Cotic's new Escapade continues the 'do-it-all' style of bikes we've been seeing more and more of since the tail end of last year. If you're looking for a nippy commuter, light tourer or something in between the Cotic is a smart investment.
The frame is chromoly steel which isn't the most advanced of materials used in bike building but it always offers a good solid ride. Cotic have used butted tubing (thinner in the middle than at the ends) it to save weight and add a bit of comfort.
Geometry wise it's long and low. Ultra Compact they call it and like Giant did with their OCR/TCR years ago Cotic offer the Escapade in just three sizes with stem length variations taking care of the exact fit. The small we've got on test here has a 54cm (effective) top tube with just a 48cm seat tube. Reach and stack are 364.5mm and 574.9mm respectively, head is 72° while the seat angle is a degree steeper.
The frame is one of the most versatile out there thanks mostly to the Dogsbody 2 dropouts. They are horizontal allowing you to run the Escapade as fixed, singlespeed or set up with a hub gear, ideal for low maintainance commuting or touring. There is a gear hanger to should you want to run deraillieur gears. It isn't replaceable but steel gear hangers can usually be bent back if disaster strikes.
Tyre clearances are massive. There's room for up to 46mm cyclo-cross tyres on the standard rims here, or you can also go 29er with a narrow 1.8-inch off road tyre should you fancy about of dirt track. Even with these huge allowances the geometry means that the Escapade doesn't look 'gappy', one of my pet hates on bikes that are designed for guards that aren't wearing them.
Continuing with the 'do it all' theme there are braze on bosses for everything you need: full mudguards, disc brakes, racks and water bottle cages. The rear disc mount is positioned in board and includes adjustment grooves making moving the caliper easy to account for chain length should you run fixed or singlespeed.
The fork is Cotic's own steel unit and the first thing you'll notice is that it doesn't have dropouts as such. The 9mm quick release hollow axle is fully surrounded by material, so you have to fully remove the skewer to get the wheel out.
For £949 you can get the build here with a full Sora group, Shimano cable discs and Alex rims with Cotic's own hubs or you can go for a frame only option (£249) or the frame, fork and 9mm through axle for £329. Two rather fetching paint options are available which are Matte Duckegg blue or this Gloss Black Grape.
At 10.7kg (23.6lb) I wasn't exactly expecting a sporty ride but give the Escapade a kick and it's a nippy little so and so, especially in an urban environment, darting between traffic and road furniture. The steering is direct without being twitchy.
The Shimano BR-R517 cable operated brakes work well in traffic to with enough bite to get you out of trouble. They haven't got the crispest of feedback though, feeling a touch on the spongy side, but they are consistent.
The Maxxis Overdrive Excel 28mm cut slicks were perfect for a bit of canal path action and again here the Cotic was in its element smashing through potholes and rough gravel sections flat out. I love it when a bike gives you that little grin factor even when mental speeds aren't a factor.
When you're not scything through the rush hour or scaring dog walkers the Escapade is very well behaved. The high front end gives a nice relaxed position for cruising along the tarmac and although the wheels and tyres aren't the lightest once up to speed you can roll along at a decent speed.
The frame feels just like a steel frame should, stiffness but that cushioned edge just taking away any harshness from the road.
The Cotic Components finishing kit offers a decent degree of comfort for what are pretty standard alloy pieces. The anatomic handlebars are a nice fit though, the pistol grip drop shape i just right for getting your head down on a windy day.
No matter what size frame you buy you're going to be running a lot of seatpost which brings with it plenty of flex for comfort. The thin saddle is a good un to.
Once the road turns skyward having a 32-tooth cassette on the back is a life saver. Paired with a 34-tooth chainring you can haul that 10.7kg weight uphill in the saddle. The Sora gearing has some pretty tidy shifting under load and feels neater than the eight-speed version its evolved from. In fact the black gloss makes it look a much more expensive groupset than it actually is.
Don't worry about running out of gears on the way down though as a 50/11t combo will give you something to push against up to around 45mph and when you get there you'll be impressed with how well the Cotic handles. The long top tube allows you to get low and spread your weight for flying round the bends. It doesn't track as tightly as a race bike but you only notice this at high speed as you lose a little of the sharpness.
Overall the Escapade is a proper all rounder that does everything well without specializing to the point of superlatives in any particular area; it does come close in a lot of departments, though. The frame is well put together, finished off with that deep paint job and it's certainly going to handle some abuse whether it's in the countryside or the city.
The £949 for this full build is pretty good value in terms of a quality frame and fork built up with sensible kit and groupset for day to day riding. If you've got a specific goal in mind for your finished build though £329 for the frameset is a very tempting offer.
It might not be the quickest or the lightest but it's a hell of a lot of fun.
Comfortable, grin-inducing all rounder with virtually infinite build options.
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Make and model: Cotic Escapade
Size tested: 53
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Custom butted Cromoly with Ovalform top tube
Fork: Cromoly, disc specific with 9mm Captive dropout
Drivetrain: Shimano Sora
-Sora 34/50 Compact Double Chainset
-11-32 9spd cassette and chain
Brakes: Shimano cable disc
Finishing Kit: Cotic Components 'CC',
-440mm wide handlebar
-100mm x 10 deg stem
-Layback 330mm seatpost
-CC Cromo Rail Saddle
Headset: Cane Creek Headset
Wheels: Alex R450 rims on Cartridge bearing CC disc hubs 700x32c tyres
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
It's for pretty much everyone to be honest. The versatility of the dropouts means you can ride it fixed, SS, hub or derailleur geared. Tyre clearance up to 29x1.8in/700c x 42mm slicks or knobblies.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A nicely finished steel frame for the money that looks and feels solid when you're riding.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Custom butted chromoly steel is used for the frame while the forks are plain gauge in the same material. Bosses for racks, guards and discs are all there.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Long and low, compact style frame. Geometry table here - http://www.cotic.co.uk/product/escapade#sizing
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Pretty normal stack wise for this style of bike although the reach is longer than a lot of the competition.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, you can't beat a well put together steel frame for comfort.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
You can feel a bit of flex at the bottom bracket if you really stomp on the pedals but it's nothing too noticable.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yeah pretty well, although it can give quite a punchy turn of speed massive power efforts aren't really what it's about.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Nippy when cutting through rush hour traffic and can hold its own on descents.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Having a lot of seatpost showing adds comfort and the own brand components do a good job too.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The alloy components bring a tight feel to the frame and the Sora chainset seems pretty solid too.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The hybrid tyres caused a bit of drag on the tarmac but obviously give you the option of mixing your terrain up.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Sora has come on a long way and the lastest 9sp version looks very slick
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The wheels seem strong and will deal with various terrain without issue. The tyres were pretty good on road although if that's where you are going to spending most of your time something lighter and slicker would be faster.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The pistol grip bars offer plenty of positions and will work well for most riders.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, it's fun.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Age: 35 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Whatever needs testing or Genesis Flyer, fixed of course! My best bike is: Kinesis T2 with full Centaur Red
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!