August 23, 2012
Earlier in the year, we were lucky enough to go and test ride the new Commencal Meta SL and Meta AM29 in four-time Megavalanche winner and team rider Jerome Clementz’s back yard. We ended up having masses on fun on the bikes, both sharing their basic design layout with the Supreme V3 downhill bike and the all-mountain 150mm travel Meta AM, which we also tested in Issue 74.
The common thread that all the new bikes share is the low slung, linkage-driven single pivot design, centred around a floating shock. It allows Commencal to tune shock ratios to suit the character and use of each bike as well as providing scope for adjustments in travel and geometry – and as we saw when we attended UK distributor Decade Europe‘s roadshow, there are plenty more interesting things in their 2013 range than we haven’t seen yet…
Commencal Meta SX
We’re kind of saddened that just as 160mm travel 26″ wheeled bikes got light enough to pedal, slack enough to ride everything and strong enough that they didn’t fall apart all the time, everyone decided that different sized wheels were the future. This a shame because it means we might see less bikes like this, the Meta SX. With a 66° head angle, triple butted aluminium frame, highly progressive 160mm of travel front and rear and low BB, it promises to be just the trick for gravity enduro tooling about or angry-all-mountain, which is a niche which doesn’t exist but should.
The spec says it all; the top SX1 (£3,749.99) model does without multiple chainrings, instead using a single 36T ring and e.thirteen chaindevice. Up front there’s a new Fox 34 CTD fork to give greater stiffness than the 32 but without the bulk of the 36 and that’s matched to a similarly golden Kashima coated Float CTD RP23, both connected to a bar-mounted remote where the front shifter would be, which allows on the fly changes to compression damping. The bike is also fitted with a Rock Shox Reverb adjustable seatpost, so you can go from utterly efficient climbing to downhill plummeting modes without taking your hands off the bars.
Commencal Ramones hardtails
Here’s another niche we’re glad hasn’t gone just because someone said bigger is better – the long travel hardtail. The Ramones series are designed as “all mountain hardtails” with three bikes in the range, the aluminium framed AL1 and AL2 plus the top Cromo model, which has a triple butted 4130 steel frame. The Cromo (£1,549.99) and AL1 (£999.99) get 150mm travel forks, while the more affordable AL2 (£699.99) has a 120mm fork up front. Designer Nico describes the range as “like a hardtail Meta”, which should give some idea of what they’re built for.
On the Cromo the head angle is a relaxed 66° and the frame has minimal bracing across the seat and chainstays, which gives masses of mud clearance and well as providing as much shock absorption as possible. There are some more neat touches such as the integrated headset, ISCG05 mount, braze on seatclamp with a dropper post friendly size and the love-’em-or’hate-’em skinwall tyres from Onza…
Commencal have always had a titanium frame hidden away in their range. They reckon the material offers all the upsides of carbon fibre in terms of frame compliance and feel, but without the environmentally (and worker) unfriendly production process. Like most of Commencal’s work, they aren’t afraid to ignore fashion and go and do their own thing.
The frame has no pretensions about being anything other than a out-and-out-XC bike, but that doesn’t mean it lacks modern features. Up front there’s a tapered headtube for use with 80-100mm forks, neat Press Fit 30 bottom bracket and if you liked old De Kerfs, then the wishbone seatstay arrangement will make you extremely happy. It’s covered in utterly neat fishscale welds – and a big wheeled version is also available. It’s available frame only, costing £1,799.99.
Commencal Meta AM3 Girly
For the first time, there’s a female friendly version of the Meta AM. It’s got the same 150mm of suspension travel at either end but it’s got an 11mm shorter reach and improved standover, plus a female specific Velo saddle. The rest of the spec is the same as a normal AM3, so if you’re a shorter rider of any gender – or just like a smaller fit – then there’s now an option ready for you. It’ll cost the same too, at £2,549.99.
Commencal Supreme 24 V3
This is possibly our favourite thing from the Commencal range – and a far cry from the bikes we were riding as kids. It’s a 24″ wheeled version of the Supreme DH, accurate down to the suspension design and bolt through rear end and suspension design. It’s got 140mm of travel from a coil shock at the rear and a RST Super Storm fork up front. The 165mm length cranks run a single ring up front complete with chain device and the touch rims are shod with Kenda Nevegal 2.5″ tyres. It’s made to fit kids from 1.4-1.6m – and it would seem quite unlikely that you’d lose them in a car park on this.
At £2,000 it’s not exactly cheap, but it is an out-of-the-box, proper mountain ready bike for your up-and-coming Danny Hart/Manon Carpenter – expect to be overtaken by a kid (likely mid-air) on one of these at some point if you go to a European bike park..
There are plenty of other kids bikes in the range, going from the Ramones 20 hardtail (below, left, £399.99) with two-speed automatic hub gearing to the disk brake equipped Ramones 24 hardtail (middle, £524.99). There’s also a shorter reach 26″ wheeled version of the 180mm travel Supreme FR called the Supreme JR (£2,149.99). It’s got 160mm of travel to make it manageable for more slightly built riders.
The Absolut dirt jump bike (£899.99) has been fully refreshed for 2013, with an all new triple butted aluminium frame that has a neat concave top tube that serves to hide the cables from sight and removable drops to allow a singlespeed or geared setup.
We thought we’d have a look at the road/urban stuff too – their new Route bikes are firmly intended as road rather than ‘hybrids’ or commuters, but have mountain bike style sizing and positioning. The aluminium frames have internal cable routing and there are four different models to choose from, from the Route 1 at £1,849.99 to the Route 4 at £849.99.
The Acid fixie remains utterly bonkers, doubling up on top tubes which feed into offset seatstays. The hub is fixed on one side and free on the other, but don’t look at it too long, it’ll make your head hurt.
Commencal El Camino S
Anyone familiar with the previous Meta range might recognise this – the El Camino S is based on the old Super 4. It’s got 100mm of travel at the back with a 120mm RST fork up front. The aluminium frame uses removable dropouts and it comes with a 9spd SRAM X5 drivetrain and Tektro hydraulic discs. At £1,249.99 it’s a bit of a steal.
There are also a trio of 100mm forked 26″ wheeled hardtails sporting the El Camino name, starting at £549.99 for the El Camino 3 and moving up to the £749.99 El Camino 1. They all have 29″ wheeled variants that come in at a little bit more wedge…
Next from Decade, we’ve got an Urge, some kit fit for Royals and a look at German brand Corratec.