The 2021 Commencal Meta AM 29 is a proven speed demon, with sorted geo and kinematics for reduced fatigue and impressive climbing. This is a full-on EWS weapon!
Let’s cut to the chase, the MY21 Commencal Meta AM is nothing like the outgoing model, sure they’re both alloy enduro bikes with the same amount of front and rear travel and the same 29in wheels, but that’s where the similarities end.
Though the new frame is clearly a Commencal, a lot of changes have been made to the 2021 Commencal Meta AM 29 to improve upon the original design. First of all the geometry has been totally transformed, Commencal hasn’t gone for a nip here and a tuck there but a full-on transformation.
Let’s look at the standover for a start. The previous bike was about as tall as it was long (in reach) which wasn’t a major issue but hardly ideal. The 2021 bike sees reach seriously jump up while standover and seat tube lengths drop. This large bike with a reach of 495mm has a seat tube length of only 440mm, around 20+mm less than the older bike. That’s not as short as some models, but too short a seat tube can make sizing for taller riders tricky. At 178cm the sizing for me feels great, I’m sure taller riders will let us know in the comments section if the changes work for them.
As the seat tube gets shorter it also gets steeper. It now sits at 78.5-degrees, this is to get your weight and hips into a better climbing position. Upfront, the head angle is a slack 63.6-degrees which combined with the seat tube angle gives us an effective top tube of 626mm, which isn’t actually all that long.
Some manufacturers might have thought that the complete redesign of the look and geometry of a new bike would be enough, but Commencal has reworked the suspension kinematics of the 2021 Meta AM. Commencal says that the 160mm of rear-wheel travel has been designed to be more dynamic and to reduce fatigue on long EWS stages.
At the same time, the frameset is now stiffer than before, the seat tube diameter has increased to 34.9mm, and the rear brake is no longer located inboard to reduce the width of the backend.
Fork offset has been reduced to 42-44mm, but the bike still comes equipped with a 40mm stem as standard. Cable routing is all internal, and love it or hate it the BB is a press-fit design. In fact, the only features that this 2021 bike shares with the previous version are the 29in wheels and the amount of travel, 170mm on the front and 160mm on the rear.
This Team spec build is a sensible mix of SRAM components. The drivetrain is workhorse SRAM GX Eagle with the updated 520% range rear cassette and new and improved alloy chainset measuring in at 170mm. Yes, the frame is still a press-fit BB design, but the last Meta was too and I didn’t suffer any issues with it and haven’t with this DUB unit so far either.
SRAM also get in on the stopping with a pair of CODE RSC 4 piston brakes grabbing on to a pair of 200mm rotors. I like that Commencal runs 200mm rotors front and rear, and don’t subscribe to the idea that a rear disc needs to be smaller than the front.
Those 6 bolt discs are fastened to a pair of 29in DT Swiss alloy wheels which are wrapped in Schwalbe rubber. I really do love a Magic Mary and the that Big Betty out back is amazing. Tons of grip for climbing and excellent braking properties too.
Contact points come from Commencal’s Ride Alpha division. The 780mm alloy bar is one of my favourites. It’s nothing fancy and it’s still 31.8mm in diameter, but I like it a lot. The 40mm Alpha stem is also the same as the previous Meta. It works, but it isn’t the prettiest of parts. Grips are Ride Alpha lock on, while at the other end we have a super comfortable Fabric Scoop Flat Elite saddle.
Dropper duty is handled by a cable operated KS Lev Integra post with 175mm of drop on this large bike. The smooth action of the dropper remained throughout testing, but it’s one of those posts that doesn’t like to be lifted by the saddle. If you do lift the bike by the saddle the dropper will move, I’ve done this a few times as I keep forgetting and it doesn’t appear to have caused any issues yet.
It’s back to the SRAM family for the shocks. The latest Zeb up front with 170mm of travel and a Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate for the rear. The Zeb isn’t as fancy as a Fox 38 and I would argue the Fox damping is better, but it is super simple to set up and immensely stiff. Like the older Meta AM the rear shock is fitted with a lockout lever, and like the older bike I’ve never felt the need to use it.
Riding The Commencal Meta AM
With a weight of 35.05 lbs, you can’t really picture the Meta to be much of a rocket ship on the climbs, and it isn’t. It’s hardly a slouch though, and as long as you’re feeling fit, you’ll be surprised by your ascent even with that weight and those sticky compound tyres.
Technical climbing is where the 2021 Meta AM surprised me, not that it turns in to a magical goat and sprints off by itself, but that you can clear technical climbs more easily than the 170mm travel, 495mm reach might suggest. The steep seat angle, updated suspension kinematic and sticky Schwalbe tyres are quite the trio and result in bags of uphill traction and forward momentum.
