While most enduro bikes have piling on the travel and expanding their carbon tubes, Commencal's Meta downsizes on everything except performance.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Commencal Meta V5 Race


  • • Suspension has excellent grip and support
  • • No frame harshness
  • • Agile and playful
  • • Character all of its own
  • • Good climbing performance


  • • Heavy
  • • Can be a handful on really long, rough tracks
  • • Some riders might find it too flexy
  • • Lack of suspension set-up advice
  • • Imbalance of tyre grip
  • • Standard bottle and cage doesn’t fit


I tested the latest Commencal Meta V5 Race, and it was unlike any other enduro bike I’ve ridden recently


Price as reviewed:

£4,583.33 (in €)

Mention the name Meta to any veteran mountain biker and it will evoke fond memories. Personally speaking, I had a Commencal Meta SX back in around 2007, and a Meta longtermer in 2010, and I loved both of them. So pulling the latest Meta V5 Race out of the box sparked a nostalgic trip down memory lane before I’d even swung a leg over the radically sloping top tube. So what’s changed in the last 15 years in the pursuit of the ultimate enduro bike performance? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

The Commencal Meta V5 Race is a handsome steed, with a breadstick-thin down tube that flies in the face of puffed-up modern designs.

Commencal Meta V5 Race Need to know

  • 150mm travel enduro bike with 160mm fork
  • Alloy 6066 frame runs 29in wheels front and rear – SX model gets 27.5in rear wheel
  • VCS twin-link suspension design drives RockShox Super Deluxe Coil shock
  • Four frame sizes
  • In the UK, choose from two models with all fees and shipping included. The Meta V5 Ohlins at £5,700 and the Meta V5 Ride for £3,600
Commencal Meta V5 Race

A scalloped underside to the top tube helps increase space inside the front triangle – although not enough to fit a conventional bottle and cage.

Frame and geometry

From humble beginnings as a trail bike, Commencal is now pitching the Meta against the best enduro bikes on the market, despite being shy of travel compared to the likes of the Nukeproof Giga, Pivot Firebird, Trek Slash, Santa Cruz Nomad and many other popular rivals. However, if you crave more travel, Commencal offers the SX version, which adds 10mm of travel front and rear, along with a 27.5in rear wheel. It achieves that extra travel with a longer stroke shock.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

A hunk of a head tube comes with the option to route the cables through the headset (boo), or ports on the down tube (yay).

The new Meta V5 also bucks the trend by sticking solely to aluminium as a frame material – there is no carbon option. In that sense it aligns completely with the other models in the Commencal line-up.

Gone is the old single-pivot swingarm with linkage-driven shock of my old bikes, replaced by the latest multi-link Virtual Contact System design. Both the short links rotate (mostly) in the same direction, similar to Giant’s Maestro design or DW-Link, and are secured to the frame with stout bearings and locking collet axles.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

Commencal’s twin-link VCS suspension layout is neatly hidden by the triangulated swingarm.

With the twin links mostly hidden from view by the swingarm uprights, and an especially willowy front triangle, the Meta V5 ploughs a very different furrow to most of its competitors, where swollen and bloated down tubes dominate the aesthetic. The only areas where the Meta V5 has bulked-up is at the head tube and the seat mast, although given the anorexic frame, it was a surprise to occasionally brush my heels and ankles against the seatstays when pedalling.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

There’s a wide stance to the upper link, which does make its presence felt occasionally when pedalling.

Commencal has added a flip-chip at the shock link, where rotating the offset hardware gives 0.4º of head angle and seat angle adjustment, while changing the (surprisingly press-fit) bottom bracket height by 6mm. Even in the relaxed setting, the Meta is not particularly slack though. At 64º, it’s on the conservative side compared to the likes of the Canyon Torque and Nukeproof Giga. The same can be said of the sizing, which tops out at 500mm on the XL, with my size large test bike measuring 475mm. Factor in the chamfered headset cover and the maximum reach is actually about 5mm shorter, and the stack about 5mm higher, so the Meta feels shorter than the numbers suggest. Particularly when sitting down, due to the very steep seat angle, which I measured at 78.5º at my saddle height (720mm).

Commencal Meta V5 Race

That bottle cage recess is specifically designed for a Fidlock system and won’t work with anything else. At £30, that’s an expensive drink if you don’t have one already.

