Commencal Meta AM V4.2 Essential first ride review

Budget-friendly enduro sled

Commencal has had a storied history, its founder and namesake Max Commencal first made his mark in the two-wheel world with the World Cup dominating SUNN team. The Meta AM V4.2 Essential build is the second from the least expensive of the five bike 2018 Meta AM lineup.

Commencal sells direct to consumer and offers the full gamut of bike choices: little kids' bikes, downhill race bikes, urban flat-bar bikes and even e-MTBs. 

Commencal Meta AM V4.2 Essential specs

  • Frame: 6066 triple-butted aluminum, 160mm
  • Fork: Fox 36 Float Performance, 170mm
  • Shock: Fox DPX2 Performance
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle, 1x12-speed
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX discs, 200/180mm rotors
  • Wheels / tires: e*thirteen rims / Formula hubs, Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5WT / DHRII 2.4WT

A closer look at this budget enduro sled

A Fox DPX2 Performance shock dishes out 160mm of rear-end travel and still leaves room for a water bottle
A Fox DPX2 Performance shock dishes out 160mm of rear-end travel and still leaves room for a water bottle

As mentioned above, Commencal has chosen to sell its bikes directly to the consumer. While there are some downsides, the main draw to this type of sales is a higher spec for the price. 

This is where the under $3,000 Meta AM stands out. Although it's decidedly on the lower price spectrum, Commencal managed to spec a very impressive Fox 36 fork and a Fox DPX2 rear shock to handle the 170mm and 160mm travel.

While both are built with the lower-end Performance parts, most riders would be hard pressed to tell the difference from the pricier Factory units. 

More Fox goodness is up front with a 170mm 36 Float Performance fork
More Fox goodness is up front with a 170mm 36 Float Performance fork

The wheels and tires are bang-on up-to-date as well with 30mm wide e*thirteen TRS rims wrapped with proper Maxxis Minion Wide Trail 27.5in tires. Commencal didn't even skimp on the tire sealant, outfitting the Essential build with Orange Seal tubeless goop inside. 

Drivetrain duties are handled by SRAM's impressive GX Eagle 12-speed group. It's not the most svelte, but its actual shifting action is hard to argue with. 

Interestingly, Shimano makes its way on board with SLX discs. The rotor sizes of 200mm and 180mm (F/R) dictate what sort of terrain the Commencal has in mind for the Meta AM V4.2. 

The rest of the build is primarily made up of Commencal's house-brand Ride Alpha parts, which look sharp and generally feel nice. I say generally as the handlebar did feel a bit odd with only 5 degrees of sweep.  

Commencal Meta AM V4.2 Essential first ride impressions

While my first outings were relatively short, I was continually surprised by the ride quality of the Meta AM V4.2. The Fox suspension has a lot to do with that, but so does the stiff frame with modern geometry.

Take-offs and landings on the Meta AM V4.2 are like lawn darts, close counts
Take-offs and landings on the Meta AM V4.2 are like lawn darts, close counts

The geometry worked well with a long reach (458mm for a Large), not so crazy short chainstays (437mm) and low, carve-happy bottom bracket height (350mm). The seat angle isn't new school steep at 74 degrees, but with my long femurs I don't need a TT-like position to spin up hills.

On the climbs it was pretty obvious that this bike likes to work with gravity, instead of against it. It pedaled fine for an enduro bike; the rear shock does have a compression lever to silence the rear-end monkey motion if your brain can't stand it.

As with the frame angles and deep suspension, the big Maxxis Minion wide trail tires come alive when the front end is pointed down and the speeds pick up.

Looking at the Meta AM's rear end it was obvious I wasn't the first person to have heel rub on the bike. The rear hub is Boost and there's quite a lot of metal around the rear pivot adding to the back end's shoe-rubbing width.

Commencal Meta AM V4.2 Essential early verdict

Coming from the loose, steep, rocky mountains of Andorra, the folks at Commencal have a bit of know-how in gravity riding and racing. That knowledge comes through pretty immediately riding a Meta AM V4.2. 

It's an enduro bike that's not going to shy away from anything. And the Dragon's Blood red paintjob looks the part as well. 

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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