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Interbike 2008 – Commencal Mountain Bikes

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NOTE: This video is available in HD! Mouseover the video, click the “HD is Off” button, then click in the middle and a new Vimeo window will open with the HD version.

Commencal had three new bikes at the Outdoor Demo, from hardtail all the way to the 8″ travel:  The Skin, their first ever full carbon hardtail, the Super4, a 4″ travel XC enduro bike and the 8″ travel Supreme downhill race rig, all of which are featured in the video.

I rode the Super4 (which is why the seatpost is jacked on the bike in the video) and found out what makes Commencal tick…get that, plus pics and more info by hitting the “more” link below…

First up, the Supreme…

The Supreme is available in three versions, the Team Replica (shown), the Supreme DH, both with 200mm travel front and rear, and the basic Supreme with only 160mm rear/180mm front travel.

One of the trick features of the Supreme is the adjustable head angle.  The heavily gusseted headtube starts at a slack 65º, and you can adjust +/- one degree either way.

The shock sits low in the frame for a lower center of gravity, and the white bash guard keeps you from damaging something if you get through all 8″ of travel.

The rear end is where it gets really trick.  On the drive side, you can see the adjustable dropout that lets you fine tune the wheelbase depending on the course.  Above, from the rear, below, from the front.

On the non-drive side, their rear brake mount allows for adjustments to the angle of the brake caliper.  Commencal claims this helps to reduce or prevent suspension compression due to brake application, helping you enter and exit corners with more control.  The Supreme Team Replica comes spec’d with Marzocchi suspension front and rear, SRAM X9 triggers/XO rear derailleur, Race Face cranks and h-bar, Sun-Ringle wheels and Maxxis tires.

The Super4 replaces the Meta4 for 2009.  Commencal still makes the Meta5 (5.5″) and Meta6, (6.3″) which uses a single swingarm rather than a two-bar linkage.  The Super4 is offered in three trim levels, the 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3, with 100mm (3.93″) travel using a Fox Float RP2 shock (Float R on the 4.3 model) and various RockShox forks.  The 4.2, shown above, is what I rode at the Outdoor Demo.  The neon green 4.1, below, is the top of the line model and comes with a SRAM X9/XO shifter/rear derailleur set (Shimano XT front der.)

If you watched the video, you’ll notice that the seatpost was full extended.  Like a lot of bike companies, Commencal didn’t have an XL frame size to demo, so I rode what I could.  The fit wasn’t too bad once I had the seat all the way up.  This is another one of those bikes that you see in Euro magazines that looks interesting but hard to find here in the states, which of course makes it that much more desirable and something that I had to ride given the opportunity.  At first, I was a little unimpressed.  Not to say there was anything wrong, but nothing stood out about the ride.  The suspension tracked well and felt very active, unlike the Specialized Epic which was firm until called upon, and I was thinking maybe it needed a little more air.  Standing up to pedal did cause a little bobbing, but nothing that seemed to slow me down.

Then I got to the top of the trails and started to let gravity provide the assist.  All of a sudden, the bike came alive.  In fact, on a really fast, swoopy downhill with some nice rock sections, bermed and non-bermed turns and a few drops, I was actually catching some dude riding a full-on, mega-travel downhill bike!  The suspension felt like it was grabbing down into the dirt, especially on the high speed corners and it stuck to the trail on looser sand/gravel curves.

Like all my posts, I need to caution that my remarks are based on a 15 minute test ride on a short trail in conditions that are completely unlike my home turf in NC.  With the Commencal Super4, I think if I could ride the right frame size and dial in the air pressure for the suspension (and have time to use the lockout for some climbs), this bike might just be the right bike for longer “enduro” rides.  I don’t think it’s ever going to feel like an XC racer, but it could definitely be built up pretty light for endurance races.

That said, if you’re looking for something that takes the terrain like a downhill bike but is set up for all-day XC riding, I’d definitely put this on your short list.

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