube taken from the >X< cyclo-cross bike. That should guarantee plenty of stiffness - something older versions of the Roadrat weren't necessarily blessed with. The frame is decorated with mounts for racks, mudguards, twin bottles and disc brakes, with the rear caliper located inside the rear triangle, so there’s no issue with fitting mudguards and racks.
That was the theory on the old drop bar Roadrat too - in practise Tone treated to us to a masterclass in swearing when he fitted full length Gilles Berthoud - and he wasn't swearing at the guards. That said, he's cast his eye over the Escapade and reckons some of the braze-ons have been moved slightly so such problems should not occur on the new bike. We're toying with asking to test that assertion but that will entail him taking the guards off the Roadrat and there's only so many rude words you need to learn. We'll flip a coin.
The latest versions of the Roadrat have been stiffened up considerably at the back and the same should apply here too. Cotic have taken the Dogsbody2 dropouts from the Roadrat3. These are horizontal dropouts so you have the option to run the bike as a singlespeed, with a gear hub or use the non-replaceable mech hanger to add some gears. The rear disc brake is mounted using the International Standard - so that's inboard which you tend to see on carbon disc braked bikes, rather than post mounted which has been more common on metal framed disc equipped bike up until now. Mounting inboard has the particualr advantage on frame designed for maximum versatility in that it allows fore and aft adjustment if you’re running the frame with a gear hub or singlespeed.
Tyre clearance is rated for up to 46mm cyclo-cross tyres, so a 28mm slick tyre with mudguards should prove no problem. Cotic also suggest you could fit a 29in mountain bike wheelset with a narrow mountain bike tyre such as a 1.8in, which could be handy if you wanted to include more off-road trails in your rides. It certainly opens up lots more tyre options.
Sliding into the head tube is Cotic’s all-new steel fork with their own bolt-through axle dropouts. By and large most mountain bikes have shifted over to bolt-thru axles, where a large diameter hollow axle passes through the enclosed dropouts with a thread at one end and quick release lever at the other. In principle it’s a similar setup to a regular quick release, but the larger diameter offers increased rigidity and extra security - there’s no risk of the front wheel being pulled out by the braking forces.
However, the RB3 fork uses a regular 9mm quick release axle with the main difference being you have to completely remove the axle to install the fork, and then thread the bolt back on the opposite end to the lever, in the regular fashion. It’s a simple and neat design solution. This is not the sort of bike where the speedy wheel changes is an issue. The caliper mount is now on the rear of the fork too, rather than on the front as with the Roadrat fork.
The Escapade is available in three sizes, small, medium and large which relate to 48cm, 51cm and 54cm seat-tubes and 54cm, 56cm and 58cm top-tubes. We’ve got a small size in for testing. Angles are 73° seat and 72° head angle across all sizes. The slightly steeper head angle, although not race bike sharp, should still make things responsive enough with the 45mm offset fork. Compared to the Roadrat3 (and Tony's original drop bar version) it has longer chainstays, taller head tube and lower bottom bracket.
This is the Gloss Black Grape colour option, a Matte Duckegg finish is also available. As mentioned above the frame costs £249, with the fork it’s £329 - we're testing the £949 Shimano Sora equipped complete build option.
That £949 buys you a complete Sora 9-speed groupset features a 50/34 compact chainset with a large ratio 11-32 cassette, so scaling steep climbs should be no bother, and that low gear will be useful if you plan to head off the beaten path. The brakes are Shimano’s BR-R517 mechanical discs with Cotic Components 6-bolt disc hubs laced to Alex R540 rims. Cotic’s own brand parts are also used for the 44cm handlebar, 10cm stem, 330mm layback post and chromoly railed saddle. Tyres fitted are Maxxis Overdrive Excel 28mm cut slicks. As mentioned earlier on the scales it weighs 10.7kg (23.58lb).
The Escapade is already out on the road with Stu getting the miles in so we'll report back soon.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.