Commencal’s swingarm bikes have enjoyed massive success and they still handle superbly. The low-slung Six is starting to look weighty and soft compared to the opposition though.
Ride & handling: Excellent in sketchy situations but flexy back end spoils acceleration and accuracy
There’s no effort required to realise what this bike does best. Although it’s been tweaked for a more progressive feel this year, the Contact System suspension still settles very easily into its squat. The short top tube and tilted seat tube naturally push weight back over the rear wheel, making this an easy bike to manual and a naturally balanced long dropper.
The low-set swingarm is less affected by braking and pedalling forces than most single pivot designs. That means a more flowing, active and undisturbed feel when you’re squeezing the levers or pressing the pedals. The extremely low bottom bracket underscores stability even further and it always feels very calm, confident and safe on descents.
While it’s certainly a safe pair of hands, the Meta 6.2 starts to lose its grip if you push the pace. For a start, the Fox shock blows through its travel pretty quickly, unless you run it stiff enough to really hook up and catch on square-edged hits. That means you’re more likely to clobber the pedals or rock ring if you try to keep pedalling through the rough.
At 15.8kg (35lb) with pedals on and a short top tube, regular power input is vital to keep the bike moving. But even when you can get your legs into action you’re constantly fighting the inertia of the bike.
Despite plenty of compression damping it still bobs, even with the shock flicked into ProPedal mode. This is a bike you’re always going to endure, not enjoy, on the climbs.
And for such a heavy frame there’s a serious amount of flex from the front end of the swingarm. Add noticeable twist from the stem and cranks when you’re really fighting with the trail and the whole bike feels soft rather than sharp.
This translates to a constant need to understeer the bike into every situation early to make sure it starts to turn in time to make the move.
Frame: '09 chassis is beefier and slacker, with more adjustment
The most obvious features of the Six are the bolted clamps at the top and bottom of the head tube for head angle adjustment.
The Six gets a new subtly hydroformed top tube and reinforcing gussets for 2009 too. A machined block in the bottom corner anchors the pedalling and main pivot centre while the Contact System linkages squeeze the shock upwards against the top tube/seat tube junction.
The seat tube base is also moved forward to leave room for the stub tube-mounted front mech. The slacker seat angle created also opens up the cockpit reach and pushes weight back more than usual as you raise the post.
The hydroformed swingarm hooks up and back towards the rear axle, with the gear cable tucked inside for clean lines. The dropout chucks are fully interchangeable to take solid 10mm or Maxle screw-through axles.
Equipment: Decent fork, wheels and brakes, and adjustable post will be a bonus for some
The spec of the Commencal can’t be blamed for the weight of the Six. In fact the Race Face Evolve XC stem and Truvativ Firex crankset are definitely the lighter side of what we’d normally use for serious gravity work. The rock ring is a wise precaution on such a low slung bike though.
The fixed length air sprung RockShox Lyrik forks and Sun Equalizer rims are mid weight, decent strength kit though, and the Formula Oro brakes are seriously powerful for their weight. The Maxxis High Roller tyres are great all-rounders for most conditions, with an aggressive carving edge that helps to offset the flex of the bike.
The Crank Brothers Joplin height adjustable seatpost with handlebar control is theoretically a great upgrade to have as standard, but you’re going to have to put up with wobble from the start and look after it well to keep it sliding sweetly.