Classy Brit trail bike
The new Cotic FlareMAX is still a 29in or 27.5+ steel framed full suspension bike with 120mm of travel – but it’s now longer and slacker.
Cotic FlareMAX need to know
- 120mm rear travel
- Reynolds 853 steel front triangle, alloy swingarm
- Designed for 130mm fork (will accept 140mm fork max.)
- 29in or 27.5+ wheel options
- Droplink linkage-driven single-pivot suspension
- New Longshot geometry
- 65.6° head angle
- Reach increased by up to 35mm (XL is now 507mm reach)
- Sizes: S (new), M, L, XL
- Claimed weight 30.3 lbs w/o pedals
- Complete bikes from £2,699 (up to £4,599)
- Frames from £1,499
Cotic introduced the Flare and FlareMAX in the summer of 2016 alongside a a few other models. It was big year for Cotic and arguably no small gamble. Thankfully the gamble paid off and Cotic are now riding high on a wave of positive reviews and a burgeoning fanbase.
The cult of steel
The whole cult of steel full suspension bikes has also timed – and chimed – in well with what Cotic have always been about since their very first bike, the Cotic Soul hardtail.
Mountain bike suspension is not a new thing any more and some olders riders will be on their tenth full suspension bike. Knowledge and experience about suspension and about chassis/frame feel is much deeper than it’s ever been. It’s no longer just a case of talking about bike weight and pedal bob. Mountain biking has matured enough into subtleties of frame feel. Steel tubing is claimed to reduce fatigue, improve grip and offer line-choice leeway.
And hey, steel tubes look cool again too. That doesn’t hurt.
Cotic FlareMAX is a Longshot
The new Cotic FlareMAX is essentially the same remit of mountain bike as before. Cotic do the Rocket and RocketMAX for enduro racers and hard riders. The Flare and FlareMAX is for weekend warrior regular trail riders.
But the bike world has changed significantly in the past year or two. Head angles have got slacker certainly, but that’s been the case every year since about 2008. The big change has been bike length. Specifically reach and top tube lengths.
Cotic’s new progressive (ie. long reach) geometry is called Longshot. Essentially it’s a version of the Forward Geometry principle instigated by Mondraker; make the top tube longer and fit a shorter stem. Happily, Cotic haven’t shied away from slackening the head angle by well over a full degree (65.6° versus previous 66.9°, with 130mm forks).
What else do you need to know about the FlareMAX? Chainstays are 447.5mm long. It’s Boost at both ends. It’s 1x specific, complete with integrated One Up Component chain guide. Stealth routing for dropper posts. The rear mech cabling is also internally routed through the chainstay. There’s a set of bottle mounts in the front triangle.
Cotic FlareMAX first ride thoughts
A few years ago there was a trend for 29ers that were short on travel but big on fun. Plucky, fearless little rippers that punched way above their weight.
Well Cotic’s new FlareMAX captures the spirit of those benchmark models and moves the game on again.
The Droplink suspension gives 120mm of travel out back, configured in a super-progressive fashion. So it responds instantly to your inputs and delivers a snappy, poppy ride quality that’s completely addictive.
And the geometry and sizing are generous, without being excessive, so confidence goes through the roof and you can’t help attacking trails with the kind of contempt normally reserved for something boasting much more travel.
Obviously this can get you in a bit of trouble, but the stability of the chassis helps keep the Flare on your side.
Equally, the frame construction, with its signature Reynolds 853 steel front triangle and bridgeless seatstays, wants to find the path of least resistance, so you don’t get knocked off line as easily as you might with a super stiff frame.
And with the 29er wheels wrapped in some aggressive tyres, you can take liberties with the Flare that you wouldn’t have thought possible.
Changes over the previous model include a new back end with new alloy forgings for extra stiffness, single-ring only frame design, revised geometry with longer reach and a more progressive kinematics.
The size large 29er we rode had a 480mm reach, 65 degree head angle and 1,246mm wheel base with a 130mm travel fork.
And there’s room to run 27.5in wheels and Plus tyres if that’s more your cup of tea.
Prices run from £1,500 for the frame only, and £2,800 for a full build with Shimano SLX and X-Fusion suspension.
We really liked the FlarMAX. Although it was only a brief ride, it reminded us of Scooby Doo’s diminutive nephew, Scrappy, who was always up for a fight, however big or scary the adversary.
We can’t wait to get our hands on one for a bit longer.