Bike Check: Wil’s Cotic Roadrat

by Wil Barrett 12

“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 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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
If you squint, it kinda looks like a mountain bike. No wonder, as the original Roadrat was based on the Cotic Soul.

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. 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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
With clearance for up to 700x46c tyres, the Roadrat can add in some decently wide rubber.

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, Genesis, Stif, Singular, and Robot Bike Co. first spring to mind, and there are many, many more.

For my needs, the Cotic Roadrat fit the bill perfectly, and it’s got lots 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 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?

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
The Roadrat comes as either a frame/fork package, or as a complete bike.

“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)
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
No weird tapered tubes here – just room for a simple 1 1/8in diameter steel pipe.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
What British bike would be complete without a Hope headset? It’d be rude not to!
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Fe be steel yo’. Custom butted and heat treated Cromoly to be specific.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Classic Cotic wishbone arrangement out back.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Versatile Dogsbody3 dropouts are spaced at 132.5mm wide.

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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
On the other side, a sliding disc brake tabs allow for easy adjustment of the calliper.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
A regular ol’ threaded bottom bracket shell. Comes chased and faced from the factory too, which is nice.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Notice anything different? That’s a thru-axle fork, but not as you know it…

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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Loads of tyre clearance up front. I’m running 700x34c Exposure tyres from WTB, but there’s room for a 29×1.8in tyre in there.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
There’s clearance for up to 700x46c tyres out back.

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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Hunt wheels – more UK design

You may have already seen our first look over on Grit.cx on the Four Season Gravel Disc from Hunt Wheels. If not, 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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Tubeless ready out of the box. As a mountain biker, I like that.

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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Tubeless road tyres to match the compatible rims.

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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Thanks to a rummage around the Singletrack parts bin, I managed to dig up a slick Fabric Scoop saddle and a Syntace P6 HiFlex carbon seatpost. Schwing!
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Along with the springy steel frame, the added flex in the Syntace post is surprisingly effective at filtering out road buzz.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
The Roadrat frame and fork are disc-only. So on went a set of smooth SRAM Level brakes.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
160mm stainless steel rotors front and rear. Brake mounts are IS front and rear too.
cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Bulgy grips from Fabric aren’t my favourite for off-road riding, but they’re super comfy for non-gnar duties.

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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Feature stem.

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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
Retro 2×10 drivetrain.

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.

cotic roadrat steel 700c urban commuter hunt wheels wtb tubeless road hope 2x10
The Roadrat as it currently stands. Against a wall.

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.

Comments (12)

  1. I have a 2010 Roadrat and cannot speak highly enough about its versatility, capability, fun factor and the sheer enjoyment I get from riding it. You can just sit on it and pedal and forget it’s there or you can chuck it about and grin – I have made bad choices on this bike on and off road – it has looked after me and I have often patted it on the bars and whispered “good work, Ratty, thanks”. But then I am odd.

    For all sorts of reasons (where I live, where/how I ride it etc.), mine has been through Alfine 8, Alfine 11, Ultegra 2×10, 1×10 and is now single speed which is perfect for me. I now have it on tubeless 700×28 Schwalbe slicks with Hope disc brakes (can’t remember which ones), and full mudguards for the gloop, and I have run it with full pannier racks when it used to be even more of a ute.

    It is a simple but brilliant go-to bike that just delivers day in day out. The only downside for me is that it seems indestructible which means I can never justify buying a new one, and mine doesn’t have the bling factor of Wil’s.

    My mountain and road bikes are currently out of action requiring attention and the principal reason I haven’t dealt with them (apart from being lazy – the road bike only needs new brake pads) is because the Rat ably fulfils the milder functions of both.

  2. Agreed – brilliantly versatile. Ran mine single speed (just a ‘spaced’ normal cassette and cog) and with 2×9 Sora that Cy sorted me with. Both great for the 2k+ commuting I did on it over about 9 months or so. Until some g*t nicked it…

    Only downside I’d say was the faff of fitting the wheels – rear is a bit of a hassle when geared (horizontal drops) – and the front always required removing the brake calliper as well as the mentioned leg spreading. Small issues that don’t detract from how good it was.

    Am pretty sure I’ll be owning another one at some point. Probably set up as SS again.

  3. The Hunt hubs can be converted to 9mm thru to work perfectly with the forks.
    Hunt do the axle caps (I bought some with my wheels).
    Cotic do a 9mm thru QR axle thingy (you can buy one direct from them).

  4. Ditto, but use a 26 Soul, with 29″ wheels, 1×11 with rigid forks for an amazingly flexible winter bike that also doubles as an adventure bike packing, bike. Superb fun, still experimenting with back tyres, up to 40 mm at the moment with a 1.95 (29 er) being tried next. The frame was nearly retired before trying with the 29″ wheels. The 26er frames are cheap on ebay…..

  5. Very nice. Wouldn’t want to leave it outside though still…

  6. Very interesting hodge, I was just about to trawl the Internet in search of 26″ roadish tyres for my Soul’s winter road duties but I am now off to the garage to see how my disc road wheels fit in

  7. Your disc road wheels will fit your Soul FOG. That’s what I did when I first started developing the Roadrat. Mavic Speedcity’s in the original Soul prototype.

  8. Ahh, the Mavic SpeedCity wheels – way ahead of their time. ‘Look, a 29er wheel, let’s fit road slicks to them as no one would ever consider that size off road.’ 🙂

  9. Goodluck Fog to the dark side you are heading ☺

  10. proper unashamedly bike fetishism with all those pictures, love it.

  11. Just had my lovely 1×10 Roadrat pinched from Manchester City centre ….currently trying to get insurance co to pay cash so I can buy another

  12. How much do they weigh?

Comments are closed.