Review: Cotic FlareMAX

Aug 28, 2018
by David Arthur  



British brand Cotic launched its first steel hardtail and cemented its passion for steel bikes almost 20 years ago. Full-suspension bikes were added a decade later and this year, Clotic launches the updated FlareMAX, a 120mm-travel trail bike that is compatible with 29” or 27.5+ wheels. The frame is built from Reynolds 853 steel tubing and it features their new LongShot geometry which (as you might guess), is longer, lower and slacker.

The frame on its own costs £1499 with an X-Fusion O2 RCK shock and full builds start at £2599 with various silver, gold and platinum configurations or the opportunity to go custom. Cotic supplied a test bike built around a Cane Creek Helm 29 130mm travel fork and DB Air IL shock, SRAM Eagle GX 12-speed drivetrain with Shimano XT brakes, Hope Tech wheels with WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss tyres, X-Fusion dropper post and Cotic finishing kit,
Cotic FlareMAX Details

• Intended use: XC/trail
• Frame construction: Reynolds 853, Droplink suspension
• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm front
• Wheel size: 29" or 27.5 Plus
• Head angle: 65.6º
• Reach: 479mm (size large)
• Chainstay length: 447.6mm
• Wheelbase: 1246.2mm
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 33.05 lbs (size large, without pedals)
• Price: £4,498 UK (as tested)
• More info: cotic.co.uk
for a complete build price of £3,699. The titanium Cane Creek eeWing cranks are an optional £799 upgrade bringing the price up to £4,498. Cotic will ship anywhere in the world. Contact them for prices and shipping costs.

bigquotesThe combination of great suspension and geometry lets you attack the trail with conviction and verve normally reserved for bigger bikes.




Cotic Flaremax


Why Steel?

Aluminum may be lighter and carbon, stiffer and sexier, but steel refuses to fade away. Move your gaze to the fringes of the bike industry and you’ll find a handful of steel bike brands offering an alternative approach to the mainstream, particularly here in the UK, where there has been a resurgence of steel frame-building in recent years.

Cotic favors Reynolds 853 steel tubing, because it is strong, tough, and still reasonably light. And, let's not forget its fabled ride quality and promise of additional compliance that can make many older mountain bikers go a bit misty-eyed and nostalgic - especially if your first ever mountain bike was made from steel. (Mine? Diamondback Ascent with a True Temper frame). Cotic considered using aluminum for its original Rocket, but when they found a 35mm diameter seat tube was the maximum they could use with their suspension design, steel was the better option. It hit the desired stiffness figures, and they’ve not looked back since.


FlareMAX Construction & Features

FlareMAX frames are adorned with some well-considered details. The custom-shaped Ovalform top tube for example, which provides the right blend of lateral stiffness and compliance, and a 44mm-diameter head tube with an external headset bottom cup. Rejoice in its threaded bottom bracket (the common-sense choice for gritty UK conditions), and it’s ISCG05 mounts, onto which a One-Up Top Guide chain device is fitted as standard. That's a nice touch. There’s no fitting a front mech to this bike. The FlareMAX is designed entirely around a 1x drivetrain, which has allowed Cotic to beef up the bottom bracket area for added stiffness.

The rear triangle breaks Cotic's all-steel tradition with a single-pivot 6066-T6 aluminium swingarm. The seatstays are steel, however, and they drive the Cane Creek shock directly, stabilized by the aluminum Droplink rocker. Rear spacing is Boost 148, using a Syntace X-12 thru-axle. The FlareMAX is designed for 29” wheels with clearance for up to a 2.5” tire, and is also compatible with 27.5” x 3.0” tires if anyone is still interested in going down the Plus route. Cables are routed externally on the main frame, running along the top of the down tube. The rear gear cable is tucked inside the seatstay and the dropper-post cable is also internally routed. There’s one bottle mount - on the underside of the top tube for a 500ml bottle - but due to their desire to accommodate a piggyback shock, space is tight for a conventional bottle placement. But, one does fit - Just.

Personally, I think the FlareMAX is a really good looking bike. It’s not as oversized or curvaceous as some, but I like the simplicity and the myriad of well-thought-out details that reveal themselves when you look closer. This bike traces its roots back to the original Rocket. There is a clear progression and evolution that I like about it, and the blue with orange accents kills it for me.

Cotic Flaremax
Keeping it real with steel.

Cotic Flaremax
Cotic's Droplink suspension keeps it stiff and low.
Cotic Flaremax
An oversize Reynolds 853 seat tube helps keep the frame stiff.

Cotic Flaremax
Syntace X12 rear axle and unique looking seat stay pivot.


Geometry & Sizing

Cotic offers the FlareMAX in four sizes, from small through to XL. The new Longshot geometry is the company’s response to the trend for longer, slacker and lower bikes. It’s designed around 35 to 50mm stems and is compatible with 120 to 140mm suspension forks, but its numbers are optimized around a 130mm fork.

16061605

Our size large test bike with a 130mm fork, has a 479mm reach, putting it in similar company to the longer bikes in this category. The head angle is 65.6°, seat angle is 73.6°, chainstays are 447.5mm, the wheelbase is 1246.2mm, and the bottom bracket drop is -32mm. The seat tubes are kept short to allow for longer dropper posts, measuring 460mm on the size large.


Suspension Design

The FlareMAX is built around the company’s own Droplink suspension design, which first debuted on the original Rocket launched way back in 2012. It’s a linkage-driven single-pivot design, with the shock connected to the seat stays via a short link connected to the seat tube. To ensure adequate stiffness, there are 15mm bearings at the main pivot and the two highly stressed pivot axles are secured with pinch-clamps.

