Bike Check: Cotic FlareMAX Longterm Test Bike

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For this coming season, I am returning to 29″ wheels and shorter travel. This contrasts to the 27.5″ wheeled enduro shred sled I rode last. From past experience bigger wheels and just enough travel when combined with goodtimes™ geometry can be a heady and versatile combination.

cotic flaremax steel wil full suspension droplink x fusion
The bare FlareMAX frame with the stock X-Fusion O2 shock as seen in Fresh Goods Friday. Facial expression model’s own.

Back in July, Cotic released an expanded range of suspension bikes this year with choice of travel and wheel size. I’ll be riding and experimenting with the FlareMAX from Sheffield based, British bicycle company – Cotic. This is a 120mm travel bike constructed mainly from steel, with heat treated and shaped Reynolds 853 mainframe and slender seatstays. Aluminium is used for the chainstays and the droplinks, while titanium and steel hardware holds it all together.

Spacing for the rear wheel is 148mm Boost and the frame can run either 29″ or 27.5″+ wheels. Cotic offer different build packages for their complete bikes and frame only options with a choice of shocks.  This is the FlareMAX with X-Fusion O2 RCX shock, X-Large for me (I am 6’1″ tall) in aqua. I have built the bike with a mix of test product. Here it is laid out in bits on a sheet of cardboard and then, built up in the rain propped up by a stick!

The best kind of jigsaw puzzle!
And the finished product in its natural environment.

Cotic FlareMax Custom Build:

  • Frame // Cotic Flare Max (XLarge)
  • Shock // X-Fusion O2 RCX (120mm travel)
  • Fork // X-Fusion McQueen RC HLR (at 130mm travel)
  • Headset // Cane Creek 10 series
  • Hubs // Hope PRO 4
  • Rims // Hope Tech ENDURO
  • Tyres // Continental DER KAISER projekt 29×2.4″
  • Chainset // SRAM X01 Eagle 32t
  • Chainguide // One Up components bash guide
  • Cassette // SRAM X01 Eagle 10-50t
  • Rear Mech // SRAM X01 Eagle
  • Shifters // SRAM X01 Eagle
  • Brakes // SRAM Level ult 180mm rotors f&r
  • Stem // Chromag Ranger 40mm
  • Bars // Chromag FUBARS OSX 780mm
  • Grips // DMR Deathgrip thick ‘n’ hard
  • Seatclamp // Hope
  • Seatpost // Magura Vyron ELEC
  • Saddle // DMR Stage 1
X-Fusion McQueen forks up front to match the O2 rear shock.
The FlareMAX has 120mm of rear wheel travel that’s delivered via the single-pivot DropLink design.

X-Fusion suspension front and rear. McQueen RC HLR fork setup at 130mm travel and O2 RCX shock taking care of the lumps and bumps out back. Using the set of bottle cage bosses on the frame I’ve attached a Fabric tool keg below the top tube in case of mechanicals and mishaps. The handy and dandy tool keg contains a tube, tyrelevers, C02 and some fix-it-sticks.  It’s a good idea to be prepared!

SRAM Eagle to the rescue! This is the pedal end of the 1×12 drivetrain, complete with added protection of a lower bash guide.

I’ve fitted a One Up Components bash plate to the ISCG05 mount and transferred the SRAM Eagle X0-1 12-speed drivetrain over from my previous ride. The chainstays on the Flare Max are longer and at present the chain is too short to safely make use of the 50t cog…I hope to get this sorted soon. I miss that big cog! You get a fork mudguard and a neoprene driveside chainstay protector included with the frame kit which is a nice touch for sure.

I’ve fitted an old favourite mudhugger up front and am experimenting with self adhesive 3M rubber strip on the chainstay. As I normally do, I’ve slipped a section of rubber tubing over the gear cable to the rear derailleur for protection to this exposed section. I’ve yet to fit the upper guide to the One Up Components bash guide and so far so good in regards chain retention of the SRAM Eagle chain to the chainring.

Right now the chain is too short to accommodate that big 50t sprocket on the Eagle X0-1 cassette. I’ll be getting a longer chain ASAP, I miss that super low gear!

A new component for me is the bash guide. In the past I’ve winced as the chain and chainring have made contact with rock and other trail features. I have made use of the bash already with a couple of scuffs and scrapes visible in the plastic so it’s good to know that it is doing its job. Some of my regular trails are thread the needle affairs and technical, and impacts are inevitable with pedals, rear derailleurs and sometimes frame/fork axle levers being hit.

Very tidy dropouts out back on the FlareMAX frame. No trail whiskers here!

The syntace 148mm x 12mm rear axle has no such protrusions, instead using a bolt to fasten. It’s clean and low profile. Sure, it’s not as quick as a Maxle or DT Ratchet, but hot damn, does it look clean and neat!

Alloy chainstay on the back of the FlareMAX due to the complex shapes required around the dropouts and the yoke at the main pivot.

Cotic’s Droplink suspension features a swingarm of 7005-T6 aluminium chainstays, slim steel seatstays, large pivots and short aluminium links. It has a nice clean looking aesthetic and is designed to be progressive.

Chunky treads from Continental in the form of the 2.4in wide Der Kaisers.

29in wheels to start with, Hope tech ENDURO wheels and Continental der kaiser projekt 2.4in tyres setup tubeless with STANS no tubes rim tape and valves…the Flare Max can run both 27.5+ and 29in wheel sizes and I’ll be experimenting with both. I am interested to get an understanding of the nuances and the where and why of 27.5+.

Big Chromag Fubars and gummy DMR Deathgrips.

The control centre – DMR Deathgrips in thick ‘n’ hard flavour option, SRAM Level ult brakes, X01 Eagle shifter and MAGURA Vyron ELEC dropper seatpost mounted on Chromag FUBARS.

Here’s the electronic button for the Magura Vyron Elec dropper seatpost that I’m also testing. Check out issue 109 of Singletrack Magazine for the full review…

The frame has been with me since August, and with a wait for some components it was an eleventh hour build with the bike finished at 11pm the night before a ride that I had set as a deadline! Shocks set for sag, rebound dialled in and both high speed and low compression twiddled somewhere near for the first ride and all was good to go.

Early testing has got me very excited about the FlareMAX’s potential. This bike feels very good indeed.

And the going was good. Riding 29in wheels after a year on 27.5in took a little adjusting to, the increased gyroscopic effect of the larger diameter and higher mass wheels was noticeable, it’s a different feeling. As is the amount of travel, again a different feeling.

On shoot with the Cotic FlareMAX. We’ll have more to come on this aqua coloured machine.

If you’ve got any questions about the FlareMAX or the build itself, by all means pop them into the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you!

Review Info

Product:FLARE MAX (frame & X-Fusion O2 RCX shock)
Price:£1499 (frame & shock)
Tested:by James Love for 2 Weeks

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