Cotic Hemlock £950

Exclusive: First full susser from UK cult brand

BikeRadar score 4/5

Starting with the classic long travel 853 steel Soul, Cotic has grown from an after-hours shed project to a fully grown, full time brand for Cy Turner. The full suspension Hemlock is a whole new world for the once hardtail-only family, but still shares their totally grounded 'real rider' priorities.

Chassis - lighter than it looks + choice of linkages

It stays with Cotic's long and low 'super compact' sizing, with the small and medium sizes (effectively the same height, just different lengths) actually having more standover clearance than a Soul hardtail. A big gusset on the seat tube/top tube junction means you can run a 400mm long seatpost without splitting the frame in half. The straight seat tube means you can still drop it right down for steep sections, too. The tubular front is backed up with a square stayed rear, with heavily CNC machined bridge sections for gaping mud clearance even with 2.6in rubber. Machined dropouts are cantilevered off the back, while twin bearing FSR- style pivots on the chainstay and 15mm main pivot axle create a true four-bar suspension system. While they look like solid slabs from the outside, the rocker plates are heavily machined on the inside too, bringing the whole frame in lighter than it looks at 2.94kg (6.5lb) for a medium. The unique aspect of the Hemlock, though, is that rather than one linkage with different shock/pivot positions is supplied with either short 105mm (4.1in) or long (150mm) (5.9in) travel linkages (or both for £50 extra).

Ride - not super-stiff at the back but ideal for singletrack blasts

We rode the Hemlock in its short travel format, which replicates the relaxed but aggressively front wheel-biased 69 degree head/73 degree seat angles of the Soul. It's an immediately confidence inspiring balance, encouraging you to muscle forward right over the bars and push the front wheel hard into every corner.

The four-bar rear end does everything it should, too. The typical slight stiffness of the Pearl shock removes any start stroke wallow and squelch while the linkage rate has been designed for a smooth ramp up in the final stages. The result is a consistently responsive and connected feel from the rear, with fast and neutral pick up of traction to fire you out of corners. This will sync immediately with aggressive singletrack riders. However if you fancy a softer, steadier feel, bolt on the longer rockers and a longer fork to create a much more linear shock stroke and slacker 67.5/71.5 degree angles.

On our prototype ride, the rear linkage pivots, bobbin and bolts rattled very loose after only an hour of hard graft. Cy has since traced the problem to knock transmitted up from a loose rear axle, but it's fair to say the rear end isn't the stiffest around.

However, Cotic's new Hemlock is an instantly likeable bad influence on those who love to ride technical terrain hard. It's a truly UK trail-ready ride

Equipment

Kit detail isn't really relevant here except to say that the RockShox Pearl shock and Hope QR seat collar are standard. Various frame and bits deals are available on other Hope, Bontrager and USE kit, and it'll take up to a 160mm fork and massive 2.6in tyres.

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