Saturday, February 10, 2007

Commencal Meta 5.5 Numero 1

Do you know where Andorra is?

Let's review the stats around Andorra...
Very small country in Europe between France and Spain - in the Pyrenees.
Highest Life expectancy in the world
Incredible skiing
Haven for the rich (No Taxes)
Only 33% of the residents are citizens (this is a way cool place to be, and people know it)

Now that you know a little more about Andorra, maybe Commencal will make a little more sense. Little company that makes kick ass bikes, from little country known for insane skiing and lifestyle sports.

This little boutique bike maker has been creating some of the best designs ever made. Remember Nico's Bikes? Sunn? Yea, everyone wanted one - but no one could get one. Nico always said the quality of his suspension was far superior to anyone elses, and after watching him win multiple world cup's on 3 inches less suspension that anyone else - I believe him.

Commencal didn't exist then, but it's the same designers who designed those bikes that are in charge of this company's design team. I took delivery of a 2007 Meta 5.5 numero 1 in October of 06, and can am posting a review for all to read.

So, down to the nitty gritty! the Spec's (highlights)

Do you know where Andorra is?
Formula Oro Brakes
Fox Float 32 140RL
Fox RP2
X0, X9
Race Face Deus
Modified Single Pivot Design (with extremely low leverage ratio)

The Ride
It's a 5" bike... but no matter how long you ride this thing, you'll never really know how much travel it has. Before I get into the climbing and efficiencies - here's some relevant info. When riding this bike, you can actually feel the dampening system from the shock with every pedal stroke. This sounds like a knock, but I'll get back to that. On most bikes, you can tell that the damping is slower or faster, but on this bike - you can actually feel the fluid moving through the valves of the shock. I couldn't figure it out for a long time, but now I'm convinced. This happens through a combination of the crazy low leverage ratio (right around 2:1) and the fact that you can't turn off the Pro Pedal completely. The extremely low leverage ratio enables the rear shock's dampening system to work rather then react. Your tuning mentally will change after owning this bike - I've found that the bike not only descends, but climbs better with the pro pedal setting turned off. There's little to no bob... no matter what the air pressure. It's pretty crazy... single pivot bump performance with no bob....

Ok - back to the knock... Possibly my only complaint (this may be more of a curiosity) is the rear shock. You have 3 settings on this rear shock, the 1st is supposed to turn off the Pro Pedal completely. Unfortunately - it never turns off completely. In Fox's defense - I'm sure that you'd never know this on another bike. The change in feel is so big, that it feel like a different bike. I'd really like to try riding this bike with NO Pro Pedal and minimal dampening. I view this as the best way to test a suspension design - climbing and descending without dampening is an interesting experience.

It's the weirdest thing ever... it not only climbs better than my old Razorback (coveted by racers for many years), but it bobs less than my K2 Razorback. The Commencal feels like it has only slightly more travel than the Razorback on climbs. The travel is avalible during the climbs, so technical and rocky climbs become infinitly more tame. Descending is an incredible experience. The bike's 68 degree head tube angle helps the bike to feel alive during the descents. Seriously - it's an insane descent. Voiding big drops, big jumps, and stupid technical riding, I can descend on my Commencal as fast as my DH bike. I'd be willing to put some cash down on my Keystone DH trail times. None of the trails there are super technical, but are really rocky at times.

Comparison's? well... I've recently ridden a 5 point, and an SX Trail. Here goes..
5 Point - these are great, truely wonderful to ride. It's pretty obvious that these are more XC oriented (in comparison to the All Mountain Commencal). The bike works well, but I'd say that it feels like a 5 inch bike - you'll never feel like you're own something with more travel. And you feel like it's 5 inched going up the hill as well as down. I feel that the Commencal's suspension is more dynamic - and the feel changes with the terrain.
SX Trail - Super fun!!! The Commencal and SX feel the same on technical terrain and descents. The SX won't climb nearly as well - but the SX series is a ton of fun going down, and on flow-y trails.

If you were going to define the perfect Super D or All Mountain Bike - This would be it.
I guess it's pretty obvious that I'm now obsessed - but that's ok too.

Today's word's of wisdom -
What's important out of a bike?


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