Commencal Meta AM V4  2015 Mountain Bike Review

Commencal Meta AM V4 2015

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

Commencal 146,149

At A Glance

One bike to do it all! I wonder if the Hobbits were as sceptical when they heard a similar phrase! For years my stable of bikes has increased, with each individual bike having a very specific and narrowed use, a downhill bike, a trail bike, an XC bike, a jump bike, and so the list goes on. Try and throw a blanket over all of these with one bike and surely you will have a jack of all trades, master of none? Well, not according to Commencal, for all but the extreme edges of each discipline, they believe their new Meta AM V4 is the one bike you need. Yet how many times have other brands promised the same?

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On The Trail

Where better to put this to the test than Tignes in France, a stunning Alpine bike resort that gives free lift passes to anyone staying there. With miles of downhill runs, flowing singletrack, technical Alpine passes and XC runs to its neighbouring resort Val d'Isere, not to mention blasts around the lake to the next uplift. There really was every type of terrain needed to put the Meta AM V4 to the test.

As with any trip to a bike park, the downhill runs have got to come first and this is one of the two areas a “do-it-all” bike will usually come up short; either going up, or going down. Heading straight into a man-made trail I instantly felt at ease, threading the bike through the turns, slamming the berms and trying not to slam the jumps. The bike gave me the sort of confidence that could come back to bite me in the ar*e! This confidence continued on the open flowy tracks, the jumps and rocks. From the first pedal stroke it was clear, the AM can descend!

To test its more adventurous, all-mountain side, it was time to go off piste! Riding with Max, the main man in charge of trail building in Tignes, we were treated to some real gems that we would never have discovered otherwise. From pedal munching gullies, to single-track, rock slabs and loamy tracks, we really did hit every type of trail going and the Meta AM V4 made them a pleasure, even the moment when we popped out onto a ledge as wide as your bars, with a sheer drop to one side.

So it goes down and it goes along exceedingly well, surely it’s going to falter at the first sign of a climb?

To start climbing at 2000m above sea level has got to be sadistic in anyone’s books. I felt like I was being tested as hard as the bike at times, with my fitness seemingly disappearing as the meters dropped away. In spite of my searching for an excuse to get off and look for my lungs, the Meta AM V4 lapped it up. There was no noticeable pedal bob, or squatting, in fact, after much discussion over cold beers, we decided if anything held back its climbing prowess it was the Maxxis Minion tyres, although they were a welcome trade-off on the descents.

The Detail

As the name suggests, the V4 is Commencal’s 4th Meta incarnation and has seen a drastic change to the new Contact System rear suspension set-up, with the shock being housed partially within a cavity in the top tube. This makes it easily accessible and compatible with virtually any piggyback shock.

Weighing in at 6.6lbs without the shock, it’s neither featherlight, nor overweight. Commencal stress that they are more concerned with reliability and longevity than weight, which is reassuring when your confidence gets the better of you.

Designed around a 50 or 60mm stem for comfort and manoeuvrability, the Meta AM V4 has a 66 degree head angle with a 150mm fork, but can also be run at 160mm. It’s when this is combined with a progressive rear end, that runs firmer in the sag than the old V3, that you can see how it works so well across all trails.

On picking the bike up I immediately noticed how balanced the weight was, there was no front or rear bias and despite the high pivot and shock position, it didn’t feel top heavy.

The V4 is rolling on 650b’s, but it wasn’t just a case of follow my leader, the team back in Andorra did back-to-back testing with 26”, 27.5” and 29” wheels, to see which wheels suited the platform and the type of riding best, and although all had their own unique benefits, the 650b was the best overall package.

Tech Heads

The model seen here is an A La Carte version, which is Commencal’s custom build option and featured Boss suspension front and rear, tuned to their World Cup settings, to me this felt a little fast in the car park, but once on the trails it was spot on.

Race Face supplied a lot of the finishing kit, with Next Carbon bars and cranks, as well as a Turbine stem. Stopping power was provided by SRAMS Guide brakes which I’ve heard so many positives about, but personally I was underwhelmed by them, although I will reserve my judgement until I have given another pair a try.

Commencal’s Alpha brand supplied the wheels, which had plenty of engagement and despite my best efforts, including rag-dolling the bike down the mountain, stayed true.

Being an enduro bike it wouldn’t have been right if it didn’t come with a dropper post and a 1x drive train, and this came in the form of a RockShox Reverb and SRAM XX1 mech, shifter and cassette.

Commencal Meta AM V4

Seat tube: 440mm
Effective top tube: 591mm
Head tube: 115mm
Chain stay: 437mm
Wheelbase: 1167mm
BB drop: 12mm
Head angle: 66°
Seat angle: 72°
Reach: 423mm
Weight (Frame without shock): 6.6lbs

Overall

Max Commencal may be onto something! No matter what type of trail I hit on the Meta AM V4, I never felt like I was on the wrong bike. Granted, if you are an XC racer, or a World Cup downhiller, it might not be the optimal bike. However, the Meta AM V4 will always give it a go and pay you back with a huge smile.

It seems you really can have your cake and eat it!

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This review was in Issue 31 of IMB.

For more information visit Commencal

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By Rou Chater
Rou Chater is the Publishing Editor of IMB Magazine; he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but his passion for bikes knows no bounds. His first mountain bike was a Trek 820, which he bought in 1990. It didn’t take him long to earn himself a trip to the hospital on it, and he’s never looked back since. These days he’s keeping it rubber side down, riding locally and overseas as much as possible.

Tried this? What did you think?