With such a slinky down tube, internal storage is out of the question, but Commencal has added a tool mount below the top tube, and a bottle cage mount on the down tube. This is mounted about 20mm too high to run a conventional bottle and cage. Instead you have to invest in a Fidlock system (and mount it upside down), which is not a massive issue, but it does mean you’re locked into a specific (and expensive) system, when most riders will already have bottles and cages kicking around.

Under the down tube is a frame protection pad, along with an optional tailgate shuttle pad in the box, while the driveside chainstay and seatstay are comprehensively protected by moulded rubber guards. It’s also great to see Commencal ship the Meta with the cables entering the frame through ports on the down tube, while offering the ability to route them through the headset if you prefer.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

The RockShox Lyrik fork up front feels like a great match for the coil shock and the soft frame feel.


This Meta V5 Race comes with the curious combination of a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate up front, and RockShox Super Deluxe coil shock out back. While the equivalent SX model gets an air shock and Zeb fork. Given that this is the enduro race version, rather than the MX-wheel bike park shredder, I would have expected the air shock on the 29er and the coil shock on the SX.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

Flip clip has a minimal effect on geometry, but it’s there if you want it.

Spring rates are size specific, with the large coming with a 450lb spring. Each size goes up or down 50lbs, with the small getting a 350lb and the XL a 500lb. As with all coil shocks, measuring the sag is a pain, despite the sag gradients printed on the shock shaft. For my 77kg weight, the 450 spring gave 28% sag at the shock. I couldn’t find any set-up guides on the Commencal website, or the user manual, so you’re on your own when it comes to suspension adjustment. It’s an area where I think the brand could improve, particularly as Commencal’s direct-sales model means customers can’t simply ask for advice from their local dealer.

On the RockShox Super Deluxe shock is rebound, high-speed and low-speed compression, and hydraulic bottom-out adjustment. All the adjustments are easy to make on the trail, either by hand, or by removing the rebound knob and using the hex key on the end. And, unlike some shocks, the range is usable and accessible without having to count multiple clicks.

It’s a similar story with the Lyrik fork, which has intuitive high and low-speed compression controls, along with rebound adjustment and air volume. With 35mm stanchions, it might seem undernourished compared to the latest crop of 38mm behemoths, but it’s well within the Lyrik’s intended travel and use bracket, and seems to be a more natural match for the slender frame.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

The chunky TRP DH-R Evo brakes have a really light action and oodles of power.


With so many bikes coming through our doors with wall-to-wall SRAM or Shimano specs, it’s great to see Commencal stray from the path a little with the spec on the Meta V5 Race. Most notably the TRP DH-R Evo brakes are not something I’ve tried before, but they proved to have plenty of power and consistent, fade-free performance. They do feel a little grabby at first, especially compared to a SRAM Code, but it doesn’t take too long to adapt. One issue with them is that the SRAM shifter and KS remote don’t mesh that nicely with the TRP lever clamps, so we had to compromise slightly on cockpit ergonomics.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

A MaxxGrip compound Maxxis tyre up front is enduro-appropriate, but there’s a yawning gap in grip compared to the dual compound rubber out back.

Another relative rarity are the Crankbrothers Synthesis Alloy Enduro wheels. These are tuned with different spoke counts, spoke buttings, and rim widths to provide more compliance at the front to maximise grip and reduce spiky deflections, while the rear is stiffer for stability at speed and tracking.

Commencal has shod them with dependable Maxxis DHR II tyres, choosing relatively light EXO casings, with a dual compound rear tyre and sticky 3C MaxxGrip up front. While I understand the choice of compound up front, it does make – what is already a heavy bike – sluggish to pedal around. Furthermore, the discrepancy between front and rear grip was difficult to balance, particularly in wet conditions. The front end would stick tenaciously, while the rear wheel would be kicking left and right like a rodeo mustang.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

Interlocking stem spacers are always a pain as it makes adjusting stem height more difficult. The tall headset top cap shortens the effective reach and raises the effective stack.

The drivetrain on the Meta Race is proven SRAM GX mechanical, Commencal fits size-specific handlebars across the size range – with the medium and large running 780mm units – and I also appreciated the choice of ODI’s soft Longneck grips; another throwback to past good times.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

The Meta is shorter travel than most modern enduro bikes, and longer travel than most modern trail bikes, and with a distinctive frame feel, it stands out from the crowd.


