In a new regular series, we’re diving into the Bikemagic archives and unearthing some gems. First up, the Cotic Soul.
The Cotic Soul is a modern classic. Originally conceived way back in 2003, the updated frame is still made from quality Reynolds 853 tubing but has been tweaked and fettled with to make it comply with new CEN tests.
Changes include a stiffer ovalised top tube and a new 631 head tube, and out back new machined cowled dropouts with a replaceable hanger. Build quality is excellent, with tidy welds and the new gloss black paint finish (shockingly bright orange also available) really showing off the frame well. Details include tapered gussets around the top and down tubes and on the chainstay just behind the bottom bracket and well placed cable and disc guides. Geometry remains unchanged.
Versatility is key
As a result of these changes, the frame now gets the thumbs up for 140mm forks. Keen to find out how it rides following the most significant update since it first launched, Cotic sent us a test bike with a burly build kit focused around a Magura Thor 140mm fork.
With a 20mm bolt-through axle and the stumpy stem and massively wide handlebars, steering is precise and accurate. The rest of the spec follows a similar path; chunky Maxxis High Roller 2.35in tyres, Bontrager stem, handlebars and seatpost and a smattering of Shimano XT and SLX in the transmission and braking departments.
The build shows off the capability of the frame perfectly. With the forks set up with a generous amount of sag, we hit the trails. And hit them hard, for the Soul is game for some tough punishment and hard riding. The bigger forks highlight how strong and solid the frame is and, despite the long fork, the handling remains enjoyably nimble and swift.
The upshot of the long-travel fork is that it allows you to be generous (or lazy) with your line choice, ploughing undeterred through mountains of rocks and tangled roots. Climbing isn’t a chore either – with a long fork it should be, but it never was. With some careful setting up of saddle position (involving shoving it forward a tad) and bar height it’s completely manageable, and we didn’t even need to shift forward right over the bars on the steeper stuff to keep the forks from wondering.
It just remains stable all of the time, handling like a frame with a shorter travel fork.
The best thing is that it just never felt out of depth. Not once. And I did try. I was surprised, and reminded, of just how capable a sorted hardtail can be on a variety of trails.
While the build seen here represents one extreme of the available versatility inherent in the Soul, it should be remembered that it can be equally happily built as a XC speed machine. Swap the forks, wheels and tyres to something lighter and it could be pressed into service as a race or enduro bike.
The Soul costs £480 (including Hope Seat QR, neoprene chain-stay protector and UK delivery.) It’s available in three sizes and two colours. Medium frame weight is is 4.4lb.
Got a Soul? Why not let us know how you get on with it and add your review below.