Words & Photos by Robert Johnson
Founded in 2002 by Cy Turner, Cotic Bikes is to Sheffield, UK, what Santa Cruz is to, well…Santa Cruz! What began with the classic Soul hardtail 17 years ago, has now evolved in to a diverse range of bikes covering the trail and enduro genres. Now they’ve even got Plus, gravel and road options. A common theme throughout the range is the use of Reynolds steel tubing and an “Ovalform” top tube, which is touted to offer great trail vibration damping.
The Flare sits firmly in the trail segment of Cotic’s offerings. The 125mm of rear travel is paired to a 140mm fork, 27.5” wheels, and their Longshot Geometry to produce a, “Light and lively trail bike,” in their words. I was able to squeeze a week out of their hectic demo schedule to put a size large demo bike to the test on the Peak District’s finest trails.
Sitting aboard the Flare, the initial feeling is that of a very capable bike. The 490mm reach on the size Large should provide riders up to 6’3” with a comfortable descending position, though for those like me with a long inseam, the 74.5-degree effective seat angle is slightly slacker than ideal when the dropper is extended. A 66-degree head angle, 18mm BB drop, 437mm chainstay and 598mm stack round out the numbers, suggesting a good balance between stability and agility to match the bikes intentions. However, the bar height was on the low side since I’ve been riding bikes with a 620mm+ stack recently. Not necessarily a fault of the bike, but simply a consideration that’s required when spec’ing your own Flare.
As with all full suspension Cotic bikes, the 125mm of rear wheel travel is controlled by their droplink system— a linkage driven single pivot. Cotic claims their layout is designed to utilize chain forces to provide relatively high anti-squat in the larger cogs, which reduces in the harder gears. It has a reasonable level of progression, and promises, “Stable braking performance.”
Cotic offers a wide variety of spec customization options when purchasing one of their machines, with Silver, Gold and Platinum level kits available in both Shimano and SRAM guises. Further customization of nearly every component is available within these spec levels, should your bank balance allow for it. These builds begin at roughly $3,640, with the frame and a custom tuned X-fusion O2 shock option at roughly $2,120.
The Gold build I tested featured some mid level kit courtesy of a Shimano XT 11spd drivetrain, Race Face Turbine cranks, X Fusion Manic dropper, a Hope Enduro wheelset, X2 brakes, and a Cotic own-brand cockpit and saddle to round it out. There wasn’t anything overly flashy or stand-out, but I struggled to find any serious complaints with the spec. This spec level comes in at roughly $5,220 using the bike builder on their website.
The Hope wheelset was wrapped in WTB rubber. A 2.5” Vigilante in the light casing rolled up front, while the monstrous 2.5” Convict with Tough Casing did the work out back. It is a formidable pairing that extends the capabilities of any trail machine. The noticeable weight penalty of this chunky rubber is welcome in my eyes, offering vast grip and security, and there was still impressive mud clearance around the rear wheel. At 14.5kg/32lbs, the overall weight of the bike is higher than usual for the class, but can be somewhat justified by the no-nonsense, burly build. It would be easy to knock off a significant portion of the weight with a simple wheel and tire swap, which may be worthwhile if you seek increased climbing pep.
Because the front triangles are made in the UK by Five Land Bikes (rear ends and linkages are produced in Taiwan), Cotic is able to closely monitor the quality of their frames and ensure they meet the highest standards. Frames are coated in an anti-corrosion layer before being painted, and decals are painted on for a high-quality finish. Cable routing is all external and handled by some clean looking cable clamps with the exception of the internally routed seatstay section of gear cable. The Cotic bikes are more expensive than some similar aluminum options, but their excellent build quality, after-sales support and ride feel certainly go some way to offset this.
Buying a Cotic also opens you up to the growing worldwide community of Cotic owners, who all take great pride in owning their Cotic machines and have regular meet-ups to ride and chat about them. From my experiences at the events that Cotic regularly host at their UK headquarters, it’s clear that a certain passion accompanies the ownership of a Cotic bike.