The new Cotic Cascade is a…erm…what is it? It’s a bike that sits between the Cotic Escapade and the Cotic SolarisMAX. It’s designed for drop bars, but the angles mean you could put flat bars on if you really wanted to – and it’s all mountain bike standards, so your flat bar bike parts are going to fit. It comes with a rigid steel fork…for now… you could add a short travel fork if you want to (or can get hold of one). It’ll take 29 x 2.4in tyres at the back, or 27.5 x 2.8in if you fancy some rock crawling action. It’s a steel gravel bike that thinks it’s a mountain bike. Its designer, Cy Turner, says it’s a bike for whatever you want to do with it.
The Cotic Cascade came from a desire to make the Cotic range feel like it covered the riding spectrum, but also from some parts bin builds that their staff experimented with. They retired the Cotic Roadrat, as the rest of the bike world caught up and disc brakes on a drop bar bike were no longer such a novelty. The Escapade still sits there serving the road-to-rough end of the spectrum, but as I found when I tested it, it has its limits, and if you’re a mountain biker you’re likely to keep pushing those limits. Because who can resist finding out what’s up there, or round that corner, or where that trail leads? That’s where the Cascade comes in.
Staffer Richard Baybutt built himself up a bit of a mongrel bike, using an old Solaris frame as the foundation, but adding whatever he could find to make it up into a bikepacking ready drop bar bike. He found he liked it, and found himself riding further and further. He wanted a bike that could carry more, and that was built with all the mounts you’d want for that in mind. But he still wanted a dropper post, and big tyres, and he wanted the angles to make it fun to ride down hill as well as comfortable for long hours in the saddle. And he wanted apple pie with ice cream and a custard donut too please. And a bespoke frame bag for extra sticky buns. So Cy created the Cotic Cascade.
While Richard had imagined this new bike for far flung adventures, Cy found himself using it for going less far than he had in years. Lockdown enforced hour-long bike rides on home trails took on new levels of fun and challenge on the Cascade. Trails he’d ignored as boring for years were rediscovered, and annoying dispersed off-road sections quickly linked up on this rigid bike. He likes the Cascade so much that now he has this bike, plus whatever he’s needing to ride for development and prototyping.
And so now the Cotic Cascade can be yours too – for you to ride as far away or close to home as you choose.
Cotic Cascade Specification Highlights
- Reynolds 853 mainframe with bespoke Cotic Alpaca heat treated cromoly fork
- Mountain bike Boost spacing and 1x drivetrains, 148×12 rear, 110×15 front
- Flat Mount +20 for 180/160 rotors
- New Sureshot geometry running short 50-70mm stems with drop bars
- Cotic 46cm flared drop Valley bars as standard. PWN Coast 52cm optional.
- Big clearance – 29×2.6 front/2.4 rear
- So many bosses and mounts! Racks, guards, luggage, dynamo, dropper post.
- Fork options include Salsa Firestarter Deluxe carbon and Rockshox SID
- SL Ultimate 100mm suspension
Cotic Cascade Geometry
This is the first Cotic bike to get what Cy calls ‘Sureshot’ geometry (we have to wonder how many drinks it takes in a Cotic cheese and wine meeting to make an unfortunate Spoonerism of their Longshot and Sureshot geometry). Sureshot Geometry means that the frames are long and stems are short (typically 60mm). You’ll need at least a 350mm seatpost due to the frames having space for dropper posts.
Cotic Cascade Pricing And Build Options
- Frame/fork start at £849 with the steel fork and are in stock now.
- Colours are Lichen (the lightest), Nimbus (the blue) and Smoke (grey)
- Bikes start at £2099 for the Bronze build with Microshift and Mechanical brakes
- Gold GRX/Easton builds available from stock at £2,699
- Silver Apex1 and Platinum Force/X01 Eagle AXS/eeWings builds will join them later in the year.
- All bikes are currently spec’d with HUNT XC Wide wheels and a choice of WTB Tanwall Ranger or Wolfpack Race tyres.
- Cotic will also be doing rolling chassis kits for people looking to move parts over from their older mountain or gravel bikes.
Cotic Cascade Availability
It’s a whole new information section for 2022 bike launches…
- From today, all frame sizes and colours are in stock
- The £2699 Shimano GRX based Gold builds are also in stock – order this week and you could have a bike by the end of next week. Crazy.
- Microshift drivetrains for Bronze builds starting at £2099 will be available in a week or so, so Bronze build bikes will be delivered by end of February.
