Commençal dubs its suspension design the ‘Contact System’ where all of its suspension bikes are single pivots with linkage-actuated shocks. By introducing a linkage, Commençal has increased freedom of shock position but, more importantly, by manipulating the links it can tune the compression ratio to suit the intended use of the bike and the type of shock used. And you don’t have to ride Commençal very far to notice that the suspension is excellent.
While the Meta 5.5l is the one bike here that may have benefitted for a Talas fork, as it has by far the slackest head angle, we feel that Commençal has made the correct choice with the regular 32 Float because its performance better matches the rear suspension.
The only chink in the Commençal’s armour is its wheels. Spoke tension wasn’t great and we know from experience that the hub bearings tend to wear quickly and the freehub body isn’t that reliable. That said, the bearings are cartridge units so they are easy enough to replace. And, while it’s not much consolation if you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere, if the freehub body goes within the first two years it will be covered under warranty.
As standard the Meta 5.5l come with 10mm slotted rear dropouts, but 12mm bolt-through dropouts are also supplied with the bike.
Finally 70mm stems rule on trail bikes and the Maxxis 2.1in High Rollers need a special mention as they are super fast rolling and offer amazing cornering grip for such a skinny tyre.
Because the Commençal has a slack head angle, long wheelbase and ultra-low bottom bracket height, it’s very stable at speed. Weight distribution between the wheels is also excellent and you never feel that one tyre is going to breakaway before the other. The suspension is about as good as it gets from an air shock, and while the 5.5 is no slouch on the ups, it is important to get the sag setting right or you’ll be constantly clipping your pedals. On the downs experience and timing allow you to use the low bottom bracket to your advantage but, if you find that you’re struggling with it, switching to higher profile tyres will eliminate the problem. The Meta 5.5.l brings the sensation of alpine speed to any trail with the slightest downward gradient and it was noticeable how easily the Commençal pulled away from the Spesh in steep, rough terrain, where its extra travel and slacker angles really shine.
If you are coming down in travel, looking for a more versatile ride, the Commençal Meta 5.51 is the perfect bike. The geometry is predictable without being sluggish, and it has a short stem and full-width bar straight out of the box. Even the tread pattern on the Maxxis High Roller tyres will be familiar, although the casing may be narrower than you are used to. In a nutshell, if you want a lightweight bike that covers a lot of ground, literally and metaphorically, the Meta 5.5.l is right up there with the Cove Hustler and Orange 5, albeit at a snip of the price.
MBR RATING: 10/10