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The Cotic RocketMAX Gen 4 is the brand’s flagship big travel bruiser. Made-in-UK steel front triangle with 160mm of Droplink rear travel.
- Brand: Cotic
- Product: RockertMAX Gen 4
- From: Cotic
- Price: £2,199 frame only (complete bikes from £4,649)
- Tested: by Benji for 15 months
- Fears no steepness, up or down
- Hella grippy, everywhere
- Just a joy, all the time
- Limited dropper insertion
- Smaller frames may run into bottle/piggyback shock issues
Let’s not spend too long describing the Cotic RocketMAX Gen 4 again. We’ve already done a launch story about it (read it if you wish) and I did a quick Bike Check about the early mullet incarnation of this frameset.
Suffice to say, the Cotic RocketMAX is the brand’s burliest bike. To stick it in a pigeon hole, it’s an enduro bike. 160mm rear travel via proprietary linkage driven single pivot design. 160-170mm fork travel up front. Steel front triangle and seat stays. Alloy chain stays.
As you can probably imagine, the nature of a Tech Editor’s testbed bike is something of an exercise in Trigger’s Brooming. The bike is in a permanent state of change depending on what test bits are plumbed into it.
With that said, this current guise you can see here is definitely the best build I’ve put on to the Cotic RocketMAX Gen 4 frame. The only thing I’d change would be the crank arms. The XT ones pictured are 170mm long. I’d prefer shorter (because there are no downsides to shorter cranks, so long as you have the gearing range).
A quick glance as the complete bikes offered by Cotic is reassuring. They know what they’re doing. There are no outright clangers in any of the spec sheets. On to the frame then. It looks ace. The paintjob is lovely. The welding is neat. The decals and headbadge are decent. The whole thing is really impressively out together.
Aesthetics matter (whether we like it or not). The steel full-susser aesthetic is something that I am a sucker for. The RocketMAX looks approximately 1,000 times cooler than any carbon machine, in my eyes anyway. Some snooty folk may sniff at the bolt heads at the seat/chain stay junction. I totally don’t mind them.
Similarly, the Cotic RocketMAX Gen 4 has almost entirely external cable routing. The dropper routing goes up the seat tube via a grommeted porthole above the BB. The rear mech cable enters the seat stay at the rear shock junction and pops out again to meet the rear mech. If you like internal cable routing, you won’t like the RocketMAX. If you (correctly) appreciate the practicalities of external routing, you will love living with the RocketMAX.
There are two sets of bottles bosses. One under the top tube and the other under the down tube. I never used the ones under the down tube. Because they’re under the down tube. If I need more than one water bottle, I wear a Camelbak.
The main bosses under the top tube proved more than up to the job of holding decent-size water bottles, even with piggyback shocks. On this size C4 frame there is very probably more room inside the front triangle compared to the smaller sizes, so smaller riders may run into bottle issues especially if running piggyback shocks.
Speaking of shocks, I’ve run the bike with air shocks (Fox Float X and Marzocchi Bomber Air) and air forks (Fox 36 Float) and whilst those air sprung boingers were fine, I am just wholly sold on coil. And I think the RocketMAX perfectly suits coil in every way. It suits the aesthetic and it suits the ride feel.
Speaking of which…
With a relatively high level of progression to the rear suspension, the RocketMAX works beautifully with a coil shock. It feels supple and free-moving yet also firm and supportive, though the whole of the travel stroke. This essentially feels amazing everywhere. Grippy, comfy, calm, confident.
Is it a ‘playful’ jittery jib machine? Nope. Am I bothered? Nope.
Does it bob? Yep, all bikes can bob. Can you stop it bobbing? Yep. I actually find coil shocks easier to not-bob because the damping circuits are free (from air seal stiction) to do their thang; you’re safe to dial on low speed compression and/or rebound to counter the bobs without ruining the suspension performance elsewhere.
If you’re going to run a Cotic RocketMAX Gen 4 with an air shock (I appreciate than ‘going coil’ is daunting to a lot of people) then I’d recommend getting a Cane Creek air shock with a climb switch. They’re the best option by far.
The sheer bigness of the bike is both a testament to – and a poke in the eye – accepted bike handling ‘theory’. Sure, the bike’s length and slack head angle give it immense stability at speed. Which is helped no end by the ‘give’ in its chassis. But this length does not make it a ‘handful’ in tight corners. It just doesn’t. Bigger bikes do corners – including tight hairpins – better. Once you stop riding them like small bikes.
With long bikes you can also bring the BB height up. You no longer need to be pulled down into the bike to make up for its geometry inadequacies. Long and high bikes ride so much better than short and low bikes in my experience. It may sound totally illogical and contrary to what you’ve always thought about MTB numbers but the proof is in the riding.
