Women of Steel an all women group from Cotic Bikes, aiming to encourage more women into our amazing sport. You don't have to own or ride a Cotic bike to get involved, this is open to all.

Cotic's own Women of Steel are our staff and Brand Ambassadors who make this awesome group a reality.

Hannah Sharpe - Cotic's own Dispatch and Marketing Queen, and the inspiration and founder of Women of Steel

Kelly-Jayne Collinge - Our own resident Radmum, Kel loves riding gravel, mountain bike, with kids, with mates, on her own, whenever. Super positive force behind Women of Steel.

Jo Shwe - Trash Free Trails A-Teamer and ran the inaugural Trashmob academy for kids from difficult backgrounds. So inspiring. So much fun.

Esme Ward - When she's not racing BMX for Great Britain, Esme's railing the trails on her BFe

Women Of Steel is an active Whatsapp community. So long as you have Whatsapp on your phone, follow the link below to join and get involved.


Give us a follow on Instagram (@coticwomenofsteel).

Women of Steel Ride Jerseys and T shirts are available from the Cotic merch store

Women Of Steel Ride JerseyWomen Of Steel T Shirt

03/06/2024 - Abby - African Adventure Event

Abby's African Adventure Event

Whilst we were cowering inside against the wettest winter in years, our Ambassador Abby Popplestone (@abby_popplestone) was on the adventure of a lifetime, riding her Cotic Cascade across Africa. It was an incredible trip, and now she’s back, we wanted to celebrate her journey and let her tell the story.

Abby in Africa on her Cotic Cascade

On Friday 7th June 2024 we are having an Abby’s African Adventure day here at Cotic HQ in Chesterfield.

It starts with a late afternoon gravel ride on our local, for a nice, sociable 15-20km or so (around 1.5-2hrs) on our local byways and lanes with Abby and some of us from Cotic. Any gravel bike or XC mountain bike will be suitable.

Once back from the ride around 5ish, we’ll have pizzas for tea and a few beers or ciders laid on as well.

At 7pm we’ll head into the Cotic Showroom and Abby will talk us through a slideshow of her incredible photos of her ride, with a Q and A afterwards. This will be wrapped up 8.30-9pm, but if it’s a nice evening we’ll probably hang out for a while for another couple of drinks and chat.

This is open to anyone, not just Cotic owners. If you want to hear Abby’s story, come for a nice ride and eat some good pizza, you’re more than welcome.

The full do, including ride, pizza, drink and talk is £15. If you can't make the afternoon ride and pizza, then you can get a ticket for the talk and Q and A only for £5.

There are just 30 tickets for this event. Sound good?

Order your event ticket here

Order your ticket here

Abby in Africa on her Cotic Cascade


Cotic HQ is here...
Googlemaps : maps.app.goo.gl/h8G9iqHzxjob2gYk9
what3words ///ramp.rails.taps

Address is:

Cotic Bikes
1B Broom Business Park
Bridge Way
S41 9QG

Phone number is 07970 853 531.

We have parking on site for about 20 cars, and on the estate roads round and about too.

It's about a 10 minute ride for Chesterfield train station.


Friday 7th June 2024. The ride rolls out at 3pm, so if you’re riding, please aim to arrive by 2.30pm latest so we can roll out on time. It’s not a supported ride, and we aren’t qualified guides, we’re just showing you around our local trails. Bring spares, water, clothing and food as appropriate for riding for a couple of hours.

If you can’t make the ride, pizzas will be from around 5.30pm, talk starts at 7pm, and will be wrapped up 9ish.


We have the Cotic demo fleet available, so if you’d like to demo, you’re more than welcome. Please book in by emailing demo@cotic.co.uk with the bike and size you would like to try.

If you would like to demo, but would prefer to ride your own bike on the group ride, that works too! The Cotic Showroom will be open from 10am so you can go for a spin on our 45min demo loop earlier in the day if you would prefer. If you want to make a day of it anyway, pop in for a coffee and you can head out on the demo loop before the event starts. We’d be happy to see you.

