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Cotic Cascade (Gold build) review

A supremely capable drop-bar shredder

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £2,699.00 RRP
Cotic Cascade gravel bike 17

Our review

A true mountain biker’s gravel bike
Pros: Huge tyre clearance; wide variety of build options; unrivalled drop-bar capability
Cons: Over-sized for smaller riders
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The Cotic Cascade is a genre-defying bike that takes ‘gravel’ to the next level. Whether this is the modern incarnation of a rigid mountain bike, or the latest take on gravel, the Cascade offers near-unrivalled drop-bar capability, though it’s not without its quirks.

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Boost spacing and a 1x-only design gives huge tyre clearances, with 2.4in rubber fitted as standard, plus room for more. The sloping top tube yields plentiful space for a long-travel dropper post, even on the small size.

The Reynolds 853 steel frame and chromoly forks are laden with mounts for racks, luggage and mudguards, ready for adventure.

While many features point to the latest developments in mountain bike design, the wide, flared drop bars and rigid fork steer closer to modern gravel standards. Whatever you want to call it, this is a limit-busting drop-bar dirt ride.

I’ve been testing this ‘Gold’ build on local tracks, the wilds of Dartmoor’s chunky granite byways and steep valleys, and even some mountain bike flow trails, to find where the limits of a drop-bar bike lie.

Cotic Cascade frame and Gold build

Cotic Cascade gravel bike
The Cotic Cascade: a steel-framed, monster-tyred, dropper-equipped ‘gravel’ bike.
Richard Baybutt

The Cotic Cascade joins the existing Escapade model in Cotic’s drop-bar line-up.

While the Cascade is Cotic’s more road-centric gravel bike, if your off-road rides stray into more technical, XC-style mountain biking territory, then the burlier Cascade might be for you (I know, there are cross-country mountain bikes for that, too).

This Gold build features a mix of reliable Shimano GRX braking and shifting, combined with a Race Face chainring and alloy Easton EA90 cranks. Chunky, winter-ready 2.4in WTB Ranger tyres are fitted to Hunt’s Trailwide 29 wheelset, which has a 30mm internal rim width that suits this tyre width perfectly.

Cotic Cascade gravel bike
The Cascade comes with 2.4in tyres as standard and there’s room to go wider still. You’ll also find plenty of space for bottle cages in the main triangle, despite the heavily sloping top tube.
Richard Baybutt

The steel gravel bike frame itself is brazed from Reynolds 853 tubing, dipped in zinc phosphate internally and externally to prevent corrosion, and then painted in Taiwan before being assembled at Cotic HQ in the Peak District. You can choose from one of the build kits offered, a rolling chassis or spec your own.

Dropper posts are included in the builds, with routing for internal cabling from the bottom bracket area.

The Bike Yoke dropper on this pre-production build will be replaced by an X-Fusion Manic, with the dropper lever integrated into the left-hand Shimano GRX lever.

Cotic Cascade gravel bike
The sloping seat tube leaves plenty of room to manoeuvre the bike and also ensures compatibility with a long-travel dropper, with the Cascade using the 31.6mm standard common on mountain bikes.
Richard Baybutt

The Cascade’s flat-mount brake mounts offer compatibility for larger 180mm rotors, which may come in handy if you’re carrying a lot of extra weight in bikepacking bags or enjoying long descents.

Bigger rotors will give you more powerful braking, and reduce overheating and brake fade, if you choose to run them, but 160mm is ample for most gravel riding.

On the theme of bikepacking, copious mounts give plentiful setup options, from racks to cargo cages, bolt-on top tube bags, extra bottle storage and mudguards. Cotic is also empathetic towards home mechanics, with external cable and hose routing.

Cotic Cascade geometry and sizing

Katherine Moore riding the Cotic Cascade gravel bike
Shorter riders may feel stretched on the size-small frame and appreciate the addition of an XS option to the range.
Richard Baybutt

The Cascade geometry is certainly more analogous to MTB than endurance road, with a 68-degree head angle on this size small. This is accentuated by Cotic’s ‘Sureshot’ geometry, which uses a longer wheelbase (1,092mm) twinned with a shorter 60mm stem and wide drops.

