British brand, Cotic, is known for creating beautifully finished frames that offer a unique feel. And it’s certainly no stranger to progressive geometry either.
Cotic’s bikes have been getting longer and lower over the last few years in a bid to make them feel more confident when tackling terrifying terrain.
The Rocket, Cotic’s enduro machine, was treated to its ‘Longshot’ geometry at the tail end of 2018 and offers numbers that even now, nearly two years later, still make some modern bikes look out of date. But how does it compare with the best of the best?
Bike of the Year 2020
The Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle GX is part of our annual Bike of the Year test.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle frame and suspension details
Cotic is known for making beautifully finished frames. Steve Behr
Cotic’s steel front triangles are made in Scotland from Reynolds 853 Ovalform and DZB tubing, which is chosen for its ride feel as well as its durability and strength.
The straight, clean lines help to make for a pleasingly uncomplicated aesthetic that always draws attention at the trail head.
The swingarm is made from 6066-T6 aluminium and constructed in Taiwan.
There’s a mix of external and internal cable routing; cables/hoses run externally for the most part but the gear cable slots inside the seatstay to help to keep things neat and tidy, and naturally there’s internal routing for the dropper post. There’s nothing that’ll cause any headaches when it comes to carrying out maintenance, though.
There’s a mix of internal and external cabling. Steve Behr
It’s a similar story with the external threaded bottom bracket. This is surrounded by ISCG 05 tabs should you wish to bolt a chainguide in place to help protect your chainring and keep your chain in check.
Look closely and you’ll see that there’s no provision for a front derailleur, and that’s because the RocketMAX is designed specifically for 1x drivetrains. This enables the designers to broaden the main pivot to add stiffness where it’s most needed.
Cotic’s linkage-driven single pivot ‘Droplink’ design delivers the 150mm rear wheel travel. Steve Behr
At the rear, there’s 150mm of rear wheel travel that’s delivered via Cotic’s linkage-driven single pivot ‘Droplink’ design and controlled using the Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline rear shock.
Cotic promises this design should offer traction, fun, interaction and a strong progression rate. And it’s all designed to work in conjunction with a 160mm travel fork up front.
For those desperate to ditch their riding pack, you’ll be pleased to know there are mounts for a bottle cage, though they’re not in the usual spot. Instead of being fixed to the down tube, the RocketMAX has them on the underside of the top tube, just ahead of the rear shock.
Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle geometry
Cotic’s ‘Longshot’ geometry is pretty extreme even by today’s standards, which is impressive when you consider this latest RocketMAX was actually launched nearly two years ago.
The RocketMAX comes in four sizes (small to extra-large) with reach numbers ranging from 443mm to 515mm, and suitably sized seat tubes that should allow most riders to pair the frame with at least a 150mm drop post, which is great to see.
The ‘Longshot’ geometry looks pretty extreme on this bike. Steve Behr
There’s also a load of standover clearance, which means that even though the bike may feel long, it doesn’t feel tall and you don’t feel perched upon it when stationary.
I settled on a medium frame, which sported a reach of 467mm (that’s 3mm longer than the Specialized Enduro Comp also on test) and I measured the head angle at a super-slack 63.7 degrees, making it the slackest of the ten Enduro Bike of the Year bikes.
It also sports the longest wheelbase at 1,260mm, thanks in part to the 448mm chainstays, which should mean plenty of stability and confidence at high speeds and when the going gets steep.
The external threaded bottom bracket is surrounded by ISCG 05 tabs should you wish to bolt on a chainguide to help protect your chainring and keep your chain in check. Steve Behr
Other notable measurements include the 75.3-degree seat tube and long 631mm effective top-tube, which help to make for a comfy, stretched out climbing position.
The bottom bracket sits 345mm off the floor with 27mm of drop. It might not be the lowest out there but should help ward off pesky pedal strikes and still be low enough to carve a mean turn.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the 631mm effective top tube. This should help deliver a good body position when seated and spinning up the climbs.
