Cotic Rocket Max XF Gold first ride review£3,349.00

How much big tyre, big travel fun can steel control?

If plus tyres can helpfully smother the rattle and bang of low-end spec on a budget hardtail, surely they can do the same with clunky shock feel on an otherwise sorted bike? That was our thinking when we asked Cotic to send us a deliberately down-specced X-Fusion damper on their new Rocket Max Gold bike, but did it work out?

Cotic Rocket Max XF Gold spec highlights

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore XT M8000 1x11
  • Cassette:11-42
  • Cranks: Race Face Turbine Cinch 175mm
  • Chainring: Direct Mount 30t
  • Brakes: Deore XT M8000
  • Fork: X Fusion McQueen Roughcut HLR
  • Shock: Cane Creek DB Inline
  • Tyres: WTB Trail Boss 27.5 x 3.0" TCS Light Fast Rolling, Ranger 27.5x2.8" Light Fast Rolling

Cotic Rocket Max XF Gold frame and equipment

The new Max version of the Rocket can take either 29x2.5in or 27.5x2.8in tyres (and matching wheels) thanks to a new 17mm longer (450 from 433mm) Boost width alloy back end with 10mm less wheel travel. The front end uses the same Reynolds 853 steel tubeset with oval top tube and custom oversized seat tube to handle the Droplink linkages but geometry is changed too.

Fork travel matches the rear at 140mm (rather than 150 or 160mm) and it sits at a steeper 66.5-degree head angle rather than 65.5. That keeps the steering alive despite the extra inertia and inherent stability of the bigger diameter, grippier wheel sizes.

Fast rolling (for plus at least) WTB tyres and a naturally stable pedalling character from the Droplink suspension and firm top end compression of the X-Fusion shock means it’s a lot more lively and encouraging under power than you’d expect too.

Cotic Rocket Max XF Gold ride impression

Tougher tyres and wider wheels would really improve the feel of the bike
Tougher tyres and wider wheels would really improve the feel of the bike

It’s still a long beast with a big reach of 450mm (size large) that encourages you to let it all hang out while you hang on to the massive 800mm Race Face bars and stumpy 50mm stem.

The new X-Fusion McQueen fork is an impressively well damped and controlled fork that goads you into going full gas into every situation too. While the 69mm wide tyres are fast, they’re light and bouncy rather than predictably damped. Add noticeable flex in the long Cotic frame plus soft cornered WTB PadLoc grips and hard to tune rebound damping of the X-Fusion rear shock and things can get out of hand quickly.

Thankfully, predictability at both ends improved once we swapped to tough carcass versions of the WTB tyres on wider rims and fitted the much more consistently damped Cane Creek Inline shock that’s the default damper on the Gold spec.

It’s a credit to the inherent liveliness of the frame and efficiency of the suspension that it didn’t feel too dumbed down by the extra rolling weight either.

Cotic Rocket Max XF Gold availability and pricing

The Rocket Max is available direct from Cotic bikes for £3,599 and pricing details for international delivery are available via Cotic's website.

Cotic Rocket Max XF Gold early verdict

Naturally enjoyable and surprisingly efficient big fun bomber, but needs tougher tyres and wider wheels to really let rip in confidence.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

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