With the new 2023 META V5, COMMENCAL launch the latest iteration of a classic, which is trimmed uncompromisingly towards racing. In typical Commencal fashion, the META V5 relies on an alloy frame. We had the exclusive opportunity to test one for you!
Andorran direct-to-consumer-brand COMMENCAL are known mainly for three reasons: they release mental shreddits, supply the bikes for countless DH World Cup teams, and rely exclusively on alloy frames for their bikes. While the META has already been their weapon of choice for enduro racing for quite some time, COMMENCAL only just launched their Enduro Project, an enduro race team that has been riding several prototypes of the current V5 frame over a longer period of time. With the latest iteration of the META, Max Commencal and his team have waved goodbye to the old single-pivot rear suspension layout and replaced it with a new twin-link design, which was used for the first time with COMMENCAL’s trail bike, the T.E.M.P.O. The rear suspension is securely connected to the main frame triangle via two short links, which the manufacturer calls Virtual Contact System (VCS).
The new META is available in two variants, the V5 and the V5 SX. The first one is marketed as COMMENCAL’s enduro racer and rolls on two big 29″ wheels, combining 160/150 mm of travel at the front and rear. The SX model, on the other hand, rolls on mixed wheel sizes and is the freeride steed in the manufacturer’s portfolio, generating 170 mm of travel both front and rear. Our META V5 Signature test bike in size L tilts the scales at 15.8 kg and retails at € 6,000. The new META should be available in most spec variants from October, while our Signature model should be available from January 2024.
The new COMMENCAL META V5 2023 in detail
The new META V5 is a real eye catcher. However, the COMMENCAL doesn’t express its uniqueness through a futuristic looking swingarm or striking paint finish, but rather with a clean, elegant, and pleasantly understated look. Despite its full-alloy frame, the META has a slim silhouette with harmonious proportions. The linkage bearings are partially hidden by the swingarm, which makes it harder to tighten the bolts. A bolted TPU plate shields the lower section of the down tube and can be complemented with an additional shuttle guard, which is included in the box and can be simply glued to the down tube. A generously sized chainstay protector prevents paint chips and chain slap, ensuring a quiet ride on the trail.
A tool mount on the underside of the top tube allows you to attach trail essentials like a spare inner tube or a minitool directly to the frame. Of course, there’s also a bottle cage mount on the downtube, but there’s one issue: the cage bosses sit in a small recess in the frame, meaning that the system isn’t compatible with all bottle cages. If you find one that fits, you might still have problems squeezing a bottle into the frame without the top of the shock getting in the way. FIDLOCK bottles are your safest bet, although the magnetic base plate needs to be mounted upside down to fit into the recess. With the base plate fitted upside down, you’ll be able to squeeze a 600 ml FIDLOCK into a frame size L without a problem.
Spec variants of the 2023 COMMENCAL META V5
The META V5 is available in seven spec variants with prices ranging between € 3,700 and € 6,400. For the suspension, you can choose between FOX, Rockshox and Öhlins, with the option of a coil or an air shock with Rockshox and Öhlins – there’s something for everyone! All available models rely not only on an alloy frame but also on aluminium components, from the handlebars to the wheels – we love it!
The Signature model we tested comes standard in a clear silver finish, but our test bike is white. The spec is trimmed uncompromisingly towards trail performance, meaning that Commencal focused on functionality when choosing the components rather than trying to keep the weight down. The FOX Factory suspension consists of a FLOAT X air shock and matching 36 mm GRIP2 fork, which comes standard with a FOX mudguard – your eyes will be grateful when riding in the mud! Both the fork and shock offer countless adjustment options and deliver a tremendous performance on the trail. FOX also supply the Transfer dropper post with 175 mm of travel, which is on the short side for a modern enduro bike in size L. On the upside, the dropper post can be fully inserted into the frame.
Shifting is taken care of by a Shimano XT drivetrain, which as usual delivers smooth and crisp gear shifts. Since COMMENCAL rely on a SRAM UDH mech hanger, the new META V5 is also compatible with a direct-mount SRAM Transmission rear derailleur. Renthal supply the cockpit consisting of a 40 mm stem and matching alloy handlebars. It’s worth mentioning that the bar-width grows with the frame size: frame size S comes with 760 mm bars with 20 mm rise, sizes M and L with 780 mm bars with 30 mm rise, while the biggest XL frame features 800 mm handlebars with 30 mm rise. While this might look like a small detail, it’s actually a very clever move from COMMENCAL – we wish more manufacturers could follow suit! COMMENCAL also rely on alloy when it comes to the wheels, employing a proven and very robust DT Swiss EX1700 wheelset, which treated us incredibly well on many occasions before. The wheels are paired with Schwalbe’s new Tacky Chan tires, with a softer, grippier Ultra-Soft rubber compound at the front and slightly harder Soft compound at the rear, which ensures lower rolling resistance and less wear – awesome! Unfortunately, both tires come in the puncture-prone Super Trail casing! If you ride hard or are planning on racing enduro, we recommend upgrading to a more robust tire with the tough Super Gravity casing – which is not available in combination with the soft rubber compound on the Tacky Chan.
