Cotic BFe Silver special first ride review£1,929.00

Cotic’s aggro hardtail gets fully stretched for full-gas riding

Twelve years after this burlier version of Cotic’s classic Soul trail hardtail first appeared, the fifth-generation BFe frame gets a radical geometry refresh that makes it much happier with big forks.

Cotic BFe Silver special specifications

  • Frame: ‘FM’ double-butted steel with Reynolds 853 down tube
  • Fork: X-Fusion Sweep HLR Roughcut, 140mm (5.5in) travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX with Race Face Æffect Cinch cranks
  • Wheelset: WTB ST i25 TCS rims on Shimano Deore hubs
  • Tyres: WTB Vigilante Light/High Grip (f) and WTB Breakout Tough/High Grip (r) 27.5x2.3in
  • Brakes: Shimano Deore M615, 180/160mm rotors
  • Bar: Cotic Calver, 780mm
  • Stem: Cotic Short, 35mm
  • Seatpost: X-Fusion Manic 150mm dropper
  • Saddle: Cotic
  • Weight: 13.82kg (30.5lb), large size without pedals
  • Seat tube: 48cm
  • Top tube: 61.4cm
  • Head angle: 66°
  • Seat angle: 72°
  • Chainstay: 42cm
  • Bottom bracket drop: 1.76cm
  • Head tube length: 12cm
  • Reach: 44.03cm
  • Stack: 56.82cm

Cotic BFe Silver special frame

Cotic has largely kept to its well-proven recipe. The down tube is ultra-tough yet light Reynolds 853 steel while the rest of the frame is Cotic’s custom ‘FM’ double-butted steel.

Wide-splayed, brace-free chainstays mean there’s loads of mud clearance for 27.5x2.6in or 26x3in tyres. Neat cylindrical bolt-through 142x12mm Syntace dropouts include a pinch-bolt-secured replaceable derailleur hanger, which is rare for steel.

Cables are bolt clamped, and because there’s just a single set of bottle cage bosses (on the down tube), you can slam the seatpost. There are ISCG chain device tabs on the threaded bottom bracket (BB) shell too.

The 657mm effective top tube length on the large I tested is 45mm longer than the previous BFe, which translates to a massive 472mm reach. While the 66-degree head angle is the same, the geometry has been optimised around a 140mm-travel fork, making the seat angle an acceptable 73 degrees. There are no XS or XL sizes, but the frame is well priced at £449.

There’s loads of mud room and the BFe will happily accept 2.6in rubber
There’s loads of mud room and the BFe will happily accept 2.6in rubber

Cotic BFe Silver special kit

The standard ‘Silver’ build comes with a 35mm Cotic stem and 780mm bar, Shimano SLX gears, and Deore brakes and hubs on eyeletted WTB i25 rims with Continental tyres, for £1,629.

Cotic offers extensive upgrade options, and my build included an X-Fusion Sweep 140mm-travel fork with upgraded Roughcut HLR damper (+£100) rather than the standard RL spec, an X-Fusion Manic dropper post (+£150) and WTB tyres set up tubeless (+£50).

Maxxis 2.3 or 2.5in rubber is also available (+£100), plus Hope wheels (+£200) and WTB carbon rims (+£1,200). You can also choose from SRAM and Shimano-based ‘Gold’ builds.

For international pricing and delivery information contact Cotic direct.

Cotic BFe Silver special ride impressions

The extra-long reach lets you carry a ton of speed into turns without tripping up or sliding out
The extra-long reach lets you carry a ton of speed into turns without tripping up or sliding out

While it might be the beefiest of Cotic’s hardtails, the wide spread, slim stays and carefully butted and shaped mainframe still give a notably forgiving ride quality.

This is most obvious when trying to maintain flow through random rocks and stutter bumps that would kill speed and punish your feet and hands on most hardtails — the BFe just skips through sweetly.

While it’s good with 2.3in tyres at medium pressures, the BFe floats through trouble even better on the Maxxis WT 2.5in tyres and wider rims I swapped in for some of the testing period. They also add extra compliant traction for an even more positive climbing and cornering feel.

Even in stock form, the extra-long reach lets you carry a ton of speed into turns without tripping up or sliding out, and it’s slack enough to self-correct if you push too hard. The super-short stem helps you micro-manage grip really well too, although you’ll have to learn to swing the front end wide through tight sections.

Unsurprisingly, the extra-long steel frame can sometimes feel a bit vague when you’re flat out, but by that point you’ll have left most hardtails way behind.

It’s still light and lively enough to be enjoyable through the pedals too, whether you’re cruising between the best bits, hustling singletrack hard or on the nose of the saddle up a super-steep tech challenge.

Once it’s bedded in, the Sweep fork is a very well-damped unit, if not as stiff at the ragged edge as 35mm RockShox or 36mm Fox forks. It’s worth noting that a 150–160mm fork will tip the seat angle back to the point where it’s likely to give a vague steering feel when you’re in the saddle, so I’d say 120–140mm is definitely the sweet spot for fork travel with the BFe.

Cotic BFe Silver special early verdict

Radical reshape gives the BFe the handling and wider tyre compatibility the frame deserves.

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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