Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Hemlock

Cy sent me a new Cotic Hemlock to play with for a few weeks. Unfortunately demo season is now on us and I have had to return the bike. It is now sat in my hall all boxed up ready to leave, today is a sad day. Having had exams cluttering up the last month I havent been able to give it as much of a thrashing as I would have liked. I have however had the Hemlock out around Afan and taken it to some local DH tracks to see how it handles when the riding gets tougher. Anyway heres how it got on.

Obviously riding for Cotic my opinion is a little biased, I ride for them though because I love riding their bikes, I think Cy has the right philosophy and at end of the day makes bikes that really do put a grin on your face. On this count the Hemlock really is no exception I had an absolute blast with this bike. The Hemlock is the first 'full susser' I have ridden with less than 7 inches of travel and it was an absolute revelation. DH bikes are slow, take a lot of effort to chuck about and suck too much fun out of the terrain, this is a totally different kettle of fish. The Hemlock shares the sharpness and nimble feeling of a hardtail, it pedals amazingly, very little energy is lost to the shock and it really drives forward when hammering on the pedals. I believe with good suspension you shouldnt really be aware of what it is doing and with the hemlock this is definately the case. I was hammering a section in the same way I would the hardtail and the Hemlock lets you carry a lot more speed and softens the blow on your body. It rewards good riding in the sense that soft legs and good line choice can let you absolutely fly down the trail.

The last descent on the wall is an epic section of trail. It is very Alpine feeling traversing a steep hill side, littered with rocks and trees, it is the kind of trail that can get very nasty if you get off line or catch a rock wrong. The Hemlock gave me a lot of confidence to stay off the brakes and chuck it into the corners, the back end keeps the rear wheel under control and in check despite taking some really decent hits. Unlike a Dh bike I felt very aware of the terrain and it makes you really ride the bike to get the most out of it rather than get lazy and let the suspension do all the work for you. It responds really well to pumping through sections and picking up the front wheel and rewards an active riding style.

On the super steep DH tracks I dont think the bars were helping it out. To me they were too high and the sweep slightly wrong in that holding onto them didnt give me that planted feel I have with the BFe. The brake levers (Magura Julies) also sat a long way from the handlebars so that when you were hanging off the back of the bike it was a struggle not to drag the brakes, being maguras though I am sure there is a way to adjust this with a bit of fiddling, stopping wise they were ace. The Hemlock really didnt feel that out of place and was able to handle some pretty lairy descents. I did get pitched over the bars once where perhaps a lower bottom bracket and super slack head angle could have saved me. Considering this isnt the Hemlocks natural home it did a very admirable job and gave me a lot of extra control than I wouldnt have had on the hardtail.

At the end of the day the proof is in the riding. Cy has a load of Demo days coming up and I would really recommend giving the Hemlock a go. I think the way UK riding is heading a bike like this is near on the perfect bike, having ridden this I dont think I would ever go for a pure DH bike again. For the new stage races and even grass roots, short course DH where you can pedal efficiently to the top and have an absolute blast on the way down, a bike like the Hemlock has to be the future. Oh and not to mention the mega! For trail centers I just dont think you can really beat a short travel bike, it does everything you need it to and keeps a grin thoroughly planted on your face.

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