A Cotic E-MTB Is In Development – And It’s Not Steel

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Cotic has revealed that they’re working on an ebike, and having taken delivery of the first four prototypes a month ago, they’ve decided to tell the world about what they’re making and why.

Unlike other bikes in the Cotic line up, it’s not steel. Figuring out how to make a steel bike look good with a battery on it something we know owner Cy Turner has been pondering for a while. And for now, it seems he’s decided it’s a challenge too far, saying that it’s possible, but very expensive.

We have played around with a few ideas, but all variations on the theme of it being a droplink bike. We definitely had a few ideas of how we could use steel, but nobody likes the look of the external battery bolted to a skinny tube, and if you are going to go big on the down tube to put a battery in there, there is absolutely no benefit from using steel. Steel needs to be small diameter and thin wall to get those beautiful ride feel characteristics. Here, aluminium is definitely the way to go. That said, we have an absolutely sick idea for a steel frame, but it would cost a huge amount of money and I doubt any factory would even countenance making it, so we’re keeping it sensible (both price and technical risk) for our first product.

Cotic Bikees

Instead, their prototypes are aluminium, based around a Shimano STEPS system, with the now familiar internal battery in an oversized downtube. The ability to use Shimano STEPS – which Cotic says is the only ebike provider that doesn’t require a commitment to hundreds or thousands of units ordered – took them from vague ponderings on ebike design, which they started 5 years ago, to more definite focussed design work, which started 3 years ago. Initially they were taking their time in order to let the rapidly evolving technology settle down and mature – and then were held back from progress by supply chain issues.

For those who might see it as a departure from some sort of unwritten code of what constitutes ‘pure’ mountain biking, or an assault on the values of effort and sweat, Cotic has addressed the issue of ‘why make an ebike’:

It’s a huge market, and it’s a part of the sport now, and they’re fun! It massively increases the accessibility of mountain biking to people who maybe aren’t strong enough to get ‘out there’ on a regular bike. Cotic is 18 years old. We have customers from our early years who might well be getting to an age where riding a regular bike isn’t fun or even possible anymore. For others it gives more bang for buck if you only have a limited time window for riding. As good examples, we’ve done a big rides that would normally take me 3.5 to 4 hours in just over 2, and Cy’s ridden more with his wife in the last two weeks with her having the ebike that in years. That last one alone makes it a reason to build one on a personal level.

Cotic Bikes

With Cotic’s recent work with ‘Women of Steel’, ‘Trash Free Trails’ and other projects to improve access to mountain biking and the community, this reasoning seems to sit perfectly alongside the Cotic ethos.

And for those who see ebikes as a sustainability problem, here’s their answer:

The battery issue is a worry, but given that’s a global issue with electric cars etc, the solution will have to present itself. We suspect it will be in the form of battery farms or similar. Just because a battery is done in its initial application, doesn’t mean it’s useless. If it still holds 70% charge and can happily charge and discharge at a low, steady rate, we see old batteries being used to store electricity generated by renewables where the performance isn’t such an issue. You can even build your own powerbanks using old cells relatively easily. One of our friends already does. These seem like a good solution to us, but unfortunately we have no influence on whether it becomes a widespread option. Closer to home, the reliabilty of the drive units is still improving, and we really hope that a refurb option comes online for the warranty replaced units that fail in service.

Cotic Bikes

There’s a Q&A on the Cotic website giving more insight into the project:

What is the progress of the project so far?

It’s a slightly frustrating product to develop; because it’s aluminium and will be produced in the Taiwan we had to prototype over there, which always takes a few months. There’s been a couple of bumps in the road with a change of vendor, and then Shimano releasing the (larger, 630Wh) 8036 battery which meant redesigning the down tube, and adopting metric size shocks, but really the main issue is that Covid hit and it’s taken until now to just get 4 prototypes. Overall it’s been long and frustrating, but see also everything else with bikes right now.

On the bright side though, we’re looking forward to the fun part now, which is riding and developing the bikes properly. We have one in each size so everyone at Cotic can get involved, and friends beyond the company too. We had our first afternoon of team ebiking last week and there were a lot of laughs, and silly climbs attempted.

What have the first ebike rides be like so far?

Fun, scary, confusing, uplifting, frustrating, puzzling, silly. A big power bike is quite a different thing to a regular bike, so managing the power output, the weight, how that affects the geometry and how you plan your rides. It’s quite different. We’re just into the calibration side now we have OE software access, so I’m looking forward to finessing it a little. We have a frame in each of the 4 sizes all built up, so we’re all having rides, feeding back, figuring it out. What we will say is that we think it’s quite a good bike already. There’s definitely some things to sort, but it’s not far off.

What’s next for the bike?

Nail down the drive spec, internal installation and wire lengths and get the Shimano kit ordered. Then it’s trying a few different configurations of geometry and specification of the bikes so we can order the frames as soon as possible.

What’s the spec of the Cotic ebike?

Nothing is fully defined yet. Our emtb won’t be an exact replica of one of our current bikes, but it’s very much a variation on the theme. As you can see it runs our proven droplink suspension and Longshot geometry, so you know it’s going to handle and feel great. The prototypes are certainly a solid start. Others may come after, but we’re focusing to doing this one right for the moment.

When can I buy one?

Cy signed the drawings off in July 2019, we only just received prototypes, and Shimano tell us even if we order now we won’t get drive units and batteries until the end of ’23 earliest. So, these are 2 years away from production as a minimum. We’ll reveal more when we have the final spec nailed down and a firm delivery date. We’re not fixing any dates. There’s no point. We have literally no influence over when the kit arrives, so to try and put a date on that is to add stress to a situation that doesn’t need it. We’re keen to get it to market, but it will be ready when it’s ready.

Finally, whilst we’ll be stoked if people are interested in this, please don’t get in touch just yet. It’s lovely that people are keen, but the bike isn’t finished; we don’t know the spec, the price, or even exact dates. We are fully committed to, and concentrating on, regular bikes as much, if not more, than we ever did.

What do you think? Perhaps you’ve got comments that Cy and the team will take on board when they refine these prototypes?

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