Cotic RocketMAX Gen4
Wheel Size: 29’’ (29’’ front / 27.5’’ rear compatible)
Travel: 160 mm rear / 170 mm front
- Sizes offered: C1, C2, C3, C4, C5
- Headtube angle: 63.5°
- Seat tube angle: 75.9° (at 815 mm seat height)
- Reach: 482 mm (size C3)
- Chainstay length: 448 mm
Frame material: Steel w/ aluminum chainstay
- Frame w/ RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock: £2,099 including VAT ($2,271 USD w/o VAT at time of publication). Shock upgrades available for an upcharge.
- Complete bikes with custom builds available; see Cotic’s online frame builder tool for details.
It’s apparently (accidentally) UK steel bike week here at Blister because right on the heels of publishing our full review of the Starling Murmur, I’ve also started spending time on the Cotic RocketMAX Gen4. And while the two bikes have some commonalities in terms of frame material, country of origin, and intended use, they’re quite different once you dig a little deeper.
So what’s the story with the RocketMAX, and where does it slot into the modern Enduro bike market? Let’s dive in.
Like all of Cotic’s bikes, the RocketMAX is (mostly) made from steel, with a Reynolds 853 tubeset that Cotic developed with Reynolds specifically for their own use. The exception is the chainstay assembly, which is made from aluminum, which Cotic says makes more sense for that part, primarily to reduce weight from the forged chainstay yoke, main pivot area, and dropouts. (Check out my recent conversation with Cotic founder Cy Turner on Ep. 160 of Bikes & Big Ideas for much more on that).
The RocketMAX gets 160 mm of rear wheel travel from a 230 x 65 mm rear shock by way of Cotic’s “Droplink” suspension layout — essentially a linkage-driven single pivot with a horizontally mounted shock and a rocker link (the “droplink”) mounted to the seat tube. The rocker pivot does interrupt the seat tube and limits dropper post insertion a bit, but Cotic lists maximum seatpost insertion numbers on their geometry chart (below) to help figure out what would work. Shortening the shock stroke to reduce the travel to 155 mm (62.5 mm stroke) or 150 mm (60 mm stroke) is an option if you’re so inclined.
While the RocketMAX is primarily designed for dual 29’’ wheels, it’s also possible to run it in a mixed wheel size configuration with a 27.5’’ one in back. Cotic doesn’t make any frame changes to toggle between the two but instead recommends a +1° headset to steepen the headtube angle back up (and they spec one on RocketMAX bikes ordered as a mullet). That has a few knock-on effects to the geometry (more on those in a minute) but the option is there if you want it.
The RocketMAX features (mostly) external cable routing, with all three running on top of the downtube (secured by tidy bolt-on plastic clips), though the derailleur cable does go through the seatstay to protect it from chain slap; the brake hose remains external on top of the chainstay, so there’s no need to disconnect the hose to install or remove the brake. The RocketMAX features one set of bottle bosses on the underside of the downtube and another accessory mount underneath the top tube (which can serve as a bottle mount on the larger sizes, but there’s not enough real estate on the smaller ones). The RocketMAX uses a 31.6 mm seat tube, 44 mm straight headtube (with an external lower headset cup), and a Syntace X12 derailleur hanger. The lower two tabs of an ISCG-05 setup are included, and a direct-mount upper chainguide is featured as well.
The front triangle of the RocketMAX is made in Scotland by Five Land Bikes, with the rear triangle coming from Taiwan. Assembly happens at Cotic’s headquarters in the UK’s Peak District. The steel frame components are phosphate dipped before painting for corrosion resistance, and the graphics are masked and painted on, rather than being decals, for better durability. Cotic also offers a 30-day guarantee where you can send the bike back for a full refund if you’re not happy after the first month of ownership. And along with that, the RocketMAX includes a 5-year warranty for the original owner.