Order your event ticket here

Order your ticket here

This is going to be fun!

Book your ticket…

Follow Abby on Instagram…

08/02/2024 - Kelly Film


09/01/2024 - Kelly Premier

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Our latest piece of work, directed by the inimitable Liam Higgins / @dsplaced and our Cotic Women of Steel heroine Kelly-Jayne Collinge is in the can.


First things first... the Kelly premier in February... get your ticket...

Buy your ticket now - click here

Kelly Jayne-Collinge has been riding off road since 2015, and in that time, has been nothing but a positive force for fun, inclusion, equity and opportunities. It was for this reason we have been supporting her since 2017. She embodies everything we want the brand to be. She's the first person to say yes and more importantly, the first person to say “no, that isn't right”. The adventures she undertakes have left everyone breathless and more than a little envious, but those come her way purely by her being one of the most hard-working, genuine and authentic people you're likely to meet.

In 2020 when she became pregnant with her son Atlas, the anxiety of impending motherhood weighed heavily. This wasn't helped by the desertion of brands and relationships that she had worked earnestly to cultivate. Ambassadors exist to promote their brands, but brands also need to champion their people. In this regard, some more-than fumbled. Some of her sponsors showed their true colours by treating pregnancy as an illness, instead of leaning into the miraculous and life-changing wonder that it is.

Kelly Escapade

Her embrace of motherhood combined with her pre-existing love of cycling has grown in parallel with Atlas. As he's become more mobile, the adventures have become even longer-legged, including multiple bike-packing overnighters and shotgun-seat pump track visits. Kelly highlights that the information for new female cyclists is severely lacking; let alone pregnant ones or new mothers. The relatively recent creation of accessible routes and women-only riding groups has been a huge boon, and certainly helped Kelly step into her new chapter of life with renewed confidence, or at least a little less trepidation. Her work with Komoot has only strengthened this resolve.

Mother and Child

Cotic is a small team, built on trust and integrity, so it was inconceivable to 'let her go due to her impending arrival'. Kelly came to us looking for solutions which would help her retain her independence, freedom and (literal) vehicle for escape. The solutions weren't complicated! If you stay true to yourself, everything else will work itself out.

The Hideaway

So the premier - Wednesday 7th February 2024 - We've gone all out on this one. We've hired an amazing space in Sheffield called The Hideaway for the evening. Once you come up the stairs you'll be greeted with a warm, inviting bar with plenty of seats and a great selection of drinks - avec or sans alcohol. Further through the room is the open kitchen where you'll be served a beautiful curry, rice bhajis, samosas along with chutneys & raita. Once you've got your drink & food sorted, we'll be showing a couple of short films, followed by the star of the night "Kelly". It's about 15 minutes long.

Following that, we'll have a Q&A, hosted by Aoife Glass of The Spindrift Podcast, featuring Kelly, other rad-mums Vicky & Phoebe, Doctor Fiona Spotswood who has worked extensively on gender inequality in cycling, and hovercraft racer Bron.

Rough timings are:

It's a little loose as we don't want it to be hectic. It's going to be such a good night.

All that for £16! Capacity is tight so... tickets, tickets, tickets yeah...

Buy your ticket now - click here

As if that wasn't enough, we'll have some freebies from Komoot, and a selection of super-fine riding clothes from Velocio dotted around the space. Kelly has raved about these ethically sourced clothes on pretty much every shoot we've been on and the kind folks at Velocio have given us a special discount... At the checkout, just drop "KellyTheMovie" in the code box for 25% off! Nice.

If you can't make the premier in real life, we'll be launching the film on Youtube at the same time, and hopefully if the technical fairies allow, we'll be live-streaming the Q&A. Keep an eye on the socials for details.

