If you keep an eye on mountain bike media there’s a strong chance you’ll have seen Cotic’s trail slaying Rocket gracing hectic terrain under the control of some pretty handy riders. The Yorkshire-based company creates beautifully finished frames, popular with riders wanting the ‘steel is real’ feel.
The Rocket sits in a shallow pool of steel-framed full bouncers alongside the likes of DMR’s Bolt as well as bespoke options from the likes of Starling Cycles and BTR. Cotic offers full-build packages as well as frame-only options. We tested the top-spec version straight off the peg.
Where many brands in the enduro market are busy creating sleeker, lighter and increasingly more technical rides to lure in their customers, Cotic has set itself apart with an elegantly stripped-back bike. There’s a beautifully simple and somewhat industrial feel about the frame with pivot bolts straight from the hardware store and welds minimal and clean.
The bike looks like a labour of love with no detail too small to miss. Two colour options are available, orange or green.
Sculpted dropouts save weight and boost stiffness
Most of the frame is Reynolds 853 steel, favoured for its outstanding strength to weight ratio. The 433mm chainstays are made of 7005 alloy, as well as the dropouts, which house the 142x12mm rear axle and replaceable derailleur bolt. This is to keep the weight down, due to the amount of material needed for forming the dropouts and bearing housings. The steel 34.9mm seat tube massively increases stiffness and houses a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post.
A 66-degree head angle and 3mm bottom bracket drop make for a stable but aggressive feeling riding position with good ground clearance. There's a choice of cockpit options when purchasing from Cotic.
Our test bike was fitted with a Race Face 60mm stem and 785mm set of bars. This pairing complemented the geometry nicely to keep the feel nimble and responsive.
Wide bar, short stem – just right for an aggro trail bike
Cotic has slightly revised the 150mm travel Droplink system from the earlier 26in-wheel Rocket. Visually the setup is tidy with the link hidden when viewed side on, creating superbly clean lines. The ride is excellent with minimal pedal bob on the climbs and plenty of progressive travel on tough terrain.
Cane Creek’s Double Barrel Inline shock has a great feel to it but will require some time and fettling to get dialled in, as out of the box our bike felt more like a pogo stick than a rocket. There’s masses of clearance out back, largely due to the fact there’s no need for a seatstay brace with the Droplink (great news for riders like us who like to make the most of the British winter weather). The Rocket has tidy cable routing, with the rear gear cable running the length of the seatstay, keeping lines smooth and the cable away from trouble.
There's plenty of adjustability from the Cane Creek DBInline shock
The Shimano XT 11-speed groupset is welcome for its reliability and slick shifting. Cotic have specced a 30t ring up front, which works well with the 11-42t cassette and takes the edge off the extra weight of the bike on the climbs, without sacrificing anything on the downs.
Out on the trail the Rocket is always gagging to be pushed harder. With a feel so stable and suspension setup so balanced, it’s hard not to go with it and ride flat out everywhere. The bike feels ‘poppy’ over rollers and natural trail obstacles, creating opportunities for extended air time and heroic manuals. The slack head angle has the 160mm X-Fusion Sweep Roughcut fork taking care of bigger hits with precision and control.
We were pleased to see the Rocket has bottle mounts, something that's increasingly unusual on enduro bikes. However, mounted on the underside of the down tube, when riding hard our bottles seemed to vanish within minutes.
The Rocket's infectious nature goads you to push things harder and faster
There is no doubting that this bike rips and it will keep you smiling all trail long, but what kind of rider is it best suited to? Steel hardtail frames are particularly comfortable to ride as steel is a low resonance material, meaning the vibrations created by trail obstacles are dispersed faster than in aluminium. In a full suspension bike some of this benefit is lost and there’s an obvious weight penalty that steel brings too.
Our test bike weighed in at 13.2kg (without pedals). That said, the 853 steel is much stronger and stiffer than aluminium and the Rocket is built to take a pasting. If you ride hard, fast and you’ve broken a few frames in your time, the Rocket is a likely answer to your problems.
• Contact Cotic for frame-only shipping costs to USA/Australia
Ready for either 26in or 27.5in wheels, the Rune is a versatile and hugely capable long-travel competitor with a well thought-out spec for real world riding. See our full Banshee Rune review.
Radon Slide Carbon 160 9.0 HD
Light and capable on the climbs, the Slide Carbon shines when medium-rowdy is your limit and you take as much pleasure in dialing in suspension as you do in riding. See our full Radon Slide Carbon 160 9.0 HD review.
Orange Five Pro
Getting the job done with simple suspension, the cult-classic Five Pro delivers visceral communication with an excellent geometry to create an addictive aggro trail slayer.See our full Orange Five Pro review.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.