Commencal Meta AM 29 Team Review

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Commencal went ultra-long and slack for the newest Meta AM 29, so does that make it too enduro for everyday riding?

The Commencal Meta AM 29 has evolved from being an ‘All Mountain’ trail bike to a full-on enduro slayer. Compared to the previous generation bike, which I had long-term before this model, the new Meta is longer, lower, slacker and gets a new suspension kinematic designed to tame the trail and keep the rider fully focussed on what’s ahead.

But with the alloy enduro bike now sporting a 495mm reach on a size large frameset and a head-angle of 63.6, is this all-mountain bike simply too enduro for everyday riding?

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Commencal Meta AM 29 Team Review

Commencal Meta AM 29 Team features

Before we jump into how the AM rides let’s delve into the details of Commencal’s big travel bike. The Meta AM shares its name with the previous generation AM, each rolling on 29in wheels, each with a similar amount of suspension and a fairly similar silhouette, but that’s really where the similarities end.

The latest Meta AM 29 boasts a shorter seat tube height, a much lower standover, new geometry, and updates to the suspension and frame layout. It might look like a Commencal but it’s very different from what has come before it.

2021 commencal meta am 29 team

From a geometry standpoint, the new Meta is really on the extreme end of the spectrum. No, not quite Pole levels of geometry, but still pretty long and slack, especially for a bike that still wears the ‘All Mountain’ badge. Our size large lest bike boasts a 495mm reach, 63.6-degree head angle, 78.5-degree seat tube angle and short 440mm seat tube. At 178cm tall I would say that the large size frame is right on the limit of where I feel comfortable, and depending on what your riding style is you might prefer riding a medium-sized frame.

While tucking and pruning the geometry, Commencal also made some changes to the suspension kinematics. The Meta AM now uses a longer stroke rear shock to produce 160mm of rear wheel travel, and the suspension curve and kinematics have been tweaked. These changes mean that the amount of shock that makes its way through to the rider has been significantly reduced, which in turn means you’ll feel less fatigue when charging hard and fast through gnarly terrain.

2021 commencal meta am 29 team

Previous generation Commencal Meta AM framesets featured a calliper mount located on the inside of the chainstay. The benefit of this was that the calliper is located away from knocks and scrapes, but the disadvantage was it made the alloy rear end quite wide and many riders suffered from heel rub. The new Meta tries to solve this with a new brake calliper mounting position, however, the chunky alloy backend is still wide enough to catch your shoes especially if you have big feet or wear chunky footwear.

As with all modern Commencal bikes, the Meta AM 29 is made completely from aluminium. Commencal doesn’t offer any carbon frames in its range and hasn’t for many many years, in fact, it’s difficult to even find a carbon component on its complete bikes. The full alloy and metal construction of the frameset and its components do mean a complete build weight of around 37lbs. That’s quite a lot and actually isn’t far off the weight of some modern lightweight e-Bikes!

2021 commencal meta am 29 team

Speaking of the build, with a more aggressive frameset and rear suspension that promises to allow the rider to push harder and faster in more challenging terrain, Commencal has also made some changes to the overall build.

The last Commencal Meta I tested featured a Lyrik, a fork that was more than adequate for enduro racing a few years ago, but the new model sports a 38mm stanchion RockShox Zeb. This 170mm travel fork is significantly stiffer than the Lyrik and features a new Debonair spring meaning a higher ride height. As I said, this might look like a Commencal but the new Meta AM 29 is completely new and has a whole new ride dynamic.

2021 Commencal Meta AM 29 Geometry

SMLXL
1 – Seat Tube Length380 mm420 mm440 mm460 mm
2 – Seat Tube Angle78,5°78,5°78,5°78,5°
3 – Head Tube Angle63,6°63,6°63,6°63,6°
4 – Head Tube Length115 mm120 mm125 mm130 mm
5 – Wheel Base1231 mm1258 mm1285 mm1312 mm
6 – Top Tube Length573 mm600 mm626 mm652 mm
7 – Chainstay Length433 mm433 mm433 mm433 mm
8 – BB drop-21 mm-21 mm-21 mm-21 mm
9 – Fork Length586 mm586 mm586 mm586 mm
10 – Reach445 mm470 mm495 mm520 mm

Riding the Commencal Meta AM 29

As already mentioned, the length of the Meta AM 29 is about as far as I would want to go for my own personal riding style. It’s not uncomfortable at all, it fits really well in fact, but I prefer a bike I feel I can chuck about and change direction at a moment’s notice, a bike that I don’t need to be hurling down the steep side of a mountain every day to enjoy, and I feel a medium would have given me the benefits of the new suspension platform but with a more nimble character.