All SmilesKelly

This film has been a true joy to work on and every moment spent in the company of the inspirational and supremely talented film making duo of Kelly and Liam, has been an honour. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it, and we all hope it encourages people that life doesn’t have to stop when big changes happen.

buy your ticket…

17/05/2023 - Cotic goes to the Ride Free Festival

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Ride Free Festival Weekend Roundup

Hannah, Sam and Cy ventured to Forest of Dean for a demo weekend at the new women's Ride Free Festival. A women's lead and run event, with a strong aim of inclusivity and inspiring confidence, and joining in not matter your ability. Here's how it went for us...

Ride Free Festival

Hannah: Heading to Forest of Dean, and it dawned on me that I'd never visited and it not be raining! What a treat this was, stunning blue skies, and even bluer Bluebells carpeting everywhere as we arrived.

After setting up our stand we headed out on a Cotic social group ride, joined by 23 women who had also just arrived and got their camping tents up, and were keen to explore the area on a beautiful evening. Following Cy's Komoot route on his Garmin, as no one knew the route, we set off on an adventure! Straight onto a lovely piece of bluebell lined bridleway, the trails were nice mix of descents with some steep climbs back out the valley and home. Straight away the group felt relaxed, with a buzz for what was to come on the weekend.

The whole event continued to have that nice, social feel around it. Everyone just having a lovely relaxed weekend, enjoying riding bikes - despite the wet muddy conditions on the Sunday! Many demo riders trying something new, and getting stuck into the guided rides, riding and mechanic skills sessions, yoga mornings and evening campfire talks! It was great to see, and for us to be a part of.

Cotic at Ride Free FestivalRide Free Festival

Over to Sam...

What a lovely way to kick off this year's event season. Such a welcoming and relaxed weekend. After a long winter it was brilliant to see so many people out making the most of the sunshine, bikes and great company.

The biggest take away for me was the supportive and inclusive nature of the event, riders from all backgrounds of cycling with all sorts of experiences to share. Some who'd come with friends, some who'd come on their own, all getting stuck in with a very encouraging feel and no pressure to be the fastest or ride the furthest.

It was really affirming to be part of an event like this, and the UK needs more of this vibe.

Good cider too!

Cotic at Ride Free Festival

And over to Cy: From my point of view there were a few things that stood out. Firstly, I thought the fact it was a riding festival, not surrounding a race, made a big and welcome difference to the attitude and atmosphere. There wasn't any of that slightly distracted nervousness you get and big events that are hung on a race. I think there is something to be learnt there, as I think both men and women would have a great time at a festival where it was a bit more chilled and a bit more about just riding, rather than racing.

Ride Free Festival

This might be because of the lack of racing, or maybe it was because it was a women only thing, but the riders were much more relaxed and open to chatting. It was so nice!

Another thing riders were open to, and curious about, was different genres of bike. There were a lot of gravel riders who hadn't ridden a modern mountain bike, and plenty of mountain bikers who liked the thought of a gravel bike to compliment their fat tyre flyer. The wonderful thing was that pretty much all the riders who tried something new came back absolutely buzzing having had a great new experience. It was infectious and made it such a fun event.

Finally, big thanks to Beth, Karen, Aoife and all the volunteers and riders that made it such an enjoyable event to be at.

Ride Free Festival

See our future demos and events…

Order Merch …

31/10/2022 - Women of Steel Dig Days

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Women Of Steel

Dig Days

Yesterday we hosted another Women of Steel dig day alongside Ride Sheffield, which marks a year since our first dig day. Dig days are a space to come and get involved in something you might have never done before, learn a new skill and learn about what goes into maintaining, improving and perhaps even building our trails whilst considering permissions and caring for nature and wildlife. It's a way to give back to our trails, after a busy summer, for all trail users to continue to enjoy them.

Women of Steel Dig Day

A year on, we've been out in all weathers (no, really, ALL weathers.) carrying out work ranging from improving drainage, filling in puddles and replanting heather to opening up a narrow gully into a track that's wide enough for walkers, horses and even people pushing bikes. We've had complete novices come along to one session, then turn up to another one and say "As I rode along here, I thought we'd need to clear these drains, because they've filled up since we last did them". We've had 15 year olds and 78 year olds, and no one has been left out, or broken by the work.

