The long-running aluminum Commencal Meta trail to all-mountain to enduro bike platform gets that major v5 suspension overhaul we knew was coming already last summer. Now available in both a standard 29er enduro spec (no-longer AM) or a mixed wheel size SX supercross mullet version, this next generation of Meta adopts an all-new short link 4-bar virtual pivot suspension design to race even faster and more controlled than ever. And in a bit of a surprise move, the enduro version actually gets less travel than before, while the mullet bike goes even longer…
Last summer we got a solid sneak peek at the 5th-generation Commencal Meta being raced at EWS Tweed Valley. There we got the general low-down on the new suspension design, but the “Virtual Contact System” (VCS) details were still under wraps, as was the bike’s actual travel. And it seems that tease might suggest that there’s more to come than just the two versions of the new Meta Commencal has already shared…
OK, so what’s new?
The standout new feature of the 5th generation Metas is their new 4-bar VCS suspension design with a 1-piece rear triangle connected to the front triangle with two short linkages, better optimized for “real life riding situations”.
The design uniquely places its relatively horizontal short lower link forward of the main lower pivot on the middle of the seattube (hidden behind the mini chain guide). And then an almost vertical upper link that connects a pivot in front of the middle of the seattube with the pivot at the uppermost point of the rear triangle.
It looks like a virtual pivot point that would start just in front of the top of the chainring at the start of the bike’s travel, then virtually move the pivot backward as the suspension compresses. (Watch how the suspension moves in animations here.)
Commencal explains the new 3-phase virtual pivot kinematics saying, “The bike is reactive at the start of the suspension travel to promote grip and to cope better with ever-changing terrain. Once at sag the bike offers control. It handles easily and pedals efficiently in technical areas so the rider can focus solely on sticking to the line. Dynamic and lively, it allows the rider the ability to constantly play with the terrain to gain speed and flow. At the end of the stroke, the bike absorbs big shocks and remains comfortable through impacts.”
As in the previous generation, both Meta v5 & Meta SX v5 are built from triple-butted 6061 & 6066 aluminum in Taiwan for strength and durability. Claimed weight for a raw Meta v5 frame without shock or accessories is 3.25kg / 7.16lb, or for the Meta SX v5 3.3kg / 7.27lb.
Commencal now says they’ve put the new Metas through the extra-tough EFBE Tri-Test at its highest level 5 DH/Gravity/eMTB, so the new bike is certified to the highest independent strength & reliability classification in mountain biking.
They also both get size-proportional chainstays – with S & M bikes featuring shorter stays (435mm on the Meta, 442mm on the SX) and L & XL frames going longer (440mm on the Meta, 447mm on the SX).
The new bikes feature a ZS56 integrated headset for tapered forks, either traditional semi-internal cable routing of fully hidden routing through the headset, 34.9mm seatpost, PressFit BB92 bottom bracket, ISCG05 tabs, Boost 12mm Maxle rear axle, SRAM UDH / T-Type Transmission derailleur mount, post mount 200mm brakes (max 223mm rotor), plus integrated molded downtube/chainstay/seatstay/shuttle pad protectors, bottle cage/Fidlock & tool bag mounts, and max 64mm/2.5″ tire clearance
Meta v5 vs. Meta SX v5, but what about the Meta EN v5?
Now, Commencal has officially launched two versions of the new Meta… that look virtually identical until we dive into the details.
The Meta v5 is a 29er only with 150mm of rear wheel travel paired to 160mm forks, but the ability to adapt its geometry about a degree and a half with a flip chip at the lower eyelet of its 210x55mm stroke rear shock.
Commencal says this is their ideal vision of what a mountain bike should is, describing the 150mm bike as, “Sometimes a race bike, sometimes a trail bike, the META V5 is synonymous with versatility and ease, without neglecting performance.” Although, they are officially just calling it ‘Meta’, some of Commencal’s file names suggest they refer to this setup internally as the ‘Meta TR’.
They’ve also added a Meta SX v5 with a 29″ front / 27.5″ rear wheel build that gets longer travel – 165mm rear via a 230x65mm rear shock & 170mm forks – and more relaxed geometry with both a slacker headtube and slacker seattube, plus longer chainstays.
This one is supposedly built more for bike park and super steep trail riding. Commencal says, “This is a bike for riders looking for an enduro bike that feels as close to a DH bike as possible.“
Meta EN V5 Team racing prototypes
But the Commencal Enduro team isn’t actually racing either of these Meta v5 variants. They have their own bikes that look to share at least the front triangle of the Meta v5 (and most likely the rear triangle, too.)
But the team bikes now have their own machined upper link that sits further behind that top seatstay pivot, more visible through the upper corner of the 1-piece rear triangle. They are also clearly running the same 65mm stroke Fox Float X2 shock as the SX bikes suggesting the same 165mm rear travel, and are racing the Fox 38 forks that team mechanics told us last summer were sporting 170mm of travel.
Perhaps, these team enduro race bikes could be a longer travel 29er AM or now even EN version of the v5 Meta, possibly to be released in the near future?
Commencal Meta v5 – Pricing, Options & Availability
As of now it’s just the ‘TR’ trail version and the SX mullet supercross versions that are available to buy. But with that are plenty of options. Both the new Meta v5 and Meta SX v5 are available for pre-order as a frame-only starting at $2200 / 2100€ in Commencal’s A La Carte online customizer in Pure White or Glittery Black, with SX frames available first in September, and the new Meta v5 frames following in October 2023.
Five complete builds of the trail Commencal Meta v5 are available to preorder now, starting at 3700€ Ride with SRAM NX & more basic RockShox suspension and running up to 6400€ T-Type with GX AXS Transmission & Fox Factory suspension. Real availability varies through the fall until January of next year, but the 4100€ Essential Shimano SLX/Fox Performance & 5500€ Race GX mechanical/RockShox Ultimate builds both ship out in September 2023.
As for the mullet bike, the Commencal Meta SX v5 comes in 3 complete builds – 5500€ Race, 6200€ Signature & 6900€ T-Type – all with similar builds to the trail bike, and delivery dates in October & November 2023.
No word yet on whether the longer travel 29er Meta v5 that the team is racing on the UCI enduro circuit – and down the Mountain of Hell – will come later this year or not.