Bike Check: Cecile Ravanel's Commencal Meta AM

Oct 24, 2020
by Matt Wragg  




When we visited Cecile Ravanel earlier this summer she had two bikes to hand, her current bike at the time and the 2021 version that she was riding a lot at home, but wasn't allowed to show to the media as both the new Commencal range were still secret and the Rockshox Zeb fork was a month or two away from launch. But those embargoes are long past, so we can take a closer look at the bike she's currently riding.

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Details
Height 5'8" / 173cm
Weight 132 lb / 60kg
Hometown Frejus, France
Model Commencal Meta AM
Frame Size Medium
Wheel Size 29"
Suspension Rockshox Zeb & Super Deluxe Coil
Drivetrain & Brakes SRAM Code
Cockpit Renthal
Wheels & Rubber Spank & Hutchinson

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
At 1.73m tall, Cecile opted for the medium frame, although compared to her old bike the reach has grown something like 15mm.

As with her previous bike, there are no wild tricks here - Cecile runs more or less what you can go out and buy today, except for the tires.

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Renthal provide an all-aluminum cockpit. Cecile runs a 30mm rise bars at 760mm wide. A 40mm stem with 10mm of spacers below. While she ran an angleset with the previous bike, the new version has a slacker head angle so it is no longer necessary.

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Cecile goes for Code brakes front and rear, with 200mm discs front and back.

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
As a SRAM athlete it should come as no surprise that she is running full AXS front and rear, at the time of shooting the 52t cassette was not available, but presumably Cecile would have had the option and chose to stick with the 50t version. Up front she varies between 30 and 34t rings (34t here), depending on the course.

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Fork
Pressure 50PSI
Tokens 1 Token
Compression Open
Rebound Medium

Shock
Spring 350LB Superalloy Racing
Compression Open
Rebound Medium

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Cecile usually runs a coil as around the South of France as it's really rocky, but she has tested air too and says it depends on the terrain. For example, around her home in Frejus and in San Romolo where they do a lot of testing she prefers the coil as the ground is very rough, while in Finale Ligure where you have smoother trails she would switch to the air to make the bike more dynamic. To keep the more active coil shock in check, she pairs it with a TwistLoc remote.

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
While the front of the new bike may be burlier than the previous version, at the rear the strut has been removed from between the seatstays to offer more compliance to help the bike track the ground better.

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg

Cecile Ravanel profile. Montaroux France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Both front and rear tires are from Hutchinsons Racing Lab programme - although Cecile has crossed out the "Racing" part on both of them. In terms of pressure she is at 1.5 bar (21 psi) in the front and 1.6 bar (23 psi) in the rear. It is also clear that she isn't overly picky when it comes to her tires and she is happy to ride them until they are dead. They are mounted on Spanks 359, 29mm wide aluminum rims.



114 Comments

  • 95 0
 It would be great to get a pb review of the Meta AM
  • 12 0
 yeah the meta am looks rad
  • 60 0
 Meta AM vs TR is the test we need.
  • 10 10
 They are incredible.. love mine.

Most surprising thing is how well it climbs, and how big it doesn't feel when you look at the numbers. I'm able to clear tecg climbs that that never managed to on a multitude of bike, set pr's on normal climbs and was over 15% faster on the descents from my Jekyll (once restrictions ease i can compare it against my old antidote carbon jack, although i think the AM is significantly better and i was faster on the carbon jack than on an sb6 and current nomad)... and it was the first time riding in 3 months due to reading restrictions.

Although I've heard the large upwards isn't as well balanced as the small and medium frames.
  • 1 0
 Yes they do need to do a review of a medium one
  • 3 6
 @MrZ32: ‘reading restrictions’?
  • 3 0
 @Ryanrobinson1984:
Clearly autocorrect.. riding.