Women of Steel Dig Day

We don't go for a heads-down, "This is what we've planned, now let's get on with it" approach; all the work is discussed with the land managers in advance, so there will be breaks for discussion on how to do things, and quite often a debate about the best line through a section, or features which we do or don't like. Plans get adapted on the ground and everyone's input is appreciated - anyone who turns up on a bike is likely to be asked to test-ride sections and give feedback as we go along!

To join the fun, join our Cotic's Women of Steel Facebook group and look out for event announcements. We look forward to welcoming you. Can't get to an event? Join a trail clean, or start your own with Trash Free Trails. It all helps.

Learn more about Ride Sheffield…

Join a Trail Clean…

Cotic's Women of Steel on Facebook…

21/10/2021 - Bike Fit Part 3

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chatting bike fit part 3

We're back again, this time with a quite often overlooked part of the bike fit/comfort equation.

Rolling Weight and Gearing

If you're riding a small size bike, there is a very strong chance you aren't putting out as much power as a taller rider. It's here that weight of certain components and gearing becomes important. And it's not just women vs men. Paul is 5ft 8in and has been riding the Jeht to help me with some development. When he first got on the demo bike, it was running our harder hitting tyre setup - WTB Verdict Light Slashguard front, Trail Boss Tough rear, and the stock 32t gearing.

I ride an XL 29er bike, and I run a similar setup, just with the slightly lighter (but still 1100gram) Slashguard version of the rear tyre and find it no problem at all. There's an element of getting used to it, and it's not really fitness either. Paul's very fast, but more weight needs more strength, not necessarily more fitness. I'm hardly a squat legend, but being taller and heavier I'm naturally a little stronger.

Paul's usual bike for the last 3 years has been a Flare with 27.5" wheels and recently the Wolfpack Trail 2.4 tyres. Whilst he eventually got on with the WTB tyres (he needed the beefy setup for racing Ard Rock), he only got comfortable with it by dropping the chainring to a 30t to even out the gearing compared to his smaller wheeled bike. [side note - 29" wheels effectively make your gearing about 10% harder that 27.5" wheels due to the larger diameter, hence the need to gear down on the 29er]

He's now fitted the Wolfpack tyres to the Jeht too, which are better suited to his local riding and also the best part of 300 grams per wheel lighter. It's something I've really noticed this year when setting up the bikes for my daughters too. They could pedal a lot longer once I put some Wolfpack tyres on their bikes, and making the gearing lower too.

Ard Rock Reunion

Under Pressure

Tubeless is also worth considering if you haven't already. Although it seems daunting and faffy if you haven't done it before, the reliability benefits and much lower weight are well worth it. You can also run very low pressures. In fact, it's really worth spending some time experimenting. With my fairly stout WTB tyres, even weighing 85kg and riding a RocketMAX I can run my tyres at 19psi front, 21psi rear. Lighter tyres aren't as supportive, so need slightly higher pressures, but if you're a lot lighter than me, you won't need as much pressure either

FlareMAX outdoor shoot

Extension of Suspension

Think of it like an extension of your suspension; you wouldn't run the same pressure in your shock as me, so why run the same pressure tyres? Also, unless someone is the same weight as you and runs the same brand tyres, there's no point asking other people what they run. I have to run 2-3psi more in Maxxis tyres than WTB to get them to feel right and not constantly bottom out on the rim on rocky descents. Don't be afraid to experiment. The best thing you can do is buy a digital tyre pressure gauge (the Topeak one is good), and have a go.

There's an element of choosing appropriate tyres for the terrain here. The Wolfpacks are a fantastic light, all round option, but if you live somewhere like the Lakes with a lot of slate to cut tyres, they are not the one at all. Likewise if you're planning to race a few enduros, but your riding consists of built trails and some woodsy riding, with occasional visits to bigger terrain, go with something that suits 90% of your riding. We're always happy to advise if you have any questions.

