by Dave Anderson
May 14, 2013
A proper full-bore full-suspension bike, with a healthy amount of travel
Yes it’s made from steel. Now on to more important matters. The Rocket is Cotic’s second full suspension model and it’s not been a case of back to the drawing board. Far from it – it’s definitely got some Hemlock bloodline. It’s a proper full-bore full-suspension bike, with a healthy amount of travel (150mm).
If you want an exceptional example of a hardtail, you get a Cotic. The admirable intention with its full suspension bikes is to similarly nail the full suspension game. You won’t need to ‘sort’ the Rocket with an adjustable headset or offset shock bushings. It’s already there.
What about this geometry then? Well, here it is. 66.5° head angle, 73° seat angle, 23.4in effective top tube (Medium size), 16.85in chain stays, 105mm head tube length (44mm standard), 13.3in bottom bracket height. Like we said: long, slack and low. 31.6mm seat tube (and cable routing) for droppers. Big tyre clearance. Sorted for all sorts of fun.
The front end is made from Cotic’s signature Reynolds 853, with a degree of ovalising and fancy butting. Cotic says that it went for the steel construction due to the material’s durability, strength and ride feel. It is also nice to hear that part of the decision was due to the overall look of the frame. If you’d designed something that looked distinctive and cool, you would keep it, too.
With the Rocket, Cotic has introduced a linkage-driven single pivot design it calls ‘Droplink’. This is claimed to offer a lot of the ride characteristics of the Hemlock’s four-bar design but with a couple of niggles addressed.
The main pivot is positioned to be largely unaffected by chain forces when in the middle and outer chainrings. In the 42t outer ring the suspension remains positively swallowy while pedaling through rock gardens and roots. In the 32t middle ring the suspension is a tad less linear feeling under pedalling. If you’re cunning you can use this difference and opt to use whichever chainring suits the section of trail you’re riding. A degree of stiffening up was deliberately designed when riding in the granny ring to help prevent undue compression under rider input. The over-axle positioning of the rear brake calliper (thanks to some cunning double-duty bolt locating) claims to reduce brake jack.
The two niggles with the Hemlock four-bar system that have been addressed with the Droplink are a stiffer rear triangle and a firmer feel to the suspension at all parts of the travel.
Our experience with the Rocket revealed that suspension setup was vital. A few PSI here or there do make a profound difference. If you try to run it soft, it doesn’t really work so well. There’s a lack of support in the stroke. We had best results running 25% sag. There are several shock options on offer. Talk to the team at Cotic about the type of riding you do.
When we did finally nail our pressures the Rocket came alive. The rewards came thick and fast. Particularly for the riders who are used to longer travel full suspension bikes who were immediately taken (besotted) with the engaging, propulsive feel of the bike. The Rocket was a seriously flickable, pliable bike. Although eminently capable of hurtling at scary speeds, the Rocket didn’t feel stuck to the ground or like it was running away with you.
No matter what the velocity, it always felt remarkably easy to ping the bike onto a new course. It’s this firm yet lively riding characteristic that never makes the Rocket feel like you’ve got too much travel.
Sure, the weight can be felt on longer, milder rides. But it’s never how the suspension is behaving that is the issue. The Droplink system is just as happy for you to spin along as it is for you to boost off that root, boot it around that corner and do a skid into the car park.
Having said that, it’s a 30lb bike that’s intended for speeding down things. The fact that it can adequately equip itself on a bit of cross-country stuff comes in useful on the climbs and ‘linking’ stages. The Rocket can climb up things efficiently with minimal fuss.
It’s a great bike for riders who want to ride all day. Either taking in as many of your fun local trails as possible, or heading off somewhere ‘proper’ and doing some high and hard riding. It’s more than just another winch-and-plummet bike that leaves you tired (albeit happy) after a couple of hours. The Rocket has the mettle to stick with you for a full day out on the trail being an adult-child.
The Cotic Rocket isn’t a timid, have-a-go, plucky Brit of a bike. It’s a ballsy, almost swaggering yeah-we-can-do-that mountain bike. The Rocket is not playing catch up with larger, mainstream bike brands. It’s part of the avant garde, leading the way. The geometry on the Rocket is some of the most eyebrow-raising and interest-piquing of any bike out there at the moment. It’s long. It’s slack. It’s low.
It’s very long, very slack and very low in fact. This is good. It’s great in fact. The key thing is that there are precious few bikes of the nu-skool slack’n’low variety that exhibit as much ‘pop’ as the Rocket. Somehow the circle has been squared and you can have a bike that thunders down stuff yet can be turned on a sixpence with relative ease. And it must be said, the Rocket is one of the finest looking bikes we’ve seen for a long time.