TESTED: Commencal Meta AM 29 signature edition

The Commencal Meta AM 29 is an all aluminium bike with a top of the range build kit.

Introduction

The Commencal Meta AM 29 launched mid-2018 as a refined version of the 27.5″ platform. Under Cecile Ravanel it enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame winning a World Championship title on debut.

The suspension layout is a single pivot linkage-driven system which has been used by the Andorran brand for some years on this model.


The details

Sizing

The “Reach to Wheelbase ratio” is not a current thing, anywhere, at all, but we think it should be. The Commencal Meta AM 29 has a slightly more contemporary ratio here than what you will find on many mainstream brands and by that we mean those two numbers combine well. They are in balance. Some manufacturers choose to squeeze small wheelbases onto a bike with a longish reach number and others vice versa. Commencal are in our opinion, on point here. The seat tube’s of the Meta could be just a little shorter in our opinion. That would allow shorter riders to go up a frame size for the extra reach without having issues with the seat being all up in them.

Geometry

The distance from the bottom of the head tube to the BB is 763mm on the XL bike we tested. Yes, that’s also not a thing currently but we think it is a vitally important number for correctly sizing up any gravity biased bike so we have noted it here for you. BB Height is 345mm, the seat tube is steepened up to 76.5 degrees and the head angle is at a rad 65.5.

The build

The buttery Fox 36 Factory Fit Grip2 fork and DHX2 Factory shock are specced for damping duty. The bike has Shimano XT 4 piston front and 2 piston rear brakes with a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain. Other notables in the build kit would be the e13 TRS wheels with an inner diameter of 30mm, WTB SL8 Race saddle, and a Kindshock Lev Integra 175mm dropper. In house brand supply the Ride Alpha bar and stem combo.


Our Set Up

  • Fork HSC: 26 clicks from fully closed
  • Fork LSC: 5 clicks from fully closed
  • Fork HSR: 3 clicks from fully closed
  • Fork LSR: 4 clicks from fully closed
  • Fork PSI: 80psi for Mark
  • Shock: zero preload
  • Shock HSR: 9 from fully closed
  • Shock LSR: 9 from fully closed
  • Shock HSC: 23 from fully closed
  • Shock LSC: 22 from fully closed
  • Front tyre: 22psi
  • Rear tyre: 25psi

The Ride, by Mark Hopkins

I was really surprised at the climbing ability.  Initially, I was worried about the weight but the guys have got the Anti-squat and shock tune spot-on to make a bike that climbs incredibly well with stacks of traction which is what an Enduro bike needs. There was not much need for the lockout which highlights how well the suspension behaves under climbing.

Mark Hopkins scrubs the Meta down the notoriously gnarly Granite Rock trail of Table Mountain.

The small bump is unbelievable on this bike, especially with the coil shock.  Initially I was surprised by the amount of trail feedback on the bike under big hits, but admittedly I was feeling shattered and having a bad day on the bike.  The next day after a good nights sleep we went out again and this time I realised just how well the bike worked once it got up to speed and how good the trail feedback was.  You know exactly where the bike is and what it’s doing.  Being able to pop off many trail gaps that normally I hesitate on reinforced the feeling that the bike has this support that makes you a better rider.   It was an almost surreal feeling whereby the bike feels more and more composed the faster you go.  

Floating into rough bits of trail the Meta is well composed with incredible small bump damping performance. Of the best we have ridden.

The frame stiffness under cornering is incredibly good. I started feeling like one of the kids I normally try and follow. The bike just naturally wants to punch the living daylights out of corners — I must admit you don’t feel this on many bikes. I spent a lot of time thinking about the linkage curves and shock tunes while riding. Then, after lots of banter with Myles about this, I decided to just shut up and enjoy the rally!  It’s a bike I really would like to spend a lot more time on, its got a magic quality about it that makes you want to go out for more!

Big travel, big wheels – the META smooths out the roughest trails enabling you to stay composed and carry more speed.

Trail side banter

  • It’s a very quiet ride
  • The rear is superbly stiff
  • On the same level as the Capra
  • I wouldn’t change a thing on the build kit
  • There is something magical about this bike
  • Those classic poppy single pivot characteristics are evident
  • Comfortable, stable with excellent small bump performance which ramps

Test day POV

Summary

A relatively small, owner operated bike brand from Andorra have once again put something incredible together here. The Meta AM 29 is not a World Championship winning bike for no reason. It’s an outstanding bike and you can put it right up at the top of your list if you are shopping.

MORE: https://www.commencal-store.co.za/meta-am-29-signature-orange-c2x26867469



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