Commencal Supreme DH V4  2016 Mountain Bike Review

Commencal Supreme DH V4 2016

Reviews / Trail Bikes

Commencal 160,059

At A Glance

The standout feature of the new Commencal Supreme DH V4 is the obvious deviation from the established norm in suspension design. There’s method in their madness, though, which has created one of the most exciting and fun downhill bikes in recent years.

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The foundation to their idea is simple: short bikes are fun and great to ride on technical terrain, and long bikes excel at high speeds. The beautiful suspension linkage on the V4 provides the best of both worlds with none of the negatives. The high pivot point and linkage driven shock allows the wheelbase to extend while progressing through the plush and supportive mid stroke of the 220mm travel. This means that the harder you push the bike, the more it will grip and the more stable it will be at speed.

The mechanically minded among you will know that if you extend a bike’s wheelbase, the chain will need to extend too. A standard 116 link chain is used straight out of the box, and the slack at normal sag is taken up by the idler pulley, situated slightly back from the high pivot point. The idler pulley sits neatly in the frame, supported both sides by a sealed bearing. A lot of testing went into this set up to ensure that no more maintenance is required than on a normal downhill bike, so you needn’t worry about wet winter rides.

Spec wise, it’s exactly as you’d expect from a race-ready downhill bike. Suspension duties are taken care of by Rockshox: Boxxer World Cups on the front provide perfect control and support on any terrain. Coupled with the Vivid R2R in the rear, you’ve got one of the most capable suspension platforms in the world. Formidable stopping power is provided in the form of Sram’s new Guide brakes. In the three solid days of testing, I was never left wanting for more power or modulation, and on one of the gnarliest World Championship tracks of recent years, you know that’s a good thing! Drivetrain components are a tried and tested formula; XO cranks with a reduced-ratio rear cassette and X01 rear mech. Shifting was reliable and crisp, and the gear ratio was perfect for the terrain. E.Thirteen wheels are shod with the ever reliable Minion IIs, and they provided excellent grip on every surface I came into contact with.

On The Trail

Riding the V4 made me feel like a better rider. As the terrain got steeper and rougher, I felt as if I had more grip and more travel at my disposal than I have ever had on any another downhill bike. This allowed me to tackle lines that I otherwise wouldn’t have attempted, climb out of ruts, and skip across off-camber sections as if they were flat.

The extensive testing with their world cup team has paid off, which shows in the podium finishes of both Remi Thirion and Myriam Nicole on the bike’s maiden voyage. On fast straights, the bike feels planted and in control, yet in corners it feels lively and snappy enough to flick through at speed. In the air, the bike is un-sprung, so it’s short, flickable and feels more like a 160mm enduro bike than a full downhill rig.

The handling of this bike through the corners is impeccable, even when the ground is loose and unpredictable. Over the rough, rooty sections on the World Cup track in Andorra the bike finds grip where you wouldn't think there was any and allows you to keep on trucking down the hill.

The cockpit feels comfortable and well sized, the stiff front end keeping things steady out front with the Rock Shox Boxxer fork helping things to track exactly as you want them to. The new Avid Code brakes handle the stopping duties well and considering the technical terrain we were throwing at the V4.

Overall

A radical new design concept that works exceedingly well, DH bikes are always a compromise between stability at speed and handling. The V4 seems to be able to morph itself into a bike that fulfills both of those categories with ease. You'll find yourself balanced when riding flat out, manoeuvrable in the air and railing corners with aplomb! If you are in the market for a very capable DH sled then the V4 should be on your hit list!

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This review was in Issue 38 of IMB.

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By Will Simmons

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