Cotic Flaremax Silver 29
Cotic have stuck to their tried-andtested steel construction for the latest Flaremax, but they’ve pushed the boundaries with the geometry, making it the longest bike on test. We feared that the length of the tubes and their narrow diameter might result in a flexy feel, but clever shaping and butting means they’re stiff enough to give good trail manners, without making the bike ping from rock to rock.
With the long geometry adding stability and confidence at speed, the Flaremax feels like it wants to be ridden flat-out everywhere. It’s not a bike that requires finesse to get the most out of it, but more of a ‘point and shoot’ affair. Which is fine, until you hit terrain where the limits of its 120mm of rear travel become apparent. The Cane Creek DBAIR [IL] shock on our test bike was very adjustable, so it could be set up to deal with a wide range of trails. But there’s no doubt that the bike’s shape encourages you to push it a little too far at times.
While the back end is supple and controlled, the X-fusion Mcqueen fork won’t suit all tastes. Ours came with a ‘Roughcut HLR’ damper upgrade, and was relatively smooth (if a little noisy) when faced with repeated impacts. Over isolated hits, it didn’t bind or spike but there was a definite harsh feeling, made more noticeable by the contrast with the active back end.
Fortunately, Cotic’s bike builder lets you customise the spec before buying. We used the Silver package as a base (£2,699) but upgraded to Hope wheels, the Cane Creek shock and the HLR version of the Mcqueen. For an extra £300 you could swap in a Rockshox Pike RCT3, which would be a better match for the rear end.
The length of the Flaremax and its slack-ish 66-degree head angle reward an aggressive, weightforward stance on the bike, which allows you to push the front wheel into the ground to gain maximum cornering speed from the Maxxis Minion tyre (another custom option). At this point, you can let go of the brakes and plough through pretty much anything the trail can throw at you. It may be a short-travel bike but it does a great job of feeling like an enduro machine.