The suspension serves up 120mm of rear-wheel travel and the Droplink configuration allows Cotic to control the leverage ratio as well as increase lateral stiffness. The suspension is intended to deliver generous progression, with ample anti-squat and minimal chain growth to provide good climbing performance. The Droplink arrangement also keeps the frame's center of gravity as low as possible.

Cotic Flaremax
The droplink delivers 120mm of pert and active suspension.



Components

Specifications
Release Date 2018
Price $4498
Travel 120mm
Rear Shock Cane Creek DB air IL
Fork Cane Creek Helm 130
Headset Hope
Cassette SRAM Eagle GX 10-50t
Crankarms Cane Creek eeWings
Chainguide One-Up Top Guide
Bottom Bracket SRAM Eagle GX
Pedals NA
Rear Derailleur SRAM Eagle GX
Chain SRAM Eagle GX
Front Derailleur NA
Shifter Pods SRAM Eagle GX
Handlebar Cotic Calver Bar 780
Stem Cotic Shorter Stem 35mm
Grips Black Grips
Brakes Shimano XT M8000
Wheelset Hope Tech XC 29
Hubs Hope Pro 4
Spokes Sapim Race/Sprint stainless steel double butted spokes
Rim Hope Tech XC 29
Tires WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss
Seat Cotic Saddle
Seatpost -Fusion Manic Stealth 150mm


16061605





Bike Setup

Dialing in the FlareMAX for the first ride was straightforward, so I was outta' the workshop and onto the trail in no time at all. I ran 70psi in the Cane Creek Helm fork and set the shock with about 28 to 30% sag, which worked out to an air-spring pressure of about 160psi. The shock offers a wide range of tuning options, but I found the Cotic base-line setup delivered really good action. It’s a very active suspension that moves around a lot, so I added a couple of clicks of low speed compression to calm it on pedaling sections and climbs. The fork was smooth throughout the test, very plush, and nicely active on smaller impacts, with good progression.

The cockpit was well appointed for me. The Cotic branded bars are a nice shape, with a generous 780mm width and the Cotic-branded saddle was comfortable for longer rides. Its WTB tires came set up for tubeless, which was nice, and I settled on about 21psi for the front tire and 23psi for the rear.

cotic flaremax
David Arthur // Technical Editor
Age: 37
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Height: 5'11"
Ape Index: +4"
Weight: 143 lbs
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @davidjarthur
Testing was conducted on all my local trails plus regular trips into Wales for some bigger days out on the bike, bigger terrain, and bigger roots. Conditions were dry as a bone. The UK has been experiencing a mad heatwave, which is great for BBQ and tan lines, but the trails are dry, dusty and very loose. I’m not complaining, but some of the trails are like riding on marbles.

cotic flaremax
Don't hold its weight against it, the FlareMAX can climb


Climbing

Short-travel bikes usually excel on climbs and flatter trails, and the FlareMAX was no disappointment on this sort of terrain. It won't shy away from embarking on long, cross-country jaunts, but it favors technical terrain, where the suspension and geometry come to the fore, and its weight is less noticeable.

You don’t need me to tell you that a steel frame is never going to be as light as aluminium or carbon. At 33 pounds, the FlareMAX is clearly giving away a number of pounds to aluminum and carbon rivals. Now, I’m not going to try and tell you that it rode lighter than its weight - that would be daft. You notice the weight when you lift it off the car rack, and it doesn’t speed up climbs with the same verve as lighter bikes.

It favors demanding and challenging terrain. There’s ample traction to get up and over the trickiest climbs, and plenty of stability to keep its handling calm and measured. The combination of the Cotic's suspension and the Cane Creek shock moves a lot, even under light pedaling, and it definitely takes some getting used to. But, with the climb switch engaged and a few more clicks of low-speed compression damping, the FlareMAX becomes an efficient climber. In my experience, it favors a smooth, seated pedaling style. The bike isn’t all that conducive to rampant, out-of-the-saddle attacking.

cotic flaremax

It's not that it's slow, it’s just that progress is a bit steadier. Get it up to speed and the FlareMAX maintains momentum well, thanks to bigger wheels and its refined suspension. There’s no excessive flex from the steel frame robbing you of energy when powering up climbs. I’d love if it was a bit lighter, but after several months of testing, the weight hasn't been the big issue I thought it may have been when I first pulled it out of the delivery box. Since then, I’ve done some mammoth rides and the steepest climbs I could find, and not once could I lay any blame at the bike. It’s cleaned the gnarliest ascents and got me 'round some killer loops.

The longer and slacker geometry proved to be no handicap when climbing. I had no problems tackling steep grades and tight switchbacks, and though the seat angle isn’t the steepest in its class I was able to maintain a comfortable seated position, with plenty of breathing space behind the wide bars on extended climbs. There’s ample traction from the tires, and the suspension is refined and efficient (with the climb switch on).

cotic flaremax


Descending

"Fun fast and stable" are words that spring to mind here. It might be short on travel but it’s big on fun. The FlareMAX delivers a massive dose of confidence on fast and technical descents. The suspension sucks up everything, big and small, and the frame displays adequate stiffness when pushing the limits. On the descents when gravity is on your side, the weight becomes a non-issue. This thing flies. If anything, maybe the weight helps its stability, keeping the tires pinned to the ground for traction and stopping it from bouncing off-line

While it might not be the most athletic climber, the Longshot geometry helps the FlareMAX to be blistering fast. The slack head angle and long wheelbase, coupled with suspension that is sensitive and supportive, means you can fire this bike down any boulder-lined trail and it’ll pull off some impressive dance moves. The small amount of flex from the steel frame gives the FlareMAX added calmness on really rough trails when the tires are trying to ping off rocks and roots. Keep it tidy and neat and it makes rapid progress.