As for gearing, because of the nature of how we have to buy groupsets, our stock gearing is 32t chainring on the mountain bikes. However, if you do feel you want an easier option, just let us know. We can usually source smaller rings if that's what you would prefer. And if you already have your bike, aftermarket rings from the likes of Superstar or Unite are UK made, easily available and great value.

Ard Rock Reunion

Hopefully that's another element of bike 'fit' that you have found useful. I guess it also shows that fitting your bike isn't just about the dimensions of the frame, it's worth thinking about other parts of the system too.

Women of Steel Facebook group…

Read Part 1 here…

Read part 2 here…

Contact us with your questions…

20/10/2021 - Jo Shwe Ambassador

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No way... It's Jo Shwe!

Jo Jeht

Jo is the newest addition to our roster of awesome ambassadors. Hailing from Essex, now in Wakefield, Jo is a teacher at a Pupil Referral Unit and one of the main instigators of the Trash Mob Academy.

Jo JehtJo JehtJo JehtJo Jeht

Jo got in touch with Dom from Trash Free Trails back in 2020, asking to use their logo on a set of lesson plans she was developing to help her kids. Things snowballed very quickly and we ended up working very closely on the Trash Mob academy project and through that got to know Jo better.

Her passion for connecting her pupils with nature and easy-going attitude when faced with all manner of issues is what endeared her to us. Jo is working with us to bring cycling & nature to more diverse communities who might not feel like they have a voice in this area. More people on bikes is only ever going to be a good thing. You can read about the TFT project here.

Jo Jeht

She was introduced to mtb by her partner Gavin and has since spent more than a lot of time riding her bike in the mountains of France and the mini-mountains of the Peak District. After riding a FlareMAX on one of the many sessions at Leeds Urban Bike Park, she was convinced that a Cotic would be her next bike but with a few bikepark and uplift trips planned, a Jeht was a better choice.

Jo Jeht
Jo JehtJo JehtJo JehtJo Jeht

"Joey Jeht" was put together around a Gold Eagle build - Cane Creek suspension, Hunt wheels & WTB tyres. Burgtec finishing kit is on its way but since she was keen to just get out on the new bike, we found some spare bits to get her rolling.

Who is Jo?

Profession/passion: Work within an alternative provision for students with Social Emotional mental health needs and have been excluded from mainstream education. It is my professional passion. I am also a passionate Trash Free Trails ambassador that loves to incorporate their core values and nature connection into my teaching.

First bike: Pink Ladies Rayleigh Zest, got it second hand brakes only worked for me and only had 4 working gears… I was the only one that loved the bike 😍💗

Current bike: Cotic Jeht 😍🖤😍

Favourite trail: The Return ride from Morzine to Les Gets

Dream trail: Not sure… somewhere in BC or New Zealand would be a dream to ride.

Best mtb invention in the last 10 years: Good E-bikes - I’ve seen so many people being able to continue riding thanks to them.

Pick two cyclists from history to be your parents: Missy Giove and John Tomac

If you could be anyone for a day who would it be: I’m quite happy being me right now… although I’d love to be the person who knows all the government secrets… that would be cool 😎

If you could do another job for a day what would it be: Food Critic on Master Chef

What would be the title of your autobiography: Just Jo…

One thing people probably won't know about you: I used to be in a street dance hip hop crew and I’m really good at chess. (I know that’s 2 😝) xx

We're super stoked that Jo is part of our crew. Cotic ambassadors all bring something a little different to the table. Click on the links below the photo to have a read about our awesome family and follow their adventures on our socials.

ambassadors comp


Trash Free Trails…

Get your own Cotic Jeht…

08/10/2021 - Bike Fit Part 2

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chatting bike fit part 2

Saddle Height

This is your saddle position in the highest point (dropper up) for good pedalling. There's a rule of thumb called The Lemond Method where you measure your inseam in millimetres, multiply by 0.883 and this a good start.

