- Cotic Soul – what forks and groupset to go for?
Just bought a second hand Soul frame, intending to build it up. I don’t have any other components to go with it, so pretty much a clean sheet in terms of component choices. I’m trying to do it on a bit of a budget, but don’t mind spending on parts where it’s worth it.
I’ve only ever ridden with rigid forks before (Rock Lobster 853), so I think it’d be worth building the Soul with a suspension fork for something a bit different. I’ve read that this frame’s geometry works best with a 120mm fork? Is that the best length to aim for? Most of the forks available (towards the budget end at least) seem to be 100mm. Is this too short, will it affect the geometry negatively, or would it be a compromise worth making?
It seems like some of the Rockshox forks from a couple of years ago are travel adjustable (by spacers), up to 120/130mm. Or I’ve seen brand new Reba RL 100mm 2014 forks for £259. The new ones seem to be 200g lighter (on paper), but I don’t think they are easily adjustable up to 120mm like the older ones are?
Are second hand forks likely to be worn out, or do they last well these days? I don’t really want to fall into the trap of buying a cheaper set of used forks, and then spending the difference on service parts!
As for groupset, how much difference is there between SLX and XT these days? Is XT worth the extra investment?
My other bike (the Rock Lobster), is still wearing all it’s original kit (1999 9 speed LX/XT mix), gears being XT, cranks, brakes and hubs LX. I suppose I could start swapping drivetrain parts over – thinking of putting new 10 speed XT gears onto the RL and shifting the old 9 speed stuff onto the Soul.Posted 4 years agoandylMember
Do you want the Soul to be your main bike over the RL? I would but then it depends if the Soul suits you more. It is longer in the TT than the RL and I see that as a good thing.
If you are not bothered by ‘bling’ I would go for a full 2014 Deore 10 speed group set. Absolutely nothing wrong with it and it’s a fraction of the price. I would then get some 2nd hand Rebas with 120mm travel if wanting it for XC or maybe something a bit beefier if you expect to be doing more aggressive riding. Maybe something like a Pike if they can be spaced down to 120.
Go for a 15 or 20mm axle (fork dependant) and spend the money you save on the groupset on a decent set of wheels (2nd hand crests for XCish or Arch EX for more aggressive) or a set of LB carbon rims.
I would then spend money on a nice set of wide carbon bars and a 2nd hand gravity dropper.
To me that would make a very good but very reasonable cost bike.
Rebas, unless totally abused, are generally very reliable forks. Check for marks on the stanchions and play in the bushes (ie wobbly legs). If none then all they should need is a quick oil and seal service to put them back as new. Go for the higher spec models if you can find them for the better damper. Or go for new if you spot a good deal, which there should be plenty of.Posted 4 years agomrhoppySubscriber
I’ve run x-fusion velvets recently and honestly I prefer them to the RS revs and fox 32s I’ve had previously. They’re stiff for a 32mm stanchion, light and the damping system provides decent support so they don’t blow through their travel too easily and remain controlled even when it gets steep and techy. I’ve changed mine for Pikes as I wanted to up the travel but would be more than happy to run them on a soul. If you need tapered I can do you mine at a good price.
I don’t think there’s enough difference between SLX and XT to rationally justify the additional spend. But I’m running mostly XT so I’d not listen to logic 😀Posted 4 years agodavewalshMember
Hi Mike, fellow Soul owner here and I’m running a 120mm Reba and find it’s a good compromise all round. If your main interest is climbing and bombing through the woods etc. then 100mm would do the job fine, however as you’ve got the RL for that then you’d be better off going for a longer fork to increase the difference between the two. The handling is still pretty sharp with a 120, it won’t climb as well but will descend better.Posted 4 years ago
As for adjusting fork travel, most aftermarket Rebas can be adjusted to 120mm but some supplied as OEM forks are fixed at 100 so unless you can confirm before you buy that they are adjustable, I would say avoid 100mm forks.
The difference between SLX and XT is pretty minimal, I have SLX on one bike and XT on the other. The XT shifters are slightly crisper in their action but the main difference IMO is the drag from the jockey wheels. SLX runs on bushings and XT on bearings and when you compare them side by side there is a difference, however this is easily cured as jockeys are a consumable item and easy to fit a set that run on bearings when the originals wear out.
I’d say put the new gear on the Soul as that’s likely to become your main bike once you get it built up !faustusSubscriber
I had an old rock lobster 853 until about 18 months ago, and i’d say it is definitly worth building the soul up as your primary bike. Advances in geometry and componentry will feel so much better. The RL has a fairly short top tube and fairly steep angles, and going to more modern geometry feels so much more stable and comfortable. Current Deore or SLX is so good it’s not worth the extra for XT. Your should definitly get some decent forks for it, to make the most of the frame.
You’ll still have a nice rigid RL to go back to whenever you like…I have fond memories of how lively the frame was. The steepness of the angles was its downfall though, crashed on Snowden (over the bars) and terminally bent the chainstay.Posted 4 years ago
My intention is for the RL to stay as my rigid, lightweight (I think it’s 23.5 lbs iirc) semi road ride, and for the Soul to be a bit more of a trail hack. Nothing too lairy as I’m too old and fragile, and have too many responsibilities to end up in traction these days!
