Commencal’s Meta AM bikes have either won or mounted podia in the last two Bike of the Year tests, and a Boost hub makeover of the shorter-travel Meta TR made it a front runner throughout this year’s testing, too.
It’s not just the move to a Boost width back end that adds capability to the new TR, though. Rear travel increases from 120 to 130mm, controlled by RockShox’s new metric-sized Deluxe shock, and you now get a 140mm (not 130mm) Pike RC fork up front at a degree slacker steering angle than before.
Mind you, it’s still very recognisable as the same bike, not least because the front of the shock is still buried into the open underside of the super-wide cut and shut top tube. The U-shaped yoke at the back end of the shock also still connects to essentially the same overlapping kicker linkage and seatstay set-up as before for a super-mobile shock feel.
Despite the glued-down traction under power or when hacking round blown-out corners, it still has an easy and efficient pedalling feel. That means you only have to fish around beneath the top tube to find the lockout lever for stomping up the steepest road climbs.
Considering there’s only 130mm of travel out back, it has an impressive ability to pick the bones out of seriously rocky descents. While it never obviously undermines control, the shock does have a tendency to dive deep into its stroke, so aggressive riders will likely want to add some volume reducers into the air can to increase shock progression.
The TR is on point in terms of position for its mid-travel pedal and plummet-ready category. Reach isn’t quite as long as the Whyte T130 RS, but the front wheel is further out in front of you than most bikes.
And while the big gap in the stem is a bit unsettling when you first look down, the 50mm length and 780mm wider bars are all about maximum control. The frame is impressively solid and planted, too, giving the TR the trail presence and have-a-go attitude of a much bigger bike. It’s nearly a kilo lighter than the 170/160mm-travel Meta AM, though, and the more responsive, shorter travel suspension and firmer overall feel mean it’s got a significantly different trail character, so you’re as likely to plan an all-day mission as you are to pull on your knee pads for an hour.
In short, this Andorran mountain-bred all-rounder is one of the toughest trail bikes around.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.