As with everything human and bike related, there are variables. I (Cy) had a professional bike fit this year (to try and sort out my decade old rubbish right knee), and my saddle height was brought down from where I had had it for years at 815mm, to 807mm from BB centre to saddle top.

Using the Lemond Method, in bare feet it gives me 799mm. In my cycling shoes it gives me 816mm. All of this is affected by your crank length. I run my saddle at 804mm on my gravel bike, because the cranks are 5mm longer than on my mountain bike, but the pedals are thicker so the foot platform is closer to the saddle. See? Lots of little variables. However, what I would say is that based on my own experience, doing the Lemond calculation for bare feet and then cycling shoes and going somewhere in the middle would be a great place to start.

If you're keen on a pro bike-fit and are in the Sheffield area, I can highly recommend Fit4Physio. Otherwise, ask around your friends and see who has a good reputation in your area.

Women of Steel

Saddle Position

Another outcome of my bike fit was to push my saddle forward to help reduce the torque on my knees. This is something that's becoming easier on modern mountain bikes as seat angles are steeper than they were a few years ago. One thing I didn't do at the same time was change my saddle angle. Because I had quite a rearward saddle position (because I've been riding for years it's where I've come from and what I'm used to) I would have quite an angled down saddle at the nose, so take pressure off and makes things comfortable.

When I moved my saddle forward, I was sat up straighter and my hips were more open. After a few weeks I had a really stiff back, and after chatting to Fit4Physio., and a bit of experimenting I found that it was my saddle angle. I was having to hold myself really stiff through my back which made it sore. I adjusted the angle, tipped the nose up a little and basically rode it better in a couple of rides. There's an element of my being middle aged and therefore stiffer and more sensitive to these things, but it's a lesson we can all learn. If you are having back trouble, try moving your saddle a little for a couple of rides. Move it forward, seeing how it goes. Tip the nose up a little, see how that goes. Don't like it? Tip it down and see how that goes. A little bit of experimenting goes a long way, and in this more than any other thing, EVERYONE is different.

Contact Points

Saddle and grips are key to any cyclist. For the saddle, we have been really impressed with the WTB Fit Right system which helps you identify the correct saddle width based on your wrist measurement. Sounds mad, but it really works. Saddles are also quite counter-intuitive. My wife used to run quite a wide, thick padded comfort saddle, but on longer rides it would actually get less comfortable. We used the Fit Right to find a WTB Speed She saddle. It's still quite deeply padded, but it's much smaller and narrower than her old saddle, and also much more comfortable. At the other end of the scale, just because your female, doesn't mean you necessarily need a women's specific saddle. My youngest daughter is only 13 and quite slim built, and based on the Fit Right measurements would actually suit a medium width men's saddle. At it happened the suggested size was pretty much the same as the Fabric Scoop saddles we stock, and it really suits her. Much more than the WTB Speed She, which was really a bit too wide.


There's a lot of saddle chat on women's cycling groups! It's a much debated topic, and so different for everyone. I find that the WTB Deva saddle works for me and Cotic ambassador Kelly-Jayne likes the WTB Koda saddle. Saddle height was something I found took a little while to get perfect when I first starting out cycling, perhaps a combination of things contributing to this - shiny new Five Tens and trying out different saddles! If you aren't sure about your saddle, see if you can borrow a couple from friends. Some brands and shops even do demo saddles now, so ask around.

Discomfort in saddle height or saddle angle can show up in your lower back or as knee pain, so it's worth spending time to experiment as Cy says, get it right to avoid any injuries.


Stretch! Move!

An often overlooked part of fitting your bike better. Stretching, more flexibility and mobility is the best way to pain-free and more enjoyable riding. Do something. Rich and Paul here at Cotic use one of the Youtube yoga channels. I (Cy) learnt a lot during Strength and Conditioning training over the years, combined with physio mandated specifics. Hannah used to dance so has a lot of experience from that and finds working stretching into your day the best way - waiting for the kettle to boil? Have a quick stretch! Advert break? Stretch! Little and often.

