After all these years of throwing our legs over countless trail slaying machines we are consistently amazed at how good bikes are today in comparison to how good they were 10 years ago, even 5 years ago!
And just when you think things can’t get any better think again people.[R]evolution HQ was lucky enough to get our hands on the all-new 2021 Commencal Meta AM 29er and to be quite honest the crew at Revolution were to say the least a tad bit excited about doing this review.
Reviewer // Scotty Prendergast Photos // Matt Staggs
With previous models of the Meta AM already having plenty of success on the world stage and world enduro series we were pretty keen to check out what Commencal Bikes have changed with the new Meta AM and how they have made an already proven platform even better.
If you have been around the bike industry for a while you’ll know the Andorra heavy hitters at Commencal Bikes have a long steeped history in delivering quality gravity fed bikes, 2021 is no different with their all new line up of super cool trail slayers, not to mention the fact they are METAL! Break out your Iron Maiden T-Shirts shredders because we got to say with all the materials bikes are made of these days there is something we find a little bit ‘Rock and Roll’ about an alloy bike. It appears also the bike market have responded with a newfound appetite amongst riders for metal bikes. Well kids listen up because this thing looks the absolute goods, we mean it! Even looking at this new beast you’ve got to admit, it gets your heart pumping because it just looks so damn cool.
Numbers wise how does the new bike compare to the previous ‘gen bike?
Even though this bike looks remarkably similar in comparison to previous models, this Meta AM has had a pretty significant overhaul for 2021, it’s longer, it’s slacker and the overall geometry has been tweaked which has enhanced the suspension design. As a result the overall kinematics of this bike are also different, it is designed to provide a more subtle, yet supportive feel for the rider and create a bike which is said to handle better and will fatigue the rider less over those bigger rides. There are also some tweaks to the alloy suspension linkages, internal cable and hose routing, not to mention the fact Commencal offer this beast in a number of different build options depending on what you like in specifications and what budget you have in mind.
What are we talking geo wise?
The 2021 Commencal Meta AM 29er we tested was in a size large, this sucker has 495mm reach so as you can see from last year’s model things have been stretched a little. Some other numbers which may tickle your interest, are a 63.6 degree head angle, 78.5 degree seat tube angle and 433mm chain stays. As you can see the Commencal crew weren’t mucking around with the aggressive angles when refining this already proven enduro platform, to compensate for the added reach all these models come stock with a 40mm stem and a shorter offset fork up front. In short, this bike is designed to pedal better for longer, yet descend like an absolute animal.
Options wise how does the complete range stack up?
As mentioned, this rig is available in a number of different colours, build kits, along with standalone frame sets being available for a rider who wants a custom build. The bike we tested was decked out with the latest and greatest RockShox/SRAM components and suspension products. Introducing up the front we have the all new ZEB Ultimate fork with 38mm uppers and in the rear, we have the Super Deluxe Ultimate shock. As you may have read in previous editions of [R]evolution both of these products demand performance, so it was super cool to have these suspension products complement this frame. Accompany that with the all new SRAM Code RSC 4 piston brakes, SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drive chain with a 10-52t cassette, DT SWISS custom 29er wheels, EX 511 hoops and 350 hubs, Ride Alpha stem and bars and a KS Lev dropper post. What else could you want! As you can see by some of these specs this bike is built to take on the meanest trails, bumps and booters you can throw at it. No expense has been spared in relation to quality, durability, and performance of the components, that along with the refined frame aesthetics and the frames black on white colour scheme made for a package that not only looks really cool but is going to perform really well.
Hit us with some insight into the key frame changes with the new bike?
Glad you guys asked, as mentioned above the overall shape of the frame has had some subtle changes, the seat tube height has been shortened on all models which provides riders the option of running long dropper posts and as you can also see the overall shape of the tope tube and down tube has been adjusted. With this you’ll notice the loss of the trademark kink in the top tube which provides a lower stand over and a sleeker design. And for all you heavy hitters who are hard on bikes, this all alloy frame is built with performance in mind but also durability, one look at this bike and you can tell they haven’t mucked around, it is really reinforced and it’s built to take a real bashing under any conditions. As far as suspension travel goes the Meta AM has 170mm of travel up front and 160mm of rear wheel travel which is identical to the previous model.
