Cotic Soda review£950.00

Titanium fizz for UK pop kids

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The titanium Soda is the obvious evolution of Cotic’s steel Soul, recreating the same fast-reacting geometry in lightweight double-butted titanium to give the Soda real lightweight fizz.

Cy Turner couldn't find the frame he wanted, so he designed his own. His original steel Soul proved so popular that he has since built a thriving business creating UK-specific bikes, called Cotic. The Soda follows from the Soul.

Frame: butted & reinforced 3Al/2.5V titanium tubes

The Soda is designed to take forks from 100-130mm, but it's still an impressively light chassis - on par with the Seven Sola at 3.3lb for a medium model.

The 3Al/2.5V tubeset is uprated with super tough 6AL/4V cowled dropouts, while the oversized down tube is subtly shaped. The head tube is ring-reinforced top and bottom, with neat open-ended gussets under both down tube and top tube. These reinforce the bike fore and aft rather than rotationally.

Crossbrace-free chainstays are gusset-reinforced, the wishbone seatstay top gives massive mud clearance and a forward-facing seat slot keeps crap out of the seat tube. A classic curvy Salsa seat clamp is provided with the frame, and cable routing is designed for a complete outer run from shifter to mech.

Unusually for titanium frames, the bolted-on titanium gear hanger is replaceable, and the left hand stays get a brace pipe to take braking stress.

The head badge was slightly off kilter on our bike, but the big panel logo on the down tube creates a unique and stylish finishing touch that's easily replaceable if damaged.

Ride: lively but flexible

The long frame stretch - especially on our large 19in sample - is in direct contrast to increasingly compact 'technical terrain' frames. The payoff is a short stem without cramping the cockpit and coughing a lung on climbs. The short stem and tightly tucked-in rear end mean the Soda still snaps eagerly into turns despite its long overall wheelbase.

What makes the Cotic stand out very clearly from the rest of the bikes here is the sheer amount of spring and twang in the frame. It's not too soft vertically, so you'll definitely still feel slower-speed root and rock strikes. Tyre traction feedback is good, too.

Add the low overall weight and short, rapid-reacting ends and you've got a bike that simply refuses to sit still. In fact, it leaps about and throws itself forward out of every corner or up steep climbs like there's amphetamine in the alloy. It's definitely the most comfortable bike here, too, flowing over the rough better on two-inch tyres than the others do on fat rubber.

The flipside to all this playful spring is an alarming amount of twist between front and back ends. You'll soon learn to just sit back and let the Soda twang its own way through random rock gardens or cross-threaded root evil, though rather than trying to plot a tight line.

Flex that was visible when simply twisting the bike by hand inevitably raised questions about longevity, but Cy assured us that of 97 frames he’s sold only two have cracked. The damaged frames were stress-analysed and subsequent Sodas beefed up to stop any more problems. Cotic's reputation for customer service is certainly superb, too, with two-year fault warranty replacement and discount crash replacement cover on the Soda. The chromoly 'BFE' option is still a better bet for real hooligans, though.

The length of the larger-sized frame and the leverage of the longer fork accentuates the distortion, so a smaller, shorter-fork bike should feel stiffer. The steering stiffness doesn't seem to be an issue with Soda owners either, which proves it doesn't take long to learn to keep applying guiding pressure and rely on the bike's supple ground adhesion until it ends up where you want. The fact that you can effectively start the next corner before the frame has finished the last one rapidly becomes part of the Soda's undeniable charisma.

Components: good deals available on custom build-ups

Cotic doesn't create complete bikes, but it does have some good deals on Bontrager, Hope and USE equipment that are worth taking advantage of . The bike we tested wore the excellent Hope Mono Mini brakes, and Bontrager seatpost, stem, grips and King Earl riser bar.

We're less convinced about the linear-feeling Magura Laurin forks on our test bike, though, which were either thumpingly stubborn or scarily dive-prone however long we spent setting them up.


Want a really comfortable titanium bike that gambols and leaps like a spring lamb, and comes with some really neat UK design cues plus impressive tubing spec for the money? Then you'll definitely pop over the Soda.

If you're after a precision-guided weapon for aggressive scruff-of-the-neck riding, though, then all this fizz could well get up your nose.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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