Minimal suspension travel gives the FlareMAX a very involving and interactive ride. It’s a playful bike with plenty of pop. I had no problems manualling the front wheel, and it definitely unleashed my inner hooligan. I had huge fun dropping into steep turns and flicking the back end around hairpins - generally being irresponsible. The suspension provides ample progression to ensure it ramps up for the bigger impacts. You can easily dial in more high-speed compression damping if you need more support, but I never bottomed out harshly, despite the rubber O-rings regularly revealing full travel had been achieved.

cotic flaremax


The FlareMAX at times feels like a bigger bike, it's that capable at high speed and on rough trails, with steadfast stability to help you hold even the trickiest line choice. I had no problems manoeuvring it around some tight switchbacks on one of my favorite descents, and the slack head angle comes into its own as the gradient increases. I think 475-480mm reach is my Goldilocks. The weight does blunt its ability to quickly get up to speed on slower trails compared to lighter steeds, but once it’s rolling it trucks along.

If there's a downside to short-travel bikes with such progressive geometry, it's the increased likelihood of getting out of your depth on more challenging terrain. But, I rarely found that to be the case. The Helm fork was more than capable of dealing with the bigger impacts and I never felt like the 120mm travel out back wasn’t enough. My one reservation when I started testing this bike was thinking that, at this weight, you might as well lug around a bit of extra suspension travel, and would the similar, but longer travel Rocket be the smarter choice? I was pleasantly surprised, that the majority of the time, I found the FlareMAX operating within its wide comfort zone. So it stands up on its own and is a decent choice if what you desire is a short-travel trail ripper.

cotic flaremax



How Does it Compare?

2019 Specialized Stumpjumper
Specialized Stumpjumper ST
Swarf Cycles Contour 29er
Swarf Contour 29er

The category for short travel 29ers with decent geometry is growing all the time. One bike that springs to mind is the Specialized Stumpjumper ST (effectively, the new Camber), which is lighter weight, and offers the same front and rear travel as the FlareMAX on 29” wheels. But, its geometry isn’t as progressive, with a 455mm reach and 67.5-degree head angle on the size large. A rival that is closer to home (but which PB has yet to review), is the Swarf Contour 29er - a similar steel frame with 115mm rear-wheel travel, a 465mm reach, and 66.5-degree head angle. It would be interesting to pit these two steel full-suspension bikes side by side in a future test.

Cotic Flaremax
Cotic Flaremax


Technical Report

Cane Creek DB Air IL shock: I was initially intimidated by all the dials and levers, but the factory settings provided a really good setup, ensuring the shock worked really well. This is a brilliant little shock that perfectly suits the FlareMAX. It's eager to move, which can take some getting used to. The climb switch is super useful, and a couple of extra clicks of low-speed compression soothed its bobbing tendencies on flatter trails

SRAM Eagle GX 12-speed: How many times has it been said on here? SRAM's 12-speed GX is a solid performing groupset that didn't miss a beat. Easy shifting, all the range for the steepest trails, and reliable. What more would you want?

Cane Creek eeWings: These titanium cranks are things of utter beauty. The weight is in the same ballpark as a carbon crank and they are incredibly stiff - but crikey, that price tag!

WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss tires: Not the most fashionable tires, but I really like them, They seem to just work well on my local trails, and the fast-rolling Trail Boss has been ideal for the super dry conditions we've been 'blessed' with this summer.



Pros

+ Fast and fun
+ Longshot geometry
+ Suspension is sensitive, supple and supportive
Cons

- Limited space for a frame mounted water bottle
- On the heavy side
- Seat tube angle could be steeper



Cotic Flaremax


Is This the Bike for You?

If you love riding technically challenging trails at speed and don’t mind trading a bit of climbing speed for extra capability in the rough, the Cotic FlareMAX is pretty easy to recommend. In a market saturated with aluminium and carbon bikes, it’s nice to see steel getting a bit of attention, but you don't have to be passionate about steel to buy the FlareMAX. It’s a wicked fast and fun bike. And, if you’re British, buying local might be the final clincher. I just wish it was a bit lighter.


Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe combination of great suspension and geometry lets you have loads of fun on all sorts of trails, but it's agile enough to enjoy when the trail doesn't demand a big bike - and for a lot of UK trails, it's all the bike I think many people need. Yes, it's maybe a bit heavier than I'd like, but the way it rides, I'm almost prepared to overlook it. It certainly hasn't dented how much fun I've been having testing this bike. Fun, fast, engaging, and exciting - the FlareMAX has won me over. David Arthur







180 Comments

  • + 149
 Thanks for the positive comments guys. It's much appreciated.

