2009 Commencal Meta 5.5
A very decent trail bikeBy Andrew Revitt
The Commencal Meta 5.5 is one of many tools for the trail. It’s ideal for the UK market and particularly the trail centre where you need a bike to handle a wide variety of trail that goes up and down. It’s market isn’t the hardcore marathon or cross country rider nor the bike park or alpine freerider.
I built the bike with a complete Shimano SLX kit. It’s ability perfectly matches that of the Meta. XT looks a bit old and XTR is a bit over the top. Initially I had the Fox Float 32 RLC QR15 to match the Float rear but went for it’s spring brother, the Van. The white didn’t go… The rest of the kit is WTB grips, tyres, saddles and Sunline bars and stem. I really liked the Sunline gear, basically lightweight downhill kit. The wheels are DT Swiss 5.1 with Hope Pro II hubs. Bombproof and perhaps a touch heavy for the bike, which is no lightweight. I went with 160mm rotors to keep the weight off the wheels and you don’t need to brake in the UK, only to avoid the queue of riders ahead.
It had been a considerable amount of time since I had ridden a 140mm trail bike. The last one I had was a 98 FSR, which was a world away from this. It rides as expected; a bit lively up front compared to what I have been used to. It’s taken sometime to get a suspension setting I like. The rear Float is fine, I had it set with a good amount of sag to get a plush feel but it ran through the travel a bit quick on drops so I now have about 125psi in it. To me it feels a bit firm in the car park but ok on the trail.
The Van 32 has been a bit harder work. The QR15 is great and the fork doesn’t feel as weedy as it looks from the bars (compared to the 36). I started with the blue spring which I couldn’t get more than 18mm of sag out of, went to the purple, about 23mm of sag and finally purchased the black to get about 27mm of sag. 30mm is supposed to be ‘plush’. 25GBP for a spring seemed excessive. It now feels car park fine but a little squishy and noisy on the trail, which tells you sag isn’t always the key. So I’m sticking with black at the moment as the ride is supple and not as harsh as with the other springs.
It’s kind of hard to get over excited about the Meta though. The green is exciting and it looks good, although the paint isn’t that tough - I keep finding tiny flecks in the garage. It just does the job.
Once I hit the Alps with it I became impressed. I covered it in helicopter tape and thought wow this things not bad. I had to go back to the heavier spring and put some more air in the Float as the big rocks and steeps of Chamonix had it disappearing down holes, but you could really fly on this thing. Ok I could now feel some flex in the rear and the bike park was of out of bounds but it wasn't half bad. I think if you had a downhill or freeride bike as well it would be a great combination.