Cotic BFe (frame only) review£470.00

Hardcore hardtail

BikeRadar score4/5

While the original Cotic Soul had the handling balance to tame seriously technical terrain it was – and still is – primarily a fine-boned finesse bike. Step forward the BFe, a stouter younger brother designed for Pyrenean punishment but ready for any global trouble spot.

Ride & handling:Great all-rounder that you can throw down an Alp or ride all day

The BFe makes it clear that steep and borderline suicidal terrain is what it loves best. With a 65-degree head angle and Blu-Tack-like front tyre, it feels like there’s no way you’re going to lose the front end however hard you turn or heave on the Magura Louise brakes.

The big balloon tyre up front adds heft and tips the angles back dramatically, so the handling’s more like a World Cup downhill bike than a trail hardtail.

While there was noticeable knock from the tired feeling Magura fork on our sample, the frame itself feels solid and precise, and accurate in even the most short-soiling situations.

It’s the back end that really stands out. On the long worn wooden steps past the sewage works (not glamorous but great for frame and suspension testing) the Cotic was compliant and not as dentally damaging as other hardcore hardtails. The same ductility also meant increased stiction on our benchmark off-camber sections.

Unsurprisingly, the BFe is not as springy and lively as the lighter Soul, but Cotic have kept the top tube on the long side (even on our small sample), so you won’t smack your knees or swallow your tongue on climbs.

The fact it potentially delivers hardcore day ride performance or builds up properly Alpine burly with equal enthusiasm makes it a great all-rounder. It also makes the price slightly easier to swallow, although there’s no escaping the fact that several companies manage to make a similar frame for £300 or less.

Cotic bfe frame: cotic bfe frame
Cotic bfe frame: cotic bfe frame

Frame: Impressively tight Reynolds 853 mainframe with usefully sprung back end

The chassis is based around Reynolds' top 853 steel tubeset with its impressive weld and air hardening strength. Oversized tube diameters, deep rings on the short head tube and gussets under both the top and down tube reinforce the front end for compatibility with forks up to 160mm (6.3in).

The sloped top tube allows a front positioned seat tube slot to avoid rear wheel spray, and a Hope quick-release collar is included in the frame price. Another oversized tube stub forms the base for the oversized, tapered seatstays.

The chainstays use an open connection to the bottom bracket for maximum mud clearance, with small outside edge Hexten gussets replacing the conventional A-frame brace.  Cowled dropout flanges give maximum weld contact onto the stays, while a tube braces the offside triangle against disc brake torque.

While this bike has no singlespeed-friendly features, the ISCG mount that’s positioned on the bottom bracket does make it chain device/Hammerschmidt crank compatible. Cotic rely on serious thickness and the re-bendable nature of the metal – rather than a replaceable gear hanger – to shrug off crash/ travel damage.

At a claimed 2.4kg (5.3lb), the frame is light considering how burly it is. It’s only available in two compact frame sizes, and comes in orange or steel grey paint options with a choice of logo styles.

Equipment: Choose your own kit to produce a burly playbike or tough all-day ride

While there’s certainly potential to go light, Cotic built the BFe beefy on our request. The massive 2.5in downhill-weight Maxxis High Roller Super Tacky front tyre is certainly not short on grip or confidence on extreme trails. But it’s the first time in 12 years we’ve had a bike with a front wheel heavier than the rear and it’s a big part of the high complete bike weight. 

The Magura Thor fork is relatively light and tight, even if getting it to ride smoothly is an acquired art. We’re big fans of the powerful Magura Louise brakes.

Cotic also do semi bike deals with no-nonsense Bontrager Big Earl and Rhythm kit, with the big bar and short stem syncing fine with the steering. With no bottle cage bosses on the seat tube you can slam the seat right down for when you’re descending.

The 2.5in maxxis blu-tack-like compound balloon tyre means mental grip and world cup downhill angles: the 2.5in maxxis blu-tack-like compound balloon tyre means mental grip and world cup downhill angles
The 2.5in maxxis blu-tack-like compound balloon tyre means mental grip and world cup downhill angles: the 2.5in maxxis blu-tack-like compound balloon tyre means mental grip and world cup downhill angles

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: 45
  • 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 than 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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