Cotic describes the BFe275 as a “bold as brass, rag-around play bike” that works with 100 to 160mm-travel forks. This Sheffield-designed steeler has a sweet ride feel, but even a 140mm fork affects its handling balance.
The BFe (Fe is the chemical symbol for iron) is the ‘beefier’ version of Cotic’s Soul. That means it uses a heavier-duty down tube from Reynolds’ air-hardening 853 steel collection, together with an ‘Ovalform’ top tube and stout 35mm seat tube of Cotic’s own design.
There’s an open-ended reinforcing plate under the down tube and small gussets on the chainstays mean it doesn’t need a cross brace, so there’s plenty of mud space.
The 140mm X-Fusion fork suits the bike well in feel, but one with 120mm of travel or even less would give better-balanced geometry Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
A Syntace X-12 axle secures the rear wheel, there’s an ISCG mount on the bottom bracket shell and semi-internal routing for a dropper post. The frame comes in ‘battleship grey’ or ‘fast red’, and it’s impressively light for steel, at under 2.7kg/6lb (medium).
You can get the bare frame for £399 (£349 with a QR rear end) but the Silver build here is a largely functional and well-shaped spec. The Shimano SLX shifting is helped by the clean cable routing, and the Race Face Æffect crankset looks good and drives cleanly.
X-Fusion’s Sweep fork isn’t as sensitive as a RockShox Yari or Lyrik but it matches the ride well. I’d fit bigger rotors to squeeze more power from the Deore brakes and it’s gagging for a dropper post.
Cotic BFe275 Silver Thru ride impression
Steel has a reputation for a shock-shrugging ride, due to its generally smaller tube diameters and its basic metallurgical character. But increasingly stringent safety standards and the greater load demands of more aggressive riding mean a lot of steel frames now use thick walls or bigger tubes that feel decidedly dead.
The good news is that Cotic has managed to keep the BFe light and lithe while getting it through the CEN safety standards.
This bolt-through version still has a real skip and spring to its rear end, rather than feeling like someone’s put a nail through its heart, like some 142x12mm steel hardtails can. The result is a bike that skips, springs and surges from feature to feature with an inspiringly tactile and connected feel. It sucks up impacts and lets you drive and pump.
The frame feel goes a long way to flattering the components of this basic build too. Even with a relatively narrow 2.2in tyre fitted, the back end feels buoyant, forgiving and full of grip.
The bike skips, springs and surges from feature to feature with an inspiringly tactile and connected feel Mick Kirkman
This compliant feel also glosses over the fact that the X-Fusion fork isn’t the most sensitive unit over small bumps, especially when new. The mid to end-stroke support is excellent for an affordable fork though, and the fact that it doesn’t rush through its travel means you can run plenty of sag.
That’s particularly important on the BFe, because the seat angle and tall ride height feel like those of a shorter-travel frame that’s been tipped back to squeeze a longer-travel fork in without thought for overall balance, particularly when seated.
While Cotic quotes a 67-degree head angle and 71-degree seat angle, that’s with 25 percent fork sag. Measured statically with a 140mm fork, the seat angle is slacker than 70 degrees. Even with an inline seatpost, this forces the rider’s weight back over the wheel.
While the reach on the large frame is OK at 430mm, the front end lifts too easily when climbing seated and scrubs out on flat corners too. Getting up out of the saddle centralises you over the bike and lets you drive the fork harder through corners, but the tall bottom bracket height means it still doesn’t scythe around turns as convincingly as lower bikes I’ve tested.
While the frame may be structurally compatible with a 160mm fork, if you’re building a BFe up yourself, I’d suggest using a shorter stroke — or adjustable travel — set-up to keep it better balanced in the saddle.