Sign up for our newsletter


Cotic Escapade review

31 May 2016

A big name in the mountain bike world and the Cotic Escapade could well become a big name in the gravel world too.

Cyclist Rating: 
Great quality finish, good spec
The weight holds it back

Sheffield-based firm Cotic has been building bikes since 2002 when it launched the Soul – a new breed of mountain bike frame which was meant to be more fun to ride than a traditional cross-country race bike while still being quick and efficient. That’s exactly the sort of thing the Escapade intends to do for the world of drop-bar riding, so the frame angles are more relaxed than a road bike, there’s clearance for tyres as wide as 46mm, and sticking to a lightweight build hasn’t been a priority when creating it.

The frame

Cotic Escapade headtube

Cotic describes the Escapade as a ‘drop-bar life bike’ – think everything from commuting to weekend roadie blasts with the added versatility of not being tied to the tarmac. The frame and fork are available for £349 in a choice of two colours – yellow or the remarkably handsome matte duck egg, as seen here. The horizontal dropouts (like a track bike) allow you to run it with an internally geared hub or as a singlespeed option. The frame is made of Cotic’s own Fe steel blend - the tubes are butted to save weight, and improve ride quality, with bosses for mudguards and pannier racks.

Available in small, medium or large, our 1.77m (5ft 10in) tester opted for the smallest option based on its claimed 54cm virtual top tube. Cotic suggests the medium is ideal for riders between 1.73m and 1.8m tall (5ft 8in-5ft 11in). While the reach and saddle-to-bar drop felt great on the small, we did notice a little toe overlap with the front wheel. The 62mm bottom-bracket drop means you’re 8mm higher off the ground than a standard road bike and that makes a real difference when riding, as you feel a lot more on top of the bike than nestled between its wheels. The extra height is useful if you run the bike fixed and need to pedal through corners, but also makes it less versatile on mixed terrain. 


Cotic Escapade drop outs

We really can’t fault Shimano’s 785 hydraulic brakes and shifters – the brakes work brilliantly and the gears shift perfectly. The more we use them, the better they feel and the more we get used to the increased size of the hoods over non-hydraulic versions. They make riding over rough terrain and downhill on the hoods a real possibility. A 50/34 and 11-32 cassette seems like the right spread of gears for a bike like this, and it’s always nice to get a proper 105 chainset. The own-brand saddle, seatpost and stem all work well. The bars are from FSA and sized at 44cm for all bike sizes. We like that – wider bars offer more control so are ideal for bikes designed for a wide variety of terrain. Lastly, the Escapade frame uses a standard 1.125in head tube, which means using external headset cups. Cotic has specced a Cane Creek headset and we approve – it’s a reliable, good-looking, classic threadless choice.


Cotic Escapade seat stays

Both front and rear wheels use 32 spokes with wide, deep-section, disc-specific rims matched to unbranded, but good quality cartridge-bearing disc hubs. The disc brake rotors are 160mm front and rear, which means powerful braking, and the hubs use normal quick-releases with a bolt-thru 9mm axle in the front for extra steering stiffness. Continental’s 35mm Sport Contact 2 tyres weigh in at a claimed 520g each. With two layers of puncture protection, we didn’t experience any flats, but they’re not very supple, negatively affecting comfort, feel and grip. You’ll want a lighter set for special occasions. 

The ride 

Cotic Escapade review

At £1,600, the top-end Escapade is incredible value – it’s rare to find Shimano’s hydraulic brakes on bikes at this price, and it’s even more rare for those bikes to look as good as this one. The matte duck egg blue paintjob is stunning and the whole look and feel of the bike is considerably more premium than the price tag suggests. We generally don’t consider a bike’s weight to be a primary concern, but with the Escapade, the weight – and particularly the weight of the wheels – does have a negative effect on the ride. Once the road points uphill, you really notice the heavy tyres dragging you backwards. Fortunately, you could easily save 400g of rotating weight without breaking the bank – the Roubaix Pro tyres that come as standard on the Specialized Diverge would be ideal, and they cost around £25 each.

The other concern with the Escapade is the geometry – you sit noticeably higher off the ground than on similar bikes. That allows you to pedal through corners or deep ruts if you head off road, but for the sort of loose gravel riding we love, we needed something with a lower centre of gravity to maximise stability at speed. So while Cotic has excelled at making a super-versatile ‘life bike’, it’s less ideal for long, fast rides over varied terrain. We’d gladly use the Escapade as our daily commuter-cum-funster, and we’d also consider the £799 singlespeed version, as this bike really excels when riding in the city.


Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 540mm 535mm
Seat Tube (ST) 480mm 480mm
Down Tube (DT) 595mm
Fork Length (FL) 400mm 400mm
Head Tube (HT) 145mm 145mm
Head Angle (HA) 72 71.3
Seat Angle (SA) 73 72
Wheelbase (WB) 994mm
BB drop (BB) 60mm 62mm


Cotic Escapade
Frame Cotic Fe Cromoly, cromoly fork
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano BR-785
Chainset Shimano 105, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-32
Bars FSA Vero Compact 440mm
Stem Cotic
Seatpost Cotic
Wheels Deep-disc rims, cartridge-bearing hubs
Tyres Continental Sport Contact 2, 35c
Saddle Cotic

Read more about: