Wil Introduces The Cotic BFeMAX Hardtail
UK mountain bike brand Cotic recently unveiled its latest rock-smashing creation; the BFeMAX. Rather than being an update of an existing model, the BFeMAX is an all-new 29er hardtail designed for rowdy all mountain riding. It’s designed to take big rubber and a big-travel fork, and it features what Cotic refers to as ‘Longshot’ geometry. Put it all together, and you have the most radical hardtail that Cotic has ever built.
To put it to the test on our considerably drier trails, Cotic sent us out a a BFeMAX frame to build up into a long-term test bike. Here we’ll be taking a closer look at our custom build along with some of the details that make up this big-wheel bruiser.
BEEFY TO THE MAX!
If you’re not familiar with the Cotic range, you could consider the BFeMAX as either a big-wheel version of the existing 27.5in BFe, or even a hardtail version of the RocketMAX full suspension enduro bike. Whatever the case, a quick glance at the robust tubing on this very slack and very long steel frame shows that this is one hardcore hardtail built for a’thrashing.
The BFeMAX is mostly constructed of welded and heat-treated 4130 chromoly steel tubes, along with a Reynolds 853 downtube. There’s a lot of nice shaping and detail going on with this frame, including the Ovalform top tube, tidy reinforcing gussets, and snaky S-bend seatstays.
Up front is a straight 44mm head tube, and on the back you’ll find 148x12mm dropouts with a Syntace X-12 thru-axle. Joining it all together is a huge 34.9mm diameter seat tube, which is much bigger than what you’d normally find on a steel hardtail. It’s also very short, allowing you to run a long-stroke dropper.
Joining it all together is a huge 34.9mm diameter seat tube, which is much bigger than you’ll normally find on a steel hardtail. It’s also very short, allowing you to run a longer stroke dropper.
Cotic being a UK-based brand, the BFeMAX is all very practical and all-weather friendly. There’s a 73mm threaded BB shell, flanked by ISCG 05 chainguide tabs. Aside from a short section of internal routing for the dropper post, all the hydraulic lines and cables run externally. It might not be as aesthetically seamless as internal routing, but you’ll punch yourself in the face a lot less when having to replace a cable or swap a brake line.
For those wondering, our Medium test frame came out at 2.76kg on the workshop scales. That’s with the included thru-axle, derailleur hanger, quick-release seat collar, and bolt-on cable guides.
It might not be as aesthetically seamless as internal routing, but you’ll punch yourself in the face a lot less when having to replace a cable or swap a brake line.
Big Fork Ready
Cotic already has a 29er hardtail in its line called the SolarisMAX, though it’s labelled as more of a trail bike that’s optimised around a 120mm travel fork. In comparison, the BFeMAX is designed around a 140mm travel fork. According to Cotic though, you can run anywhere from 120-160mm, and the frame will take up to 2.6in wide rubber. Pwoar!
As well as selling frames, Cotic also offers complete bikes too. All complete BFeMAX bikes are built with a 140mm travel fork, either a Cane Creek HELM or an X-Fusion Trace36. Ours being a custom project, we’ve built it up with a RockShox Lyrik RC2 fork set at 150mm travel.
First debuted back in 2016 on a wild steel/carbon Rocket prototype, ‘Longshot’ is Cotic’s geometry concept that is all about optimising each frame size around a tiny 35mm stem. This is done in order to keep the steering feel the same throughout the size range, though it also allows for much longer reach measurements, along with slacker head angles too. And holy cow is the BFeMAX slack!
According to Cotic, the BFeMAX has a head angle of 65° when fitted with a 140mm travel fork. However, it’s important to note that Cotic measures those angles with the fork at sag (25% to be precise). That means the static head angle is even slacker, which is particularly important if you’re comparing numbers with other brands out there who don’t measure geometry at sag. For those wondering, our test bike measures in closer to 63° with the 150mm Lyrik un-sagged. Crikey!
Reach is a very generous 461mm on the Medium frame (485mm on the Large and 510mm on the XL), and chainstay length is also quite long at 444mm. As mentioned above, each frame is designed around a 35mm stem length.
What’s It Wearing?
With the BFeMAX serving as a long-term test bike, we’ll be bolting on all sorts of different forks, wheels, tyres, groupsets and dropper posts to test and review over the coming year.
To begin with, we’ve fitted on the latest RockShox Lyrik with the new DebonAir C1 spring inside. There’s also the new SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, complete with that huge 520% cassette for plenty of low-range grunt. And there’s a set of Bontrager’s revamped Line Pro 30 wheels, which get new OCLV carbon rims that Bontrager claims are the toughest it has ever tested.
Rubber comes from Specialized in the form of a 2.6in wide Butcher/Eliminator combo with the reinforced GRID Trail casing. There’s also a set of SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes, a 180mm travel OneUp dropper post, and a PRO Tharsis cockpit to finish it all off.
Cotic BFeMAX Custom Build
- Frame | Heat Treated Chromoly Steel, Ovalform Top Tube, Reynolds 853 Downtube, 0mm Travel
- Headset | Cane Creek 40 Series ZS44/EC44
- Fork | RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, Charger 2.1 RC2 Damper, 42mm Offset, 150mm Travel
- Wheels | Bontrager Line Pro 30, OCLV Carbon Fibre Rims, 29mm Inner Rim Width
- Tyres | Specialized Butcher 2.6in Front & Eliminator 2.6in Rear, GRID Trail Casing
- Drivetrain | SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 w/GX Alloy 32T Carbon Crankset & XG1275 10-52T Cassette
- Brakes | SRAM G2 Ultimate, 180mm Centerline Rotors
- Bar | PRO Tharsis 3FIVE Carbon, 20mm Rise, 800mm Width
- Stem | PRO Tharsis 3FIVE, 35mm Clamp Diameter, 35mm Length
- Grips | PRO Lock-On Trail Grips
- Seatpost | OneUp V2 Dropper Post, 31.6mm Diameter, 180mm Travel
- Saddle | Specialized Power Expert, 143mm Width
- Available Sizes | Small, Medium, Large & X-Large
- Confirmed Weight | 13.40kg
- Frame RRP | £549 (Approximately $986 AUD)
Our test bike is built up with the new SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain along with 2.6in wide tyres. Clearance through the back end is mostly fine, but it is a bit tight with the reinforcing brace at the top of the seatstays.
Cotic BFeMAX Sizing & Fit
Having spent a load of time riding the SolarisMAX, I had a bit of an idea of what to expect from its bigger brother. The reach is actually very similar between the two bikes, and it’s very long for a medium frame. I stand at 175cm tall, and the last few test bikes I’ve ridden have hovered around 430-450mm, which is quite a bit shorter than the BFeMAX. It isn’t uncomfortable, it just takes a few rides to get used to. I’ll be trimming the bars down to 770-780mm soon, which will help.
The seat angle is a lick steeper on the BFeMAX, which helps to centralise you between the two wheels for a more efficient climbing position. I also like that Cotic has kept the seat tube really short. I’ve not been able to run a 180mm travel dropper post before, and what a pleasure that is! With the saddle crushed, the low-slung frame gives you a tonne of space to move around within.
Up front is a Specialized Butcher GRID Trail tyre, which its huge 29×2.6in guise comes in at a confirmed weight of 1065g.
First Ride Impressions
I’ve only had a few rides on the Cotic BFeMAX so far, but I’m steadily getting the position and settings dialled in.
The 150mm fork does prop the front end up quite a lot, which I suspect will feel fantastic for steeper alpine riding. On less gravity-themed trails closer to home, I would like it a little lower. I’m currently running less pressure in the Lyrik to get it to ride deeper in its travel, along with an extra Bottomless Token to maintain big-hit support. The new DebonAir spring is really effective at sitting high in the travel though, so it means the bars are still jacked up pretty high on the climbs. My plan is to get a 140mm air spring for the Lyrik, and I reckon that’ll have the front-end feeling spot on.
So far I’ve been really impressed with how well the Cotic BFeMAX can climb though. Of course it isn’t particularly light. Complete weight is a healthy 13.40kg (without pedals and with the tyres setup tubeless). I’ve certainly been making good use of the big 52T cassette sprocket, though I’d even be tempted to downsize the chainring to 30T. The seat tube angle is relatively steep (around 75° at sag), and that puts you in a great position for winching uphill, with the long rear centre helping to keep everything planted. Dropping the fork travel will improve the seated position further.
The new Bontrager Line Pro 30 wheelset is claimed to be almost twice as strong as the previous version, and Bontrager says it’s the toughest carbon wheel it’s ever tested in house – out of any brand.
As for the descents, it’s wickedly stable. The wheelbase is absolutely huge on this bike, and it really keeps the whole thing calm when bouncing down the trail. Compared to a shorter bike, the head angle doesn’t steepen as violently as you go through the travel, so it seems to maintain its composure pretty well, even when you’ve bitten off way more than you should be chewing. I’ve already had a couple of ‘moments’ when the bike has rolled away from me, gathering momentum a lot faster than I anticipated. While I’ve only briefly flirted with the BFeMAX’s descending capabilities on the few rides we’ve had together, already I can tell that I’m going to be getting into some serious trouble on this thing.
On that note, I’ll be fitting a tubeless insert into the rear wheel shortly, which I found to be hugely beneficial on the Curve DownRock I tested earlier this year. Not only will that give a bit more protection to the rim, it’ll also facilitate lower pressures to help smooth out the ride a bit more. So far I’ve found the Cotic BFeMAX to be pretty comfy, certainly smoother than the DownRock, though more damping is always welcome when you don’t have a rear shock.
We’ve gone for a set of SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes and 180mm rotors to begin with. These have a nice and solid lever feel, with a noticeable boost in power over the old Guides.
What Next For the Cotic BFeMAX?
As mentioned above, the BFeMAX has signed up for the long-haul, and we’ve got a range of testing projects set aside for it over the coming months. In addition to fine-tuning the riding position, suspension and tyre setup, we’ve got a few different components that we’ll be bolting on for testing in the near future, so stay tuned for more from this big-wheel beast.
We’d love to hear what you think about the Cotic BFeMAX and our custom build – be sure to tell us your thoughts and ask any questions you like in the comments below!
And if all this hardtail chat has pricked your interest, be sure to check out our story on the new Norco Torrent, and our review of the Curve DownRock – a titanium trail bike that is nothing like the unrelenting hardtails we grew up on.
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