I have always stretched before a ride, but now I do a few minutes morning and evening (see also: stupid stiffening middle aged body). Throw in a few exercises. Do 5 minutes, it doesn't have to be loads before you feel the difference. We cannot recommend it highly enough. It's different for everyone, and it's always worth changing things up to keep it fresh, but the key thing is to do it.

There's quite a lot in this one, but we felt it was all very interconnected, so worth mentioning it all.

Look out for the next bike fit tips!

Women of Steel Facebook group…

Read Part 1 if you missed it…

Contact us with your questions…

29/09/2021 - Bike Fit Part 1

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chatting bike fit part 1

Bike fit is a big subject, and we are all still learning about it. A recent conversation with Hannah sparked the idea for some helpful how-to's on this subject. We were chatting about my kids bikes. This year my two daughters graduated onto full suspension bikes. Both girls now ride a Small sized FlareMAX, but each bike is tailored quite differently to suit the rider. In discussing this with Hannah, we realised that although they're similar heights to her [OK, who am I kidding? They're both taller than me now...Hannah] we all have different set-ups and preferences, it isn't a one-size-set-up-fits-all and there isn't a magic answer in bike set up. Even for a bike designer, it is a trial and error, give things a go process, especially when helping less experienced riders with totally different proportions fit their bikes.

Out of all this grew the idea for a short series of explainers and tips from Hannah and I for making your bike work better for you. This first one is about bar width and cockpit setup.

Cy's bar set up

Bar Width

It stands to reason that if you're on the shorter end of height spectrum, you probably won't need bars quite so wide. We offer two options with our bikes as a stock offering - 780 uncut, and 750 cut down. However, we cut them to order, so if you know you prefer something narrower, just let us know.

At the moment we supply Cotic Calver bars in 25mm rise, and on the 29er bikes you might prefer something a little lower. We can get the optional Renthal bars down to 10mm rise, and if you have a set of favourite bars you can always send those in to us to fit onto your new bike. Remember, it's Your Bike Built For You.


As an example, my youngest daughter Cara (13) is 5ft 6in, but really prefers narrower bars. She's not super strong, and doesn't ride very often, so wide bars just make her shoulders ache. She runs 700mm wide bars flat bars and I put a couple of spacers under the stem to lift them a little to make it more comfortable for seated pedalling. My eldest daughter Lauren (15) is a little shorter at 5ft 5in, but is a totally different body shape and likes a little higher and wider front end. She uses Race Face 12mm rise bars cut to 740mm with the stem on it's lowest setting with no spacers under it.

At the other end of the scale, at 6ft 3in on an XL RocketMAX, I run a 25mm rise Calver bar cut to 770mm so it measures 780mm across the ends of the grips. I run a 5mm spacer under the stem. I've tried 38mm rise bars, and although they're comfortable for steep descents, I found them really hard work on my back on climbs, like my hands weren't low enough so I was kind of 'pushing' them up rather than 'pulling' back strongly on the bars to brace my pedalling effort. Paul recently found similar when jumping on a Jeht demo bike where a customer had previously put 20mm of spacers under the stem.

Over to Hannah....

On my Small Flare (27.5" wheels, so it has a lower front end stack height than the FlareMAX Cy's kids ride) I run 760mm bars when measured across the grips. It's suited me up to now, but I recently tried Lauren's FlareMAX and enjoyed the 740's, so I'm going to give something a little narrower a try. As I'm still relatively new to mountain biking, I assumed that slightly sore shoulders were possibly just part and parcel of riding (which up to a point they are - Middle Aged Editor), so I'll be keen to see if a slightly narrower setup feels more comfortable for longer.

Here I am with my Flare!

Hannah S Bike check

Kind of opposite to what Cy and Paul found for their setups, I run 25mm rise Calver bars with 20mm of spacers under the stem. I really like an upright riding position, and it suits me. I think it's possibly my background riding horses, but it works for me. That said, on Lauren's bike (the 29er), the stem is right down and the bars felt about the same as on my 27.5" bike.


