Bike Check: Wil’s Cotic Roadrat
“And now for something completely different…”
Today, we’ve got something a little different from our usual programming. This right here, is a commuter bike. Well, that might be selling it a bit short, as it’s a very versatile piece of kit, but for the purpose of this anecdote, I’m going to call it a commuter bike. I guess it kinda looks like a mountain bike – it has disc brakes, riser bars, lock-on grips and a tough steel frame – but there ain’t no suspension, and there sure ain’t no knobbly tyres on it either.
No, this isn’t an enduro sled or a cyclocross race bike, it’s a Cotic Roadrat. For those unfamiliar with this model from the Sheffield-based brand, the Roadrat is a 700c urban commuter bike that was launched several years ago. (The prototypes were fully rigid 26in Soul hardtails with 700C wheels crowbarred in). The Roadrat has gone through several revisions, and the bike you’re looking at here is the 3rd, and latest iteration.
After moving to the UK about six months ago, I decided I needed a commuter bike.
I am very fortunate in my role as a Staff Writer to be able to ride numerous bikes that are on test for Singletrack Magazine and Grit.cx. But doing the groceries, or skipping to the pub on a multi-thousand pound bike that doesn’t belong to you is what I would describe as not ideal. For those kinds of jobs, riding to-and-from the office, and for weekend urban excursions, I needed something purpose built for the job. Something that I could fit mudguards and a lock to. Something that I could ride in all weather conditions if I needed to get somewhere in a hurry.
I also decided I wanted something from a British brand. Having relocated from Australia, I must admit that I am super impressed with the number of small, medium and large-sized UK mountain bike brands there are out there to choose from. In Oz, there isn’t a whole lot of choice – whether you want something that’s strictly locally made, or something that’s simply from a locally-based brand. Over in the UK however, you’ve got masses of choice. Brands like Orange, Kinesis, Hope, Saracen, Stanton, Bird, Shand, USE, Burgtec, Sonder, Genesis, Stif, Singular, and Robot Bike Co. first spring to mind, and there are of course many, many more.
For my needs, the Cotic Roadrat fit the bill perfectly, and it’s got loads of versatility designed into it to see through any future setup changes down the line. For the complete bike, I’ve built up the Roadrat with a whole bunch of different parts – some are old test components from the Singletrack and Grit.cx archives, others are new parts that I will be testing for both Grit.cx and Singletrack, and others I’ve purchased. I should also add that this is a frame and fork that I purchased from Cotic with my own money. It isn’t a test bike or an advertising deal that I’ve done with Cotic.
So, with that out of the way, lets have a closer look shall we?
“The Roadrat fits into your life, for work and play. It was born of a desire for something swift and rugged to take on the rapidly crumbling tarmac of the urban landscape, but also up for disappearing for a few days with nothing but your sleeping bag and mat for company. The Roadrat will take you to work, to the shops, on holiday, to the hills, on adventures, or just to that quiet place where you get some headspace.” – From Cotic.
Cotic Roadrat specifications:
- Custom butted Cromoly frame with Ovalform top tube
- Cotic RB3 rigid Cromoly fork with 9mm thru axle for stiffness and security wheel. Massive clearance for up to 700×47 or 29×1.75″ tyres.
- Designed to accommodate pannier racks, mudguards, bottles, discs.
- Dogsbody2 dropouts suit external gears, internal gear hub, or singlespeed
- Tyre clearance: Up to 700x46c rear, and 700x47c front
- 132.5mm rear hub spacing: fit 135mm MTB hubs or 130mm road hubs
- 1 1/8in head tube
- 68mm threaded BB shell
- Seatpost diameter: 27.2mm
- Front Mech: 28.6mm (bottom pull)
- Optimised flat bar geometry
- RRP: £349 (frame & fork)
The Dogsbody3 dropouts offer the ability to run gears with a solid-steel mech hanger, or to go singlespeed thanks to the horizontal dropouts. Wheel removal/installation is a bit of a pain, but it does add versatility to the whole bike. Dropout spacing is 132.5mm, and thanks to the springy steel tubing, you can either spread them apart to fit a 135mm MTB hub, or close them down to fit a 130mm road hub.
The Cotic RB3 fork is an interesting one. It’s essentially a closed dropout on either side that’s designed for a regular 9mm quick release hub. It mounts like a skinny thru-axle system, which means you have to spread the fork legs apart whenever you remove or install the front wheel – also a faff, but secure and very neat.
Clearance out back is governed by where you run the rear hub in the sliding dropouts. I’ve got the wheel slammed forward at the moment, so there’s less available breathing room for the rear tyre. If you run the rear wheel back further, you can get in 700x46c tyres, or according to Cotic, a 700x37c tyre with full-length mudguards.
You may have already seen our first look on the Four Season Gravel Disc from Hunt Wheels. If you haven’t, these are Hunt’s wider and stronger 700c wheelset that’s designed for cyclocross and fat-tyre gravel action. Hunt Bike Wheels itself is a British brand that is relatively new on the block, but has been garnering plenty of attention in the road and gravel scene lately thanks to its well-priced wheels. These hoops will set you back £369 for the pair, and that’s including all the extras in the box. Check out the First Look article for all the details.
Like all of the Hunt wheels, these are tubeless ready. They come taped out of the box and Hunt includes tubeless valves. Tubeless setup is really easy, as I’ve already fitted several different tyres to them, and they’ve all inflated with a regular floor pump. Tubeless on the road still isn’t as common as off it, but I suspect that’s going to change as time rolls on. For more info on these hoops, check out the Hunt Bike Wheels website.
Also published on Grit.cx was our first look at the new tubeless range from WTB. This particular tyre is the 34c Exposure, which is designed as a mixed condition road/gravel tyre. It features the same TCS tubeless technology as WTB’s off-road tyres.
I’m not a fan of the Fabric Silicone Semi-Ergo grips for off-road riding, because the bulge in the middle forces your hands into a more narrow riding position. Normally I’d run my hands right at the edge of the bars, which is terribly uncomfortable with these grips. The riding position on the Roadrat is a little different though, and I’m not so worried about clipping trees and rock faces. The compound is lovely and tacky too.
Sometimes interior decorators paint one side of a room a completely different colour and call it a “feature wall”. Well, this is my “feature stem”. It’s a 50mm number from Azonic, and I think it looks nice. It’s a good match for the 720mm wide Mt Zoom carbon riser bars, though I should probably be running a longer and narrower setup. I shall be experimenting with different setups in the near future.
For transmission duties, I went into the Singletrack archives again and cobbled together some old Deore XT parts along with a new chain and cassette. I went for a 2×10 setup (mostly because there was a bunch of spare parts), but I justified the decision by wanting a nicely wide range without having to resort to an enormous cassette. With the external cable routing and the non-Shadow Plus rear derailleur, I must say that the shift feel at the levers is super, super smooth too. That said, I’m keen on rocking the Roadrat singlespeed at some point in the future, so we’ll see how long the gears last.
If you want to know more about the Cotic Roadrat, then head to the Cotic website for all the details. Otherwise, keep an eye out on Grit.cx for our upcoming review of the Hunt 4Season Gravel Wheels, the WTB Exposure tubeless road tyres, and a whole bunch of other bits and pieces that the Roadrat will be wearing over the coming few months.