We have been limited to 5km travel from our houses at... which put me outside of mtb locations.
  • 2 0
 @Dav82: i have both and really love them. Working on a comparison review on them on our YouTube channel.
  • 5 0
 @MrZ32: Thumbs up from the Pacific NW USA. 5ft 11in @ 190lbs. Received my size L 2021 Meta Am 29 Team on August 15th (preordered on July 7th) and have been riding it exclusively ever since. Riding some bigger NW mountains, skis areas / bike parks. As expected, goes downhill like a beast through anything with authority but is surprisingly forgiving and fun when not at the limit. The Zeb Ultimate is amazing as well. I’m blown away by how well it climbs (super deluxe ultimate set on open) and how comfortable it is while doing so with the steep seat angle. I’m able to clear climbs I never made on my snappier TallBoy. It feels like the extra travel, traction, and seated position let you power up/through technical steeps better than anything I have ever ridden. Very impressed with this new Meta AM and with Commencal. Sold the TallBoy.
  • 2 1
 Ya too bad we didn't see a PB spy shot post. Then you'd know a full long-term PB bike review would come out a day or two later. A bike check probably means no review in the works. Wink
  • 2 0
 @meSSican: cool! I’ll keep an eye out..
  • 3 0
 Picked up the essential (knowing id be upgrading the most important parts) and this bike absolutely flies. Coming off a process 27.5 I was somewhat concerned about playfulness but this bike put that to bed quickly even for being a big bke. I know some folks aren't big fans of the short chainstays but I love em. Seems as though the bike puts you in a proper position to shred, but my last two bikes have been kona processes so I'm used to to short stays. Climbing is super comfortable but I wouldn't say it's a goat. Climbing isn't much of a concern of mine though. Even with the 495 reach on the large I dont feel stretched out. Lots of chunk, roots, steep, in my area and the am29 eats it all even with sub par suspension. But the snow has fallen and riding is over. Time to turn my attentions to upgrades! Embrace the short stays my friends!
  • 1 0
 Oops! I got the Origin not the essential.....
  • 1 0
 How tall are you? @beardedindian:
  • 1 0
 I guess it never had the chance to get in to the real field test since its a dtc brand and they are only allowed in the budget field test.
  • 2 1
 @MrZ32: unless brands increase the chain stay length with frame size this is always going to be the case.
  • 1 0
 @ejopdahl: I go about 6'2".
  • 7 0
 @Dav82: One climbs better, one descends better. I want to see a 2021 Enduro field test with the Meta AM.
  • 1 0
 @Dav82: True dat and tell me if theres just a different shock / swingarm to make them different
  • 2 0
 Can confirm it's a sick bike! Climbing is definitely better compared to my previous Commencal Clash. Whilst climbing and going slow the steering can feel loose but thats inevitable with the head angle. Descending the bike comes alive and absolutely flies.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for your reply. I’m also 6’2, and I found my dh bike with 465 reach to feel fairly long. With the commencal are you able to pick up the front end? And it doesn’t feel like you’re being pulled over the bars on steep descents? Thanks. @beardedindian:
  • 2 0
 @ejopdahl: my process had a reach of 475. It really didn't feel like there was any adjustment period jumping for my kona to this bike other than buzzing me man parts on some steep rollers. The meta being considerably longer, slacker, etc. The front wheel is super easy to get off the ground thanks to the short chainstays and I never feel like im over the front end on the steeps. It just meshed well with me. Can't wait to put it through the paces next year at Silver Mt!
  • 1 0
 Ok that makes sense with the short stays. Thanks! @beardedindian:
  • 1 0
 @ejopdahl: the reach is long but the seat tube is so steep, it doesnt feel long while seated and puts you in an incredible position for climbing.

