COTIC RocketMax 2024, a buyer’s review


This is a true buyer’s review: the COTIC RocketMax frame and all the components used for this built were purchased by me, at true market value.

My first proper big rig is in the house. 170mm front travel, 160 rear travel, coil shock. Enduro style frame, wide rims with sturdy tires. How does it fit my riding style? Is it suitable for the UP. DOWN. REPEAT approach to mountain biking that I aim for here, at

The short answer, coming after a month of intensive riding on our amazing trails in Postăvaru mountain, near Brașov city: Yes.

My Gen 4 RocketMax bought and built in the spring of 2024 is a calm, confidence inspiring descender, and a surprisingly good climber.

I will start with the latter. I am what you would call a pedaling mountain biker, unlike some very gifted guys that can storm a downhill track even after losing the chain. It’s UP before the DOWN, and this UP is supposed to happen on the bike. For this reason I was a hardtail biker for a long time before moving to my first full suspension setup, a COTIC FlareMaX gen 2 that I built at the beginning of 2019 (read the review here). Back then, the uphill was done mainly on dirt, or forestry roads. Switching to a full suspension made the climbing on single trails much more fun, more than compensating for the weight penalty. Fast forward five years later, I was equally worried about how the new, enduro-style setup of the RocketMax would fare uphill, compared to the more XC/Trail FlareMax.

And, to my surprise, the RocketMax gen 4 is for me a better climbing partner than the FlareMax. Let aside the Strava times (something I cannot be bothered with, so I could actually be quite surprised by the numbers), I have a better pedaling position on the RocketMax, most likely because of a combination of factors. First, the frame sizing is better. The C2 size of the RocketMax fits me better than the M of the older FlareMax. Second, the RocketMax has a bigger BB height, and I also opted for 165 mm cranks that effectively lead to a higher seated position than on the FlareMax that was fitted with 175mm cranks. Third, the Cane Creek Kitsuma Coil offers amazing grip on technical terrain, better small bump compliance than the air shock I have on the FlareMax.

Adding to the surprise element, the RocketMax ended up tipping the scale at 15.4 kilos, including the pedals. Still about a kilo heavier than the FlareMax, but reasonably light for an “enduro” bike, and light enough to allow for some decently smooth climbing. (Scroll down to find the specs).

What about downhill? Better descending was my main reason for building the RocketMax. To have a more capable tool for the steeper, technical natural terrain that we cover in our programs, like the Carpathian Peaks. No surprises here, the bike presents itself pretty much as expected. Composed, confidence inspiring. Compliant. Forgiving. Plenty of room to fill my technical shortcomings, or to compensate for my bad riding habits.

I was worried the higher BB of the RocketMax will make me feel less “in the bike” than with the FlareMax. Which is precisely what happened. I stand taller on the RocketMax, but I also am better placed in between the wheels. I get more weight and more traction on the front wheel, without consciously looking for this position like I was doing with the FlareMax.

With the RocketMax I find more straight lines on sections of trail where previously I had to invent routes around various obstacles. I am getting more “air-time”, but still consume it in small doses. My accepted risks threshold is pretty low, so I like my wheels planted on the terrain, be it dirt, roots or rocks.

I was worried about the maneuverability on tight corners. I am worried no more. The RocketMax feels more nimble than my FlareMax, probably because of the slightly smaller frame size, the higher BB and the shorter fork offset (44mm with the Rocket, it was 51 with the Flare). The narrower handlebar and the shorter cranks may have a thing to say here, also.

I felt very good on my FlareMax. So good that the very idea of a bike upgrade seemed fruitless. Better is the enemy of good. The first moment I climbed that bike, back in 2019, I had a very comfortable feeling of “at home”. Even now, five years later, staying on this bike feels good, in a way that makes you wonder, can it really get better?

Yes, it can.

My COTIC RocketMax components round up:

Considering my riding style, choosing a coil shock seemed the obvious choice, and I am more than happy with the Cane Creek Kitsuma Coil. At 75 kilos fully equipped (with a guide backpack, which tends to be rather heavy), COTIC suggested a 400lb coil. It seems I will settle with a 350lb coil, though. The bike felt a little on the harsh side with a stronger coil, even at minimum preload. I am currently at a minimum preload with the lightest coil in the Cane Creek lineup, and it feels right. (It is a little hazy for me how one should identify this minimum preload point, or where/when the spring is properly engaged by the nut.) There is more to explore in the HSC, HSR, LSC, LSR departments, as very likely I am not in the best of the possible combinations. But, as there is no obvious negative behavior, I am not really pushed into messing up the dials. What I am totally sure of is the three position switch being a god send. The lock out is a true lock out, and the middle position works for most of the climbing situations.

I opted for a Manitou Mezzer Pro fork as I see it as the best compromise between cost, performance, and weight. Lighter than any 38-40mm counterpart, and comparatively as stiff, the Mezzer goes down in 36mm stanchions territory in terms of weight. Add to this a user adjustable travel between 140 and 180mm, and being able to do it only with an air pump. Happy with it so far, even though I have a similar feeling as with the Cane Creek coil shock. There is room for improvement in finding the right air pressure balance between the Dorado chamber and the IRT.

The seat dropper comes from OneUp, and the longest travel I could go for was 150mm, because of the frame construction. In theory I would have wanted more, 170 or even 180. In practice, my rear touches the tire before I get bothered by the dropped saddle.

The handlebar comes also from OneUp, aluminium and small rise. I wasn’t brave enough to go for the high rise, worried that the position would not be effective enough for climbing. Something to explore, though. I started riding with the handlebars at full width, 800mm. It was OK. Following some internet reading, I started to cut it shorter, in several steps. Settled now at 750mm, and it is much better. Looking now at a safe way to cut shorter the carbon handlebar of the FlareMax.

The drivetrain is Shimano XT, 12 speed. Short cranks are a game changer indeed, go for it if you have the chance. On the FlareMax I have 175mm cranks and they are paired with a 32T oval ring. On the RocketMax the cranks are 165, and the ring is 30T oval. I went for the Garbaruk cassette, lured by the steel construction and the weight saving.

The brakes are also Shimano XT, the 4 pots versions. 203mm rotor in front, 180 rear. I am a relatively light rider, not sure if I need more.

I am a happy HUNT customer, and their customer service is spot on. I have bought from them the XC Wide, the Trail Wide and now I am using the HUNT Enduro Wide wheels on the RocketMax. Everything rolls smoothly.

The wheels are equipped with Wolfpack ENDURO 2.4 tires in the lighter, non DH casing. Probably the lightest tires you can get now for this size and in this enduro segment. Also cost effective. I am not what you’d call a “shredder”, so if someone would swap my tires with some other brand’s enduro rubber, I wouldn’t notice.

I use Shimano XT Trail SPD pedals, as I have been a clipped in rider for almost as long as I can remember. (Yes, I am getting to that age where remembering things becomes a problem).

I don’t use a water bottle, so I am not bothered with the small space available for the cage. I always have a hydration system on the backpack, and while it can get finicky to refill, the advantage of easily drinking on the go is unbeatable.

My RocketMax is a Swiss knife type of bike. From climbing to descending, from straight lines to twitchy turns It covers everything with gusto. UP. DOWN. REPEAT? Bring it on!

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