Commencal ushers in a new generation of bikes for 2009, with its first foray into carbon fibre and news of a XC/marathon full-suspension offering to join the range. Commencal launched the new line at the recent Andorra round of the World Cup, and with the barnstorming Athertons winning races left right and centre on its bikes, Commencal’s enjoying a unprecedented but well-deserved high profile at the moment. Its new range looks set to continue that trend.
If you looked at the previous Commencal range and were really critical, you’d spot a vacant space for a shorter travel XC/marathon bike based on the popular and successful Meta platform. The Super 4 plugs that gap.
Slotting in below the popular Meta 4, the Super 4 is clearly targeted at XC and all-day riders, and is built around the well-proven Contact System used across Commencal’s full-susser range. Along with the carbon fibre Skin, XC riders are well catered for in the company’s expanded range.
Two years in the making, the Super 4 is a Meta that’s been on low-carb diet for six months. The majority of the weight loss is achieved through a triple butted aluminium front triangle and getting rid of the head tube gussets, changes which shave some 300g compared to the Meta 4.
The Super 4 provides 100mm (4in) of rear wheel travel. Commencal’s popular Contact System suspension configuration is employed, but modified somewhat to reduce as much pedal bob as possible while still maintaining small-bump sensitivity. This has been achieved with a combination og a custom tuned Fox shock and a repositioned main pivot (so it sits inline with seatpost at middle ring height).
The rear triangle is a stiffer affair, with shorter asymmetric chainstays and new rocker linkages with the hourglass-shaped Diablo spacer fixed to the rocker to form a stiffer unit. The seat stays now extend to join onto the top linkage, removing the ‘connecting rod’ used on the Meta bikes, and a new mech hanger ensures an additional rise in stiffness.
The Skin has already been mentioned on Bikemagic, but now we have a few more details we can share with you about the company’s first stab into the world of carbon fibre. The design direction for this frame has been to create an all-out XC frame but with some of Commencal’s usual angle towards fun. The headangle isn’t super steep to ensure it’s as much fun on the downhills and in the singletrack as it’s at home on the climbs. Think of it as a good all-day/marathon hardtail rather than purely the reserve of the race whippets.
Commencal is keen to state that it’s not rushed headlong into the carbon market, and have spent many hours designing and prototyping this frame before being happy to slap the Commencal name on it. It’s made using a ‘tube-to-tube’ manufacturing process from Toray T600 grade carbon. Geometry is based on the aluminium Flame, and so accepts a 100mm fork.
Now we turn our attention away from lightweight XC bikes to full-fat DH rigs, and here Commencal introduces the all-new Supreme DH and Supreme. Both bikes have been “completely re-engineered”, now boasting an increase in suspension travel, a lower centre of gravity and generally a more compact frame. In fact, they only bare a fleeting similarity to the current outgoing bikes.
The current Supreme DH has been around since 2004, and in that time Commencal has been getting plenty of feedback from the likes of the Athertons, so it seemed timely to go new. First up, Commencal wanted to lower the centre of gravity of the frame, so it’s condensed the Contact System and mounted the shock to the down tube, rather than the top tube.
The rockers and connecting rods are forged from 7005 aluminium and anodised and the main pivot has been lowered (sitting inline with a 38-tooth chainring) to reduce pedal bob. Travel goes up from 7in (180mm) to 8in (200mm). Shock length is up too, to 9.5in (240mm), allowing a reduction in the leverage ratio and a softer spring. Out back the adjustable wheelbase remains and a three-position disc brake mount is added to allow customisation of the way the bike rides under braking.
Head angle is still adjustable but Commencal haslopped half a degree off the starting point to 64°. There’s also 2cm of the top tube length and lowered it by the same amount. The bottom bracket width grows from 68mm to 83mm. An all-new aluminium tubeset brings the frame weight into the 4.5kg (9.9lbs) region.
Replacing the Mini DH, the Supreme was co-developed with the Supreme DH, and shares many of the same changes. A lower centre of gravity, updated Contact System and lower and shorter top tube are all in evidence, but Commencal is keen to distance the Supreme from the race-orientated Supreme DH.
The main difference is that the rear travel is 160mm (6.3in) and it retains a steeper head angle (67° from 67.5°), differences that make it more suited to blasting the local woods, bike parks and the odd trip to the Alps than competing on the World Cup circuit. Shorter too are the chainstays, 4mm has been removed to increase the bikes handling and the seat tube is 35mm lower on the S/M frames and 50mm on the L/XL sizes.
That’s quite a lot of changes to digest and sign enough that the Commencal guys have been busy behind the factory doors. Despite that, they still found time to go over all the other bikes in the range, including the Meta 55.
It’s less of case of redesign and more about subtle tweaking, with the 140mm (5.5in) Meta 55 receiving a new stiffer swingarm due to a new fabrication process in its hydroformed construction. A new hydroformed top tube is more sloped than the outgoing Meta 55 and gone is the steep curved junction to the seat tube for a smoother affair. Rocker plates and connecting rod linkage are forged from 7005 aluminium and anodised.
Commencal took the decision to utilise the skill and experience of BOS Engineering (more commonly found working with Nicolas Vouilloz on a range of forks) to tailor the suspension action, delivering a more a ride that’s more sensitive to small bumps and is more progressive and handles big impacts better.
The choice of Remy Absalon when he’s tackling such events as the Mega Avalanche, the Meta 6 gets similarly subtle tweaks as received by the Meta 55. The top tube is more sloped than last year and a new hydro-formed top tube is noticeable, as are the redesigned gussets atop the top tube and on the underside of the down tube at the head tube junction.
A longer stroke shock means the Meta 6 can use a softer spring with the result increased grip from the rear tyre and less heat build-up in the shock on long descents. One detail that is evidence of the bikes intended use is the inclusion of cable guides for a telescopic seatpost with a remote handlebar mounted adjuster.
If you think there’s any more you need to know after all that lot, head over to www.commencal.co.uk and www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk.