2021 Commencal Meta AM 29 Team Review
After many weeks, rides, and trails spent with the AM we are here to give you our long term review of this beast of a bike. If you haven't watched our first ride review of the Meta AM you can watch it here so you are up to date on our references to that experience.
Our Meta AM Team build in size Large came in just over the 37lb mark ready to ride. This included rear tire insert, tubeless setup, pedals, and bash guard. Commencal bikes aren't know for their svelteness but I was pretty surprised that our bike hit such a hefty weight. This bike is meant for business on the downs and it's parts spec, I thought, was pretty spot on. The 2021 GX Eagle drivetrain is really nice as is the suspension package. The Zeb Ultimate and Super Deluxe Ultimate suspension is very capable of handling some gnarly riding. The KS Lev with Southpaw remote were flawless and worked without issue. I ultimately swapped out the Code RSC brakes as the set we received were faulty so instead of re-installing the replacement part I opted to install my favorite Magura MT5 with the 1 finger levers.
At 5'11.5" the size Large felt good if not a bit long. This bike has very aggressive geometry numbers and is the biggest/longest bike I have ridden. The 495mm reach felt good thanks the very steep 78.5° seat tube angle. The wheel base at 1285mm is very long and meant for business. I found it a bit odd that Commencal gave this bike such short 433mm chainstays but I figure it is to help maneuver it around a bit easier. A 63.5° heat tube angle rounds off this very aggressive geo package and is pretty slack.
Being long, slack, and having 160mm of travel we have to tame our expectations on climbing abilities. Sure, bikes now days are much more efficient and capable than they have ever been. Being so long and weighing in at just over 37lbs doesn't scream "open box then climb". For the sake of the review process I have endured some XC miles aboard the Meta AM.
As you would expect on the downs the Meta is happier going in a straight line. That long wheelbase limits some of the acrobatics you may be used to on smaller bikes when the climb gets technical. On the other hand the AM has the support and plushness to get you up and over most things so long as you have the legs to do so. I found that the AM was able to clear several rockier climb sections where others were walking them.
The rear suspension had the faintest rear movement when pedaling in the open position. This was a welcomed characteristic as you will want as much power to that rear wheel as possible. I found myself reaching for the rear shock lever when things were smooth, long, or when I got tired.
So all that said, yes the AM will get you to the top but the weight and length will be a little taxing on longer rides.
Just sitting on this bike you feel that urge to just plow down the nastiest track you can find. Chairlifts and shuttle runs galore are welcome and sometimes necessary.
On the smoother jump trails I found the AM to be a bit bored. Now not saying that it is boring but more that the bike got bored. For these types of trails you will for sure be working this bike more to get the fun out of it (our trail has small roller jumps and bermed turns) as that long wheelbase and weight will come into play.
Going into steeps and nasty chunk is where this bike is at home. Once the speed is up to 11 I found my comfort level at the peak and was smashing the trails at speed. The AM has that feeling that it is pushing to go faster when things are already scary fast. Smashing into chunk is another strength of this bike.
Taking it to Northstar Bike Park I found myself hitting features and reaching speeds on double black diamond trials that I previously rode around or avoided. The AM inspires so much confidence on the downs and mad those scary trails so much fun. This bike had me feeling right at home and wanting to hit laps all day.
How Does It Compare?
The 2020 Mega 290c and the Meta AM are aimed at the same crowd. The Mega frame is lighter and is more maneuverable and less of a handful on the climbs. You feel the length and weight of the Meta AM but that 78.5° seat tube angle really helps.
On the downs both bikes are capable and can plow. It's when things get really really nasty where the Meta AM takes the cake. That said, the fastest downhill times on my local trails are all held by the Mega 290c and I think it is down to it's plowability with a touch of maneuverability to get you where you want to go.
Meta AM Pros:
Minimal Suspension Bob
Is it too long?
Straight Line -
The Meta AM 29 is no doubt a smashers bike. If you love to shuttle, hit the bike park, or have the technical DH terrain then this Meta is for you. It is long and slack and makes no apologies for it...and it climbs well enough to get you back to the top for another lap.