Browsing through Strava the other night, a couple of interesting figures stood out from data: It's been six months since my Cotic Solaris arrived, and in that time I've covered just over 1000kms. But I've not really said much about it!
Much has been written elsewhere about the frame specifications, geometry and components, so let's skip all that and get down to what I wanted and expected from the bike, and what I found.
I'm a long-time fan of the steel hardtails, having had a mk 1 Cotic Soul for seven years, so the Solaris was already high on the shortlist for an XC and guide bike. Riding one for 40kms at the Cotic demo day convinced me that the frame was a star, but 27.5+ tyres were not suitable for local roots and mud, so a 29er was ordered.
Just before Christmas, the big yellow bike made a good first impression. An XC bike I had ordered, and an XC bike I had got. Around the local trails and fields, it flew along happily with great stability at speed and a lovely taut feel in fast carving corners. Figures backed up the feeling, with the big wheels knocking seconds off many segments and securing a personal best in the tough Dyfi Enduro. But somehow, I felt there was more to come...
Cotic's after sales care is excellent, with a regular mailout to keep owners abreast of new developments and ways to improve their rides. In one email, company owner Cy described his experiments with the wide range of bars and stems Cotic offer, and the handling improvements he felt could be made. Rummaging in my box of bits, I followed his advice, reducing stem length and raising its height. While in the workshop I added a Fox dropper post and Maxxis HR2/Ardent tubeless tyres (from Summit Cycles).
And what a difference! My all-day XC hardtail was still there, but where I had been cautious about pointing it down steep and technical trails for fear of loosing the front end, it now sat steady and poised. With these extra milliseconds giving time to hit a more precise line or correct a slip, I started to let the bike go a little more, enjoying the progressive drift of the tyres and solid tracking from the X-fusion fork. Further familiarity has lead to more confidence, with personal records being taken from my bouncy Santa Cruz on a surprising number of descents, particularly the tight and twisty types.
Overall, the Solaris has brought all I wanted and expected of an XC 29er, with the added bonus of a handy Enduro hardtail lurking beneath the surface. If you're about 6' tall and want to try it, give me a shout.
A comfortable and capable XC bike, as expected.
Also very capable on steep technical terrain, with only minor detail changes that haven't affected all-day use.
Hard compound of OEM tyres not suitable for local conditions.
Raceface headset and bottom bracket bearings died after three months (admittedly 3 Dyfi-Winter months, but Shimano equivalents usually last about twice as long).