Weight is a funny one. It's pretty clear to me that Dave loved the bike once he was actually riding it, and it's worth point out that this bike actually shipped with Hope Enduro wheels and our Tough Casing rear tyre option. We don't just build frames to last, we do the same with our bikes. You could drop half a pound off if you ride somewhere which doesn't need a Tough casing rear tyre. You could half a pound or more off using a different wheelset easily if you have another preference. That said, where we live around Sheffield and the Peak District in England, it's rocky and fast riding, and even guys riding carbon bikes aren't getting them appreciably lighter than our builds, because they have tough tyres and wheels. Sure, it's never going to be lightest option, but as a few people pointed out, I very much doubt you'd save much over a similar aluminium frame like the Smuggler or Process. The frame did get a little heavier for 2018 because I decided to up spec the down tube and seatstays, based on feedback of what people are doing on these bikes. Just because they are short on travel, doesn't mean they are short on capability, so people will smash on them and quite rightly. It's a trail bike for doing a bit of everything. And if you're wanting a lighter bike, there's carbon frames bikes out there for you. It'd be boring if we all made the same bike. It won't be a rad a FlareMAX obviously, but it would be lighter ;-)

As for the head badge, well, it splits opinion, but the worst thing you can be is uninteresting. If some people love it, some people are going to hate it!
  • + 19
 Keep making the great frames you make and keep giving your excellent customer service! You might not be the biggest company, but you sure punch above your weight
  • + 6
 Loving my Flare MAX!
  • + 5
 Love the steel! Beautiful bikes keep up the good work!
  • + 2
 These guys 'pink bike' always complain about the weight of bikes... don't take it personally.
  • + 2
 @enduroNZ: Zerode much? Smile
  • + 4
 the author does only weight 143lbs, or about as much as one of my turds Razz
  • + 2
 Personally, I think the whole subject of Mtb weight needs to be reassessed.
When was the last time the lightest mtb was the fastest mtb, or the most fun? Pretty much never.
Constantly chasing lighter weight mtbs is meaningless
  • + 1
 @IllestT: yeah but its the only thing that the "marketers" can measure with any certainty. As such they are going to keep making a song and dance about it until the end of time.

I completely agree with you. It's a whole lot easier and cheaper losing excess body weight. My HT is 32lb so another pound or two isn't going to break the bank. Also its relative to your weight and strength. At 95kg i'm quite happy on a slightly heavier build.
  • + 2
 Can vouch for the Process (134). Med weight is mid 32's with a 160 Pike and tubeless Minion DHF 2.5F&2.3R. Don't notice the weight much, thing friggin rips. Only downside is that it's not a 29er! XD

Thanks for making rad bikes.
  • + 4
 Got myself the RocketMax, awesome bike and awesome company. And if we're brutally honest, most people could do with losing the added weight from around the middle before worrying about a couple of pounds here and there on a bike! Keep making them solid and durable!
  • + 3
 How could somebody not like your head-badge? First off you actually have a head-badge. Second, it's a rad head-badge!
  • + 60
 Sharp looking bike. That head badge is off the hook
  • + 80
 The fact that you just revived the term "off the hook" is in itself off the heezy.
  • + 7
 @mkul7r4: bike looks wicked, folks.
  • + 11
 @mkul7r4: Heezy? Thats baller bro.
  • + 2
 @chillrider199: fo shizzle my nizzle
  • + 13
 One of the best looking bikes anywhere. The spec is fuckin mental. Feel like this would rule in BC
  • + 1
 And it rides like a Swarf. I’m sold.
  • + 2
 @mkul7r4: Fo-shizzle.
  • + 3
 @Boardlife69: You win for getting Snoop talk back on the internet.
  • + 2
 @cotic-bikes: for some of us, it never left...
  • + 1
 GANG GANG!
  • + 1
 @cotic-bikes: I'll gladly take a new bike as the prize.......or a pair of unmatching sock, or some Gin-n-Juice. Laid back.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: With those cranks, my mind's on the money and the money's on my mind.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: yeeeah Biiotch
  • + 31
 Cotic would have to be one of the hardest working small privately owned brands out there. They tour the UK doing demo rides, sponsor up and coming riders and are a pleasure to deal with. Cy’s newsletters are so informative and friendly and just the whole vibe from them is great! Bikes are made by riders with riders input too. Geometry is spot on if you ask me. I’ve got a couple of their frames and can’t praise Cy and his team enough for their help and advice along the way! Great stuff hey!
  • + 13
 Seconded.
Help and advice has always been forthcoming from Paul and Cy; a pleasure to have done business with over the years.

Nearly ten years ago now, Cy even arranged to have one single BFe frame stickered up and sent over direct to me in Japan from Taiwan so that I didn't have to wait for the frames to go first to the UK.

Top. top people. Top, top bikes.
  • + 4
 Loving my Rocketmax. Such a joy to ride
  • + 32
 Looks better than the new Yeti Razz .
  • + 28
 Steel is Sexier
  • + 3
 Steel is definitely underrated as material for making full-suss bikes, glad to see more manufacturers using the material. It feels like a big bike because it is a big bike, why not give it more travel? Its not Cotic's fault, they're just following the trend, but I don't understand this trend of making big bikes, in every way (weight, length, geometry, etc.) but cutting back on travel. How do you think a bike with these numbers is going to be ridden? Give it the travel to ride it the way its meant to be ridden. Its like buying a 911 GT3 but putting narrow all-season tires on it before hitting the race track.
  • + 5
 @SlodownU: We have another bike in the range (the RocketMAX) which is our 'big' bike. It has more travel, but also has different angles. This bike is pitched a trail bike because with the new geometry it feels like it has all the bases covered whilst keeping a lively feel. Just because a bike is mid-travel, doesn't mean it shouldn't be confidence inspiring and capable.
  • + 20
 Sooo THAT was the comparison?! A couple data points from the SJ’s geo chart and a “wouldn’t it be cool if we had ridden the Swarf”?!?!

PB editorial staff: Clearly you instruct your reviewers to give no-opinion reviews... b/c there is a concern that bike companies will no longer give you bikes to review? Is that why? Really?

