Commencal Meta SL 4  2013 Mountain Bike Review

Commencal Meta SL 4 2013

Reviews / Trail Bikes

Commencal 145,884

At a glance

Commencal are a brand that have done things very much their own way and have built a great reputation for bomber bikes that are an out and out joy to ride gravity assisted.

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The Meta SL has been developed to fill the gap in their range at the 120mm trail bike spot.
Our Meta SL 4 sported the same lovely colours as the established longer travel bikes and uses the same Contact suspension system.

So would the SL continue with the family trend or would Commencal have to compromise in order to make the SL a true all-day trail bike?

Tech heads

Huge triple butted 6066 aluminium tubes are used and give the SL the look and feel of a bigger travel bike. Internal cable routing keeps the front end clean.

The Contact system drives a 190 x 51 shock that provides 120mm of rear wheel travel.

The frame is tricked out with all the latest innovations, tapered head tube, 12 x 142 rear axle, direct mount front mech, ISCG 05 mounts and the seat tube takes a 31.6mm seat post so a dropper can be popped in and there is internal routing if required.

Spec wise the Meta SL 4 is the base model and as such there are always going to be some compromises.

Trail taming comes via a Fox CTD Evolution rear shock which is a capable piece of kit. Up front a Rock Shox Silver Solo Air does a good job at such a keen price point.

Drivetrain duties fall to SRAM’s steady X5 groupset and braking is handled by Tektro HDC 300 brakes with 180mm discs.
Wheels are Joytech hubs onto Jalco rims, these are a robust affair and are topped of with Onza tyres.

At a shade over £2000 RRP you get a ready to roll bike for the cost of a bling frameset.

Commencal Meta SL 4 M

Seat tube 440mm
Effective top tube 584mm
Head tube 120mm
Chain stay 428mm
Front triangle 694mm
Wheel base 1122mm
BB height 10mm drop
Head angle 68°
Seat angle (eff) 73.5°
Reach 424mm
Stack 560mm

Weight w/o pedals 30.5lbs

On the trail

All Commencals pedal better than they have any right to for bikes that are such a blast on the downs and the Meta SL was no different. It is not a mile munching machine and it’s slightly more linear leverage ratio meant there was some give when powering, but the stiff frame and supple suspension gave grip aplenty.

The slightly short geometry suited me down to the ground and cranking the SL hard through singletrack was a real joy, throw in a few lips and logs to ping off and I was in cycling heaven.

There is certainly weight in both the frame and the components, which just took the edge off the ride but with a few choice upgrades the Meta would fly.

Get the SL to a jumpy section or pointing downhill and its DNA comes to the fore, spot on geometry is always king and so it proved again. There is enough support through the Contact system to offer accurate feedback yet it manages to calm the trail and put you at ease at the same time.

For

Calm, fun and encouraging. Commencal have done their own thing again and the result is a 120mm trail bike that is so much fun to blast around for a couple of hours it is unreal.

Against

Weight is an issue but this is the entry level model and as such it is only to be expected. As with any entry level bike that is a little heavy upgrading the wheels after a year or so of abuse, sooner if you desire, would give the Meta SL 4 a much more lively ride. There is no denying that the frame is heavy for a 120mm trail bike but this is not a bike for the weight weenies.

Overall

The Commencal Meta SL 4 is a terrific entry level bruiser that will get you hooked on mountain biking for the fun factor alone and it looks absolutely killer in Lime.

I keep finding myself asking ‘is this really just 120mm travel?’….and I kept pulling it out of the van when there were several bikes that cost twice as much in there.

If you are like Commencal and are not afraid to choose your own path then the Meta SL 4 has to be worth a look…ride it, love it.

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This review was in Issue 22 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.

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