Sizes (* tested): S, M*, L, XL
Seat angle: 75.3 degrees
Head angle: 63.7 degrees
Chainstay: 44.8cm / 17.54in
Seat tube length: 42.5cm / 16.73in
Top tube (effective): 63.1cm / 24.84in
Head tube length: 11cm / 4.33in
Bottom bracket height: 34.5cm / 13.58in
Wheelbase: 1,260mm / 49.61in
Stack: 62.9cm / 24.76in
Reach: 46.7cm / 18.39in
Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle specifications
I opted for the Gold Eagle build which, as you might have gathered, gets you SRAM 1×12 gearing. In this case, it’s from its GX range and features the wide 10-50t cassette that sits on an XD Driver body.
Cotic customers can customise their bikes via its website, and my build wasn’t totally standard, with a few parts added in a bid to make the best possible configuration. Some of these did bump the overall price up from the base £4,249.
Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle GX Steve Behr
First, I added Shimano XT brakes, which for this particular build get the more powerful four-piston calipers. These brakes feature a light feel at the lever with a ton of punch and power when you most need it.
Then there’s the Hunt Trail Wide wheels, which have a 29mm internal width. These were wrapped in WTB branded rubber.
Up front sits a 2.5in Vigilante with a Light casing but High Grip rubber compound, while at the rear there’s the latest 2.4in Judge Tyre with Tough casing and Fast Rolling compound.
Although a touch weighty, the WTB Vitgilante/Judge tyre combo has served me really well in the past and always delivered traction when I’ve needed it (especially in sloppy UK conditions where this test was carried out) and stayed inflated even after repeated hammerings through rock garden after rock garden.
The OneUp Components V2 dropper post is also a non-standard product. It’s the second generation of this post and was set up to offer 150mm of drop.
OneUp Components’ V2 post with 150mm of drop. Steve Behr
The Cane Creek Helm29 fork has 160mm of travel and includes some neat features such as the moveable piston, which can be set in one of eight positions to alter progression of the spring curve (by changing the volume), as well as tunable positive and negative air chambers.
Cane Creek’s 160mm Helm29 fork. Steve Behr
Then there’s the high- and low-speed compression adjustment, as well as low-speed rebound damping. Also, the travel can be internally adjusted without needing to buy a new air spring. All of this is perfect if you’re a tinkerer but could be overwhelming if you’re more of a fit and forget kind of rider.
Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle ride impressions
The Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle GX was pitted against nine other bikes in our Enduro Bike of the Year awards test. Andy Lloyd
I tested the RocketMAX during winter and ensured I put it through its paces on a wide variety of trails in a bid to get the measure of the bike.
I began with a shake down ride where I focused on setting up the suspension, bar height/roll and all other personal requirements. Then, it was on to riding a mix of natural trails with varied gradient, but all were covered in wet root spreads and slippery rocks.
Next, it was on to faster bikepark style tracks where the speeds and bump frequencies increase. These trails were riddled with high-load bermed turns, jumps and high-speed rock gardens. After more suspension fettling, it was then more runs at both the bikepark and on steeper natural trails.
Of course, the RocketMAX was tested back-to-back against the other nine Enduro Bike of the Year contenders too.
Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle climbing performance
Winching up the climbs is actually easy going aboard the RocketMAX. It may not be the lightest bike in this category at 15.13kg, and the WTB rubber might not be the fastest rolling, but thanks to the stable suspension and stretched out seated position I never felt like I was suffering unnecessarily when working against gravity.
On steeper inclines, I never struggled with the front wheel lifting and, when things did get a little more technical, I always managed to get enough bite through the rear tyre to keep on trucking upwards.
The wide range cassette is a big help in these situations, and offers some easier gears for when the fatigue of a big ride really kicks in.