Fit & Geometry
Cotic offers the RocketMAX in five sizes, labeled C1 through C5 — roughly correlating to Small through XXL in most manufacturers’ sizing schemes. All get a 63.5° headtube angle, 448 mm chainstays, an effective seat tube angle right around 76°, and 23 mm of bottom bracket drop. Reach ranges from 444 mm to 520 mm in roughly 20 mm increments per size — comparatively tight gaps that Cotic says give riders more ability to size up or down to hit their preferred fit and ride feel as desired.
All those numbers are in the 29’’ configuration with a 170mm-travel fork; going to a mixed wheel configuration (with the +1 degree headset that Cotic recommends) keeps the headtube angle the same but slackens the seat tube by about a degree, lops ~10 mm off the reach, and increases the bottom bracket drop to 32 mm. Running a 160 mm travel fork (in either wheel size configuration) steepens the angles by about half a degree, lowers the bottom bracket by about 5 millimeters, and adds a few millimeters to the reach.
The RocketMAX has a somewhat longer than average headtube (bearing in mind that it also uses an external lower headset cup) which produces notably tall stack heights (648 mm on the size C3) which, frankly, I think makes good sense for this sort of bike. Just bear that in mind when thinking about sizing — you’re likely to run fewer headset spacers under the bar on the RocketMAX than you would on many other bikes, and the effective reach and top tube lengths are a touch longer than they would be with more spacers under the stem.
But for the most part, those are nice, fairly conventional numbers for a modern Enduro bike. If anything, the chainstays are fairly long (especially on the smaller sizes) but nothing jumps out as being all that wild. And while the seat tube number doesn’t sound super steep by modern standards, it’s worth bearing in mind that there’s very little offset to it (i.e., the actual and effective seat tube angles are nearly the same) and that Cotic publishes two effective seat tube angles, the latter of which is at a quite high seat height of 815 mm from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat.
Cotic doesn’t offer standard builds on the RocketMAX, instead allowing customers to spec out a custom build (or partial build) as desired. Cotic’s bike builder tool has some suggested packages to get you started and streamline the process for folks who want some guardrails, but you’re free to mix and match things around as desired. They also encourage folks who want something not listed in the builder, or who just want advice on how to spec out their bike, to get in touch and chat about it.
When we were planning the build for our review bike, Cy suggested doing something of a maximum-bang-for-buck build, with a Shimano SLX drivetrain and Hunt aluminum wheels, but high-end suspension and solid brakes. I was into the idea, and we wound up building up the bike as follows:
- Drivetrain: Shimano SLX
- Brakes: Magura MT5 2-finger w/ 203 mm rotors
- Fork: RockShox ZEB Ultimate (Charger 2.1 model)
- Shock: Cane Creek Double Barrel Kitsuma Coil
- Wheels: Hunt Trail Wide V2
- Dropper Post: OneUp (210 mm stroke)
With a few small upgrades (including a blue Hope headset and seat clamp) the total package comes to £4,512 ($5,570 USD at the time of publishing) — quite reasonable for an Enduro bike with top-tier suspension and solid but un-flashy everything else.
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) How does the RocketMAX compare to the big class of ~160mm-travel Enduro bikes that we’ve been on recently?
(2) And how similar or different does the RocketMAX feel to the Starling Murmur Enduro that we just reviewed — another UK-made steel full suspension bike, but with a true single-pivot layout? The steel construction felt like a big part of what made the Murmur what it is, but will that be true of the RocketMAX as well?
Blister Members can read our Flash Review of the Cotic RocketMAX for our initial on-trail impressions. Become a Blister Member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on gear, and personalized gear recommendations from us.
Bottom Line (For Now)
The Cotic RocketMAX is a bit of a rarity in the modern market, in that it’s a (mostly) steel full-suspension Enduro bike, but one with relatively conventional geometry for the class. We’ve started spending time on the RocketMAX to find out how it all adds up on the trail, so stay tuned for a full review soon.