Commencal Meta AM V4.2 Race review£3,037.00

Will Commencal’s updates to the Meta AM pay off on the trail?

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In 2016 Commencal unveiled its freshly updated Meta AM V4.2, ready to roll out to punters in 2017. The changes are subtle but make a difference out in the hills.

One of the key changes to the Meta includes the implementation of a revised suspension curve. The goal here was to make the initial stroke more supple, add more support in the middle and increase the amount of progression at the end of the stroke. To help achieve this, just as like many other manufacturers, Commencal has adopted the new metric shock standard. This means more tunability, increased oil volume and improved sensitivity.

In terms of numbers, the V4.2 is on par with many of its competitors though does have the odd trump card to play. Its slack 64.9-degree head angle is certainly a welcome sight. Commencal took 0.5 degrees off of the previous model to account for the inclusion of the longer travel 170mm forks now being specced. Reach on my large wasn’t massive at 448mm but still roomy enough for the most part.

At 343mm off of the floor, the Meta’s bottom bracket height might not be the lowest, but thankfully there’s a decent 12mm bottom bracket drop which does help to sink you down between the axles nicely. One thing I did notice was the 490mm seat tube. That’s a big 50mm jump from the medium bike, which sits at 440mm.

The rear triangle now boasts 148mm Boost axle spacing too.

The 1x11 SRAM GX transmission gets an X01 rear mech upgrade
The 1x11 SRAM GX transmission gets an X01 rear mech upgrade

Commencal Meta AM V4.2 Race kit

As you’d expect for this sort of cash and coming direct, the Meta has a spec you’re unlikely going to be desperate to change any time soon. Both dampers are RockShox numbers, with the top spec Lyrik RCT3 fork up front and new Super Deluxe RC3 out back.

Commencal has a knack of getting frame stiffness just right and the Meta V4.2 is no exception here

Maxxis rubber (of which the front gets the fancier 3C compound) wraps around Mavic’s 427 rims. These relatively broad 27mm rims support the 2.4in front and 2.3in rear tyres really well and give a nicely shaped tyre profile.

Though the Ride Alpha bar, stem and saddle aren’t anything overly flash, they’re well shaped and do a fine job of finishing the Meta off.

Commencal Meta AM V4.2 Race ride

The Lyrik fork and Super Deluxe RC3 rear shock offer fantastic suspension balance
The Lyrik fork and Super Deluxe RC3 rear shock offer fantastic suspension balance

The Commencal certainly feels like a bigger bike, even if the numbers aren’t exactly radical. It’s the tall 490mm seat tube and extra stretch in the effective top tube that help to accentuate this, even if we’re only talking a few millimetres extra when compared to the competition. The own brand, 30mm rise, 780mm bar is certainly another contributing factor here — in a good way though — and I had no complaints from the testers.

Don’t get me wrong, it was only a couple of our guys that found issue with the tall seat tube when, even with the saddle totally slammed, it just didn’t feel low enough on the really steep stuff. Still, if the sizing does work for you though, you’ll not be disappointed with how the Meta feels on the trail.

Commencal has a knack of getting frame stiffness just right and the Meta V4.2 is no exception here. There’s enough give to prevent it feeling harsh in any way when you’re really slapping turns or pummeling boulder fields, but it remains taut under power and surprisingly efficient on the climbs, especially considering its 14.56kg weight.

At higher speeds, the suspension balance between the top end Lyrik fork and Super Deluxe RC3 rear shock is fantastic, with superb mid- and end-stroke support that creates an incredibly stable ride through the wildest sections of trail. There’s just the right amount of trail feedback through the frame to keep you fully engaged with what’s going on beneath the tyres, but it’ll not rattle you silly or bump you off line. It’s quiet too, with no nasty chain slap or cable rattle so you’ll not need to faff about with mastic tape as soon as the bike lands on your doorstep.

As this is the most expensive bike on our Enduro Bike of the Year test, tipping just over our benchmark £3,000 mark, the spec, as you’d hope, is great.

The spec highlight on the Race version I have here includes some of my favourite rubber from Maxxis and the crisp, accurate shifting and gear range from SRAM. Minor issues to note though include the broad back-end where some testers struggled with foot rub, both when pedalling and descending, and as a result were forced to adjust their usual foot placement. Again, this wasn’t an issue experienced by all riders and seemed more prevalent for those on flat pedals.

After a hard week riding in Italy, all of the Meta’s pivot bolts worked themselves loose so pre- and post-ride checks are worthwhile and interestingly the Meta was one of the few bikes in our line up to suffer from multiple rear wheel punctures. I’d also recommend getting rid of the tubes as quickly as possible and getting it set up tubeless from the get go.

While it sounds like I'm really nit picking here, these minor niggles still don’t detract from what a truly superb and engaging ride the Meta delivers and definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a new hard hitting trail or flat out fast enduro race bike.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Rob Weaver

Technical Editor-in-Chief, UK
Rob started riding mountain bikes seriously in 1993 racing cross-country, though he quickly moved to downhill where he competed all over the world. He now spends most of his time riding trail bikes up and down hills. Occasionally he'll jump into an enduro race.
  • Age: 34
  • Height: 172cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Natural trails where the loam fills my shoes on each and every turn
  • Beer of Choice: Guinness

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