The shorter stays are what keeps the bike nimble despite the wheelbase. I do find it harder to wheelie and manual than my old 26" jekyll but its still a lot easier than doing it on my mate's pole evolink (450mm stays).
  • 37 0
 "...isn't overly picky when it comes to her tires and she is happy to ride them until they are dead." Rock on.
  • 31 2
 "...isn't overly picky when it comes to her tires and therefore doesn't need blacked out Maxxis"
  • 4 1
 Or maybe they are fresh tires and she just rides lots and rides hard.
  • 3 2
 @Bizepskanone: not sure if you follow EWS but french tires have quite a few winns
  • 9 0
 @kanasasa: not sure if you follow humor, but i have the slight feeling you are taking this too serious
  • 1 1
 Forget that, I would be changing my tires before every ride if I had pro mechanics that would do it for free.
  • 19 0
 I must have missed the smooth trails in finale! Carnage!
  • 19 0
 It gives you an idea of what kind of trails she has at home...
  • 2 0
 Trails around San Remo are rougher than those in Finale. Or put differently, in Finale trails typically have some flow (at least partly), and not all of them are that rocky. But this is just a generalisation.
  • 4 1
 Almost all trails in Finale are rather relatively smooth. Not bike park flow trail smooth, but smooth nonetheless, when compared to gnarly trails in the alps, in the Aosta valley, etc.
  • 10 1
 I really like how 'off the shelf' this bike is. It really showcases her prowess and riding ability rather than fancy and custom parts. Can't wait until she sweeps Women's EWS again.
  • 6 3
 Rental, RS ultimate, and AXS... nothing fancy to see here... Smile
  • 8 1
 @stiingya: He means in comparisons to Sam Hill or Nino Schurter's bike, with all the custom parts and fancy electronic gizmo's. Although the AXS and high end RS is nice, they are all off the shelf for anyone (with a big enough budget) to buy.
  • 8 1
 When the company you ride for makes a good bike, you don’t need special linkage and custom suspension to make it work.
  • 1 1
 Pretty sure you can wait.
  • 2 0
 @RBoardman234s: yeah cause nobody who uses racers to help product development makes good bikes... Smile
  • 8 0
 A remote lockout shock, don't tell Mike!
  • 40 0
 Yeah I never understood the obsession with keeping the shock open at all times and judge the climbing performance only by suspension design. If there’s a lever that makes the bike climb better I’ll use it, everything else is just artificially handicapping yourself.
  • 2 1
 @Upduro: while seated... you'd be surprised at how well these climb.
  • 15 0
 @Upduro: Not to mention that they actually 'prop' the shock up a little and steepen all the angles which is much better for climbing. Its not all about the bob
  • 6 4
 @Upduro: Well I don't know about you, but I have so many f**k ups because of forgetting to unlock the shock that I genuinely don't want to touch them. I don't hate them, just when things get a little heated it's hard to remember you have a shock to unlock.
  • 4 0
 @MrZ32: I have one, with a coil shock as well. Decent climber but still does better with the firmed up DHX2 than fully open.
  • 2 1
 @Upduro: agreed. That being said, this bike climbs like a goat even when it's fully open!
  • 1 0
 In this bike lockout is only needed for racing on pedally stages. I have a coil and stopped using lockout completely. It climbs so well that it is not really needed.
  • 4 0
 @Upduro: that’s why you get a twist lock though, so the 4th corner into your race run you don’t need to stop to unlock it
  • 6 2
 The thing that cracks me up the most is the "bar clutter" argument. I mean if your going to say that then run a single speed without a dropped post. Otherwise it's BS...
  • 8 0
 The only reason I never lock out my shock/fork is i know for a fact I'll forget to open it up again for the descent, and will realize this halfway down in the middle of a chunder section.
  • 1 0
 @jammf: usually open it on the way up, when I remember it. Otherwise I open it almost at the end of the descent lol
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: as in it's the coil giving you the performance? Or the bike? Because it's the bike that makes a difference. That and an adjustable LSC dial to dial in maybe some more LSC and leave it open.

I noticed that my Topaz bobbed quite a bit more on the same bike compared to a Super Deluxe Ultimate, case in point, LSC adjustor. A coil should bob a bit more (less friction), but yeah, it's the bike (the suspension layout) that makes the difference.
  • 1 0
 @Upduro: bikes can be made to work with a little time put into the design. And then regardless of the shock you have on it, it will work well. Why not have that?