How about PB develops the reputation of the most no-nonsense, hard hitting, opinionated, no-holds-barred reviews, so that PB becomes THE place consumers go for actual reviews, opinions, etc. Give your writers the room to actually say when something stinks, to truly compare bikes, etc. Manufacturers will have no choice but to have PB review their product, otherwise they’ll be seen as hiding flaws, etc. And when a ride is truly amazing, your readers will actually believe it!

TL/DR: Enough fake news. Tell it like it is!
  • + 7
 same thoughts here. They just compare the specs. Not the ride quality.
  • - 1
 That's what other websites are for. They tend to ride far fewer bikes though.
  • + 0
 Ok. What site do you consider superior?
  • + 1
 @mtbikeaddict: here at pinkbike can be good, depending on the writer. blistergearreview.com is usually very thorough (1,000 mile GX eagle review for example). vitalmtb.com can be good, but a bit hit or miss at times.
  • + 4
 Was about to make this comment. I can split screen both bikes spec sheets if thats what i want to see. I wanna know the differences in how they behave. Its like some of the reviewers forget to do the "how does it compare" section until 12:27am the night before its supposed to go up.
  • + 1
 Vital mtb is where you go for the real, honest reviews. Pink bike is just for the comment section
  • + 1
 Let’s be honest, isn’t that why we all come to pinkbike- is to see the comments. When I scroll the feed I’m just looking see which article has the most comments!!
  • + 2
 "One bike that springs to mind is the Specialized Stumpjumper ST (effectively, the new Camber), which is lighter weight, and offers the same front and rear travel as the FlareMAX on 29” wheels. But, its geometry isn’t as progressive, with a 455mm reach and 67.5-degree head angle on the size large."

This tells us nothing. Geometry not as "progressive"? So what? What does that mean? Maybe the "less progressive" numbers work fine for the Stumpy. Maybe the more progressive numbers don't quite work out on this kind of bike. Or vice-versa. Yes, there will be trade-offs in either direction. Delve into them, please. Otherwise, this paragraph is just a waste of space.

"A rival that is closer to home (but which PB has yet to review), is the Swarf Contour 29er - a similar steel frame with 115mm rear-wheel travel, a 465mm reach, and 66.5-degree head angle. It would be interesting to pit these two steel full-suspension bikes side by side in a future test."

Yes, that would be interesting. If only there were a website somewhere with access to these bikes and testers who might be able to do that for us...
  • + 4
 I've been involved in the gear review side of snowboarding for nearly 8 years. Telling it like it is, no concern for brand alliances or ad dollars. At this point we're pretty much the only source worth a damn but there are major brands that still wont work with us. And you know what, it doesn't matter. Consumers aren't smart enough to recognize when a brand is being excluded and even if they do, when they find out it's because that brand won't send product, they don't care. The average consumer isn't looking to reviews to learn what fits them best, they look to them to confirm that the bike they already want is good enough that they won't be looked down on for riding it. Unless something is truly terrible you won't hear negativity from major media about it. The only solution is to run a site on viewer support (go find your favorite reviewer on the youtubes and see if they have a patreon btw) or non-bike industry supporters/advertisers. And are you gonna listen to a guy telling you the Giant Trance, Spesh Stumpy, or Trek Slash sucks when his main site sponsor is Gold Bond powder? Didnt think so.
  • + 1
 TRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUEISMMMMMM
  • + 18
 Its steeling my heart!
  • + 4
 Someone may say it's an outdated material.. but I steel love it
  • + 7
 Great to see a review of a proper bike made of metal unlike glorified plastic ones all the time. Glad to see designers not shying away from steel and more people embracing it. Long live steel bikes!
  • + 0
 Why do people still refer to carbon fibre bikes as 'plastic', what does carbon fibre have to do with plastic?
  • + 3
 @justanotherusername: Certainly sounds like plastic when you tap it! I prefer my bikes to go ting. Always have done always will do. Carbon is massively over rated and even more massively over priced for what it is.
  • + 4
 @Matt76: "Avid hater of carbon fibre!"

I suppose its best to take anythign you say about carbon frames with a pinch of salt really.
  • + 3
 @justanotherusername: its to do with the polymer resin, carbon fibres are nothing without the glue that holds them together.
  • + 2
 Anyway let's not lose sight over that fact that I am saying what an excellent bike this is. Nice one Cotic. I have known a few people who have had your frames and rave about them.
  • + 2
 @justanotherusername: Plastic is the generic term for lots of polymer materials. Carbon fibre bike frames are carbon fibre reinforcement polymer, just like a fancier version of glass fibre reinforced polymer.
  • + 2
 @threehats: So I was right all along then...glorified plastic haha!
  • + 1
 @threehats: I am quite aware of how a carbon frame is constructed but calling it plastic because of the use of polymer resin is garbage, its like saying MDF is plastic.

Its probably more likely because Matt76 is old enough to remember GT and their thermoplastic RTS...
  • + 3
 @Matt76:
"Massively overpriced for what it is"

Ignoring whatever ride characteristic preferences one might have, replacing alloy with carbon is probably the most cost effective way of reducing weight on a bicycle.

Using everyone's favorite benchmark, the YT Jeffsy, going from the lowest spec 27 Al to the lowest carbon spec 27 cf saves 1000 grams at a cost of 1.2 grams/dollar.

Granted the cost effectiveness plummets once you move onto smaller components, but that has more to do with the labor involved and the geometric constraints than it does with the material itself. (Going to highest spec 27 cf race saves 400 grams at a cost of $1500).
  • + 1
 *dollars /gram
  • + 1
 @justanotherusername: Haha, I do...in fact I had GT STS DH. And it shattered! Piece of crap it was. Replaced under warranty. I sold it and then it broke again. Plastic you see!
  • + 1
 @Matt76: haha, I knew it, no wonder you hate carbon frames after experiencing that pos.

