Has Commençal created the ultimate hardtail? Nine months’ gestation and Roo reveals all
- 650b enduro hardtail that’s actually available in XL!
- Slack 65.3° head angle with 150mm RockShox Revelation fork
- Great spec for the money
- Order online and have it shipped to your door
What attracted you to the Meta HT AM Race 650b?
The Meta had promising vital stats and a very attractive price when bought directly from the Commençal Store.
Did you change anything straightaway?
I was determined to keep the bike in standard trim for as long as possible, to really test out the original spec, so there were no immediate changes. But over the course of the test I relented and changed the Formula brakes (too inconsistent), the tyres (too skinny), and the stem and handlebar (too long and too narrow). All of which helped transform the Commençal from a good hardtail into a great one.
Was the bike easy to set up?
With a hardtail, it’s more critical to get the fork set up correctly than on a full-suss bike. Thankfully, I got on really well with the RockShox Revelation and after a bit of tweaking with air pressure it proved set and forget.
The 2.25in Maxxis Ardent tyre on the rear was a bit narrow and I found it difficult to strike a balance between grip, bump absorption and pinch-puncture resistance.
How did it ride?
Being perfectly honest, I didn’t enjoy my first rides on the Meta HT. I could tell there was a good bike lurking under the neon yellow paint, but I was struggling to find it. In the end it took three key changes to release that untapped potential.
First was to swap the Formula CR3 brakes, as I couldn’t get used to the binary action and regularly found myself accidentally braking when simply covering the levers. Stability is paramount on a hardtail and the second change was to fit a wider bar and shorter stem to improve control.
The final change was where the rubber meets the road. Again the stock Maxxis Ardent tyres weren’t bad, but fitting beefier tyres improved control and comfort.
Even with the changes it wasn’t all rosy. From the very first ride I felt that the rear end of the bike was a bit too harsh, and even with the bigger tyres that sensation remained. Don’t get me wrong, the sizing and geometry of the frame are right up there, I just feel it needs a bit of comfort engineered into the stays.
Did anything break or wear out?
From the off, the Formula brakes proved troublesome. Even when first assembling the bike I couldn’t stop the rear brake from rubbing. Then on the first ride, both brakes started rubbing to the point they’d lock the wheels even when I was pushing the bike. Once serviced by UK distributor Silverfish the Formula CR3s worked far better but even the lightest touch would lock the wheels.
If you could change one thing about your longtermer what would it be?
That’s easy! The Formula brakes would come straight off. However, if you like snappy brakes, some medium compound 2.4in tyres with beefy sidewalls would make the biggest difference.
Would you buy this bike?
No… I’d buy the 2016 model instead. Yes the price has crept up to £1,400 but it now comes with a RockShox Pike fork, 1X drivetrain and SRAM DB5 brakes.