February 1, 2010
Factory frameset becomes a new bike.
Commençal Super 4 Carbon Factory Frameset
Price: £2,599 (Frame, fork, bars, stem, seatpost, headset)
From: Madison www.madison.co.uk
‘Could try harder’ is a phrase usually found on errant schoolboys report cards and in text messages from past lovers, and last year it was the feeling I was left with after riding the Commençal Super 4. It wasn’t that it was a bad bike, it certainly wasn’t, it was fast, nimble and a fantastic neon green, but it didn’t have that Commençal up-for-a-laugh attitude that the rest of the range has. It felt like it was holding something back, being a bit more reserved because that’s what 100mm XC bikes should be like.
I’m a fan of what Commençal have done with their bikes, they are engaging, have a bottomless travel feel that encourage bravado, have phenomenal grip when climbing thanks to the Contact System, and they have the appearance of being thought out from beginning to end by people who care about aesthetics. The ’09 Super 4 ticked most of those boxes, but I felt, could try harder. For 2010 Commençal have made a few tweaks that, hopefully, will unleash the full fun-loving potential of the Super 4.
Before we get to the whole carbon thing let’s look at the things that matter the most, numbers. In terms of geometry things are the same as last year, but last year the Super 4 came with a 100mm fork, this year it comes with a 120mm fork. After last year’s review, where the Super 4 was pitched against the Orange ST4 head to head, I asked Commençal designer Nico Menard if a 120mm fork, similar to the one on the Orange, would work well on the Super 4 and if it was something they’d look into in the future:
“Yes it’ll come with 120mm, it will slacken the head angle by roughly 1° so we should have something close to the Orange.
Also from what we tested, the rear shock works in a different way, the bike is more plush and will destroy the Orange 😉
But I have to say that this magazine is pretty extreme (and I like it!) for XC bikes.
Looks like Nico had a hunch about what the Super 4 needed to get that Commençal feel back, and he seems to like the mag. We like Nico.
What is all new for 2010 is the fact that the Super 4 is now available in carbon. Commençal say this makes it lighter and nimbler. We shall see…
The other new for ’10 is the availability of the frame as part of a Factory Frameset deal. This means you get a fork, stem, bars, seatpost and headset in the same box as the frame, and they are all components you’d probably pick for the build anyway, Fox, Easton, RaceFace. No complaints, especially when you end up saving money over buying all the components individually.
The rest of the build was carried over from my previous long term build, the Gary Fisher Roscoe as it’s all stuff I trust and feel comfortable with.
Frame: Commencal Super 4 Carbon
Fork: Fox 32 RLC
Headset: Tange Integrated
Stem: RaceFace Deus XC
Bars: Easton Monkeylite SL CNT
Grips: ODI Ruffian
Brakes: Magura Marta
Shifters: Shimano XTR
Seatpost: Easton EC90
Crankset: Shimano XTR
Front Mech: Shimano XTR
Rear Mech: Shimano XTR
Cassette: Shimano XTR
Wheels: Mavic Crossmax ST Disc
Tyres: Continental Rubber Queen 2.2
So, fully built the only immediate problem was the bars were a bit narrow for my tastes at 635mm so I swapped to some wider 685mm Easton EC70s. Oh, and the fact that the frame is a lovely glossy black and the forks are a matte dark grey. This may seem like nothing, but Commençal are the masters of making a bike that looks ‘just right’, and not having your collar and cuffs matching seems a bit of a let down. Us designers are fussy buggers.