After its release back in May, we were super keen to see what Cotic had in store with its new down country bike. The FlareMAX is said to be a serious jack-of-all-trades thanks to a seriously long geometry, 29" wheels, and a mere 125mm of suspension at the rear. Here's what the bike is all about.
We managed to get a sneaky peak of the FlareMAX when is was heavily updated in 2020. Back then, its overhaul included a stretched reach, a longer shock stroke, and a steepened seat tube (take a look at the 2020 bike and its fabulously orange colourway here). All of that progressive goodness has been transferred directly to the 2021 model but it's had a few tweaks to make it worthy of its down country moniker.
In true Cotic fashion, the FlareMAX is built around a Reynolds 853 Ovalform and DZB tubed front end. That's then mated to a 6066-T6 aluminium rear end with Boost 148x12 spacing to add a dash of stiffness.
It's not just about materials with the frame though as it comes brimming with cool features such as the 44mm standard head tube that's been designed to use an external bottom headset cup to reduce the bike's stack height. That's along with a custom Cotic designed 35mm heat-treated Cromoly seat tube for yet another boost in stiffness.
It's also optimised for a 120, 130, or even a 140mm fork if you would like to get extra rowdy aboard this bike.
Then, the bike is built to run a 1x drivetrain and the rear mech's cable is routed internally through the steel seat stay to give the bike a cleaner look and to reduce any potential cable rattle.
On the subject of cable routing, for the most part, it's neatly externally routed along the upper of the down tube but the bike is routed for a stealth dropper, with its cable entering the seat tube. Then, of course, there's that internally routed portion for the mech.
Along with that, you'll find ISCG05 mounts on a threaded bottom bracket, clearance for up to a 29x2.5" tyre, and there's a pair of 15mm pivots around the BB with a droplink style linkage clamp to keep the front and rear sections of the frame joined together as solidly as possible.
If you're a fan of Cotic's Jeht, you'll be pleased to know that the FlareMAX borrows the very same seat tube configuration and pivot location, meaning that this bike benefits from the same suspension kinematic as the Jeht. Cotic says that this kinematic keeps the progression curve more consistent through its travel. The shock is pre-fitted with volume spacers out of the box to offer more setup options for a wider ranger of rider weights.
Slapping the Jeht's seat tube configuration onto the FlareMAX also means that this bike gets 20mm more seat post insertion compared to the old bike, allowing for longer dropper posts.
That's enough about the frame, let's move onto the geometry, and with the FlareMAX, it's pretty interesting. That's because it uses Cotic's Longshot geometry and that means the frame is long and low with an equally as low standover.
It's properly long too, thanks to a very lengthy 490mm reach on the large frame on test, however, the length is kept in check with a rather reserved 66° head tube angle with a 120mm fork equipped. Then, there's a 447.5mm chainstay, and a 75.7° actual seat tube angle and all of that results in a bike with a 1251.2mm wheelbase. Before I forget, this size gets a 460mm seat tube, so when paired with the extra bit of seat post insertion, sizing up is more than possible.
In a move to produce more frames in the UK, Cotic has offered a handful of UK made Launch Edition bikes, that get colourways that you won't see on the Taiwan built frames and we've got a Launch Edition bike here on test.
The model we've got here is essentially a Gold XT build but it's kitted with a RockShox SID Ultimate fork offering 120mm of suspension. Handling the rear 125mm of squish is a Cane Creek DBAir IL shock that comes sorted with low speed rebound and low speed compression adjustments, as well as a lockout.
As for the drivetrain, that's covered by Shimano and the XT 12-speed drivetrain with matching four-pot brakes.
This bike rolls on a pair of HUNT Trail Wide 29 V2 wheels and they're wrapped with tyres from a relatively new brand, Wolfpack. Wolfpack comes from the guys who developed Continental's Black Chili, Specialized's Gripton, and Schwalbe's Addix rubber compounds, so while reasonably fresh as a brand, Wolfpack comes with a respectable wealth of tyre know-how.
Back to the tyres... The FlareMAX comes graced with Wolfpack's Trail at the front, and a Cross at the rear, both in 2.4" widths. Both of those get the brand's ToGuard compound.
Finally, there's an X-Fusion Manic dropper and a Cotic Calver bar kitted with some lock-on grips.
All of that will set you back £4,639 but if you were to go for a Taiwan made frame, it'll cost a little less at £4,339. It's worth noting that the bike isn't yet available with the RockShox SID fork, but you can get the bike sorted with a Cane Creek Helm for the same money.
So for now, that's it for the Cotic FlareMAX. Now it's time to put the bike through its paces and to see if down country is all it's cracked up to be.
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