The sizing feels limited at the smaller end of the spectrum, with this size small (54) offered to riders over 165cm. For context, at 165cm I am just less than half a centimetre above the average height for a British female, yet at the bottom of this range.

Cotic is getting some narrower 42cm flared drop bars made for shorter riders, which will be available in the spring, and suggests pairing these with a 50mm stem, which the brand says will also be available after launch. To go further, I’d really like to see an XS frame size introduced (perhaps with 650b wheels), so that shorter riders can fully enjoy this ride, too.

The one element of the geometry I struggled with was the reach. With my hands on the hoods, my arms were straighter than I’d like, and this is a consistent issue I’ve found with gravel bikes built up with the long Shimano GRX shifters. Switching to shorter-reach bars and the aforementioned 50mm stem should help alleviate this for riders around my height.

The test bike was built up with a thumb dropper lever but I had to move my hand from the bar to push down hard on the lever to activate it, and couldn’t reach from the drops. The move to a dropper lever integrated with the Shimano GRX shifter, stock permitting, should also help solve this.

Seat angle (degrees)74747474
Head angle (degrees)68696969
Chainstay (mm)438438438438
Seat tube (mm)435470505540
Top tube (mm)561588613639
Head tube (mm)100113126139
Fork offset (mm)44444444
Bottom bracket drop (mm)70707070
Wheelbase (mm)1,0921,1091,1361,162
Stack (mm)604621633645
Reach (mm)388410432454
Stem length (mm)50-7060-7060-7060-70
Rigid fork length (mm)483483483483
Typical height range (cm)165-172170-180178-188186-195

Weighing it up

Katherine Moore lifting the Cotic Cascade gravel bike over a gate
Wider, knobbly tyres contribute to this test bike’s 12.2kg weight without pedals.
Richard Baybutt

My Cascade test bike weighs in at 12.2kg without pedals, a little more than some gravel bikes. The wider, knobbly tyres will be responsible for a considerable chunk of this, while the frame itself comes in at a claimed 2.63kg for a size large with axles.

Clearly, that all adds up, however, weight is less important for a bike of this ilk than a racing-orientated gravel bike. The design is more focused on where it can take you rather than how fast.

If weight is a particular concern, you can upgrade to the Salsa Firestarter 110 carbon fork for an extra £510, saving 730g on the chromoly fork, without losing any of the fork mounting points.

Cotic Cascade ride impressions

Katherine Moore riding the Cotic Cascade gravel bike
Is this a ‘progressive’ gravel bike or a drop-bar mountain bike?
Richard Baybutt

From the very first ride around my local riding spot, I could tell this was no ordinary gravel bike. I impressed myself by riding rocky features that I’d only cleared before on a mountain bike, even in the wet.

As a steed for a multi-terrain ride across Dartmoor, the Cascade really shone, from speeding along the light gravel of the Wray Valley Trail to the larger boulder-like descent in Lustleigh Cleave.

The surprisingly technical Hisley Bridge crossing took three run-ups to build up the courage to ride, but thanks to the 29er wheels and wide, confidence-boosting tyres, I made it over the janky stones no problem. On a traditional gravel bike, that would definitely be a hike-a-bike moment.

Cotic Cascade gravel bike
Welcome to UK ‘gravel riding’.
Richard Baybutt

I’ve ridden MTB-centric gravel bikes before, including the Fairlight Faran and the Riverside 920, but the Cascade is a real step change beyond. For example, the sloping top tube allows for a 125mm-travel dropper post on a size small, which is even more than I can fit on my 2016 mountain bike. Not to mention the same tyre clearance as modern XC bikes.