Plus, on technical climbs, it's nice for the suspension to do some work taking out the bumps instead of it being rock hard. Plus flipping the switch on my SD Ultimate just made it bob about the same as it being open, but made the ride (in a flat gravel road) much more harsh.

Open levers all the way!
  • 1 0
 @Primoz: I leave LSC open. One thing is that if you get coil, you must select relatively strong coil so you have less sag than with air. Sag and stą have the most effect on uphill performance. Bobbing has much less influence.
  • 7 4
 Why does commencal keep single pivot? Doesn't a Macpherson track the ground better and active while braking?
Just curious here
  • 14 0
 Macpherson? How many bikes are out there with a suspension strut in the rear??
Do you mean a Horst link?

As for 4-bar suspension linkages, you have more freedom when it comes to pivot placement (the pivot near the BB that is) to still achieve the desired suspension characteristic, with a single pivot you're very limited as to where you can put it to achieve a decent amount of antisquat and not have it change wildly through the travel and not get insane pedal kickback. But it is much simpler when it comes to the layout, plus the rocker link also doesn't affect the kinematics of the rear wheel, so on the other hand there is more freedom in the placement of that. So yeah, I'd say they are keeping it due to the simplicity.

I don't have the numbers 'at hand', but I'd hazzard a guess that when it comes to braking there isn't a huge difference between a single pivot and most 4-bar systems. I remember Santa Cruz saying they don't care about antirise and use whatever they get from the system.
  • 3 0
 It seems to be working quite well for them in downhill. I have the previous generation Meta AM, despite it's weight I feel like it climbs quite well. I ride on flat pedals and don't have issues with pedal kick either.
  • 2 1
 Single pivots are really active in my experience with the main negative being stiffening under braking.
  • 2 2
 I own the model being reviewed here and i dont feel any pedal kickback, i can hear it sometimes but i dont feel it or it doesnt affect my performance, regarding stiffenig under braking i dont feel that at all i think they solved that by moving the brake caliper mounts to the seatstay area but being still a welded part of the chainstay.
Modern single pivots have solved those issues in many different ways, modern mtbs are amazing machines with lots of R&D. Also i think Kazimer mentioned in one of the podcasts that the Meta is far from a single pivot design, apparently is a four bar frame with seatstay pivot.
  • 2 0
 I was wondering the same. I'd like to see what moving the pivot to the CS would do. They must have tried it.
  • 4 0
 @Narro2: No it's not. You either have the pivot on the chainstay or concentric to the rear axle and have a four-bar suspension system braking wise (so, a dual short link, a Horst link or a Split pivot), or you have the brake mounted to the swingarm. (Split-pivots are multi-link systems braking wise, but single-pivot systems pedalling wise.)

If you have a pivot by the rear axle (but on the seat stay) and a rocker link or two short links (like Commencal used to have or like they have on the supreme) matters diddly squat, it's a single pivot. If you rotate the brake caliper around the rear axle to the moon and back, it matters diddly squat. It's mounted to the swing arm, it creates a torque around the rear axle when braking and that torque cases movement of the rear suspension. End of story.

The previous Clash design was effectively a split-pivot, but the current one is not anymore. So, unless I forgot about something, ALL Commencals are single pivots. Regardless of how they drive the shock. And for pedalling and braking performance it doesn't matter how you drive the shock if it's a single pivot. Main pivot placement is the king. The way you drive the shock only affects the leverage ratio through the travel.
  • 2 0
 @Primoz: which is why I think saying the DH is single pivot and works amazingly, therefore the meta is just as good, is misguided. The high pivot alters the parameters hugely. Totally different kettle of fish.
  • 1 1
 @BenPea: I never mentioned a high pivot. I merely said that the current Supreme uses two short links to drive the shock instead of a long (seatstay) and a short (rocker) link. And that they used a similar arrangement on older bikes (V1 and V2 Meta 5.5 and 6 (I owned a V2 5.5 in fact) and V1 and V2 Supremes).

