I know what you’re thinking: the RocketMAX is another steel single-pivot from the U.K. And to be fair the Cotic is… well, at least the front triangle. The Reynolds 853 steel tubing is welded and painted in the UK by Five Land Bikes, while the seatstay and alloy chainstays are manufactured in Taiwan.
First, Cotic forms the top tube into an oval shape to add stiffness, and Reynolds 853 and the heavy-duty downtube are exclusive to Cotic. I was surprised that the bolt-on shock mount wasn’t modular like we’ve seen on Starling’s steel full-suspension bikes, which would allow for geometry tweaks. After chatting with Cotic owner, Cy Turner, he explained that while it may work for shocks driven solely by a single pivot, their 'droplink' suspension layout is sensitive to a position change, and sliding that mount in any other orientation would disrupt the suspension kinematics too much for their liking.
Like most steel frames these days, a 44mm tapered headtube uses an external lower headset cup, whereas the top is semi-integrated for a lower stack height. A 35mm seat tube supports the droplink rocker arm to add progression as the swingarm pushes on the shock. A pinch bolt clamps down on that link and the Gen4 frame now uses a hex-shaped pivot axle to retain stiffness. In my eyes, integrated clamps look ultra-tidy and I would appreciate the same construction applied to the top of the seat tube too, rather than a bulkier alloy option.
Before we go any further, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the water bottle cage rests under the downtube where it gets sprayed with dirt. Under the top tube are more bosses to mount a tool or tube, but there's not enough room for a water bottle. Yes, it’s a minor inconvenience that I dealt with by easily removing the lid. As long as the spout is closed, the crap won't get in and it’s not like it stays as clean as a whistler on the top of the downtube either. You’ll have to be mindful when loading the bike onto a tailgate pad so as to not snap off the cage.
These pivot bolts protrude a little too far. Although I never clipped my heels on them while pedaling, I tagged my shins from time to time when hiking the bike uphill.
Storing the water bottle under the downtube just meant I had to spray the dirt off first or twist the cap completely off. The location isn't ideal and it was trickier to reach on the fly, but at least it's there.
Moving to the rear of the bike, the chainstay is built from forged 6066-T aluminum to reduce twisting under loads while staying in slim packaging that maximizes tire clearance. A Syntace axle keeps things tidy without the need for extra pinch bolts. Where the seatstay pivots on the chainstay, there are bolts that do protrude outwards past the tube profile. This didn’t pose any mechanical mishaps, though the chain can ping off of these bolts, as well as your shins when walking beside the bike. A sleeker execution and smoother shape would be welcomed.
Speaking of appearances, the cable routing is a mix of external on the front triangle that are held down by some clever clamps; only the dropper post cable runs inside the front triangle. On this build, I didn’t need to fuss with the routing through the stays since it came loaded with SRAM’s AXS electronic shifting. Only the shift housing passes through the seatstay since the brake line remains outside along the top of the chainstay.