Commencal goes big with the Meta AM 29

Commencal's big wheels have already proved fast under Cecile Ravanel

One race, one win. If there's a way to launch a bike, that's a pretty good starting point. With team rider Cecile Ravanel, arguably one of the world's most talented and well-rounded rippers, it looks like Commencal's success with the new Meta AM 29 will continue.

Commencal teased us with pictures of the new bike back in April, so we had a good look through them and made some predictions as to what the AM 29 might be all about — see how accurate we were...

Big wheels are increasingly popular in gravity-orientated MTB disciplines
Big wheels are increasingly popular in gravity-orientated MTB disciplines

Commencal Meta AM 29 frame

While in profile the AM 29 looks similar to the 27.5in Meta V4.2, Commencal says it used knowledge from the Supreme 29 DH bike, rather than just squeezing bigger wheels in the V4.2 package. The only bits of the frame shared with the smaller-wheeled bike are the dropouts, head tube and top-tube shock mount.

Commencal listed a number of goals when it designed its 160mm 29er enduro bike, including a ride that would be compliant and efficient, while maintaining easy handling and improved dynamism. 

It's a simple but effective suspension linkage
It's a simple but effective suspension linkage

Adding support and grip would make a bike go faster, while it also wanted to optimise frame stiffness around bigger wheels and improve the finish of the frame.

Other than wheel size, the main difference between the 27.5in V4.2 and the 29in is the position of the main pivot. This has been moved rearward, which Commencal says gives less pedal kickback — this means there's a less harsh feel through the pedals, which in turn is less tiring on a long enduro stage.

As there's less kickback, and with Commencal claiming the ride is therefore more comfortable, it believes you can get away with a stiffer sprung shock, which is ideal for enduro racers. 

The suspension is a single-pivot design with a linkage actuated shock. While my test bike had a coil shock fitted, the design will work with air shocks also — Commencal says the design gives a noticeable difference in feel between the different shock types, and even between shock brands. This means riders can pick a spec that suits the riding they do — a coil for more gravity-orientated riders, or an air shock for those looking for a more dynamic ride. 

While the top tube looks similar to the Meta AM V4.2, it's a whole new tube
While the top tube looks similar to the Meta AM V4.2, it's a whole new tube

Like for like, the AM 29 is a stiffer frame than the V4.2. Commencal believes bigger wheels exert more leverage on a frame, so a stiffer frame counteracts this. It's the balance in stiffness across the rolling chassis that is important for Commencal. Too soft and the bike would feel wallowy and inefficient, while a bike that's too stiff pings from rock to rock and lacks traction on off-camber trails.

To achieve this, there is a seatstay bridge, and the stays themselves are a different shape to boost torsional stiffness. There are also larger bearings in the rocker linkage, which again helps keep things tight.

Commencal didn't share the weight of the bike — while it's easy to assume that means it's not so light (there are no carbon versions imminent either), it did say it feels it's more important to balance frame and wheel weight. A heavy frame with light wheels, or vice versa, feels odd, and being an enduro-focused 29er, the wheels are never going to be all that light.

The coil shock keeps the rear wheel glued to the ground
The coil shock keeps the rear wheel glued to the ground

Commencal Meta AM 29 geometry and frame

When it comes to shape, the Meta 29 isn't radical in any way. A Large has a 460mm reach, 432mm chainstays, a 65.5-degree head angle, 1,222mm wheelbase and a -25mm bottom-bracket drop — all very middle of the road. 

The kinked seat tube has a real seat angle of 66 degrees, but the effective seat angle is said to be steeper than the smaller wheeled V4.2. The XL gets a slightly steeper 66 degree head angle to keep the wheelbase in check, says Commencal.

Given the company's intention to improve the finish on its bike, it has worked on a few neat features for the new frame.

The cable routing has been designed to rub less around the bottom-bracket area, as well as having less influence on the rear suspension — the guide for both the rear mech and rear brake floats through the centre of the rear pivot.

Very few parts of the 29er were brought over from the 650b sibling
Very few parts of the 29er were brought over from the 650b sibling

The design around the headset is said to reduce water ingress, and Commencal is using improved seals and Enduro bearings throughout their linkage. 

There's a small mudguard near the linkage, which Commencal says reduces spray onto the main bearing. There is also a down-tube protector that allows you to mount a second water bottle or tool carrier below. 

Finally, there are new production processes in Taiwan and the use of Finish Line Teflon grease and better threadlock compounds from the factory.

The Commencal AM 29 models

Keeping with Commencal's naming protocols, the AM 29 will be offered in a number of build editions — Team, Signature and Essential, as well as a frame-only option.

The AM 29 is built for the rough and rocky tracks of the EWS
The AM 29 is built for the rough and rocky tracks of the EWS

Commencal Meta AM 29 Team Edition

  • RockShox Lyrik RC2 170mm
  • RockShox Super Deluxe RCT Coil
  • Spank Oozy 350 wheels
  • Schwalbe Magic Mary / Hans Dampf
  • SRAM Guide RE 
  • SRAM GX Eagle
  • €3,899 / $3,899

Commencal Meta AM 29 Signature Edition

  • Fox 36 Factory
  • Fox DHX2 Factory
  • E13 TRS Wheels
  • Schwalbe Magic Mary / Hans Dampf
  • Shimano XT 4-pot brakes
  • SRAM GX Eagle
  • €4,399 / $4,399

Commencal Meta AM 29 Essential Edition

  • RockShox Lyrik RC
  • RockShox Super Deluxe RCT
  • E13 TRS rims / Formula hubs
  • Schwalbe Magic Mary / Hans Dampf
  • SRAM Guide T
  • SRAM GX / NX Eagle
  • €2,999 / $2,999

Commencal Meta TR 29 Edition

As we'd hoped, Commencal will also be offering a shorter travel (130/140mm) version of the Meta 29 — the TR. BikeRadar is hoping to get hold of one as soon as possible, as they should be absolute rippers.

The bike will be offered in a Race Edition, a budget Ride Edition, frame only, and (drum roll…) a Brit Edition. This comes with a 10mm longer fork and slightly spikier tyres — designed for the steep, loamy, muddy tracks the UK is known for — we think this will be ace!

Tom Marvin

Technical Editor, Tech Hub, UK
Tom's been riding for 15 years, and has always chopped and changed bikes as soon as his budget allowed. He's most at home in the big mountains, having spent nigh on 30 weeks riding the Alps, as well as having lived a stone's throw from the Scottish Highlands for four years. Tom also enjoys racing events like the Strathpuffer and the Trans Nepal.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep and super tech or fast and flowy
  • Current Bikes: Canyon Spectral, Pivot Mach 429SL, Mondraker Vantage R +
  • Dream Bike: Transition Scout
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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