About three years ago, MTB brand owner Max Commencal made the decision to withdraw his bikes from the high street to sell direct online, following the model set by brands like Canyon and Rose. The Meta predates this though – it's a classic and has long had a special place with our testers since it landed in 2005 as one of the first ‘do it all’ bikes.
Striking frame features and lairy paint
The latest Meta incarnation is striking with the loud paint and graphics we’ve come to expect from Commencal. The frame has some original and aesthetically challenging features, most noticeably how the top tube swallows the RockShox Monarch RT rear shock for a beautifully clean finish.
The extra space created allows for bottle cage mounts on the down tube. The linkage, which provides 150mm of travel, is also a work of art and removes the need for a seatstay brace, making for heaps of tyre clearance without sacrificing stiffness at the back. A custom-fit rubber chainstay protector also features.
The head tube is now 66 degrees
At 14.93kg, the Meta is undeniably hefty, although it’s not so noticeable ridden next to comparable machines. The Meta comes alive on fast, flowing sections, feeling nimble and exciting to ride, and keeping us smiling.
Hits up front are taken by the 160mm RockShox Yari fork with the steerer rolling inside a 66-degree head tube. A 618mm top tube and short but wide cockpit get you in the thick of the action.
RockShox' Yari fork shares many features with the hard-charging Lyrik
This aggressive feel is complimented by Maxxis Minion tyres that provide truck loads of grip in the turns and beg to be pushed harder. This does make climbs harder work, but with a good suspension setup there’s minimal pedal bob and the seated position is comfortable. 10-speed SRAM X7 gearing coped with most climbs, although we did miss the 11th gear when things got really steep.
Our test bike came with a RockShox Reverb, a favourite for easy use and reliability. This adds €270/US$270 to the listed RRP. The seat tube is long for a large frame, which may make it a leg-stretcher for those with short legs/long torso builds.
The Meta AM remains a joy on high-speed descents
All in all though the Meta is on fine form for 2016, bringing joy through fast descents and making light of technical sections with its solid geometry and suspension pairing. You’ll find pedal bob when getting out of the saddle to sprint on lesser flowing sections, but the bike climbs well when seated.
Grabby SRAM DB3 brakes and a slower rolling aggressive tyre choice won’t be to every riders’ liking, although there’s no doubting their quality.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.