20/04/2016 - The 'Long Shot'

As you might expect of any bike company, we're always working on new ideas and trying out new things to make Cotic bikes are as good as they can be. Over the last year geometry ideas and other developments have arguably moved faster than at almost any time in the history of the sport. And whilst we believe the current Rocket is the best bike we know how to build, we would be arrogant, not to say foolish to dismiss some of the more out there ideas completely out of hand without trying them for ourselves, but with our own frame of references.

One of the things that slows you down when working with Taiwan for production is that whilst they're awesome at building batches of frames, it takes an awful long time to get prototypes and 1 offs out of them which can make trying out ideas for the hell of it a little more difficult that it might be.

Last year the fine fellows at Shand Cycles stepped into this gap, by offering to make us custom front triangles to pretty much whatever shape we wanted. The first front end they made was the final proving prototype of the current Rocket275 before we finalised it for production. Last November, after catching up with Chris Porter and his Geometron at a Tech Talk that A Line Coaching put on in Sheffield, I decided I needed to give this super long thing a go. Just about the same time Steven Shand asked if they could put a Shand built Rocket on their stand at Bespoked, and a plan was formed. I sent Steven the drawing in early December and I had this front end built into a bike 2 days before Christmas. Two and a half weeks from idea to riding the bike. Now THAT is what I'm talking about!

R&D bike

At Bespoked last week where the bike was on show, Dave from Radventure dubbed the bike the "Long Shot". We hadn't got a name for it up to then, but it's very suitable! Fundamentally this is the longest Rocket275 you can build with a Reynolds 853 down tube, and even then they made me a special extra long one for the job. The geometry can be configured to be the same as a current Rocket, with the regular back end, or we can put a longer back end from the 29er project on there to see how that affects things. Then there's anglesets and other things we can play with.

R&D bike

Speaking of rear ends, yes, that is a carbon rear end on the bike. I keep an eye on things carbon within the industry because it's becoming a massive thing for other companies. Adrian at Swarf Cycles has form for building his own carbon fibre rear ends for his Curve suspension bike so I asked him if he'd be interested in making me something so I could work with someone in the UK on this. It was a great collaboration, as he got to try out some new techniques, and I got to see what a carbon rear end might look like without the massive tooling costs required when working with the Asian production facilities. I also wanted to try out a Boost spaced rear end, and as all our Rocket production jigs are 142mm it was actually quicker and cheaper for Adrian to make this for me than waiting for the factory to tool up a fabrication jig for a metal back end.

The linkages were made by Blair Precision up near Aberdeen. Alan there is a friend of a friend and has been really great to work with getting us short runs of linkages and other items machined up for the frame. APE in Sheffield made the rest of the pivots and fittings.

As well as geometry and handling, there's things we have been trying out with the kinematics and rates of the suspension, and I have been riding the bike in a bunch of configurations, around here, at a test day at Revolution Bike Park with the Team, and then the team lads did their own work and fed back their own conclusions. Some of that is balancing what the team lads have been asking for and what is suitable and usable for mere mortals like you and I.

R&D bike

First and foremost, despite the beautiful presentation (thanks to the Shand boys wanting to show off their awesome painting prowess for the show) this is in no way one of those 'prototypes' which then turn up as the production bike two months later. This is very much a rolling research rig, a ridable concept. We're still working with Shand on getting custom front ends to test ideas, and this is working brilliantly. There are no plans to do anything else with Adrian or with carbon. He's brilliant to work with, and I've learnt a lot about what I like and don't like about carbon construction, but as mentioned he mainly helped out by making me a new configuration rear end very quickly when the factory in Taiwan needed to be focused on production.

The other conclusion we came to, across everyone who rode the bike was that despite trying some pretty extreme geometry settings, the angles everyone preferred were the current Rocket angles. So there's no radical changes on the horizon there!! Let's face it, with 160mm forks the Rocket has a 65.5 deg head angle which ain't exactly steep!

As for the length? That was much more of a mixed conclusion. Some of us really liked the extra length, others thought it too much and limited what they could do with the bike. Everyone loved the diddy stem handling. Some interesting feedback to think about, but that said, the next batch of Rocket275 due in June will have an XL size option which is 20mm longer than the current large, so we're already into production with some of the ideas that this bike took to the extremes.

More beautiful photos of the Long Shot on Flickr…