SRAM’s wide XG-1275 10-50t cassette helped on the climbs. Steve Behr
If you want to make things even more efficient, you can flick the DBair IL shock’s Climb Switch. This alters both the low-speed compression and low-speed rebound damping of the shock (most shocks will just offer low-speed compression adjustment while the rebound damping stays as is).
Cane Creek says this should result in more control and better traction, and I for one really like how it works.
While the seat angle isn’t as steep as the likes of the Specialized Enduro or Cube Stereo 170 SL 29, the RocketMAX still feels pretty efficient when pedalling uphill.
Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle descending performance
The RocketMAX comes alive when the terrain gets trickier. Andy Lloyd
Go barrelling headlong into steep, technical singletrack and the RocketMAX instantly feels more agile and lively than the stretched-out wheelbase and weighty tyres might suggest.
As the terrain gets trickier, the RocketMAX really comes alive, with the Longshot geometry helping to dish out confidence by the shovel load. This is particularly true when taking on steep trails.
The XT brakes were light, punchy and powerful. Steve Behr
It helps that there’s loads of bum clearance when the saddle is dropped, which allows you to really hang off the back of the bike when you need to. Add to that the light, punchy, powerful feel of the XT brakes and it’s easy to start pushing the RocketMAX hard as soon as the trail begins to plummet.
While the bottom bracket may not be the lowest on paper, it never caused any issues when carving from turn to turn, and the RocketMAX felt lithe and eager to spring from the exit of one corner into the next.
The bike’s lively, progressive ride is a lot of fun, especially on steep and technical terrain. Andy Lloyd
The well-centred ride position coupled with that steadfast traction courtesy of the WTB rubber helps to keep things feeling predictable on looser, poorly supported corners, too. And get on the gas as the trail straightens up and you’ll be glad of the rapid pick up from the Hunt freehub.
It’s not all plain sailing though. On repeated hits when riding more bikepark style tracks, the RocketMAX doesn’t offer the most forgiving ride. Some of this is down to the Cane Creek fork. I had to spend quite a bit of time working on the set up of this, attempting to balance support and comfort as best I could, but at times this can feel like you’re searching for a setting that might not exist. Or at least not one that I could find.
While I managed to find a setup that seemed to work well on the natural, tech trails which were somewhat slower with few fewer square-edge impacts – where I could use a supportive setup to ensure the fork rode higher in its travel and maintained that confident geometry – it just wasn’t the case when riding chunkier, faster trails.
I did get some feedback through the bars on some longer runs. Steve Behr
On these – in the setting I’d used on natural, steeper trails – I felt like I was getting a lot of feedback through the bars and, on longer runs, some hand pain. Switching to a more forgiving setting helped to negate the hand pain but I couldn’t find the level of support I was after.
At the rear, although the Cane Creek DB IL shock offers a lot of adjustment, Cotic delivered my bike with a decent base setting that I could easily work from.
I managed to get things feeling supple and supportive with plenty of control when tackling massive impacts or heavy landings. The back end is controlled, taut and progressive rather than pillowy soft and lethargic. This means it’s not a bike where you can simply drop your heels and just plough through the rough stuff.
Instead, the RocketMAX prefers a more calculated approach. The well-supported, progressive nature of the back end makes for a lively, engaging feel with enough feedback to ensure you know exactly what’s going on beneath your rear tyre.
Although it shares the same amount of travel as bikes like the Canyon Strive, it’s delivered in a different way, and isn’t as forgiving or as comfortable on prolonged, rough descents. That’s not to say it can’t be ridden fast, it can and the geometry encourages it, but you’ll need to muscle it through the really rough stuff and be smart when it comes to picking lines on the really chunky trails.
Cotic RocketMAX Gold Eagle bottom line
Overall, the RocketMAX is a beautifully finished machine with a lively, progressive ride feel that is hellishly fun, especially when pointed down something steep and technical.
It’s not the plushest ride out there so isn’t the comfiest when lapping high-speed bikepark trails, and the Helm29 struggles to compete with RockShox Lyrik and Fox 36 GRIP2 forks.