I remember seeing one a local dh racer had when I was a kid, it looked totally space age at the time, he also said he had been through a couple!
  • + 1
 @Matt76: iirc they were actually referred to as “thermoplastic” back then weren’t they?
  • + 1
 @pimpin-gimp: They were indeed!
  • + 9
 Those eewings are absolute dream cranks. Unattainable, that is.
  • + 2
 I saw a set in person at my LBS over the weekend and omg so nice. Expensive but I found myself trying to justify them.
  • + 5
 @Tmackstab: When we opened the first box of them it was like the scene in Pulp Fiction when Jules and Vincent open the suitcase ;-)
  • + 3
 @cotic-bikes: 'oh we good'
  • + 5
 A very apparent comparison would be the 2018 transition smuggler. Very comparable geometry, another suspension layout and other frame material. It would have been very interesting to read a real comparison of these two bikes. Since PB have tested both this seems feasable.
  • + 12
 Probably weighs about the same too
  • + 1
 I'm a big fan of steel and own 2 bikes with frames made of it. I have 2 issues with this bike... The weigh to travel ratio is probably one of the worst in the industry. The logo/headbadge looks like something my niece designed. Besides that I like the rocker link, and most other features.
  • + 7
 @ShempHoward: what bike company does your niece work for?
  • + 7
 @ShempHoward: Matter of personal preference, I love the logo :-D
  • + 2
 @smashmouth: It definitely is and if you own a bike company then decide to use a 1984 throw back logo that's on you. That would be the first thing I took off that bike if someone gave me a free one, ya I wouldn't pay money for that,, sorry.
  • + 3
 @Mojo348: Yes it does. But who cares? These bikes are definitely not for weight weenies. They should get a scott spark or something similar Wink
  • + 2
 @ShempHoward: You wouldnt pay money for a bike solely based on a headtube badge?
  • + 1
 Double post.
  • + 1
 @watchtower: if I had to guess, i would guess cotic apparently.
  • + 1
 @NebulousNate: No the badge is easily removable, that's my specialty. Like the design just a bit heavy for such little travel. Already have too many bikes anyway. My reign x a few years back was the same weight but 170mm X 167mm travel. Now have a 150mm that goes btw 28-29lbs depending in tires basically.
  • + 10
 Damn that bike is cool.
  • + 10
 steel is real
  • + 16
 You could melt it down to a hammer and smash carbon fiber frames when your done with it 20 years from now.
  • - 9
flag poah (Aug 28, 2018 at 1:09) (Below Threshold)
 @schlockinz: if it isn't a pile of rust
  • + 6
 I've got a FlareMAX and it's insanely good! The most fun bike I've ever ridden, and the most capable too. So sure footed, but an absolute blast. It makes me want to ride A LOT!
  • + 5
 I've got an original 2012/13 Cotic Rocket and I love it. If/when it gives up, hopefully in no less than 5 years or so from now, I'll get whatever newer version of it they're making by then.
  • + 4
 I haven't ridden the FlareMax, only the regular Flare but all of that review rings true. Don't get hung up on the weight as I've got one of the new Rockets, so it's heavier and longer travel, and it climbs as well as my 2015 Trek Fuel EX 27.5 despite there being a 4lb weight difference! If you get the chance to try a Cotic bike do so.
  • + 4
 Rad, had a few Cotic HT's and loved 'em, i also love short (ish) travel wagon wheelers , Phantom, Process 111, Primer etc so would be keen to throw a leg over this. I think the crazy weight weenie attitude is a bit over done, sure no one wants to lug 16 plus kg up a hill but a dependable bike with a bottle and tools and tyres that can handle abuse aint gonna be 13 kg unless it is a money no object thing, long story short, i like this.
  • + 7
 When my carbon framed Giant Anthem goes to God...it is this sort of thing that will find a happy home at my place.
  • + 3
 Picked up a new FlareMax frame that I built up and have been riding it all summer...It's been a blast to ride. Definitely feels like more travel when you're heading down, and while you can feel the heft on climbs, it stays planted when out of the saddle. My Tallboy LT and RIP9 have been shelved for the time being.
  • + 6
 Weird way to review the WTBs, "not the most fashionable?" Whats that even mean
  • + 5
 idk, WTB tires are great
  • + 2
 @mkul7r4: agreed, and the Vigilante is coming as 2.5 now
  • + 1
 I've always thought WTB tires are pretty fashionable, not less than say maxxis or Michelin
  • + 1
 447mm. Chainstays!?
  • + 10
 While I tend to agree that they are a bit fashion-repressed, I like to fasten little bow ties to my sidewalls, especially on trendier trails. I find it makes them feel prettier.
  • + 3
 He obviously means popular - trendy to be riding.
  • - 4
flag spaceofades (Aug 27, 2018 at 21:40) (Below Threshold)
 WTB makes me think of OEM weekend warriors on budget hardtails. Maxxis makes me think of Minnaar, E Thirteen makes me think of Gwin, Kenda makes me think of the Hannahs, ect.
  • + 5
 @spaceofades:

