When I tried the first prototype of the new Cotic hardtail - the 29er Solaris 29er - last summer, I wasn't sure what to expect. The hype around those extra 3" was certainly intruiging but would it really make much difference and would this Cotic have the ace handling and fun factor of the Soul?
Thanks to Cotic being the AQR team's main sponsor though, late December saw me building that same prototype frame up with my own parts now that it was going spare at Cotic hq - thanks Cy! N.B. The main differences between it & the production frames is they'll have a 1deg steeper seat tube and 44mm head-tube rather than the tapered one the proto. has.
The bike is built with Reba RLs, Hope hoops (borrowed - thanks Ed!), XTR cranks with a 32t ring and 11-32 cassette, EA70 wide flat bars, 2012 XT brakes, KCNC stem and Maxxis Aspen tyres.
So how has it been so far? Well I've clocked up about 200 miles on it so far, around home (Notts), down in Swinley Forest and over in the Peaks too. In short, it's fantastic!! You may see this quick review as biased given that Cotic are a sponsor, but regardless of who supplies them, bikes have got to deliver the goods these days in such a competitive market - 29ers included. Anyway, basically it's amazing fun to ride, still agile and flickablethrough the singletrack like its 26" Soul brother but very stable and super-fast downhill - point it down a fast descent and it very quickly gets to my comfortable maximumn velocity! The big area I was curious about was cornering, but here it excels too - not just the usual Cotic handling but those bigger-than-normal tyre contact areas seem to let it corner on rails - which is great news for me as it's one of my areas with room for improvement! Even with very the 'summery' Aspens on, it's ace! Finally, climbing - on the first build last summer this wasn't perfect, with a bit of front-end wander on steep stuff. A flipped stem has sorted this though and on production frames the 44mm headtube will lower the front with via the top headset cup.
The next plan is to fit my own wheels which have now arrived thanks to Hope - Stans Crests on Pro2s - which should save over 1/2lb on the borrowed TN719s. Newer XTR cranks will also be fitted once a custom 34t chainring arrives from the US, whilst EC70 wide bars will save another 100g and KCNC rotors another 100g. Target weight is 23lb which I reckon 'aint bad for a steel-framed 29er!
Anyway, enough discussion, I'm off to plan tomorrow's ride on it... :-)