With the Commencal Meta Power 29, you have the battery capacity and the power, but the elevated BB height perches the rider on top, rather than in the bike
Commencal has built on the success of the original Commencal Meta Power 29 by boosting the output with the new Shimano EP8 motor and expanding its range with a 630Wh battery. And with the battery now hidden inside the 6066 alloy frame, the Meta AM Power casts a very similar shadow to the analogue bike.
Commencal Meta Power 29 Essential e-bike review
Travel is similar too; both frames boasting 160mm with geometry designed around round 170mm travel suspension forks. On the entry-level Meta AM Power Essential that means a Fox 38 Performance fork. It’s big and burly, but the new Fox chassis it’s very much in keeping with the rest of the numbers on the Meta Power – the 1,282mm wheelbase making it the longest bike in test and, at 25.11kg (55.36lb), it’s also the heaviest.
Another carry over from the old world is the cutaway in the underside of the top tube that the shock sits into. This is not simply about maintaining a clean line front to back, it also maximizes standover clearance. It leaves quite a sharp edge right where you naturally reach to pick up the bike though. And even with the extended seat mast, we couldn’t slam the 175mm KS Lev dropper post all the way into the frame, so at full extension the saddle was too high of anyone under 6ft tall. Something worth considering when looking at sizing.
One complaint we’ve had with Commencal bikes in the past is clipping our heels on the wider rear end that’s needed to conceal the brake calliper inside the stays. Thankfully, with the ultra-short 160mm e13 crank arms and the wider pedal spacing associated with e-bike motors, even the biggest feet now have plenty of clearance.
Just like on Commencal’s analog bikes, the Meta Power uses a single-pivot suspension design where the upper linkage that drives the Fox DPX2 shock offers a nice controlled ramp up. In this instance, however, maybe there’s too much initial support, as there’s harshness to the ride of the Meta on longer, rougher trails. And it’s not simply the result of the smaller 2.4in rear tyre or the fact that the Commencal comes up 13mm shy of its claimed 160mm travel, as the Radon Render offered a more forgiving ride with less travel and the same rubber. Load the suspension through the pedals and the Meta tends to pivot around the rear axle, and even with the rebound fully open on the DPX2 shock it was much harder to get off the ground than the YT Decoy Shred, even though there’s less than 0.5kg separating them on the scales.
There’s nothing fancy about Commencal’s Alpha handlebars and stem, but the profile of the bar is spot on and the 50mm stem is solid. Even Commencal’s grips feel good. Yes, the reinforced 2.4in Super Gravity casing Schwalbe tyres didn’t do the Commecal any favours at the weigh-in, but out on the trail the Addix Soft Schwalbe Magic Mary up front paired to the Big Betty out back offer stacks to traction in loose conditions, and cut though slop like a knife to get to terra firma. Also the Shimano Deore 4-piston brakes deserve a special mention as they balance lever feel and power perfectly, even at times when the Meta Power can feel like a runaway train.
Every tester that rode the Commencal commented on how it felt high, so when we ran the tape measure over the Meta Power we weren’t that surprised to find a 348mm BB height, the highest in test. Thanks to the long wheelbase it doesn’t really impact stability, but it does make the bike feel more like a bull in a china shop on tighter trails that require more precision. We also weren’t surprised to find the steepest seat angle, as the Meta has a really good riding position for grinding up even the steep climbs. And while the steeper seat tube eats into the top tube length to give the illusion of a short bike when seated, it’s clear from the generous 475mm reach measurement that the size L Meta is anything but.
By upping the battery capacity to 630Wh and increasing power with the 85Nm Shimano EP8 motor, Commenal has certainly improved the quantifiable metrics on the new Meta Power Essential. The seat of the pants feel, however, isn’t so impressive. With an elevated BB height you’ve sat on top of the bike, rather than in it, and the suspension response of the shock doesn’t match the fork, so the bike is not as balanced or capable as the geometry and travel suggest. Possibly the strangest thing about the Meta though, is that it’s one of the best climbing bikes in test, even though it’s also the heaviest.