Commencal Meta Trail V4.2 Essential 650b review£2,851.00

Updated Meta is a properly ready-to-riot trail weapon

BikeRadar score4.5/5
Watch the Commencal Meta TR V4.2 Essential out on the trails

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.

The RockShox Deluxe RT 130mm rear shock
The RockShox Deluxe RT 130mm rear shock

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.

The bike has wide 780mm handlebars
The bike has wide 780mm handlebars

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.

The Meta Trail has an easy and efficient pedalling feel
The Meta Trail has an easy and efficient pedalling feel

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.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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