- All frames and forks, wheels and tyres, bars and headsets are in stock now too, so frameset and rolling chassis orders will be out the door as fast as Cotic can process them.
Bespoke Cotic Cascade Luggage
There’s a bespoke luggage option too, made (by Cy’s dad) to fit the Cotic Cascade, and with a removable inner so you can leave the main bag strapped to the bike but take your valuables inside, still tidy inside the waterproof inner.
The story above is based on the chat we had with Cy when he brought us the bikes you see above to have a look at (which, incidentally, aren’t built to any spec you’ll be buying – they’re a ‘get what you can 2022 supply chain’ version). If you want the full tale of the development story, read on for how Cy and Rich tell it. Or just head to the Cotic website and hover your finger over the ‘buy’ button.
What became the Cascade started development an awful long time ago! Back in early 2019 we were pulling the Roadrat out of production after 15 years due to low sales. It’s sister frame, the Escapade had overtaken it as the “not MTB” product of choice for Cotic customers. However, we still felt there was room in the range for another “not MTB”, especially as over the years the space between our drop bar and MTB products had grown.
Back in 2006 when the Roadrat was first introduced, it brought mountain bike handling sensibilities and disc brake safety to road riding. Back then the actual difference in off road capability between a Roadrat with some small knobbly tyres and the Soul hardtail wasn’t all that great. These days, despite steps in gravel technology that make the Escapade more capable than ever on lanes and unsurfaced roads, Longshot geometry, suspension and tyre tech means that even our SolarisMAX hardtail is lightyears better offroad. So, in the space in the capabilities of the range, we began to explore what that might be. At first almost anything was fair game. We tried “Roadratting” a SolarisMAX, but big sweep bars and a 67 deg head angle really didn’t play well together! At the other end of the scale, I had Cane Creek build me a custom length shock and we build a 100mm travel drop bar bike out of the pre-production 2015 Rocket frame we still have. It used 650b wheels and 47c WTB Senduro tyres. It lasted two rides before that idea was cast aside too. Still, if you don’t try, you don’t know.
The cascade was borne out of wanting to go a bit further. Then further still.
Any bike is an adventure / touring / gravel / bike packing bike if you make some compromises. We wanted the Cascade to have the fewest compromises to go the furthest. It combines the sprightly, quick and engaging ride of our Escapade gravel bike, and the MTB handling & performance of our SolarisMAX. If you’ve ridden, pushed, carried your bike to the top of a mountain, you’re going to want to be able to ride down the other side.
We started on this project back in 2019 after watching our friend Duncan Philpott take on the Dales Divide – a 600km long-weekend intro to adventure racing. He loaded up his SolarisMAX with jubilee clips on the forks to carry more bags and with skinny tyres on light wheels, the bike looked properly suited to the task at hand. Now if we could make a frame that purposeful but with drop bars, a shorter travel fork and more luggage options, we’d be onto something. Routes like the Dales Divide are ideal for this kind of bike – long road stints and lots of pretty spicy off-road & bridal way sections.
Whilst Cy played around with putting drop bars on a current long-shot SolarisMAX (too floppy) and slick tyres on a modified 1st gen rocket 27.5 (too weird), I dug out an old pre-longshot SolarisMAX and set to making a frankenbike. Before I even rode it I knew what I’d built – it was comfy, smooth and made me feel like I could ride it for days on end. Yes, you can (and do) ride any bike for days on end, but this had the potential for all the other things we talked about – custom forks, luggage, mtb wheels. The SolarisMAX hack was built on a frame that was over 6 years old and tech has come on a long way since then – bolt through axles, boost spacing, 1x only and larger volume 29er tyres. That’s not to say I had a bad time whilst testing – far from it, just that we could all see what needed to change.
Rich was clearly was loving drop bar mongral, and telling all of us that we should try it. Having had the two failures above, despite trying numerous bars and tyre options, I decided to have a go on Rich’s idea too. I borrowed back a large pre-longshot Solaris from Duncan and put something together. Some old mismatched ex-demo wheels, some spare cranks, my old 105 10spd road Sti shifters, an old M772 XT rear mech, some mechanical brakes left over from Escapade builds. An odd stem and lots of spacers, and a 465mm steel fork.
Rich and I rode these bikes through the summer and autumn of 2019, growing more and more fond of the combination of relatively decent offroad manners, combined with pretty zippy on road performance. They’re no tour de france bike, but when your main ride is a 15kg RocketMAX with 2.5” sticky tyres, these things on WTB Rangers felt pretty spry on the road. They seemed to drop perfectly into that big space that had opened up between our mountain bikes and gravel products.