WTB makes me think of Weir and JKW.
  • + 2
 @endurocat: Rad. The rear tire might break away on a bike before the front for once.
  • + 3
 Nevegals makes me think of faceplants.
  • + 0
 They're not seen very often over here in the UK, most people run Schwalbe or Maxxis with the odd person on Conti. I have a Cotic Rocket that came with a pair of Convicts on it and I'm actually impressed with them, fitted a Trail Boss on the rear for the summer though as it really has been unusually dry here for the last few months!! All WTB need is a carcass that's between the light and tough ones and they'd be great as the light carcass wears fast on the sidewalls on my regular trails and the tough is rather heavy! I know they've got a new range coming out so will see next spring what they're like before I decide whether to go for them or back to dependable Maxxis.
  • + 2
 @spaceofades: hey that’s me your talking about and My webs hook up just fine
  • + 3
 @spaceofades: e Thirteen tires make you think of Gwin???
  • - 2
 @endurocat: That’s waaay to long. Deal breaker. Nice to see them building steel, but short travel, aluminum swing arm, and long chainstays makes no sense, esp in an expensive bike. I love me a good steel frame, but this one is a dudder. Too many bikes out there that ride better, weigh less and are more wallet friendly.
  • + 0
 @nurseben: Ride one chap, and let us know what you think after the fact...
  • + 0
 @joedaho: I don't have to ride a bike with long chainstays to know how a bike with long chainstays rides; it rides like it has long chainstays.

Seriously, if I was an XC rider and didn't care anything about my bike being playful and fun, sure, long chainstays might be the cat's meow, but that ain't me.

So yeah, revise the geo and maybe it'd be worthy, otherwise it's just another bike that's build with old geo.
  • + 6
 In a world of bikes that don't look like bikes, this looks like a bike, and I'd buy one.
  • + 6
 Small weight issues seem to be a problem in the head. Only really feeling it when carrying the bike around.
  • + 1
 Well it really depends with whom you are riding.

I don't really care how much my bike weight when I am on my own, or in a no drop ride with people from all kind of levels. When riding with some of my fittest friends, who are smaller, don't have kids, ride top of the line carbon bikes and spend a larger amount of time training I tend to be the always draggy rider on the longest climbs so I wouldn't want to add weight to an otherwise already hefty package. I understand I would have much more to gain by being lighter and ride a bit more but at this point in my life this is not the priority #1.

Best would be to have multiple bikes ha !
  • + 1
 @opignonlibre:
Carbon statt Kondition gel du?
youtu.be/j4LS8qRH17U
  • + 2
 I tested a Cotic Rocket at their HQ a few weeks ago and it was fantastic, so confidence inspiring I hit a descent for the first time at full speed and launched myself headfirst into a tree. I've tested a couple of other bikes since but nothing felt as good. Now I just need to decide which of their Droplink bikes I want to go for.
  • + 2
 Really love this. Steel tubing retains it's magic feel, and for much longer than aluminum. However, I do appreciate the frame design including double head tube gussets, and the sneaky aluminum chainstays. Yeah, flex is an issue in any steel full-sus, but they seem to have smartly tackled that. This is what a mountain bike should be.
  • + 1
 I'd still prefer a rocket max as possible replacement for my spitfire and departed DH bike. I guess we can't expect an in depth review now? Other than its longer, slacker, heavier, more cumbersome going up and more capable going down etc. Could do with knowing if the rocketmax requires Arnie power mass for hike a biking
  • + 4
 J'ai un Cotic Rocket mk2 27.5 avec des wheles en 26 "et des pneus 2.50. I like Smile Smile Smile
  • + 4
 “I was initially intimidated by all the dials and levers”

You probably should not be reviewing mountain bikes
  • + 1
 Why? I think it’s safe to say the majority of riders don’t know how to tune their suspension. Some times less is more.
  • + 15
 @thejake: why should I trust someone to feel out a bike if they’re scared to use suspension adjustments that help achieve the best from a bike?
  • + 2
 @kleinblake: Bike reviews by gear head, wannabe World Cub mechanics, eager to tackle the most complex suspensions on the planet, is that one mtb website that no one can ever remember the name of.
  • + 3
 @kleinblake: you probably shouldn’t trust anything as a sole provider of facts. Even if someone spouts psycho babble about oil flow through ports and feeling the difference a whole millimeter makes, they shouldn’t be solely trusted. Knowing jargon does not a subject matter expert make.
  • + 2
 The bike is a beauty, but I fee like if I was in the market for a shortish travel bike I would want it for super long multi-day rides and would want it on the lighter side, rather than the same as my 150/160mm 29er.
  • + 1
 So tell me again why all the other bike brands need all kinds of fugly bends in the front triangle and this gorgeous bike has nice an straight tubes? All other brands should take notice.
  • + 2
 Because this is a steel frame and because you can make a stronger and lighter frame by manipulating tube shape (for aluminium bikes, for carbon you obviously get an even greater degree of ability there)

If you dont like curvy (but probably lighter) frames then this one is here for you, I personally love the look of this frame but understand its shortcomings and why a hydroformed aluminium frame can offer benefits (And negatives of course)
  • + 1
 @justanotherusername: steel can be hydroformed, but it is very expensive for the thin wall high tolernaces necessary for bikes
  • + 1
 @R-trailking-S: ah I didn't say you couldn't, but it isn't a technique typically used for cycle frames, they hydroform Ti tubing too if you have the coin for it.
  • + 1
 To simply generalize the majority... Steel = take straight pipes and weld together. Aluminum/carbon = Hydroform/mold whatever into all kinds of shapes, sizes, and stiffness to weight stuff. To each their own.
  • + 3
 Between this and Starling Murmur.. I can't decide on my first steel full sus
  • + 4
 Starling won't deal with you in the US at the moment and Cotic has an importer and honours warranties. Easy choice IMO
  • + 1
 @j-t-g: Starling will ship to USA and Canada and and will honour warranties. Why do you think they won't?
  • + 1
 @camshreds

Ignore @j-t-g, Starling will ship to USA...
  • + 1
 @j-t-g: There is a couple Starlings in the NS area .
  • + 1
 @phutphutend: because a little while ago they told me they wouldn't honour warranties in NA
  • + 1
 @j-t-g: A while ago that was true as there was no insurance in place. But that has changed and Starlings are available to the USA and Canada with full warranty.
  • + 2
 When a bike is advertised as 29/27.5 compatible, does that mean it's NOT 27.5 compatible with regular width tires?
  • + 4
 If 27.5+ fit, then standard 27.5 will obviously fit too.