Commencal Meta V5 Signature
Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 160 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X Factory 150 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory 175 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 1x12
Stem Renthal 40 mm
Handlebar Renthal Alu 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss EX1700 29"
Tires Schwalbe Tacky Chan, ADDIX Ultra Soft, Super Trail/Schwalbe Tacky Chan, ADDIX Soft, Super Trail 2.4"/2.4"
Size S M L XL
Tuning tips: More robust tires with a tougher casing (i.e. Schwalbe’s Super Gravity)
The geometry of the new 2023 COMMENCAL META V5
DThe COMMENCAL META V5 is available in four sizes, S to XL, offering a suitable option for riders between 158 cm and 210 cm tall. A flip chip in the shock mount lets you alter the geometry of the bike slightly, steepening up the seat tube and head tube angle by 0.5° and dropping the bottom bracket height by 5 mm. Needless to say, we rode our test bike predominantly in the lower setting. Our test bike in size L combines 475 mm reach and 440 mm seat tube, which is reasonably short and doesn’t restrict the freedom of movement on the bike too much. Frame sizes S and M use long 435 mm chainstays, while sizes L and XL have 440 mm. The different chainstay lengths are meant to ensure consistent handling across all frame sizes.
The geometry of the new 2023 COMMENCAL META V5 in the lower setting
|Seat tube||380 mm||420 mm||440 mm||460 mm|
|Top tube||573 mm||594 mm||615 mm||636 mm|
|Head tube||120 mm||125 mm||130 mm||135 mm|
|Chainstay||437 mm||437 mm||442 mm||442 mm||BB Drop||25 mm||25 mm||25 mm||25 mm|
|Wheelbase||1.215 mm||1.237 mm||1.271 mm||1.293 mm|
|Reach||435 mm||455 mm||475 mm||500 mm|
|Stack||626 mm||631 mm||635 mm||640 mm|
The new 2023 COMMENCAL META V5 on the trail
The COMMENCAL META V5 already feels incredibly plush when you take it for a bounce test around the car park. The rebound is noticeably fast, so our test riders weighing between 75 and 78 kg added a couple of clicks of rebound damping even before hitting the trails. Heavy riders who require higher air pressures in the shock might run out of clicks on the rebound dial to prevent it from bouncing back too fast.
Riding uphill, the META V5 places you in a central, comfortable pedalling position without putting too much pressure on your hands, regardless of how steep the climb is. At the same time, the front wheel always remains planted on the ground, even on steep climbs, ensuring precise, controlled steering. As soon as you put tension on the chain to pedal your way to the trailhead, the plush feeling you get in the car park suddenly disappears, with the rear suspension feeling reassuringly firm and allowing you to negotiate long, monotonous climbs without activating the climb switch. At the same time, the rear end remains pleasantly efficient, reliably absorbing smaller bumps and generating excellent traction even on technical climbs.
When gravity takes over, the COMMENCAL makes you feel at ease from the get go. The intuitive handling makes it easy to shred your way back down into the valley – you can forget about the sofa feeling you had back in the car park. In fact, the META is anything but a bouncy arm-chair, and loves to be thrown from one corner into the next, with its lively character slapping a massive grin on your face.
With our initial 30% sag setting, the rear suspension bottomed out hard a few times, but after adding some air to reduce sag (27%), we seemed to hit the sweet spot. Even with slightly more air in the shock, the rear suspension doesn’t feel overly stiff, filtering out smaller impacts with great sensitivity, while at the same time providing excellent feedback from the ground. As a result, you’re always in control of the rear suspension and totally aware of how much travel you’re using, meaning that you’ll never rush through the travel unexpectedly. When you pump through the trail, the rear suspension releases its travel eagerly without sucking your input like a sandbag. Instead, it stores the energy briefly and spits it out again, providing bags of pop and allowing active riders to play with the terrain on flowing trails!
What about rough, natural trails though! Isn’t that the natural environment of an enduro racer? Once again, the suspension does exactly what it’s supposed to do, providing excellent traction and sufficient reserves. The META’s lively handling also makes it easy to negotiate narrow, technical trails, encouraging you to spontaneously change your line, whether you fancy switching to a daring highline last second or decide to plough your way through a nasty rock garden – the META just doesn’t care! However, faster, rougher trail sections expose the dark side of the META’s agile handling, which passes on bigger impacts almost unfiltered and hardly forgives any riding mistakes. As a result, the COMMENCAL requires a vigilant riding style as the tiniest distraction can quickly send your rear wheel sideways, forcing you to put down your foot to catch yourself. Especially after a long day in the saddle, this can be exhausting, making the COMMENCAL a rather challenging shredding companion. In a nutshell, the META V5 feels like more of a potent trail bike than a thoroughbred enduro racer. Provided you know what you’re doing and choose your lines carefully, the META is a damn fast bike, but also requires a great deal of concentration to hold your line.
Who should take a closer look at the 2023 COMMENCAL META V5?
The COMMENCAL META V5 is a great companion for aluminium enthusiasts who want an elegant, understated bike with a top spec – which is pretty hard to find these days! If you’re one of those riders, the META V5 is a great allrounder with playful handling and a high fun factor. The rear suspension provides tons of pop, rewarding active riders who like to play with the trail features. That said, the META V5 isn’t just a flow-trail rocket but can also hold its own on more demanding trails. When the going gets rough, however, the META V5 requires an experienced rider that can handle its direct feedback.
Our conclusions about the 2023 COMMENCAL META V5
The COMMENCAL META V5 comes with a top spec and no bullshit. In typical COMMENCAL fashion, all META variants rely on aluminium for both the frames and components. The poppy rear suspension rewards an active riding style but requires an experienced rider on rough enduro trails. Overall, the META V5 is a damn fast enduro racer – provided you know what you’re doing.
- Elegant alloy bike with top spec
- Agile handling
- Excellent all round potential
- Limited room in for a water bottle
- Tires don’t do justice to the bike’s character and intended use
- Handling isn’t particularly forgiving of mistakes
For more details, visit commencal-store.com
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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Simon Kohler, Jan Richter, Antonia Feder, Julian Schwede