As you can see, there's no hard or fast rules for bar width or height, but a bit of experimentation is key.

Firstly - height. All Cotic's are supplied with 20mm of spacers on the steerer for adjustment, and even if your bike doesn't have this much, it's worth trying out with what adjustment you do have. If you are on the shorter end of the height spectrum - particularly if you ride a 29er - get that stem as low as possible and see how that feels. If it feels good and you might want to go lower, see if any of your riding buddies have lower rise or flat bars in their spares box you could borrow for a ride or two. Going too low with very wide bars can limit your ability to lean the bike, so do just think about how the bike is working. It's so quick to change you can even do it on the trail if you like.

If you are a little taller, try the extremes of adjustment and see how it feels. Which do you prefer? You'll soon figure out where the compromise lies.

Width - Obviously cutting bars down is a very permanent change to a component on your bike, so if you think you might get on with narrower bars and want to try it, here's a little hack: buy some cheap double clamp lock on grips with open ends. You can now fit these and slide them in from the ends of your bars without cutting them for a few rides, to see where you feel comfortable. Just remember to measure from the end of the bar to the grip and make it even on both sides. You might have to be a little careful between the trees whilst you are trying this out, but it's a small thing compared to trashing a set of bars by cutting too narrow. Also this way, you can try a couple of different options and see what you like most. The key thing is to try it for 3 rides at least to make sure you feel any differences fully. Once you are happy, cut the bars down.

Women of Steel

That's it for the first instalment. We'll be doing these every week or so for a while to cover a bunch of subjects, and get you feeling better on your bike. And we really want this to be a conversation, so do reply to this email and ask some specific questions if you have them. We're here to help.

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01/07/2021 - Bolehills Women Of Steel 2021

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Women Of Steel - Bolehills 2021 Jam

First big meet up of 2021

Women of Steel at Bolehills

Our first "big" meet-up of 2021! Finally! We decided to meet up at Bolehills, a large pumptrack in Sheffield. The Bolehills crew have worked so hard on the track during lockdown, it was great to go back and see what's been done. The track has something for everyone, with a pumptrack, roll-able jumps and moving up to the big jumps. That week we happened to have Lauren and Lily from the local school for work experience! Hannah now wasn't the only girl at Cotic HQ! We invited them along to our Women of Steel Bolehills event, here's how it went:

WoS at Bolehills

Lauren writes....

At first, both Lily and I were nervous to get started as it had been a while since we last rode our bikes. But once we got comfortable, it was a really enjoyable evening. It really helped that everyone there was super supportive and considerate to the fact that we were beginners.

When we first got there, we were both really nervous about what to expect. We worried that we would need to be more experienced riders to attend. But Cy assured us that that wouldn’t be the case. And it wasn’t. Everyone there made us very included, and they all encourage us to push ourselves. This attitude made us (and no doubt other beginners) feel welcome at the event. Another thing that helped us to feel more comfortable was that so many other people (of different levels of experience) were there.

WoS at Bolehills

We decided to start out on the pump track, instead of going straight onto the proper track. We did this to get used to being on our bikes again, after a while. Lily also rode around the field opposite the track to familiarise herself with riding her bike. After a while of stumbling around the pump track, we attempted the back straight on the actual track. We chose this part of the track because it was easy enough for our ability, but still challenged us. Cy made sure that we were okay and guided us around the track when we first got started. The whole event had an amazing atmosphere. It was really laid back and relaxed. Meaning we didn’t feel pressured to be on the track the whole time or having to ride at a certain standard.

WoS at Bolehills

Lily writes...At the end of the night, Rich bought fish and chips for everyone there. Everyone was chatting to each other and sharing bikes (and food). It felt really special. We both felt really inspired by all the experienced women riders there. They are incredible! And they made us want to continue riding in hopes of becoming as experienced as them in the future. Thank you to everyone who came out for the event, it was a really great night!

WoS at Bolehills

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