Having ridden the older Meta for the past 18 months or so I understood the limitations of the old bike, namely me, but even with my limited talent, I can ride the old Meta on the ragged edge. Get that old bike to speed and you feel like you’re going fast. The bike moves around beneath you jolting and bucking you about. The faster you go the more tired you can become as fatigue sets in, but all that movement felt very fast and that old bike was capable of serious downhill speeds. So how about the 2021 Meta?
Well, one Monday I had taken the older Meta out and put down my fastest local time. I rode that bike to the point that I felt fatigued and I may have pushed myself a little too hard, but I felt fast and the time proved it. The following day I rode on the new Meta. I hit the first trail just as I had the previous day, and as soon as I entered the track it all felt different but also familiar. The Zeb has way more support thanks to the updated Debonair Air Spring so you have to adjust for that, the slack geo needs a little more input, and the backend retains a playful spring while excelling in protecting you from impacts.
The bike wasn’t throwing me around as much, actually not at all, I didn’t feel tired or fatigued and the suspension was eating everything in its path without feeling like a monster truck. While it might sound odd, it did take a little getting used to this new feeling. The first time you ride a 2021 Meta you might not necessarily feel like you’re hauling quite as fast as you actually are, but believe me, you’ll be smashing your KOM’s left and right and feeling as fresh as a daisy at the end ready for another spin up.
My first ever downhill on the 2021 Meta AM, on a bike I had never ridden before with suspension not quite set up how I like it was a full 5 seconds faster than my fastest time on the old bike! The new Meta AM is phenomenal!
The 2021 Meta is a pure thoroughbred, designed to go downhill at warp speed, to smash the most technical EWS stages on the planet, no wonder my local trails feel tame on this beast! It swallows them whole.
Where the 2021 Commencal Meta AM excels is in the fast rough and rocky stuff. It loves the steeps too, isolating the rider from all those nasty steps, and drops with its sorted suspension, acres of reach and valley swallowing amounts of travel. It corners well too, it’s longer than a lot of other bikes out there so you do need to physically throw it around corners, if not then you will lose speed but time it right and the Meta will reward you with bags of grip and speed.
3 things that could be improved
- I still manage to rub my heels on the stays of the bike even with the new brake positioning.
- Paint on the head tube showed signs of wear quite quickly. Invisiframe or similar is your friend.
- Not to knock the Zeb, it’s a great fork, I just prefer the Fox 38.
3 things that I loved
- Surprisingly good, if slow, on the climb.
- Insanely fast, capable and calm. I will never be able to ride the new Meta AM to its limit.
- Schwalbe tyres are amazing!!
I hope from reading this far you have come to the same conclusion that I have. The 2021 Commencal Meta AM 29 is faster and better than the previous version. It’s still not the fastest uphill, but any time you lose on the way up you’ll make up, and then some, on the way back down.
If what you’re after is all-out EWS dominating performance and you have the trails for it get one! It is a lot of bike and on some trails you might feel the AM is a little too much bike, in this case the Meta TR might be a good bet, but for me I’ve fallen for the all out speed of this bike and will probably not hand it back for some time to come.
2021 Commencal Meta AM 29 Team Specifications
- Frame: 29in, Alloy 6066, triple-butted tubes, T4, T6. Enduro bearings
- Rear Shock: ROCKSHOX SUPERDELUXE ULTIMATE
- Fork: ROCKSHOX ZEB ULTIMATE, 170MM TRAVEL
- Headset: ACROS ZS44/ZS56
- Stem: RIDE ALPHA FREERIDE 40
- Bar: RIDE ALPHA R27
- Grips: RIDE ALPHA DH
- Brakes: SRAM CODE RSC, 4 PISTON, MATCHMAKER COMPATIBLE
- Shifter: SRAM GX EAGLE
- Rear mech: SRAM GX EAGLE
- BB: SRAM DUB
- Chainset: SRAM GX EAGLE, 170 MM CRANK ARMS, DUB, BOOST
- Chain: SRAM GX EAGLE
- Cassette: SRAM GX EAGLE
- Rims: DT SWISS EX511
- Hubs: REAR: DT SWISS 350 – FRONT: DT SWISS 350
- Tyres: REAR: SCHWALBE BIG BETTY – FRONT: SCHWALBE MAGIC MARY
- Seatpost: KS LEV INTEGRA
- Saddle: FABRIC SCOOP FLAT ELITE
- Price: €4499
- From: Commencal
|Product:||Meta AM 29 Team|
|Tested:||by Andi Sykes for 2 months|