Review: 2019 Commencal Meta Power Essential

The 2019 Commencal Meta Power Essential is an easy-to-ride, wallet-friendly eMTB suitable for newbies or experienced shredders.

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 20 November - Commencal MetaPower 27.5 during a Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
The 2019 Commencal META POWER, 27.5 is a 150mm rear and 160mm front all-mountain eMTB priced at R65 700.

You certainly get a lot of bike for your money when you buy a Commencal. The brand is well known for it’s direct to consumer and ‘premium yet great buy’ status. The Meta Power Essential 27.5 from Commencal South Africa priced at R65 700 is no exception. Powered by the Shimano Steps system, and laced with RockShox suspension, SRAM brakes and an Eagle 12-speed drivetrain this E-Bike is ready to please all.



THE BIKE

THE BUILD KIT

SIZES| Small, Medium, Large & XL
FRAME | 2019 Commencal META POWER, 27.5 150 mm travel
FORK| RockShox Lyrik RC, 160 mm, 15 mm axle, compression, rebound, boost. Bottomless Tokens: 2 
SHOCK| RockShox Super Deluxe RCT, 210 x 55 mm, open/locked. Bottomless Tokens: 2 / Internal Tune (Rebound/Compression): Light/Light 
SYSTEM| Shimano E8000, 70Nm
BATTERY| Shimano E8010, 500Wh
DISPLAY| Shimano SC-E8000
BARS| Ride Alpha, Alloy 7075, double-butted, 30 mm rise, 780 mm, 31.8 mm
STEM| Ride Alpha, Aluminium 2014, 50 mm, 31.8 mm, 0° Angle
SHIFTER| SRAM GX Eagle,  E-Click, 1 x 12 sp
SEATPOST| KINDSHOCK Lev Si, 31.6 mm, KG-SL alloy lever, 100 mm on S, 125 mm en M, 150 mm on L and XL
SEAT| WTB SL8 RACE, 142 mm width, cromo rails
MECH| SRAM GX Eagle 
FRONT TYRE| SCHWALBE MAGIC MARY, 27.5 x 2.6, TLE Apex, Addix soft, front
REAR TYRE| SCHWALBE HANS DAMPF, 27.5 x 2.6, TLE Apex, Addix speedgrip, rear
WHEELSET| SPANK OOZY 395+, tubeless ready, 35 inner width, e-bike specific
CASSETTE| SRAM PG-1230, 11-50, 12 sp
CHAIN GUIDE| Shimano E8000
CRANKSET| SHIMANO E8000, 165 mm, forged / SRAM X-SYNC EAGLE, 34t  
CHAIN | SRAM GX Eagle 
WEIGHT| 22.7kg
RECYCLING| In partnership with SHIMANO, COMMENCAL supports a voluntary battery recycling program for ebike batteries. 
The head tubes are not very long (110mm on the size M) which means you can get the bars pretty slammed if that is your thing. it certainly helps keep the front wheel planted on steep climbs.
The yoke driven RockShox Super Deluxe RCT is a 210 x 55 shock which has open or locked settings, 2 bottomless tokens with a light rebound and light compression tune.

THE SYSTEM The 2019 Commencal Meta Power Essential uses the very popular Shimano Steps system which is cleverly integrated and easy to use. The Shimano E8000 motor provides an ample 70Nm of torque and weighs in at a light 2.8kg. The bar-mounted Shimano computer display has a unique colour for each of the support modes and displays battery range information. Three support modes of Eco, Trail and Boost can be selected through the Firebolt Switch unit and these settings are customizable through the Shimano E-Tube App. The 500Wh battery will give you over 1 000 charge cycles with no significant power loss. There is full support for the Shimano Steps system through Shimano South Africa.



GEOMETRY

  • REACH: 415mm (SM), 435mm (M), 458mm (L), 481mm (XL)
  • SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 400mm (SM), 440mm (M), 490mm (L), 520mm (XL)
  • WHEELBASE: 1180mm (SM), 1201mm (M), 1226mm (L), 1251mm (XL)
  • CHAINSTAY: 444mm
  • HEAD ANGLE: 66 degrees
  • BOTTOM BRACKET: 332mm


RIDE IMPRESSIONS

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 20 November - Commencal MetaPower 27.5 during a Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
The Meta Essential is a very agile, flickable and fun eMTB.

