Tuesday, June 8, 2010 7.00am
By Jenn Hopkins, What Mountain Bike
Commencal boast a full line-up of everything from full-on downhill machines to racy hardtails. As its name suggests, the Super 4 sits quietly towards the more cross-country orientated end of the range and sports a run-of-the-mill 100/120mm-travel suspension configuration, though you’d struggle to stay in the shadows on anything with paint this bright.
Ascent is reasonably accomplished thanks to Commencal’s linkage-activated single-pivot rear suspension but stuff the Super into anything steep, up or down, and its stuttering, stop-and-go behaviour makes it hard to know when it’s safe to let go of the brakes.
This is despite an aggressive feel from the slack 68-degree front end, where the updated RockShox Recon SL fork gives up its 120mm of travel with just the right balance of ease and control. Unfortunately it doesn’t sit cohesively with the rest of the ride, which does little to smooth out a rough trail.
The bike as a whole skitters over the top rather than dropping into compressions and the rear end is a stifled, solid mess. We found that the rear wheel tended to hook up on square-edged hits instead of moving smoothly through them and the noisy all-or-nothing rebound damping points to the Fox Float R shock not behaving exactly as it should.
This terrible shock tune made the anticipated rear end plushness more like "riding downhill on your toolbox", according to tester Guy Kesteven. There are a few minor spec issues, too – we’d rather see a Maxxis Ardent tyre up front than the fast but hard-to-handle Crossmark specced, and Mavic’s Crossride Disc hoops are substantial.
The Avid Juicy 3 brakes offer adequate stopping power but are short on both feel and glamour, and at 13.2kg the Super 4 is on the heavy side for what is essentially a cross-country bike. These issues mean the Commencal feels more at home on groomed ribbons of trail centre kitty litter than it does roaming the open fell.
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