With the 31.6mm seatpost diameter specced on the Cascade, you also get a much greater choice of dropper posts than the slim pickings and short-travel options for 27.2mm posts, which is the standard for most gravel bikes.

Katherine Moore riding the Cotic Cascade gravel bike
Super-wide 2.4in tyres mean you end up tackling things you’d usually pass up on a drop-bar bike.
Richard Baybutt

I was a little under-geared on steeper climbs, for a bike that places you firmly into MTB territory or is likely to be laden down with bags during bikepacking season. However, the production Gold build will come with an 11-51t cassette, rather than the 11-46t on this test bike, so that will help add some extra gearing range.

Katherine Moore riding the Cotic Cascade gravel bike
Katherine Moore riding the Cotic Cascade gravel bike
Richard Baybutt

From riding around the city of Bristol in the south-west of England, it’s clear that any ride involving significant chunks of tarmac will feel more tedious than a more road-like gravel bike such as the Escapade, mostly due to the super-wide and knobbled Ranger tyres – they’re not getting you anywhere quickly on the road.

Yet hailing from the Peak District, with its vast network of rocky, steep and fabulous bridleways, I can really see the logic behind the Cascade.

Cotic Cascade bottom line

Katherine Moore riding the Cotic Cascade gravel bike
The Cascade’s off-road capability does hold it back on the road and some riders may miss the versatility that comes with many gravel bikes.
Richard Baybutt

The Cotic Cascade sits in the grey area between gravel and mountain biking, and has few competitors as a super-capable drop-bar bike. It can also be dressed up in many different guises, from a long-haul trucker of the bikepacking world to a rigid XC-style machine.

At £2,699, the Gold build is, in the context of today’s market, modestly priced compared to other similarly specced bikes, with options for budget and premium builds also on offer.

Katherine Moore riding the Cotic Cascade gravel bike
The gravel bike category is broader than ever and the Cascade is evidence of that.
Richard Baybutt

The Cascade’s monster-truck capability over technical terrain won’t be for everyone, as this comes at the cost of speed and efficiency on the road or over tamer terrain, and a mix of off-road versatility and a turn of speed is what draws many riders to more conventional gravel bikes.

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However, as a British response to ‘gravel’, the design is well-suited to the UK’s rugged, dishevelled patchwork of trails. For riders who like it rough, and who want the addition of drop bars, bikepacking mounts and so on, the Cotic Cascade is a real enabler.

Product Specifications


Price br_price, 5, 3, Price, GBP £2699.00
Weight br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 12.2kg (S) – including bottle cages, Array, kg
Brand br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Cotic


Features br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Hubs: Hunt 5° RapidEngage, double sealed cartridge bearings, Boost148 12mm (rear), Boost110 15mm (front)
Spokes: Hunt triple butted, PSR reinforced pillar spokes, 28
Available sizes br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, S, M, L, XL
Bottom bracket br_bottomBracket, 11, 0, Bottom bracket, Race Face Conventional English/BSA 73mm
Brakes br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, Shimano GRX 600
Cassette br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, Shimano M5100 11-51
Cranks br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, Race Face chainring and Easton EA90 alloy cranks
Fork br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, Alpaca steel fork 1.38kg (uncut without axle), (Salsa Firestarter carbon fork or 100mm travel Rockshox SID SL Ultimate fork also available)
Frame br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, Reynolds 853 steel, Ovalform top tube, wishbone stay rear end, 2.63kg (size L with axle)
Handlebar br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, Cotic 46cm flared bars
Rear derailleur br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, Shimano GRX 812 (11 speed) / Hanger - Cotic Escapade/Cascade
Saddle br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Cotic, alloy rails
Seatpost br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Bike Yoke125mm 31.6mm internally routed dropper (Gold build will feature X-Fusion Manic)
Shifter br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, Shimano GRX 600
Stem br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, Race Face 60mm
Tyres br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, 2.4” x 29” WTB Ranger Light, tan sidewall
Wheels br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, Hunt Trailwide V2 29