With ECO mode set in low you can expect a real sweat fest and it’s very similar in feel to a burly all-mountain bike, in other words, you know you are on a climb! In ECO you can clock in some long rides, like 100km kind of stuff; but you will be completely spent and in reality, this is not the best way to use E-Trail bikes. In TRAIL and BOOST mode the power delivery is instant and smooth, matching and magnifying your pedaling force. When moving in and out of the saddle on technical trails the power never surges unnaturally. It’s always measured and appropriate to what the terrain and you, are in need of.

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 20 November - Commencal Meta Power 27.5  during a Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
The 25km/h limiter isn’t a pain when riding solo but in an eMTB group ride when your mates bikes are set at 32km/h it will be a little irritating. Fortunately, the crew at Commencal will chip the bike for you so you can change that limit.

Approaching the 25km/h assistance limit the system reduces support gradually and the disengagement at 25km/h is anything but a significant event. As you drop under the assistance limit the re-engagement is gentle and progressive. The standout characteristic of the assist has to be it’s intuitive and well-mannered behavior when you stop or start pedaling. The support kicks in and shuts off very naturally which makes technical trail riding far less tricky. If you want the assist to extend over the 25km/h speed that it is preset at, the guys at Commencal will do that for you.

This bike is very impressive through tighter turns and lower speed tech sections.

The 27.5″ wheels and shortish head tube lowers the front end [stack height] which gives the Meta exceptional agility in low-speed technical climbing terrain. Through tight switchback climbs, I found it a little easier to keep my body weight forward and get through the turns quite effortlessly. The 2.6″ Schwalbe Hans Dampf in Speedgrip compound, has an abundance of horizontal edges that deliver a lot of bite on technical climbs. The smooth and predictable power delivery from the Shimano system helps the Meta excel on all climbs.

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 20 November - Commencal Meta Power 27.5  during a Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
The rear suspension ramps nicely towards the end of the shock stroke and the small through to medium bump damping is good.

There is a bit of lateral compliance within the chassis of this Meta which gives it a softer feel on the descents but it’s only noticeable when you are really charging down trails at KOM like pace. I think the low BB, tight chain-stays and big Schwalbe’s combine nicely to give it a playful and forgiving ride nature. In the air, it has a nimble and agile feel, perhaps more so than a lot of other E-Bikes I have ridden. The dudes from Andorra always get the progression right and the rear end of this Meta is sublime. It ramps nicely towards the end of the shock stroke and the small through to medium bump damping is good.

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 20 November - Commencal MetaPower 27.5 during a Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
The easy handling Meta is a super rad play bike.

At this price point, the build is certainly above average. The RockShox Lyrik with the original Charger damper, external LSC compression and rebound adjust is a good E-Bike fork because of the token system which dials in the bottom out. The SRAM Guide RE brakes feel pretty close to the top of the line Code RSC on the trails and the Meta is specced standard with 200mm rotors. Bar, stem, seat, seat post and wheels are all durable and without any quirks. The Firebolt switch unit to shift modes is long in the tooth and probably worthy of an update, although it does the job just fine

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 20 November - Commencal MetaPower 27.5 during a Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin
Thank you to MTO Trails, Bennet Nel and everyone involved with building and maintaining Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch. The trails are world-class.


WHO IS IT SUITED TO?

NEWBIES: E-Bikes are challenging traditional thought processes around market segmentation. The truth is you really don’t have to be an Enduro or even trail rider to qualify for a 150mm travel E-Bike. You just need to feel the urge to ride more trails, more often. The smaller wheel size and more compact layout of the Meta Essential makes it a little easier (and lighter) to ride and therefore is actually a great buy for newbies. The handling and agility of this bike is very, very good.

EXPERIENCED RIDERS: For medium to top-level riders who just want to ride more trails, more often will love the simplicity of the bike and the great build kit. It may be the 2019 version but the geometry was ahead of its time and as such is very on-trend and more capable than I thought.

WANT TO MAKE IT FASTER? The Meta Power Essential is most definitely mullet-friendly. Going up to a 160mm 29er fork (and wheel) will not negatively impact the geometry and is perhaps something really worth considering if you want to charge the trails with more aggression. Running it as a mullet will improve motor ground clearance too.



SUMMARY

The Meta Power Essential is an easy-to-ride All-Mountain bike which should be a strong contender for the top spot on any connoisseurs “Best Buy” scorecard. The Shimano drive system is easy to configure and is one of the more natural feeling systems. The Meta has a great build-kit, progressive geometry and is an agile and capable bike on the trails. More: Commencal-store.co.za

Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch - 20 November - Commencal MetaPower 27.5 during a Bike Network photoshoot with Myles Kelsey. Photo by Gary Perkin

| IMAGES: Gary Perkin | LOCATION: Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch |


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