Is this really an enduro bike? That was the question I kept asking myself during my first ride  on the Meta. It’s not the longest or slackest bike on the market, and it’s short on travel compared to many enduro race bikes. It’s also a full 29er, when most bikes fitted with a coil shock also tend to come with mixed wheels. So it didn’t really fit any of the usual pigeonholes. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t warm to it. In fact, it offers a distinctive ride that separates it from many of its rivals, and one that has plenty of merits.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

Climbing performance is exemplary, even with the active coil shock in the open setting.


If it wasn’t for the slow-rolling front tyre, the Meta would be a rapid climber. There’s certainly plenty of stability in the suspension, so seated climbing – centred over the BB thanks to the steep seat angle – is almost swan-like in its serenity. I expected there to be some mush from the coil shock, but there was none, even without reaching down and flicking the compression switch. Actually I preferred climbing without the platform engaged as there was better harmony front to back, but it’s there if you want it on smooth road climbs. The VCS also delivered plenty of traction where grip was compromised. So while I was fighting the weight of the bike and the drag of the front tyre, the Meta didn’t squander my energy through the suspension.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

The Meta is not a stretched-out enduro sled, but the fluid suspension makes it plenty capable on the downs.


On the first descents I found myself clipping pedals on the pedally bits and blowing through the travel on rougher sections. It almost felt like there was a lack of support in the system, which went against my experience on the climbs, and counter to the usual characteristics of a coil shock. After digging around, I noticed that the Hydraulic Bottom Out (HBO) was wide open. A quarter turn of the hex adjuster was all that was needed to give me maximum bottom-out resistance, and this simple tweak transformed the performance. No longer did the Meta feel like it was collapsing off flat drops, and unwanted pedal strikes seemed to evaporate.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

A faster rolling tyre would conserve energy for trail riding: A softer compound rear tyre would improve grip and confidence on greasy enduro tracks.

At this point my frustrations faded away and I started to revel in the seamless inflection between compression and extension that a well-tuned coil shock provides. Where chopped-up ground blends into a smooth batter under the back end’s buttery churn. It’s a joyful sensation that even the best air shocks never quite reproduce.

Commencal Meta V5 Race

The coil shock works overtime to let you relax.

And so the praise continues… The RockShox Lyrik felt like a great match for the shock, with what seemed like a more supple, low-friction chassis, and free-flowing damping that gave high levels of grip and confidence in the front end. While the smaller diameter legs mirrored the flex response of the back end when traversing off-camber sections or hitting oblique roots at pace.

Even with the 29in rear wheel, the Meta responded rapidly to changes of direction, and I didn’t get tangled up with the tyre getting off the back on drops. It was poppy and playful on jump trails; quiet and planted on rough enduro tracks.


Commencal is not a brand that follows the herd. It works entirely in aluminium, while 99% of its rivals see carbon as the ultimate frame material. It shuns oversize tubes in favour of slender frame elements. It goes to great lengths to tune suspension performance and frame flex response with its highly successful race teams. And with the Meta, it turns its back on adding travel as a shortcut to enduro speed. On paper, those decisions seem misguided, but from the saddle they make perfect sense. From the suspension performance to the flex response, everything gels together to make a bike that not only rides great, but rides differently to most popular enduro bikes on the market. Sure, in certain situations the Meta feels more long-travel trail bike than heavy-hitting enduro bike, but for most UK riders, it’s all the more appropriate as a result.


Frame:6066 triple-butted alloy, 150mm travel
Shock:RockShox Super Deluxe Coil (210x55mm)
Fork:RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, 160mm travel (44mm offset)
Wheels:Crankbrothers Synthesis Alloy rims, Industry Nine 1/1 hubs, Maxxis Minion DHR II Exo 3C MG front/Exo DC rear, 29x2.4in tyres
Drivetrain:SRAM GX Eagle crank, 32t, 170mm, SRAM GX 12-speed shifter and r-mech
Brakes:TRP DH-R Evo, four-piston, 203/203mm
Components:Ride Alpha Stem 40mm, Ride Alpha bars 780mm, KS Lev Integra dropper post 175mm, Fizik Terra Riden X5 saddle
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Size tested:L
Rider height:178cm
Geometry:Measured – low position
Head angle:64º
Seat angle:74º
Effective seat angle:78.5º
BB height:345mm
Front centre:820mm
Down tube:753mm
Seat tube:445mm
Top tube:609mm