Field test: the Commencal Meta SX is a Bruiser
Commencal Meta SX
Lyrics by Alicia Leggett; photography by Dave Trumpore
This updated Meta has the reach reduced by a centimeter from the previous version, but that centimeter is added to the chainstays to lengthen the rear, despite the switch to a 27.5 “rear wheel. Commencal was ahead on trend when its downhill riders started winning races on mule setups, but this is the first time the Andorran brand has ventured into a trail or enduro bike with mismatched wheel sizes .Yet with updated geometry and an almost refined look, it’s clear that Commencal means business here.
• Travel: 160 mm at the rear / 170 mm at the fork
• Aluminum frame
• Wheel size: Mixed
• 63.6º to 64.0º head angle
• Seat tube angle of 78.1º to 78.5º
• 448mm chainstays
• Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
• Weight: 35.9 lbs / 16.3 kg
• Price: $5,800 as tested, $3,200 – $6,500
The Meta SX sports a flip chip, which gives riders the option to run the head angle between 64º and 63.6º, and Commencal says the kinematics have been changed to make the bike more versatile and nimble than its predecessor, the Meta AM 29. Otherwise, the frame details are similar to what we’ve seen on Commencal’s other bikes: it’s aluminum, the cables are routed internally through ports that keep dirt out. enter and prevent the case from rattling, there are ISCG-05 tabs and the frame is protected by rubber padding.
The Meta SX is available in a range of build options, from the most basic “Essential” build to the fanciest “Signature” kit. All versions are under $6,500, and while that’s a lot of money, it’s almost a bargain in today’s bike market. Thanks to worldwide supply chain issues, Commencal also offers an “à la carte” configuration, allowing customers to select parts to build complete or incomplete bikes to order based on what Commencal has in stock. . Our test bike had similar parts to the “Team” build kit with only minor differences, and it would cost US$5,800 if purchased using the A La Carte tool.
The Commencal Meta SX is a slow and steady climber. It feels efficient enough, with very little sway or sag under the pedals, but it’s hard to escape the weight (35.9lbs/16.3kg) and length (1286mm wheelbase) of the biking, and that’s just a lot of biking to get up the hill, especially around the corners.
It is by no means a particularly bad climber. In fact, we were all impressed with its traction and climbing ability, although the weight made us less enthusiastic about sprinting uphill. The bike is fairly balanced over roots and rocks, making it easy to turn technical points, and the steep seat tube angle helped us stand up on the front of the bike to keep the front wheel from wandering. ahead of us due to the slack head angle. With the long rear end, the front of the bike was never prone to lifting and it was easy to transfer power directly into the rear wheel.
It’s a bike made for climbing to descend, so don’t expect to set any uphill speed records on this one, but it will make the climb comfortable if you don’t rush.
It rained heavily for most of the testing period, so each bike’s ability to stick to wet roots and slippery ground became increasingly important. The Meta SX has impressive traction on off-camber sections, which I attribute to its stability and ability to drive momentum in a straight line. (Of course, that means fast cornering isn’t its specialty.) It’s one of those bikes that loves rough terrain and feels best when it’s pointing into something gnarly.
The centered body position on the way up extends downhill, with the long rear end balancing out the slack front end of the bike. Sometimes it was difficult to manage both ends of the bike at once – while the reach is not this long, slack head angle and fairly long chainstays can feel like a lot to handle. That feeling was less apparent at higher speeds and on trails where the bike felt more in its element: the steep, steep stuff. There’s this flip chip that can be used to speed up handling with a touch, but that’s more of a small attitude adjustment than a big transformation.
The Meta SX would make a great bike park platform, as the sturdy bike would almost certainly hold up well over time and the stable, cushioned ride feels great on thick trails and steep, rocky tech. It’s also a fair option for someone who wants to race enduro, as long as climbing and agility are not priorities, and would work best for riders who live near steep, uneven terrain.