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Commencal El Camino 3 29 review £599

Posted 11 months ago

Commencal El Camino 3 29 hardtail of the year

The Commencal's riding position and handling are big plus points

The Commencal El Camino 3 29 certainly stands out from the crowd. And it’s not just the appearance that’s different: its attitude sets it apart too. With slacker geometry and more stable handing, it makes everything seem easy. Carving corners, jumping off roots and blasting descents, it never failed to put a smile on our faces. It combines the Trek 4500 Disc’s engaging handling and sensation of speed with the benefits of bigger wheels. OK, so the Kenda tyres with their low-profile and closely spaced knobs are all but useless in mud, but they are perfect for blasting round typical trail centre surfaces.

The contact points couldn’t have been better if we’d hand picked them ourselves. A wide handlebar offers optimum steering control, while soft, ribbed grips and a comfy saddle are the icing on the cake. Even the RST fork moves, when you hit something hard enough. The saddle goes all they way down, letting you really cut loose on the descents.

All in all, the Commencal El Camino 3 29 is a heady cocktail of good geometry, a half-decent fork and a great riding position, which gives a natural high every time. However, it isn’t faultless. The chainrings on the budget crankset are riveted on, so once one wears out, you’ll have to bin the entire thing rather than simply replacing the worn ring. Factor in the eight-speed SRAM gears with their super-heavy shift action and the lack of adjustment on the Tektro brakes, and much as we loved how the El Camino rode, it really needs a better drivetrain to put it on a par with the Lapierre Raid 329.

Highs: Great riding position and perfect handling
Lows: Heavy action of SRAM’s eight-speed gears

MBR Rating: 7

Specification
Frame: Aluminium
Fork: RST Blaze ML 100mm
Wheels: Commençal hubs, Jalco rims, Kenda Small Block 8 tyres
Drivetrain: Lasco riveted chainset, SRAM X4 8-speed shifters, X4 r-mech, Shimano Alivio f-mech
Brakes: Tektro HDC300
Weight: 14.60kg (32.18lb)
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Size tested: L
Contact: decade-europe.com

This review appeared as part of MBR’s Hardtail of the Year test in June 2013‘s issue.

On test in our Hardtail of the Year competition:

£600 category
Commencal El Camino 3 29
Fuji Nevada 1.5
KTM Ultra Fun
Lapierre Raid 329
Saracen Mantra Pro
Specialized Rockhopper
Trek 4500 Disc
VooDoo Bizango 29er 

£1000 category
Cannondale Trail SL 29er 2
Canyon Yellowstone AL 6.9
Cube LTD Pro
Giant Talon 29er 1
Marin Palisades Trail 29er
Merida Big Nine TFS 900
Scott Scale 960
Pinnacle Ramin 3

Women’s specific
Boardman Fi MTB Comp
Scott Contessa Scale 920
Specialized Myka Elite Disc
Trek Cali S

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