With generous reach, relatively long chain stays, relatively high BB and ample stack height (657mm on C4), the Cotic RocketMAX Gen 4 offers one of the best handling geometry formulas currently available.
I didn’t even think the seat angle was an issue despite it being an off-trend 76.5° ‘slack’. With a saddle placed a bit forward on its rails, the position is fine. Indeed, steeper seat angled bikes can feel rather cramped and/or overly ‘Jeckyll and Hyde’ in nature (the bike ends up feeling like it is one bike uphill and a totally different bike downhill). On the Cotic there’s no front end wandering. There’s no ‘treading water’ feeling of being in an inefficient pedal power position. It’s actually totally fine. The RocketMAX will surprise many by just how much of an amazing ascender it is. It’s like an unflappable escalator.
I have a niggle. It’s not standover per se, but it is to do with the seat tube length. And where the seat tube pivot is. Basically, the longest travel dropper I can fit in the space allocated is a 170mm travel dropper. I suspect if I really shopped around I could maybe find a 185mm travel dropper from some alt brand or other that would fit but as it is, I’ve not encountered one yet. So the good ol’ Brand-X 170mm it is. For riders who’ve got used to 200mm+ droppers, 170mm will feel insufficient.
And some of you may notice that I’m running a -1.0° Works Components headset in the bike. Is the stock head angle too steep? For my preferences, running a 160mm fork, I like it slacker yes. Most folk will not mind the stock geometry, or they can opt to run 170mm forks. And hey, angle adjust headsets exist and the RocketMAX has a normal headtube. It’s good to have the option regardless.
The RocketMAX is a bike primarily designed for terrain that has substantial gradient to it. Which is where it excels. Any sort of uphills, any sort of downhills. Cotic offers the shorter travel FlareMAX or the Jeht bikes for more XC or trail bike duties.
Having said that, if you really need to you can set up the RocketMAX to be more zippy on flatter terrain (fast rolling tyres, more low speed compression) but it’s not the bike to get if that’s what the majority of your riding life is. The RocketMAX likes more challenging terrain, whether it’s the challenge of speed, roughness or steepness – or ideally some sort of combination of these.
Right then. Is ‘steel feel’ a real thing or just hype? It’s very real. All it takes is one attempt at a latticework of off-camber roots to prove it. And in a more subtle – but more consistently relevant sense – there’s less fatigue. You’re not fighting the bike as much. You’re working in tandem with it. The RocketMAX makes you realise just how much of your efforts on other bikes are going into dealing with jitter and line-fighting. You’re less tense, less clenched.
This feel goes hand in hand with the aforementioned high ‘heads up’ riding stance. The front end is high and once you’ve unlearned loads of bad riding (bad geometry) habits, you find yourself generally more forward on the bike at all times. And staying more forward. There’s no constant repositioning of yourself backwards and forwards, searching for the sweet spot. You get middle-forward and get on with it. Consistent handling, consistent grip, consistent goddamn fun.
The Cotic RocketMAX Gen 4 is an amazingly capable mountain bike that exudes a level of calmness, control and – yes – comfort that makes it unique. Bikes with great geometry and decent suspension are not uncommon these days. It is the three-dimensional compliance of the frame chassis that is key to the RocketMAX experience. It is not a sinuous, flexy noodle. It’s more like a muscle that tenses and releases at an instantaneous and instinctual level. This is a special bike.
Cotic RocketMAX Gen 4 Custom Specification
- Frame // Reynolds 853 steel w/ Aluminium chainstays, 160mm
- Fork // Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Coil, 160mm
- Shock // X-Fusion H3C RCP Coil, 230 x 65mm
- Wheels // DT Swiss XM 1700 Spline
- Front tyre // Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M, 29 x 2.5in
- Rear tyre // Pirelli Scorpion Race Enduro M, 29 x 2.5in
- Chainset // Shimano XT, 170mm, 30T
- Drivetrain // Shimano XTR rear mech & XT chain w/ Garbaruk cassette 10-52T
- Brakes // Magura MT7, 203/203mm
- Stem // Industry Nine A35, 32mm
- Bars // Burgtec Ride High Alloy, 35mm, 800 x 50mm
- Grips // Gusset Sleeper
- Seatpost // Brand-X Ascend XL, 31.6mm, 170mm
- Saddle // WTB Volt
- Bottom Bracket // Shimano XT
- Size tested // C4
- Sizes available // C1, C2, C3, C4, C5
- Weight // 16.8kg
- Head angle // 63.1°
- Effective seat angle // 76.5°
- Seat tube length // 471mm
- Head tube length // 130mm
- Chainstay // 448mm
- Wheelbase // 1,307mm
- Effective top tube // 662mm
- BB height // 28mm BB drop
- Reach // 508mm
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|Product:||RocketMAX Gen 4|
|Price:||£2,199 frame only (complete bikes from £4,649)|
|Tested:||by Benji for 15 months|