However, if it's designed with the larger diameter wheels(tyres incl), my guess would be that 'just' 27.5 would put the BB r-e-a-l-l-y low?
  • + 3
 No, its the PC way of dealing with confused tire sizes that arent sure of their true size.
  • + 1
 Cotic do a regular Flare (not max) too for 27.5.

I want.
  • + 2
 @The-BIG-GT: Anything you see in the Cotic range with MAX after the name is for big wheels i.e. 29" or 27.5 x 2.8 or 3.0. If you put regular 27.5" tyres on this bike it would drop the BB about 15mm compared to 29" wheels, which puts it far too low for what we consider sensible ground clearance. The Flare (not MAX) is our 27.5" trail bike. It's going to be available in a new version with Longshot geometry like this bike in a few weeks.
  • + 2
 @cotic-bikes: I have Cotic Rocket mk2 27.5 with wheel in 26 " and tires 2.50. I like
Smile Smile Smile
  • + 1
 Surprised no one has mentioned the super slack STA. I’m
Not even going to complain about weight for climbing, but the STA... nope!
  • + 1
 33lbs is a heavy mountain bike? I guess to a 143 lb rider it might be? Maybe have a second rider of a "heavier caliber" chuck it around some and see how it rides...
  • + 1
 33lb bikes with 120mm of travel. this is like the cute utes that come with 134hp and weigh 3600 pounds.
  • + 1
 in the second paragraph of construction, you mean the seatstays are steel, not the chainstays. Right? Bike looks rad!
  • + 1
 The cane creek cranks use sram bottom brackets (gxp)?

Or is that just a typo in the spec sheet?
  • + 1
 Definitely doesn't use GXP.
  • + 0
 The cranks don't come with a BB (or chainring) so you have to source your own threaded BB. They probably went with SRAM because it's one of the cheapest options.
  • + 1
 @ka-brap: being threaded do not mean they are equals. While the internal diameter (24mm) of the drive side cup is the same, the NDS cups internal diameter of GXP is 22mm while it stays at 24mm for hollowtech II.
  • + 3
 Its a hope bb
  • + 1
 Typo... eeWings need a BB that fits a 30mm spindle... BSA30, BB30, PF30, T47, so on and so forth...
  • + 1
 @ka-brap: you literally cannont put that crankset on a gxp bb. Wrong standard.
  • + 2
 Typo on the spec sheet. eeWings are 30mm, so same BB as Race Face, Hope, those kinds of things.
  • + 1
 It's nice. But that shifter cable routing is a bit crap under suspension compression...
  • + 0
 You never thought 120mm wasnt enough? Thats a reflection on you, the reviewer, not the bike
  • + 2
 Loving the cranham Smile
  • + 1
 Who said steel wasn't sexy?
  • + 1
 I think this is the new Process 111!
  • + 0
 One day.

On another note anyone ridden the regular 27.5 Flare? I haven't found any reviews of it anywhere.
  • + 2
 Yep, I'm just back from 2 weeks in the Alps with my Flare. Cane Creek DB Inline and 140mm Pikes.
It was awesome, felt incredibly composed at speed on Alpine singletrack (once I got the shock dialled in) and was more than nimble enough to flick around switchbacks. Never felt out of its depth (despite riding alongside Bronsons, Nomads, etc).
Also works incredibly well on the trails around me in the Scottish Highlands (i.e. it pedals as well as it goes down).
  • + 1
 Spent a few hours on a 2017 Flare 27.5 in the Peak District, last year. At the request of a friend who wanted a second opinion before buying. Tough, fun bike and well able to deal with rock rash! Enjoyed it on some steep stuff also, but didn’t like the Roughcut Fork and shock much. Friend bought one with a Rockshox set up and she is well pleased a year later. Cotic are good value also!
As mentioned by Waki, the BTR Pinner is better in some ways and beautifully built, but it’s a lot more money.
  • + 2
 I've had one for about a year. (130mm Mattoc and stock x fusion O2) Incredible fun. Its very tossable and responsive, yet somehow continues to impress me with how poised it stays on sketchier decents. It seems to outperform its lower travel specs. The steel seems to show the most in terms of how it deals with trail feedback. It seems to filter out the harsh chatter and deliver a firm and clean feel of what you're riding over. Its quite a nice feeling. It doesn't climb like a HT, but certainly isn't a tank uphill (lighter than the flaremax). A great bike if you're a weirdo that still likes HT's for their playful nature (like me), but want something a bit more capable for more hardcore riding. But I'm biased, and a bit of a fanboi, so take it or leave it
  • + 1
 Cheers all. One day, but not one day soon unfortunately.
  • + 0
 The swarf is amazing. Highly recommended and just kick ass bike all around
  • + 3
 I love the Swarf. Cotic is cool too, defo one of the coolest bikes on my “to buy if I ever get rich list”. The orange Cotic Soul is an icon for fks sake. Then the BTR Pinner. Then if I had cash and room in garage for one more bike I would get a meth addict bike like Sick.
  • + 0
 Water bottle... Stopped reading.
  • + 1
 F,n want!!!!!
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