No doubt if you’re a fan of MTB you would have noticed that in the world of gravity racing Commencal Bikes have been absolutely ‘owning it’ on the international race and free ride scene for some time.
Especially their world cup DH team which has pretty much been crushing the competition of late. So, it’s no real secret that ‘Commencal Bikes’ as a company are extremely committed to making high end alloy bikes that we know are going to perform. Not only that, we see the crew from Commencal really decking out their line-up of bikes with nothing but quality and performance in mind, even looking at their range of kids bikes you can’t go past Commencal as a brand, they just as committed to quality and performance from their kids balance bikes right through to their world cup DH masterpiece.
For a brand born and bred in the hills of the Andorran high country, whenever the crew at [R]evolution get their paws on one of their new whips for review, we’re always drooling with anticipation to see how any of their bikes are going to handle out in the wild.
Reviewer // Scotty Prendergast Photos // Matt Staggs
Commencal never seem to fail to deliver on the ‘excitement factor’ when they release a new bike and this beast is certainly no different. And now that we’ve finally got our hands on one in the flesh introduce us to the Meta ‘mullet’ SX?
Before we dive any further into this review can you do us a favour and get some background tunes playing? Loud. You got any ‘Slayer’ albums in your play list? Sweet. Crank ‘em loud and let’s get started!Okay so I suppose we should start with the build of this bike; this sucker is a custom build or what Commencal refer to as their ‘A La Carte’ build option. To make things simple, if you are considering a Commencal on your list of new bikes, you should maybe consider the fact that you don’t have to purchase a pre-built option. Sure, they offer a ton of pre-built options in a variety of frame colour ways which is awesome, but Commencal also offer complete custom build options.
You can literally jump onto their website, pick out a frame, tag the components you want from their online shopping list and build your own custom bike from the comfort of your lounge room. If you’re not too confident with that, you can order the bike and/or build option at your local bike shop and pick it up from there ready to ride. Another cool thing we’ve noticed for a pretty boutique bike company, is Commencal are doing a damn good job at caring for their customers, giving their customers what they want, and providing excellent after sale service. Not to mention the fact they offer their bikes at a super competitive price across the board in comparison to some other brands on the market.
Hit us with the the numbers for this bike?
Well, this sucker is a dedicated ‘279 – Mullet’ setup with 170mm of fork travel up front and 160mm of rear wheel travel, we tested this bike in a ‘large’ however, this bike is offered from small to x-large. The crew at [R]evolution previously tested a META 29’r a couple of years back and the first thing we noticed with this new whip; it has been really refined. It has a sleeker, thinner frame design, it’s a little lighter and a little more aesthetically appealing than is predecessor.
This bike we think is essentially designed as an enduro bike but for a rider who may want to explore the more playful elements of MTB.
Cool, so why the SX? What’s the difference between the last META you guys tested?
The SX is a little shorter in the reach from the previous version but a little longer in the rear end, this is said to have improved the handling, maintained its playfulness yet provided a platform that is designed to be very stable at high speed. Some notable specifications include a 64-degree head angle or a 63.6-degree head angle in the slack setting, 78.1 or 78.5 seat tube angle and 448mm chain stays, oh yeah, and this rig comes in around 16 kg which we think is a real sweet spot in weight for an aggressive trail weapon. It’s light enough to be nimble yet has enough weight to remain composed and planted over those gnarly trails. Some other notable features are the neat internal cable routing, ISCG chain device mounts, all bearings within the linkages and rubber frame protection. Overall, this frame is a little cleaner, it has neater lines whilst maintaining its durability and burly linkages we’ve all come to love about these bikes. Another cool thing is welds on this frame are super neat and all the linkages with bike design make it very easy to access for cleanliness and maintenance.
You guys mentioned this was the ‘A La Carte’ build option, why did you pick the components you did?
Well, we didn’t choose anything to be honest, we gave that artistic license to the cool cats at Commencal Australia as to what flavour whip they wanted to swing us for review. Let’s just say this had us a little nervous but when we first picked this sucker up from Commencal Headquarters we were pleasantly surprised with their taste in components. This sucker boasts some cool bits of kit which included, Rental bars and stem, Rock Shox Reverb dropper, TRP Brakes, SRAM GX carbon cranks, GX rear mech, SRAM cassette and chain, DT 511 hoops, DT 350 hubs and a Fox suspension platform, Fox 38 fork and X2 air shock, all of which accompanied the slate grey SX frame. Suffice to say our jaws and eyes were a little wider with appreciation when we got our hands on this lovely looking piece of machinery.