My RL is the older original geometry one (I think they changed it for a more modern shape at some point), but I’ve measured the top tube length and it’s only 20mm shorter than the Soul. BUT it does have the old school long stem (120mm!) and flat bars combo, so I don’t think the Soul will feel longer, if it build it up with riser bars and a short stem?Posted 4 years agomartinhutchSubscriber
Be absolutely certain that your particular type and year of fork can be spaced up before you buy. I got various conflicting messages about different types of Recon and Reba.
I’ve just fitted 120mm Rebas to mine, and can notice a positive difference on the flat/downhill. More importantly, now I’ve got stem height right, I’ve not noticed any real difference climbing with them. Much lighter than the Recons they replaced, too.
Personally, I’ve got a mixture of Deore drivetrain/brakes and SLX/XT shifters/mechs. I don’t think you’d go far wrong with Deore entirely.
I’ve currently running them with Flows/XT hubs, which are fine, although you’d get away with lighter wheels if you’re not planning to rough them up too much.Posted 4 years agofaustusSubscriber
Just for clarity rusty spanner, I went from a 2004 RL 853 to a 2012 inbred. I loved the 853 frame, but it was too steep when things got hairy. The inbred is a bit of a lump in comparison, but the geometry is miles different and so much more confidence inspiring. I’d imagine a soul is better still, and had funds allowed (they didn’t) I would have loved a new 853 frame with modern geometry like the current Soul.Posted 4 years agosuperfliMember
I changed from a medium RL853 to a small Soul mk2 about a year ago.Posted 4 years ago
Even though the soul is a small, the TT feels longer. 2x 853 frames couldnt be so different in feel on the trail. The Soul is so much more compliant. Very noticeable on one local descent that I couldnt pedal on with the RL, due to be knocked about so much, I can now pedal pretty much flat out. The bike is more nimble too, possibly down to smaller size, but as it has a long TT, I dont feel its smaller. Love my Soul and I’m so glad I made the change. I was on Rebas, but hated the flex – too lightweight and with no comp damping they blew through the travel. Now on 15mm Marz 44 RC3Ti (converted to air and reduced to 130mm). Far stiffer and superior damped fork.
I’ve bought a pair of 2010 Rockshox Recon Race forks, apparently they are pretty much the same as the low end Reba. Only 100mm travel, but it seems there’s a reasonable chance of getting up to 120 by removing spacers, if it feels like I need the extra. Only thing is that the lockout has stopped working, I’m hopeful that will just need an oil/o ring service, seems to be a common RS problem.
Also bought some Mavic 717s on xt hubs, although the rear rim sounds a bit rough. If it’s beyond trueing, I guess I’ll have to swap another rim onto it. Another 717 or ZTR 355, or a Crest? Spoke length looks near enough the same between those.
Still not decided between SLX and XT drivetrain. Doesn’t help that Merlin and CRC both seem short on Shimano parts at the moment. Is it just a late shipment coming in or are they running out of end of line parts – are new updates imminent?Posted 4 years agoVinteMember
I’ve got a Revelation spacered down to 130mm. I run it with quite a bit of sag. It is brilliant on my Soul, climbs and descends well. I had the Rev set at 150mm for a while on my ‘big bike’ and hated it, too flexy on the Lake District Rocks. However, at 130mm on my wee Soul it is amazing and handles everything I can throw at it.Posted 4 years agoNorthwindSubscriber
The old Revelation u-turn was the perfect Soul fork IMO, light-ish, stiff-ish and adjusted from 100mm to 130mm. Soul’s one of those bikes that genuinely works with different fork lengths, it’s not the usual “drop for climbing” thing so u-turn goes really well (and TALAS not so much!)Posted 4 years agomatther01Member
I’m running my Mk3 Soul with Float RLC FIT 120’s…but wish I had opted for Reba instead due to the ease of maintenance (still really good forks though and really tuneable).
I did run 110/140 Talas’ but kept forgetting to switch the settings for climbing and descending…and it didn’t handle quite so well in either setting compared to 120’s.
I was running a full 2×10 SLX groupset bar a XT cassette (helps with lessing the scoring) and KMC X10L chain, but have moved to 1×10 NW set up.
There were some new XT/SLX cranks in the classifieds for a good price. You could always try ze germans which is where I got my stuff from and if you pay over a certain amount they don’t charge for postage either.
I know you’re on a budget but if you have MK3 frame then get a dropper and if going 10 speed a clutch mech is a must…two best inventions for bikes IMO…apart from 650b obviously 😉Posted 4 years ago
Thanks matther01, interesting stuff.
So is 9 speed obsolete at slx/xt level these days, and you’d only buy it for legacy compatibility? Or do Shimano still sell 9 speed groupsets as mainstream?
I did wonder about a double chain ring setup rather than triple (simpler sounds better to me), but I don’t think the range would be quite wide enough for me these days, and I read somewhere that the the frame wasn’t really designed for it (chainstay clearance etc). My frame is an older model, not sure if the chainstays have been modified recently with this in mind?
Merlin have a great deal on SLX groupset, but it doesn’t come with a clutch mech, which kind of put me off a bit. CRC have a 10% offer, but they don’t have full XT groupsets in stock either. I haven’t tried pricing all the components individually, but I imagine it works out quite a bit more expensive to buy all the parts separately?Posted 4 years agomatther01Member
Buying parts seperately isnt necessarily more expensive. I forget to say Ribble do some really cheap shimano stuff. As for 2×10 I found my my 38/24 quite good.
To run a clutch it has to be 10 speed unless you use sram shifter.
Drop a note to Cotic they are REALLY helpful if you need advice!Posted 4 years ago
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