Commencal Meta Purple AM V4 – Long Term Review
It has been exactly a year since I opened a great big cardboard box from Commencal which contained my super special full-suspension bike, my first proper bike. I still remember the excitement as I brought ‘the purple one’ into the world. The elation, exhilaration and fear. Yes, fear. I was worried then that I would not be able to live up to the bike’s hardcore pedigree, to be able to use it to its full potential.
I am well aware that in the first few months I fed the purple on a diet of flat trail centres, chicken lines and fire roads. I have definitely grown into the bike since last January and I feel like I am finally beginning to give it a taste of the terrain it was built for. I have since learnt that all those who purchase a bigger bike feel this the first time round.
The design of my Meta has flattered my riding ability for over a year now. The slack head angle makes this bike incredible at descending. In comparison, when demoing both a Santa Cruz Bronson and a YT Capra I felt like my centre of gravity was significantly further forward and higher than the purple one. It definitely competes with other trail bikes on the uphills, the horizontal positioning of the rear suspension minimizes the climbing bob, but it probably isn’t the most suitable bike for long climbs (which is lucky as i try my best to avoid them!).
I debated for a while over frame sizes but eventually chose a medium. I am 5ft 5inches tall (168cm for metric fans) but at the same time I am an example of so called “reverse T-rex”. My legs are quite short, however my arms are quite long. Whilst cruelly this has kept me from pursuing my dream of being a catwalk model it also means that most of the bikes I try do not actually fit me as either I would not be able to stand over it, or my reach would be too short as I found with some ‘women’s specific’ models. As the Meta has such a slack angle, the frame allows me to stand over the bike, but it does not compromise on the reach. As I was just right smack in the middle between two sizes I decided to aim upwards and pick the medium which so far appears to have been the right decision.
The 2016 Commencal Meta V4 Purple is light for an aluminum bike. On a side note it is worth reading Max Commencal’s thoughts on low labour standards in far-eastern factories producing cheaper and cheaper carbon bikes. It will be interesting if Commencal’s current stance on carbon bikes continues over the next few years. It is still manoeuvrable for a 27.5” bike, in part this has something to do with those superwide wide special edition Spank bars. The few times that I have managed to get it off the ground confirmed that it is well balanced with a floaty feel thanks to the Rockshox Pike and Monarch.
Perhaps most importantly I have not had any major mechanical issues with the bike since I first brought it into the world. No matter how pretty or technologically advanced any new steed is, being reliable whilst out on the trails is essential. Having a year without any major issues is what all mountain bikers want at the end of the day.
That said, I have had a number of issues with the Rockshox Reverb stealth dropper, there have been times where it wouldn’t behave, where it wouldn’t return, and not just when the weather was cold but during the summer too. Luckily a warranty replacement should soon be sorting out this matter. My only Commencal-related issue has been the Ride Alpha hubs which have been fairly rubbish frankly. I’ve already had to replace the bearings on both hubs once, and it’s looking like that will need to happen again pretty soon. Whilst I appreciate that my purple one was never going to have the component spec of a Santa Cruz or a Yeti, the Ride Alpha hubs are definitely the weak point and will need to be replaced with something a little sturdier.
I have not made many adjustments to my bike in the last 12 months. Firstly, I have changed my grips from the Ride Alpha stock grips to ODI lock-ons. I also got a pair of grippy, purple Hope F20 pedals with which to cut my shins. The purple ODI grips have improved my contact and ensured those near misses with trees don’t do any damage to my bars. The Hope pedals were an obvious choice and they have kept my feet in place at all times. I admit that sometimes I just sit and stare at the beautiful machining on the pedals.
This Christmas I received a perfect present for my Commencal Meta Purple, a Hope AM/FR stem; nice, short and purple. Not only did it shorten my reach but it also lowered my position. Half an inch is perfectly enough to feel more comfortable on descents and as we all know even half an inch matters in situations like this. The final adjustment was a minor one but made a big difference; adding two bottomless tokens to my Rockshox Pike allowed me to slow down the ramp up through the travel and save the last couple of inches for the bigger hits; dropping off pavements and the like.
What am I going to change next? I think my rear hub is next on the list, perhaps predictably the superior Hope Pro4’s are calling, in purple of course. After that I want to look at whether there is a more suitable summer trail tyre than my Maxxis Minnions; which have been very grippy to date but a little heavy rolling.
There have been so many great adventures this year with my Commencal Meta V4 purple, it has been all over the UK in 2016 and not once have felt the desire for a new bike. I am looking forward to 2017 with my purple steed and I am very curious where adventures will take us!
January 16, 2017