You may remember my first post about the Cotic Escapade back in October 2015, at which point I’d just bought the frame & forks, built it up and ridden it once. 15 months later I still have the bike, albeit changed a little in spec, so I thought I’d post up a few thoughts about it and my build. Excuse the muck, it’s done about 200 miles since I last washed it – such is the life of a winter bike.
As ever my own builds for myself are often parts-bin based. Having a great big parts-bin is a benefit of my profession, ask anyone with more than a few bikes… and what a bike the Cotic is! Looks like a ’90s Kona – always a good thing – and, when set up right, its compact frame corners on rails and will take some proper abuse; it’s one of those bikes that I really look forward to riding. I think life’s too short to hang onto the ones you don’t.
Swapping out handlebars & stems is common practice for me and, having been through Specialized Short Drops, On-One Midge bars and even a riser bar & thumbshifter experiment, I’ve settled on these Felt Superlite which work a treat for me. Good width (46cm), nice flat tops, shallow drops and picked up cheap on ebay. Together with a dorky looking System EX riser stem I’ve finally got the position I wanted. Bear in mind your tester is not quite as young as he used to be and I have a road bike for pure, head down speed. This is my do-it-all bike, the one I take on touring holidays and on long, cold winter rides in town & country. I’m sure the bike media/industry have a snappier term for this kind of machine, but let’s not play the game.
Since I sold my Surly Karate Monkey the Cotic is my ‘burliest’ bike hence the raised ‘bars and lowered gearing. I finally upgraded to 10 speed after parts from a Shimano 5700 groupset came my way, from a regular customer upgrading to 11 speed Ultegra. However, 10 speed road mechs won’t run a 40t bottom cog and the Big S’s spoilsport Dyna-sys MTB mechs won’t work with 10 speed road shifters either, so I stuck with my old 9 speed 105 front and XT rear derailleurs, only raiding my stash for a longer RM cage so I can run that cassette, plus a new KMC chain of course. It all gels together just fine, via those slightly inaccurate inline adjusters on the cables – why aren’t they available with clicks like a rear mech barrel adjuster?
I was sceptical about Sunrace’s 11-40 cassette and the gaps between the gears are bigger I’d like, but it was either that or run a triple and rear shifting is more than acceptable, as it should be given that it ‘resembles’ a Shimano. The huge bottom cog has proved a talking point in my little riding group and my puny legs appreciate its winch-like abilities. Changing from older Tiagra STIs to the later 105s and ditching the almost pointless ‘cross tops levers has also made the ‘bars a lot less cluttered. Rest assured I won’t be going for 1 x 11/12 speed anytime soon though… ‘run what ya brung’ mate.
I didn’t get on with Panaracer’s Pasela tyres. They were light & great on the road and looked very nice with their sexy skinwalls, but I’m happier on a wider 40mm Schwalbe now. They’re heavier but I’ve not had a puncture and they roll well on a wider range of surfaces if you play around with their pressure – and being reflective is a bonus too. The SKS mudguards do their job and for under £25 they’re great value for money, though I always upgrade the stock fittings to stainless steel. I can only find one fault with Topeak‘s MTX rack/bag system which is that due to a change in the design on this, the 29er version, I can’t fit my Ortleib panniers at the same as the MTX top bag. On a previous 26er version of the rack this was no problem – why has this been changed Topeak?
My wheelset’s been great as expected from XT hubs handbuilt onto DT Swiss rims. So damn tough – though they needed a freehub overhaul last summer. Not light but bombproof and should last for years of hard use. No issues to report using standard 9mm quick release hubs in the Escapade’s thru-axle fork & track ends, but I’d always recommend using proper cam-type skewers like Shimano. However, I need to loosen the mudguard fittings to get the rear wheel out, as was the case on my Surly Karate Monkey, which leads me to wonder how many early Escapades are run single/fixed or with hub gears over derailleurs? I’m guessing a tiny minority, given that the latest version sports vertical dropouts.
My brakes remains Avid’s trusty BB5R, with 180/160mm rotors hauling me up quick smart even when loaded with 30kg of luggage. Commonly for Avid’s cable disc calipers they do have a ‘fluttery’ feel/sound though, but they work perfectly with STIs and I don’t feel the need for hydraulics. Bearings-wise, Cane Creek’s Forty headset is as smooth as when new, while the Truvativ GXP bottom bracket is just hanging on (it was used when fitted to to Cotic). Not the smoothest shifting, the Elita crankset was from the parts-bin but I see no reason to change it ’til the BB dies.
My £20 on ebay ‘Cree’ light works a treat. I do wish more riders dipped them though and don’t get me started on using them on the annoying flash setting which must drive car drivers mad, as it does me. However I’m lucky to get over 2 hours on one charge (on lower of the two power settings) so when it carks it I’ll probably blow £40 on a decent battery from Torchyboy. I’ve been testing one that Jim supplied on another bike and it’s on 24 hours and counting on one charge!
Yes, those are ancient pedals with toe-clips & straps – they’re what I started on and I like ’em. I only use SPDs on my proper road bike (SLs to be precise), with platform pedals on MTBs and on my commuter hack. Horses for courses! The 12 old Specialized Body Geometry saddle works for me, it’s one of my all-time favourites despite coming off a Hardrock Pro. I use a Charge Spoon for MTB/road and a big, fat Velo armchair on my hack in case you were wondering. I had a Thomson seatpost on the Cotic for a while but find the parts-bin Bonty more comfortable.
In conclusion, I think I’ll be riding the Cotic for quite some time to come – I’ve let ‘keepers’ go in the past though, so let’s hope I’ve learned my lesson!
Frame & Fork: Cotic Escapade, size L
Headset: Cane Creek Forty
Stem: System EX (35 degrees x 110mm)
Handlebar: Felt Superlite 6061 compact (46cm)
Bar Tape: Planet X
Brifters: Shimano ST-5700 + inline adjusters
Brake Calipers: Avid BB5 Road on 180/160mm G2CS rotors
Front Derailleur: Shimano FD-5501
Rear Derailleur: Shimano RD-M770 (long cage)
Cassette: Sunrace 10 speed (11-40)
Crankset: Truvativ Elita (48/34)
Chain: KMC X10
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ GXP
Rims: DT Swiss
Hubs: Shimano Deore XT M756
Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Dureme 700 x 40c
Saddle: Specialized Body Geometry
Seatpost: Bontrager 27.2mm setback
Seatpost Binder: On-One
Extras: Acor bell, SKS Mudguards, Topeak MTX 29er rack & top box