Cotic Roadrat £600

Nimbly nips across the tarmac/dirt divide

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Cotic’s Roadrat brings together everything you want for stylish but low-maintenance city slicking. It is also great fun, and has the sublime ability to bring out the teenager in you. Next time though, we’ll specify a double fixed hub and disc brakes.

Cotic is already a big hit in baggy-shorted off-road circles and its Roadrat single-speeder crosses the divide between the tarmac and dirt. It’s available either with a standard or long top tube and either drops (as tested) or straight handlebars. 

Ride & handling: street tough, agile& resilient

The resilience of the Roadrat’s chromoly frame shines through and compensates for the quite harsh fork.

The stretched riding position takes some getting used to but the high bottom bracket is welcome for railing through tight turns and scaling the odd kerb.

The Cotic has a feel that former BMX junkies and budding street hooligans will love. It just begs you to forget your age and learn to wheelie again.

At speed the steering is just so neutral that you could almost ride with your hands tied behind your back – although we wouldn’t suggest you try.

Compared to a twitchy race bike the Roadrat just rails through corners when up to traffic speed, yet can still turn on a sixpence at walking pace. 

The high ground clearance of the bottom bracket means you can carry more speed through bends than other road fixies we’ve tried too.

In terms of weight, the frame is more akin to a heavy tourer, but to be fair, you only feel the extra poundage on the hills.

Frame & fork: versatile chromoly

The Roadrat is based around a tough plain gauge chromoly steel frame that will accept both 26 inch mountain bike size and the larger 700c road wheels selected here. There’s bags of clearance for big tyres and mudguards

There are three frame sizes and each is finished in a tough powder coated finish of a colour that is described as ‘anti-magpie black’, which is intended to not draw attention to itself when parked up.

The no-nonsense approach to frame design extends to a steel gusset on the down tube, adding a bit of strength and reducing the likelihood of damage in the event of a minor prang. The need for additional ground clearance when rough stuff riding also means that the bottom bracket is higher than other road fixies we’ve tried in recent years. 

It comes with disc brake mounts whether you want them or not, which adds weight, although speccing disc brakes instead of V-brakes will mean that the road wheels can be easily swapped out for off-road ones if you regularly stray from the tarmac.

Cotic took our advice from a previous test and made the brake bosses removable so that it looks neater for those who would prefer this bike specified with a disc brake. 

Unfortunately Cotic then fitted Tektro Mini V-brakes that, on this bike, are at best adequate.

The Dia Compe drop bar aero brake levers are comfortably placed and easy to use but the continuous length of cable compresses too much, resulting in a spongy action.

Proper cable stops along the top-tube would improve it, but from previous experience with another Roadrat we would go for the version with disc brakes anyway.

Thankfully, the calliper mounting point for the disc brakes is forward-facing to avoid clashing with mudguard stays, and the rear dropouts are spaced at 132.5mm so it will  accommodate both road (130mm) and off-road (135mm) hubs.

To add even more versatility, the Cotic’s chaintug (the screw on the rear dropout for adjusting chain tension) can double up as a gear hanger if you want to swap the single-speed set-up for derailleur gears for riding in hilly country at a later date.

Equipment: street smart with crank quibbles

The Roadrat’s kit is light and tough enough for the streets.

We would prefer to see cranks with a lower Q-factor (so that our feet aren’t so far apart when pedalling), as the Roadrat’s make you feel a little bow-legged at times.

The other quibble is crank length – while leverage for the stop-start urban environment is good with these longish 175mm cranks, we would like to see the option of shorter 165mm ones. These would make it easier to handle steeper descents where 175mm cranks can make it feel like your legs are running away from you.

While the chaintug’s incorporated gear hanger will be good news if you want the option of converting to derailleur gears later, in theory this widget is designed to make adjusting the chain tension easier after removing the wheel too. In practice, though, it’s actually a bit fiddly to operate.

Wheels: solid single-speed set-up but double-fixed would be nice

With Bontrager R455 rims on Cotic’s own-brand Roadrat medium flange disc brake cartridge bearing hubs, these are solidly build wheels.

Single-speed bikes cast gears aside with just one cog to attack level pavé and the odd urban gradient thrown in. The Roadrat is supplied with a regular road wheel hub converted with a spacer and 15-tooth sprocket where the cassette would have been. You can fit any part-worn Shimano cassette sprocket to suit the strength of your knees or the hilliness of your ride.

Cotic could have served fixie fans better with a double-threaded fixed rear hub – or even fixed one side and freewheel the other – so that you could fit a different sized sprocket on either side and get two gearing options.

The quick-release skewers have levers that can be taken off and stashed, which is great for security.

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