Even stationary, the COMMENCAL META AM V4 screams ‘rockstar.’ With less-than-subtle paintwork and distinctively shaped tubes that lend the bike an aggressive attitude, will it take to the trails with the same fervor? When it comes to descending, will it live up to the expectations it has kindled in us?
Right from the get-go, it’s clear that the COMMENCAL isn’t for the conventional among us, and most certainly not for those who diligently contribute to their retirement accounts and spend Saturdays polishing their car on the driveway. It’s a bike that’s a statement for those who want to turn heads, go full gas on the trails, and for those who don’t give a damn about status symbols. If branded goods are your status symbol, then look elsewhere: the wallet-friendly META AM V4 hasn’t gone in for that.
In fact, when it comes to the spec COMMENCAL have stringently kept to budget, mounting their own cockpit and wheels (which may keep the price down, but do result in an increase in weight). While we hesitated over the Marzocchi 350 R as we examined it on the stand, the fork managed to convince us on the trails even without adjustable compression damping. The comfort and ground feedback were both more than satisfactory, although the whole travel was never fully used. However, the X-Fusion rear shock was a different story: while responsive, stable, and competent at delivering feedback, the shock unfortunately began to overheat significantly even on short descents, leading to a continual readjustment of the rebound with several clicks.
Tyre choice was obviously no area to compromise for COMMENCAL, as they opted for the monstrously grippy MAXXIS Minion DHR II, which has a nicely defined threshold. While you won’t be smashing any of your best times on the climbs, the bike doesn’t give a damn. However, it’s still a reasonably keen climber, and you can grind your way up any gradient while pedalling. Get ready to collect the KOMs on the descents, as the META AM V4’s line precision is unrivalled. No matter how rough the trail gets, the bike stays on track and keeps confidence high with its high stack and long frame. Tight corners and last-minute changes in direction are within its capabilities, and the rider is unlikely to sense a lack of pressure on the front wheel – the geometry is where the direct order company from Andorra have seriously excelled.
Details of the COMMENCAL META AM V4 ORIGIN
Unguided: COMMENCAL fitted a low-cost 1×10 drive with an additional 42-tooth sprocket on the cassette. Given the absence of a chain guide at the front, the chain frequently dropped during testing. Unlike a 1x with a clutched derailleur, you’ll need a chain guide here.
Integrated: The X-Fusion rear shock slots tidily into the image of the META AM V4, but struggled to keep a consistent temperature, even on short descents. While adjusting the compression damping lever, you can also inadvertently adjust the rebound setting dial and accidentally alter the set-up.
Fitting: COMMENCAL’s own Ride Alpha cockpit fits – both aesthetically and in terms of performance – with the whole concept of the bike. With marks on the bars, the job of setting up the cockpit is made a whole lot easier.
Unsightly: Seeing as no one wants cables that bang around the frame, COMMENCAL decided to add a padded sleeve at the bottom of the downtube for the cables to run through. During the test this slipped out. And while far from a travesty, from our point of view this shouldn’t occur.
Specification: COMMENCAL META AM V4 ORIGIN
- Fork: Marzocchi 350 R 160 mm
- Shock: XFusion O2 RLX (150 mm on the rear)
- Drivetrain: SRAM X7
- Brakes: SRAM DB3
- Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
- Stem: Ride Alpha Alu 50 mm
- Handlebar: Ride Alpha Alu 760 mm
- Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHR II
- Wheelsize: 27,5″
- Wheelset: Ride Alpha 650b
- Weight: 14.9 kg
- Price: € 2,269
Conclusion for the COMMENCAL META AM V4:
The COMMENCAL META AM V4 is a bike for anyone who loves to let go on descents – the bike even comes with a free dose of confidence. After just a few rides, you’ll be pushing your own limits to the max. Unfortunately, the spec shows a few weaknesses, so it would be wise to step up and buy the higher model in the range or carry out some customisations on the configurator before buying.
- Great handling
- Pushes your own limits
- Wild image
- Overheating issues with the rear shock
- Lack of chain guide = frequent loss of chain
More information on the Meta V4 can be found on the COMMENCAL website.
This bike was part of our Group Test: Ten Trail & Enduro Bikes 2016 under €2599.
All bikes tested: Bergamont Trailster 6.0 | Canyon Spectral AL 7.0 EX | Focus SAM Ltd. | Ghost SL AMR 5 | GIANT Trance 2 Ltd | Propain Tyee Comp | Radon Slide 150 8.0 HD | Rose Uncle Jimbo 1 | Solid Magix Comp
Text & Photos: Christoph Bayer
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