26 ain't dead, according to Cotic at least

Updated steel hardcore hardtail shows small wheels still have a place

Somehow wheel size debates still rage in the depths of the internet, like a burning coal seam that just won't extinguish despite being hosed with water for, what, a decade now?

Many thought 26-inch wheels had been doused with so much water that they'd drowned in a pool of 27.5in and 29in hoops, but there are a few brands, Cotic included, who have kept a few 26-inch embers glowing bright.

Mercury With Orange is this colour scheme, while there's also a Gloss Blue scheme
Mercury With Orange is this colour scheme, while there's also a Gloss Blue scheme

The BFe is Cotic's hardcore hardtail, which basically means it's built tough, slack(ish) and low, and is designed for everything from dirt jumps to tanking down gnarled descents. The BFe26 is the 26in wheeled variant of the bike, and Cotic has just refreshed the design and taken delivery of a fresh batch.

It might seem an odd bike to release these days, I can't actually think of any other current 26-inch bikes, other than the Trek Ticket DJ frame, which aren't built by some boutique frame builder in a shack in the woods in deepest, darkest Oregon or Dorset.

But Cotic says that when the previous shipment went out of stock they were receiving up to five emails per day asking for the small-wheeler to come back, and so, here it is.

Neat details, such as the chainstay and seatstay bridge are common place on Cotic bikes
Neat details, such as the chainstay and seatstay bridge are common place on Cotic bikes

The frame has had some subtle changes, namely the addition of a Syntace X12 bolt-thru rear axle, slacker head angles and a lower bottom bracket.

Like the 27.5in BFe, the 26in model can be run with anything from 100mm to 160mm forks, depending on what you want to do with it. Cotic has also retained the Reynolds 853 down tube to keep weight in check a bit, and has used heat treated double butted chromoly steel elsewhere to get the strength.

The frames come with a 44mm head tube, Ovalform top tube profiling, a 34.9mm seat tube with no bottle mounts (so you can slam the saddle) and ISCG05 mounts to keep your chain safe.

ISCG mounts suggest the BFe26's nature
ISCG mounts suggest the BFe26's nature

The bike is designed to be compact and playful, with the large having a reach of 440mm, a 17.6mm bottom bracket drop, 72-degree seat angle and a 66-degree head angle.

26-inch components aren't all that common these days, but Cotic says that it'll help you build up your BFe26 with X Fusion forks (the Slant HLR fork still comes in 26in) and Hope wheels.

Syntace's X12 axle should keep the back end nice and stiff
Syntace's X12 axle should keep the back end nice and stiff

The frames are available now for £449, along with a number of customisable build kits from £1,919, all from Cotic's website, and Cotic will ship internationally.

Tom Marvin

Technical Editor, Tech Hub, UK
Tom's been riding for 15 years, and has always chopped and changed bikes as soon as his budget allowed. He's most at home in the big mountains, having spent nigh on 30 weeks riding the Alps, as well as having lived a stone's throw from the Scottish Highlands for four years. Tom also enjoys racing events like the Strathpuffer and the Trans Nepal.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep and super tech or fast and flowy
  • Current Bikes: Canyon Spectral, Pivot Mach 429SL, Mondraker Vantage R +
  • Dream Bike: Transition Scout
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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