Late in the autumn of 2019 I sat down with Rich and we started mapping out what a dedicated version of this frame might look like. We figured out the sizing and geometry from what we did and didn’t like about the Solaris hacks. We decided this was going to be an adventure bike, so it had to have all the fitting options. And given how much I’d enjoyed riding steady trails on mine, I build the front end around a 483mm fork so the option of a 100mm suspension fork was there, and there would be dropper post routing too. Once we had got to a point with this, we took advantage of our UK production at Five Land Bikes and they built us the first three dedicated Cascade prototypes in small, medium and large. They were delivered just before Christmas 2019.
I didn’t get my prototype together until late February, due to working on other projects, but I really liked it straight away. There were definitely still things that needed improving on the sizing, but broadly it was a step more comfortable and capable than the hacks. I fitted mine with a 125mm drop X Fusion Manic dropper post for the first time and really enjoyed how much more comfortable it was descending in the drops offroad without having to crick my neck to see a long way down the trail. I also tried suspension forks which was a hoot, but not really necessary.
Then lockdown happened……..
We all know what a weird time it was, how uncertain, but the little chink of light in the UK at least, was that we could exercise outdoors up to an hour per day and that exercise could be cycling. The weather was amazing and the trails were dry, and I took riding in my civvies straight out the door. Helmet, gloves, GO!
It was so liberating on so many levels. I was riding local trails and lanes I’d written off as boring on a big droplink bike years ago, but they were fun again. I zipped along (relatively speaking) on the quiet lanes. I didn’t have to spend half an hour finding all my gear before going out. It was so lovely. I rode my Cascade prototype a lot. And then the Peak200 happened.
Five Land built us a small fleet of production prototypes with lots of mounting points for bottles and cages. We built these up in January 2020 and spent a year and a half putting as many miles as possible into them. Lockdown brought us back to tamer, older trails that on a regular ride we’d skip out but on the Cascade, we relished. Non of the boneshaking terror you might get on skinny 700c wheels was there, just solid, grippy, fast & flowy riding that we were unknowingly missing from a lot of our regular rides. These bikes carried us round the Peak 200 (a brutal mix of gravel & gritstone) and out to multiple bivvy / bothy runs, telling us only that we needed a couple of tiny geo tweaks, a couple more mounting points and that we’re on to a winner.
When we were allowed to do a tiny bit more than an hour a day, on a glorious summer day Rich and his adventure buddy Hannah Saville set out to do the Peak200. About halfway around at Furness Vale, I joined them. We rode bits of the Peak we’d not been in before. Big views, tired legs, tanned arms. I eventually got my hydration very wrong and had to bail and be collected in Baslow. One bottle of electrolytes and I was right as rain, so it was a little frustrating. So much so that the day after my birthday a couple of weeks later, I went back and did it on my own. 89Km, 8 hours or so. It was brilliant, and the Cascade just felt like the perfect bike for it. The start of my section is Proper Mountain Biking ™ on Mount Famine and Roych Clough. Whilst I won’t have set any records, with the saddle down and hands firmly in the drops the off road descents were enjoyable rather than death defying. After that, the route combines quiet roads with old railways and bits of bridleway. It’s really very tame from a pure mountain bike point of view, but the Cascade was just lovely. Floating along comfortably on big tyres, framebag full of food, confident handling so that when it did get a little spicy it was fun rather than fright. It properly won me over.
Bikes are far too fun to only ride one type and these ticked a new & exciting box. Ultimately, we’re coming at “gravel” from the MTB side so when we get to a downhill, we want the option to drop the seat, drop our heels, and crack on. This bike has allowed us to do that.
Our friends at Restrap have been invaluable support when it comes to speccing kit for the Cascade, and Hunt have very kindly provided wheels so we can use dynamo lights. These haven’t been created in a vacuum – we’ve had help at every step of the way from people much more knowledgable than ourselves. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this project and we can’t wait to see what adventures these bikes take you on.
After that I spent a lot of time on the bike, and for the first time since I can remember there were a few rides where I’d be a couple of hours in and just think “I’m just going to keep riding”, and go and go. Proper I’ve-run-out-of-water-and-got-no-food-left rides. It was so good. It’s become my “other” bike along side my RocketMAX, and it fits into my life and my riding preferences so well.