Cotic Soul frame £470

Singletrack serpent

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Soul was one of the first long-fork configured steel frames and it’s just been updated to meet CEN safety standards.

The Reynolds 853 steel main tubes now have a subtly ovalised top tube and there’s a replaceable gear hanger too. Skinny, broad stance rear stays give loads of tyre room and the frame will take a 140mm (5.5in) fork fine.

The result is a responsive feel with plenty of resilience and spring, so you skip rather than clatter across rocks. Its ‘long front, short rear’ geometry makes it a tenacious climber. There’s a singlespeed version too.

It’s not the stiffest line holder, there are no ISCG mounts and we’d be concerned about repeated crashing. But the price is worth paying for its whiplash responsiveness and sheer singletrack entertainment.

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