bache brothers cycles let me take their test Cotic Solaris home to play with. as well as the wednesday night ride I used it to commute to work and then out again on the same day for another ride before returning it, all in all i pedalled it just under 50 miles.
The frame is original spec (an uprated version is due August 2015) with predominantly 853 steel tubes with a tapered fork compatible head tube, loads of stand over room and in a lovely green colour. the top tube is ovalised, presumably for stiffness but regardless of it's purpose it looks great and some how entices you to run your fingers along it as if to prove that your eyes aren't deceiving you. I have to say that this frame is a size smaller than I'd normally ride but with a 90mm stem and a lot of seat post showing it was fine for the short distances I was riding it.
the ride was comfy, as as good steel frame usually is, as i mentioned in my previous post I had to get used to the very different technique of riding thin tyres and a suspension fork, by the end of the test period i had adjusted and was weighting the fork a lot more into corners and not getting freaked out when looking down at the front tyre and seeing what looked like a road tyre in comparison to a fatty front!
I must mention the wheels, although i'm only interested in how the frame performed the wheels do have a large bearing on the feel. these were Stan's ztr crest rims on hope hubs. the hubs were as usual with Hope, pretty faultless but the rims were the flexiest things I've every ridden. they could be flexed visibly just by standing next to the bike, applying a brake and twisting the bars! very twangy! they maybe light but I wouldn't spec them on anything but a XC race bike.
I'm interested in a Solaris frame as it has shorter chainstays than my current bikes so should be easier to lift the front wheel for manuals etc and the new version will easily take the new 27.5+ wheel and tyre standard as well as 29", it will also take a longer suspension fork. the new one will also have a slightly slacker head angle, not that the present frame was unstable. In fact it felt pretty agile, was easy to wheelie and up steep climbs the front didn't lift even in the lowest gear. It's no lightweight but I didn't notice any significant penalty on uphill gradients that weren't outweighed by it's ability to turn my pedalling into forward motion.
Add the wheel size versatility and new angles to the next version, add 1x11 shimano gearing and some trail friendly parts including a dropper post and I'd but pretty much what I'm looking for. the chaps at Bache brothers are getting a new version in as a demo and have said they'll contact me when it arrives. hopefully it'll be a size bigger but I'm excited to try it