RockShox Revelation fork blunts the bike’s underlying potential
Commençal puts a lot of effort into the look and style of its bikes and the Commencal Meta TR 29 has a great presence on the trail. Note: price is €2,699 and UK price may vary according to exchange rate.
Last year, we tested Commençal’s top-end Meta Trail 29 British Edition. This year, with all of the changes to the format of our Trail Bike of the Year test, we have had to shuffle down Commençal’s pecking order to the entry-level Meta TR 29 Ride. It still uses the same triple-butted aluminium frameset with 130mm travel as the top-end bike, but gets a more affordable build kit. And it’s worth noting that even though it’s the cheapest bike on test by quite some margin, it’s only 500g heavier than the full-carbon YT Jeffsy 29 CF Comp.
It’s also worth noting that while the flagship model is available in four sizes, the Meta TR 29 Ride is limited to three, the small size being eliminated from the line. On the 2019 bike, several testers clipped their heels on the swingarm, and the rear end on the 2020 version is every bit as wide. Wide enough for us to also catch our calf muscles and knee pads on the top of the seatstays and rocker link.
The 2020 Meta TR 29 Ride gets a RockShox Revelation RC suspension fork. Travel remains the same at 150mm, so the geometry of the bike doesn’t change, even with the switch in suspension components. Obviously there’s a difference in stiffness and steering precision between the Revelation RC and the Fox 36 Factory on the top-end bike, but what’s most marked is the reduction in performance of the Motion Control damper in the RockShox – it’s just nothing like as sophisticated as the Grip2 unit in the Fox fork and feels harsh on square-edge hits.
Which is a real shame, because last year we’d compensate for the lack of rear travel on the Meta by riding more on the fork, but this isn’t something we could do as readily on the entry-level bike. If anything, the RockShox fork encourages you to sit back more, rather than lean into it, which just highlights how readily the Meta gives up its 130mm rear travel. In fact, we’re really scratching our heads as to why Commençal fitted the Revelation RC over a Yari, because that fork has a softer initial touch to the damping and is way more in keeping with the overall attitude of this bike.
Compared to all the juicy stuff on the British Edition, the Meta TR 29 Ride gets pretty basic kit. This means you only get the two-piston SRAM Level T disc brakes, a bottom-end GX and NX Eagle drivetrain and the Addix (grey) Performance Schwalbe Magic Mary and Hans Dampf tyres.
Still, the SRAM shifting is precise and it’s also quiet compared to the Shimano drivetrain on the Radon Slide Trail 9.0. And while the Schwalbe tyres are meaty – offering some cushioning – the compound is pretty hard, so they tend to ping around on roots and don’t encourage you to crank the bike over in turns.
Our big gripe with the spec though, is the KS dropper post – it still pulls up when you lift the bike onto an uplift trailer or workstand, and we can’t believe KS hasn’t sorted this problem because it’s been on-going for several years now.
Commençal puts a lot of effort into the look and style of its bikes and the Commencal Meta TR 29 has a great presence on the trail. It doesn’t have the swagger of the top-end Meta when you start to ride aggressively though. Sure, it’s pacey and you never feel like you are being held back, but hitting rough sections at speed, we’d often bottom out the shock, as there just isn’t enough ramp-up. We also found ourselves having to deathgrip the handlebar to keep the fork on line. Yes, the alloy frame has a nice feel in terms of flex and damping, but the RockShox Revelation RC fork and hard-compound Schwalbe tyres are just not up to the task when you start pushing the limits, which is exactly what the progressive geometry and generous sizing on the Meta TR encourage you to do.
Historically, Commencal’s focus has been on hard-riding bikes. Despite lacking in rear travel, this ethos shone through when we tested the British Edition Meta 29 last year. It seems to have deserted the lower-priced TR 29 Ride in this test, though. Yes, it has similar geometry and travel, but we feel the RockShox Revelation fork blunts the bike’s underlying potential. Being the cheapest bike in test, a Charger 2.1 damper for the fork and better tyres are easily within reach. With these upgrades, the Commençal would be given the tools to shine.