I also never said anything about performance relating to the Meta or to the Supreme or regarding the comparison between the two, I was just saying what and how affects the suspension pedalling and braking wise comparing multilink and single pivot suspensions. And that the way you drive the shock has ZERO to do with a suspension being a single pivot or a multilink (to repeat, neither the Meta nor the Supreme are multilink bikes, they are singlepivots).

True, a high pivot is a different kettle of fish (with less of an influence needed from the chain to achieve the antisquat and more coming from the geometry itself), but on the other hand the brake has an even larger effect on it in that case (as besides the 'link' or the swingarm rotating with the rotation of the brake, the rear axle also moves backwards, while it mostly moves forwards going through the travel on more ordinary bikes).
  • 2 0
 @Primoz: I think I was agreeing with you while kind of answering the other guy. My message may have been confusing.
  • 1 1
 @BenPea: ah...
  • 1 0
 Having owned a 2020 meta am and a 2019, now 2021 trek slash the stiffening of the rear suspension under braking was one of my only complaints. If you have to brake in a chunky section or a steep chute for an upcoming corner the rear end on the meta would tend to jump around under braking and get a little squirrely. With the abp on the slash it tracks the ground much better while braking and remains more composed. Both great bikes.
  • 1 0
 Pointing out that the reach has grown by 15mm doesn't really tell the whole story. That bike has such a steep seat tube angle that it shifts that 15mm from its effective top tube length. Overall cockpit size hasn't changed that much from the previous bike, it's just shifted forward.
  • 2 0
 They affect different parts of the ride...
  • 2 0
 It's a bit gripe of mine when you have an insanely steep seat tube angle, people moaning about long reaches, but then you see that the bike is actually really short in the top tube. Case in point, Privateer 161. The 'XL' has a top tube the length of a normal M bike, but it actually needs and even LONGER top tube than most XL bikes to actually get a decent seat to bar length on XL frames. Yes, it's mostly an XL specific thing. But still, it's a huge fail that's widely seen in the industry.
  • 2 0
 Does not having the brace on the seat stays cause problems for the shock? I imagine having more twisting and lateral movement couldn't be great for it.
  • 1 1
 Yes you could say that, but I think Max has little problem with this?
Or at least made linkage strong enough to cope!
  • 6 0
 The driven linkage is rock solid on this thing
  • 2 1
 @Noeserd: I am sure will flex a little for better tracking in the rough stuff?
  • 1 0
 @aljoburr: probably yes
  • 1 0
 Appears they have reverted back to the older versions without the brace.
  • 2 0
 I’ve owned some really flexy bikes and never had an issue with Shock torsion or binding. I like this idea of a stiffness middle ground. Bikes that are too stiff feel sketchy!
  • 1 0
 They stiffened the frame and now use double rowed enduro bearings. This combo makes the bike real stiff negating any lateral movement. I read somewhere that Commencal removed the brace because it made the bike too stiff. The rear of the bike needs some flex or it won't track very well.
  • 4 0
 Got one. It f*cking shreds.
  • 1 0
 Guys, I need your help. Have 4k to spend on a new bike. Will be my only bike. In Ireland you have to pedal up, in order to go down, no uplifts or shuttles :-(

