COMMENCAL META 29 - BIKE TEST
Commencal seem to be on a charge at present. With World Cup Downhill and EWS wins firing in, there has to be some reason for this current success.
The direct sale brand really have put a serious amount of effort in over the past few years, the Meta AM and TR both being bikes that were previous hits.
With bargain prices and killer builds, there seems to be every reason to consider this brand when picking your machinery for the future. This Meta AM 29 is no different. Great lines, slick looks and a bold colour scheme makes for an all together rad package.
There is plenty to choose from on the Meta 29, from spanking new SRAM gear, to the orange peril with Fox and Shimano. If you are brand loyal then you can choose your side. With the SRAM option that was used for the test, the full specification is listed below.
2019 META AM 29 160mm travel Damper:
ROCKSHOX SUPER DELUXE RCT Coil, 230x60mm Fork:
ROCKSHOX LYRIK RC2, 170mm, 15mm boost axle Headset:
ACROS Alloy ZS44/ZS56, sealed bearings Stem:
RENTHAL APEX, 40mm, 31.8mm diameter Bars:
RENTHAL FATBAR, 30mm rise, 800mm, 31.8mm diameter, Aluminium Brakes:
SRAM GUIDE RE, 200mm/200mm Gearing:
SRAM GX EAGLE 1x12sp
SRAM DESCENDANT EAGLE X-Sync, 32t, boost
SPANK OOZY 350 WHEELSET, 32 holes, 30mm inner width Front tyre:
SCHWALBE MAGIC MARY, 29x2.35, TLE, Addix soft, front / Rear tyre:
SCHWALBE NEW HANS DAMPF, 29x2.35, TLE, Addix soft, rear Seatpost:
KINDSHOCK LEV INTEGRA, 31.6 mm, Southpaw alloy lever
FABRIC SCOOP FLAT ELITE, 142mm width, vaccum, cromo rails, team
Don’t be fooled by the look of the Meta 29. This is not just an AM bike with some big wheels attached. Commencal have totally reworked this frame from the ground up. From all new tubing to aid stiffness for the larger wheels, to pivot placement, rocker design and the seat tube design. This all creates the nimble, slick look that the new Meta 29 has.
Some of the things that have been improved with the new bike are pretty important, yet may be overlooked. The cable routing has been improved and does not affect or interfere with the operation of the suspension. This has been done with a simple guide that slots inside the rear stays mounting bolt. A new seal design and enduro bearings keeps everything tidy and reliability high. The top tube is now watertight which avoids damage to the headset when washing the bike and also combats against wear in the cold wet winter months. There is an addition of a small mudguard that helps keep things clean between the rocker and the frame. An all new down tube protector design, with improved rear stay protectors, keeps things safe and sound whilst being as silent as possible.
Shape and Fit
The engineers over at Commencal have worked hard to get the sizing bang on with the new line of bikes. Having opted for a size XL, it was a pretty big bike even with the half degree steeper head angle. This has been implemented to keep the overall wheelbase from being overwhelming. It most certainly did not hinder the feel of the ride.
To be perfectly honest I think the size L would have been more than adequate for me at 6ft.
With the new positioning of the lower pivot, the Meta 29 has a nice snappy short rear stay length. Weighing in at 430mm, so a length you would expect from a 27.5 bike.
With a coil damper fitted straight out of the box there was very little issue setting up. A simple spring change gave the prefect sag point and a great feel to the start stroke. The damper really became relevant and necessary when attacking the rough, rocky terrain in the high mountains of Ainsa. The super supple start to the stroke keeps the traction on the ground when needed, while the ability to lock (firm up) the rear end for the climbs was bang on. This was then complimented by the new and very impressive Lyrik fork. These forks look sweet being back in the classic red colour.
When looking at the chassis, there is no sign of any carbon fibre in sight, but why bother? Commencal have done such a good job creating a balance between stiffness and flex, and also keeping the weight at a good number for the longer pedals. Back onto the stiffness though. The talk of wider pivots and larger bearings, is always a worry as a frame can become too stiff. With the Meta that Commencal have created, there is rigidity. This helps keep stiffness to compensate for the 29” wheel flex. The meta is still supple enough to keep it tracking on the correct line, also keeping the level of fatigue low. Even after several hours of brutal riding, there was no point where I felt that my body was being beaten.
With all the above taken into account, this really is a super bike. Weather you are a racer at the top of your game or a Joe public just bashing some runs out, it really covers a lot of ground. Cheap for the specification, with the bike ridden coming in at €3,899. This is a bike that is reliable, efficient and fast. There is no need to argue with the credentials of what this company can do. With an array of top flight wins and racers on their bikes, the effort has gone in to build the best bike possible.
PRICE: €3 899,00
Words - Ieuan Williams
Photos - Nicolas Brizin and Ieuan Williams