It is said that a cyclist’s skill largely depends on the place where they were born. If that’s the case, then it’s no wonder that the best enduro racers in the world are from the mountainous region of Vosges, located in eastern France. For example, the cyclist from the Commencal team and multiple winner of the Megavalanche downhill marathon, Rémy Absalon, his equally talented brother and Olympic gold medalist, Julien, as well as the well-known Jérôme Clementz.
The Vosges are literally dotted with steep slopes and technically challenging single tracks, not to mention the Lac Blanc Bike Park, making it the perfect place to launch the new Commencal lineup.
The new bikes are equipped with the Contact System EVO suspension, which first appeared on the downhill model Supreme V3, then transitioned to the Meta AM, and subsequently to other Commencal bike series. This suspension is optimized to work with a 2×10 transmission and has only one pivot point, which is strategically positioned above and slightly forward of the bottom bracket.
The shock absorber is located at the bottom of the frame, “floating” between the linkage mechanism and the lower rear shock mounts. All this means that the shock absorber can be easily adjusted, taking into account that different bikes require different settings. According to Commencal representatives, this design also reduces stress on the frame tubes, allowing for the use of thinner and lighter materials.
The travel of the rear shock is 120mm, so an inexperienced cyclist may mistakenly think that the Meta SL is without a doubt a cross-country model. But that’s not entirely true. The rear wheel is equipped with a Maxle axle and 180mm brakes with Post Mount attachment. In addition, the Meta SL frame is made of triple-thickened 6066 aluminum alloy tubes. They are perfect for routing brake hydraulic lines and gear shift cables inside them.
The Meta SL is a bike with all the modern bells and whistles. Here you have an integrated (and compatible with Angleset) tapered headset, a Press Fit bottom bracket with ISCG05 tabs, and a Direct Mount front derailleur. Thanks to the significantly lowered top tube and the undeniable trend of angles at 68° (at the head tube) and 73.5° (at the seat tube), even on large frames, the standover height is relatively low.
Meta SL is exceptionally stable on turns. To such an extent that it seems as if Meta SL is a truly living creature with a very playful character. The thing is, the Fox Float shock absorber with a size of 190x50mm, thanks to its low damping coefficient, provides more even damping.
Meta SL is a lively, active, but not very agile bike. Moreover, the pedal response is not as good as one would like. In my opinion, when climbing a steep hill, Meta SL slightly flexes along the frame, but the front part still handles any ascent well (of course, one that can be ridden). Over time, I wanted to find out what it’s like to ride Meta SL with a larger frame size. It turned out that a larger bike is too big for people over 170 cm tall, while the M size is just right. In general, to each their own.
However, when you rush down the mountain on the bike, you immediately feel that it responds instantly to any of your movements. The bike provides sufficient response from a more linear than usual suspension design… what else can you expect from Commencal? Surprisingly, there is no noticeable shaking at the rear – the shock absorber accurately tracks every bump on a rough forest road.
According to Nico Menard, a member of the R&D team, Meta SL was created as a bright and lively bike for short descents, not a mundane machine with pedals for covering a couple of dozen kilometers. Nico received applause – his bike satire hit the mark, characterizing the explosive and fun nature of the new Commencal bike. Now it’s time for us to sum up. Meta SL is perfect for an exciting race on a forest trail full of obstacles, it can handle a much more challenging landscape than you might think from the photos you see in the appendix to this article.
Prices and availability
Fully equipped bicycles of the Meta SL 2013 range appeared on sale, according to some data, in early September of last year. The price for them varies from 145,420 rubles for the most expensive (SL1) to 83,290 rubles for the cheapest (SL4).