You mentioned above that this bike is a little sleeker how does that transfer to ride performance?
Yes, we did mention that. I suppose you’ve had enough of the more technical aspects and want to know a little more about ride performance, so let’s get into it. As mentioned, this bike is a little lighter and more refined, there has also been some changes in design which has contributed to a better handling bike and more progressive suspension kinematics. To put it in plain terms, this bike climbs better, pedals better, it has better smaller bump sensitivity yet plenty of mid to end stroke support, this is also attributed to the killer suspension platform. This bike is playful on the trail yet super stable at high speed and over the rough stuff.
The META of yesteryear was still not a bad climber for what it was, but as far as a comparison in efficiency, to the old META was like comparing chalk and cheese to their new SX, it really is a remarkable change.
Of course, this isn’t a XC bike, but we cut a heap of enduro/XC laps on this thing, and we found the suspension platform was really composed under pedal load and the bike didn’t bob around. The bike also hugged the terrain quite well providing plenty of traction to the rubber below, over undulating trail and technical climbs, the front end didn’t wander either. At times we think the 27.5 wheel was quite an advantage for acceleration through technical sections, it was easy to shift your weight around on the bike and overall, we couldn’t find anything to complain about with the pedalling performance and climbing quality of the rig.
What about the good stuff, the shredding?
Alright punks, how did this sucker perform whilst ridden in anger you ask? Well, as indicated above, this bike is longer, slacker, it has more adjustability and its little longer in the wheelbase for additional stability. The last META we had descended very well, so based on the numbers of the SX alone, we were confident this bike was going to perform. What we will say is, we really underestimated what we were getting ourselves into, when we started putting this sucker through its paces down some heavier lines, it was a real eye opener.
This bike is FAST, we mean REALLY F*#KING FAST!
We absolutely love how this bike has retained that gritty metal industrial look but far out, this is no slug that’s’ for sure. With the big wheel up front we plowed through the rough stuff, the front-end was super stable at speed and maintained traction very well. Another thing was with the smaller wheel in the rear we still didn’t notice it get hung up on square edges compared to a 29’inch wheel, this bike still maintained momentum well and as a matter of fact, the longer rear end kept this bike super stable at speed. The other cool element to this bike was when we were tearing into some tight section and corners, we found we could really grip it and rip it through the turns, this bike was excellent through corners.
We hit a ton of variety of trails on this thing, rocks, berms, booters, rough stuff, fast stuff, small stuff, big stuff, and we were blown away at how versatile this big was over a variety of terrain. The change in angles provided a super supple bike over the light trail chatter, yet a bike that was super confident over the heavier terrain. We read some comments in other reviews which suggested that this bike wasn’t that nimble due to its longer rear end. We kind of disagree with those comments because in comparison to the previous META if you add up the weight, angles, adjustability, and bike setup. We found this bike to be super playful and nimble in comparison.
When we cast our minds to negatives, we thought, well what’s not to like? You know exactly what you’re getting with this rig. There are no surprises in the sense that it does exactly what it’s made to do and to be honest we had a blast riding this bike. I guess if you’re considering this rig as your next bike it comes down to more of a preference on what type of rider you are, where you ride and who you ride with most of the time.
You took the words right out of our mouths. What type of rider should consider the META SX?
Well, it’s really made and marketed for exactly the type of rider you’d expect it was designed for, there’s no secrets. If you want an enduro bike that is more than capable at taking on some heavier down hill tracks, yet you can still pedal on the ups and down, the SX has you covered. Yet if you like to dabble in anything from enduro racing, the odd DH race but if you’re more inclined to head off for a weekend shredding with mates, cutting shuttle runs or park laps and you want and aggressive whip with some playful elements, then this MTB is perfect for you. If we had to use one work to describe the overall characteristics of this design, it would be ‘FUN.’ If we could describe the durability of this whip in one word, it would be ‘TOUGH.’ And if we could use one work to describe the overall appeal of this bike it would be ‘COOL.’
So, to wrap it all up, if you want a bike that is tough as nails, pedals well, performs under pressure and is great value for money, trust us when we say it’s hard to deny the rugged good looks of the new Commencal META SX.
Frame // Full Alloy.
Travel // 170mm front, 160mm rear
Wheelsize // 29” front, 27.5” rear
Spec // Custom ‘A La Carte’ build option reviewed. Refer to website for further info.