2021 commencal meta am 29 team

When you get to test as many bikes as we do then you get a feel of a bike right from the get-go, and my initial impressions of the new suspension kinematics were and remain very positive. Despite the overall high weight of the bike, and the big chunky Schwalbe tyres, the Meta AM doesn’t half shift! Each pedal stroke results in an instant forward motion with very little bob. The numbers might not suggest it, but Meta AM is pretty rapid on the flat stuff and continues to be when winching up climbs. Sure this is all relative and it’s by no means as fast as my Santa Cruz Tallboy on the ups, but for a big lardy lad (not to mention the bike) it does a pretty good job of despatching climbs.

Because the new suspension layout is so efficient at turning each pedal stroke into forward motion, the Meta AM is pretty handy on the steep techy climbs too. You, do need to be aware of the length of the bike though and be willing to muscle it about a bit in certain situations but this is to be expected.

2021 commencal meta am 29 team

Now, I’ve mentioned how well the big travel Commencal makes progress on the flats, but don’t get any ideas that this is an energetic bike on the level. To get the most out of the Meta AM 29 you really do need gravity on your side. Again, I feel a medium-sized bike would be easier to chuck about, be a little more agile and playful on flat terrain, but really if you’re not riding steep EWS type tracks on a daily basis the AM’s little brother, the Commencal Meta TR is likely the better choice.

So downhill the Meta AM 29 has to be an absolute animal right? Well, yeah obviously it is! The geometry and updated Debonair spring in that Zeb fork keep you in a very central position, and you’ll have to be riding some seriously steep and deep terrain to get the AM 29 out of its comfort zone.

From your first downhill run on the Commencal Meta AM 29 it’s clear that the suspension is much more refined than the previous generation bike. The older Meta AM 29 made you work harder to find the fastest way down the mountain, the new generation bike does most of the hard work for you.

2021 commencal meta am 29 team

This bike is like purchasing riding talent. If you want to gain serious amounts of time downhill and don’t want to train and build muscles simply buy the Meta AM 29 and enjoy how it finds seconds where you didn’t think you could be any faster!

Commencal’s claim that the new suspension reduces fatigue is 100% accurate. Riding this new bike on the same tracks in the same conditions as the older bike resulted in less out of breath panting and much more speed. The effectiveness of the suspension and new geometry is so good, that I initially felt slower on this bike, I mean I must be going slower I wasn’t anywhere near as tired on the new bike. I soon realised that my times were faster and the bike was simply doing its job though and you begin to push things a little further, brake a little later, spring a little longer. It soon gets scary fast!

What could be better

  • Rear-end is still quite wide and prone to heel rub.
  • Pretty heavy in comparison to similar bikes.
  • Prices are much higher than they used to be.

What I loved

  • There isn’t a more confidence-inspiring big travel bike on the market.
  • It’s efficient, if not the fastest climbing bike.

Commencal Meta AM 29 Conclusion

2021 commencal meta am 29 team

Is this the fastest Commencal Meta ever? Damn, right it is! Is this the Commencal Meta that I would like to own and ride every day? Well, perhaps no. I don’t tend to ride to see just how fast I can clear everything, I’m not a racer, and I much prefer to feel what’s going on under my pedals. For my local riding, the Meta AM 29 is simply too much bike for me, and I feel the Meta TR would be much more fun. However, I realise that I might be in the minority here, and there are many riders who do want that flat out magic carpet ride invisible feeling, and for you, the Meta AM 29 is spot on!

2021 Commencal Meta AM 29 Team Specs

  • Frame: 2021 Meta AM 160mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Ultimate, 230 x 62.5mm
  • Fork: RockShox Zeb, 170mm travel
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
  • Bar: Ride Alpha 27mm rise, 780mm wide
  • Stem: Ride Alpha Freeride 40mm
  • Grips: Ride Alpha DH lock-on
  • Shifter: SRAM GX, 12 speed
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM GX, 12 Speed
  • Chainset: SRAM GX, 32t
  • Cassette: SRAM GX, 12 speed, 52t
  • Wheels: DT Swiss EX511 rims with 350 hubs
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Magic Mary 29 x 2.4in
  • Dropper: Kindshock Lev Integra
  • Saddle: Fabric Scoop Flat Elite
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Colours: Black and White
  • Price: €4,999
  • FromCommencal

Review Info

Brand: Commencal
Product: Meta AM Team
From: Commencal
Price: €4,999
Tested: by Andi Sykes for 12 months
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Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Commencal Meta AM 29 Team Review
  • So do you prefer the last gen you tested? That was a pretty dialled bike.

    Premier Icon jim-the-saint
    Full Member

    Hmmm, they are now £500 more expensive than Specialized’s Stumpy Evo Elite Alloy or an Enduro Comp and the Spesh’s are arguably better spec’d.

    Does a ‘direct to consumer’ sales model have to be cheaper than through a retailer?

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Full Member

    updated Debonair spring in that Zeb fork

    Please do elaborate.

    Has there already been a second generation Zeb air spring that I missed?

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)

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