Will mega am be too much bike?
  • 2 2
 basically, yes. If you will be pedaling up more than going down, better get a rig more suited to pedal, that is my opinion. I own several bikes, and will never take the enduro bike for a pedal day, when having a short travel 29er. But if you will be always bombing down the hill careless, then fuck yeah, get some strong legs and buy the Meta AM. The TR is surprinsingly good at downhill, don't let the TR distract you.
  • 1 0
 @HopeFbn: Yes, Kazimer has stated numerous times he would not hesitate to bring the TR to an enduro race.
@alexisalwaysonfire: Take a look at the Nukeproof Reactor. Also, Propain has some really good bikes at a good price. Bird as well.
  • 5 0
 Meta does not require shuttling. If you have some chunky and steep descents it will be great. I do not shuttle and ride a Meta with coil. And it climbs really well. So if you climb just to descend you will be happy. If you love climbing fast in XC-ish pace, then look elsewhere.
  • 2 0
 In my opinion its better to have too much bike than too little. Its worth it when it really counts. And for the small weight difference its a good move
  • 4 2
 @HopeFbn: hahaha you would never pedal an enduro ??!! wtf dude ! You do realize enduro bikes are meant to be pedaled all day long in mountains ? If you do not need to pedal, then get a downhill bike...wow can't believe it. For the records, I climb with my 36 lbs clash (coil front and rear), sometimes for 50 minutes of very steep fire roads...
  • 3 0
 The TR is totally fine for anything you'll ever be riding. Are you planning to enter DH or enduro races? If so, get the AM. Otherwise, the TR will be totally capable. You won't be as fast or confident going down a double black DH trail, but both bikes can do it. The AM will be more boring on blue and black trails at slower speeds, the TR will slow you down a little if you want to race. Both bikes will be awesome. What kind of riding do you like to do? If steep DH craziness is your thing, get the AM. If not, the TR will be great and you won't regret it. You won't regret it either way though. Just think about the kind of person you are, the kind of stuff you want to do now and in the future, and shop with that in mind. For the record, I have a 140/160mm rear/front bike and I race regularly and it's enough, but if I were shopping today I'd probably get the AM because, as I said, I race and I like to go fast, and steep DH stuff is my thing. Even the 140 does make my local XC park kind of boring though.
  • 1 0
 @SimbaandHiggins: I can't look at reactor or propain bikes due to their horrendous cable wiring under the bb / below the frame. Awful looking and an accident waiting to happen :-)
  • 2 0
 @Charlotroy: for me, every trail is 50 min of steep fire road, and on an average day, I do 4,5 trails, so that's hours of pedaling
  • 1 0
 @KxPop: yh, I currently have a big enduro rig 170/160 travel but 27.5 wheels, so want to get a new bike with 29.
I do want a playful bike, but I still want to feel confident going down. Most of trails here are very steep / with off camber roots and rocks.
However I still do ride some natural / xc kinda trails , where at the moment my current bike is a proper overkill
  • 1 0
 Get the TR mate
  • 1 0
 @alexisalwaysonfire: Sounds like the TR is a good choice then Smile
I don't think you'd regret it either way.
  • 1 0
 @Charlotroy: Pedal here to get descents is pretty different than pedal in your country for the descents.
What I mean is, if I am going to ride 3.5+ hours, why pedal my enduro rig for the descends that I will be even faster on a shorter travel bike?. In Canada pedaling a enduro bike makes sense, since the downhill deserves it.
  • 1 0
 I ride a meta am over here to the south. It's a good steady climber, just don't expect it to rocket up the hills.
  • 2 0
 I had to do a web search to discover spring I made by supper alloy racing www.superalloyracing.com
  • 2 0
 For a weekend rider for bike parks and etc - this one or full dh bike? That is the real question!
  • 1 1
 Depends on the bikeparks and where in the bikeparks you ride. There are 'out of bounds' areas where you pedal a bit to reach sweet trails, but you are still mostly lift assisted. But it'd still be a pain on a DH bike. An enduro bike is perfect for that though Razz

That and how you ride, are you a destroyer or a bit slower and smoother?
  • 1 0
 "although Cecile has crossed out the "Racing" part on both of them." - but WHY @mattwragg ??
  • 4 0
 Oh I get it now, 'cos she's not been racing. D'oh.
  • 2 0
 SAR springs are the best
  • 1 0
 Cool bike.
  • 1 1
 only good thing is bars and frame
  • 1 0
 f*ck press embargo’s.
  • 1 0
 Twist shift axs?
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