All these updates in frame design, geometry, suspension platform, components, and 29er wheels makes this bike a really good all-round package. It is designed to take on anything and remain super-fast and competent over any rough terrain. The larger wheels may see some fans unhappy with this update as some riders may have preferred the 27.5 inch wheels of the previous Meta AM. Look, that is something we considered yet when you think about it, 29er wheels really are for the race ready enduro sleds which is exactly why this update makes perfect sense for the Meta AM, if you like more of a freeride platform, with the more nimble characteristics of smaller wheels then Commencal Bikes have you covered with their ‘Clash’ models.
Hit us with the trail talk – how does it ride?
You guys are right, from what you have already read you can see that we like this bike, from the moment we got our hands on this rig we couldn’t really fault anything about it. It looks good, it’s built well and it’s decked out with killer components so what’s not to like? I guess the question is, could this be the style of bike that will suit you? It’s a good question due to the fact that we are spoilt for choice in the sense you can choose a bike or multiple bikes to suit how and what you want to ride. The Meta AM is built and marketed as an all-out enduro race bike; it’s basically built for speed. With that said, if you want to own, ride and maintain one bike and descending is your thing but you want something that will pedal well, the Meta AM is for you.
“You can pretty much do anything aboard this steed, it’s no XC bike but if you’re hunting enduro races, park laps, dabble in some DH and/or freeride and just want the one sled to maintain well look no further.”
With the initial setup of this bike we played a little with our suspension settings, tyre pressures (26PSI Front – 28 Rear), our stack height, seat height etc. We won’t go into too much detail of setups because as we’ve mentioned in plenty of reviews it really is a personal thing depending on your weight, where you ride, how you ride and how you like your bike to feel. One thing we will say is this bike was nice and easy to setup and get feeling good straight away. Every now and again you throw your leg over a new whip and you feel really at home from the onset. This bike was just like that, it has nice low stand over and a roomy cockpit area. At first, we thought it was bit short but it wasn’t the case, with the stepper seat tube on a shorter offset fork you really noticed how well Commencal have countered the reach on this bike, for a big bike it pedalled really well, and it also climbed super well on the trails. The front end didn’t wander around on climbs which has been a negative attribute of some other longer and slacker sleds out there. As a matter of fact, the way this bike climbed was a real bonus.
Surely this thing is a beast downhill?
Yes indeed, as you can imagine the descents is where this sucker came into its own, drop that saddle and all of a sudden you have ample room, we have punched a heap of runs on this thing, flow trails, tech sections, rough open fast trails, booters, berms, rock and roots. We have been giving this rig an absolute hammering for some time and it’s had us covered, not only that this thing is super fun to ride. Whatever we have thrown at it, it has eaten for breakfast. Being an alloy frame, this bike comes with a little extra weight than some of its carbon counterparts out there, but to be honest a little extra weight makes this bike feel really planted and predictable over that heavier faster terrain, this trait provides a bike that gives a rider super confident feedback and a really predictable handling feel over a variety of terrain, that is no doubt also attributed to the new RockShox suspension platform, in particular the ZEB fork.
At times when we had this sucker diving into some rough corners or off camber sections, we were really amazed at how well the front end tracked through those sections. Just when you thought your front end would give way the tyre would dig in and just tear through sections. That accompanied with a super subtle rear end that tracked well, along with the larger contact patch of a 29er wheel, Commencal have produced a bike that rides amazing. This bike doesn’t get hung up on square edges, it delivers heaps of grip to the rubber below, it maintains momentum really well and it feels super stable at speed yet surprisingly nimble and agile for a big rig. Not only that it is really nice and quiet to ride, there is no issue with cable rattle. It is no surprise this bike has been winning a sh#t load of races because we can sum this weapon up in one word ‘fast!’
Final thoughts on the Meta AM 29?
I guess there is not much more to say, these guys have paid a lot of attention to detail with this bike and from what we’ve read about this bike also, it’s getting some really positive feedback throughout the bike industry. Overall, this thing is an absolute weapon along with being really good value for money. In our books the new Commencal Meta AM 29 has definitely earned a place on the ‘best bikes of 2020/2021’ list.
Frame // Alloy 6066 triple butted with internal cable routing
Wheel size // 29’er
Travel // 170mm front, 160mm rear
Spec // RockShox Zeb ultimate fork, Super Deluxe Ultimate shock, SRAM Code RSC brakes, SRAM GX 12x Eagle drivetrain, KS Lev dropper post, DT SWISS custom wheels.