by Mark Alker
May 15, 2014
One of the best thought-through harder hitting packages at this price. We wouldn’t change a thing.
French brand Commencal’s ‘All Mountain’ range includes seven bikes, with a choice of 26, 27.5 and 29in wheels.
The remarkably green Hip Hop 2 offers 120mm of rear wheel travel with 140mm up front and is the second cheapest in the range. It’s a tidy-looking machine, with full outer gear cables and brake hose routed through the frame and swingarm with rubber seals that keep the crud out but make cable re-fitting relatively straight forward.
There’s internal routing for a dropper seatpost too.
The swingarm pivots on big, well-sealed bearings, with the ‘seat stays’ pivoting at both ends. The frame, rocker and swingarm configurations are all built with an emphasis on strength, rigidity and bombproof ride-ability rather than weight trimming, and the shock assembly sits low down, great for weight balance but leaving the shock shaft in the line of wheel spray. Fortunately the bike comes with a neoprene guard that helps protect the shock, as well as custom chain-slap protectors and an MRP combined chain guide and bash plate around the 24/38t crankset. There’s plenty of drop-through room for mud around the 2.25in Maxxis Ardent rear tyre and the Maxxis High Roller 2.4in up front is a very welcome hard-cornering traction grabber.
Other details that will interest harder hitting riders include a slack (66//DEG SYMBOL//) head angle, a very low standover height, super-tough wheels, a 780mm wide handlebar and a 140mm Fox 32 Float Evolution CTD fork with a legtop ‘Climb, Trail or Descend’ click-switch to reflect the settings of the rear shock. The drivetrain is based on the relatively low budget, but smooth-shifting SRAM X5 group and the brakes are the excellent Formula C1s with 180mm rotors front and back. All the other finishing parts are decent quality, suitably durable offerings and the wide (92mm) bottom bracket shell has press-fit bearings.
There’s no escaping the fact that sturdy bombproof enduro ability at this price comes with extra weight.
That said, the Hip Hop’s 32.1lb all-in heft is actually very reasonable for a bike with this much ability. While 120mm of travel at the back might superficially appear to swing the bias more towards hard and fast trail riding rather than heavy duty downhilling, it’s a remarkably well controlled and capable 120mm and the ride posture of the bike is tipped towards getting the very best out of the 140mm travel fork.
The slack steering geometry gives you the confidence to descend without putting your weight too far back, with a squat stem and wide low-rise bar effectively stopping you from going too far forward. In short, you end up feeling very much at ease sitting dead-centre on the bike on rough descents or tricky high-speed singletrack, and simply focusing on the pedalling. Inevitably you feel the overall bike weight on the climbs, but a 24.25in horizontal top tube reach on our tested large frame ensures that you’ll never feel cramped on climbs. For those interested in front centre lengths (the bottom bracket centre to front wheel centre) the Commencal is 760mm, and that combines with the head angle and low gravity centre in helping to dictate great stability at speed over difficult terrain, especially of the downhill kind.
If you’re looking for a normal trail bike with more suspension comfort than the more typical 100-120mm travel bike can offer, the Hip Hop 2 might be overkill. It’s more suited to riders who know they like to push boundaries of both bikes and themselves. It would make a great enduro event bike for those on smaller budgets. The gear range is wide enough to get you up the steepest ups and the frame and componentry are tough enough to forgive clumsy errors on the way back down. There’s no obvious pedal feedback into the rear shock: after some experiments with settings on the first ride we ended up leaving it in fully soft ‘Descend’ mode for the rest of the test. Seated climbing in that mode is fine, but a more attacking, standing climbing style requires the ‘Trail’ or ‘Climb’ modes, although we never felt any need for the almost locked out ‘Climb’ mode on the fork.
It’s also worth mentioning that on a bike at this price you’re almost always going to get a 32 rather than 34mm stanchion fork and you’re unlikely to find Kashima-coated forks or shocks. It’s no surprise that the Hip Hop feels less plush over more difficult terrain than the more costly, longer travel Devinci and Yeti. You get what you pay for, and this is one of the best thought-through harder hitting packages at this price. We wouldn’t change a thing.
- Frame // 6066 aluminium, Fox Float CTD Evolution 120mm shock
- Fork // Fox 32 Float Evolution 140mm travel
- Hubs // Joytech 32 spoke, thru-axles
- Rims // Jalco double wall eyeleted
- Tyres // Maxxis High Roller 2.4in front, Ardent 2.25in rear
- Chainset // SRAM S1000 24/38t + MPR 2X chain retainer
- Front Mech // SRAM X5
- Rear Mech // SRAM X5
- Shifters // SRAM X5 2×10
- Brakes // Formula C1 180mm Rotors
- Stem // Alpha
- Bars // Alpha 780mm
- Grips // Commencal Lock-on
- Seatpost // Commencal Inline 2 Bolt
- Saddle // Commencal Meta
- Size Tested // Large
- Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL
- Weight // 32.1lb without pedals