Commencal Max Max - A Season in Review

Nov 26, 2008
by Jordan Holmes  
As some of you may know over the past season I have been riding, writing, and learning about the Commencal Max Max. The Max Max originally started off as a basic $600 hardtail. Fully rigid, dual v-brakes, and flimsy wheels is what we started with. Over the past season I have slowly been adding parts, removing parts, and now here is the end result of my own comfortable, clean, fun street bike.

Read more to figure out where the Max Max took me.After a season of riding, multiple changed parts, and 2 installments, we have reached the final stop of the Max Max train. The Max Max went from a bone stock street bike, that was built to take mild abuse, to a full on sex machine of unsurpassed awesomeness. When we started the Max Max journey the idea was to show you guys what a stock bike can do, and what it can be transformed into over a short amount of time. The Max Max has gone through bent wheels, punished wrists, rubbing brakes, loose chains, and shifty pedals, and I can pleasantly say it is still holding up strong. Actually, stronger than ever, and also lighter than ever.

When we started the journey at 30.1 pounds. The Max Max was built with a completely factory setup, including a rigid fork, v-brakes, and less than spectacular wheels. After my first ride on the Max Max it was clear the wheels were not up to snuff. Mild angled landings have proven to be the destroyer of these wheels. Bent wheels go hand in hand with rubbing brakes, so I removed them to ensure if the wheel ever got out of true on me, I could still ride home. Also, brakeless is just more fun.

The Original Cycle
The Original Cycle

After a short while more enhancements were done to the Max Max. The traditional factory grips were removed and replaced with some Adam Hauck BlkMrkt grips. The Adam Hauck grips were a nice addition, not only because they are slightly taller and flanged over the previous grips, but they are constructed with a much softer rubber compound. What's this mean? No matter how sweaty your hands are, you got some grip there. It's a nice treat when your worried about gripage.

In installment 2 I made the addition of a chain tensioner. The Yess ETR-B chain tension was added at the time to ensure proper chain tension was kept. Well, it worked really well and how it was supposed to work, but I have removed the ETR-B. For a bike that has horizontal drop outs to run a chain tensioner is kind of pointless. Technically I can just slide my wheel back in my drop outs to tension my chain. The ETR-B had to go. Not only was it providing a service I did not really need, but it was adding weight, and taking away from the bike in general.

Second Installment
Second Installment

The stock K-Rad tires provided traction but were on the heavy side. I changed the K-Rad tires out for a pair of Schwalbe Table Top tires, not only did I shave some weight, but the Table Top tire performed much better than the K-Rad in its element. The Table Top tire was designed to be a park tire, so the tread pattern was more designed around being utilized on pavement.

The stock wheel set which was causing me grief was swapped for a set of Mavic DeeTraks wheels. I not only added a bit of weight, but added an enormous amount of strength to the foundation of this bike. I was unable to change the front wheel out at that time due to the 20mm needs of the DeeTraks hub. Along with the new wheel, I installed a pair of the Premium Products Slim Pedals. The old Wellgo pedals work, but it's nice to have a pair of sealed, anodized, pinned pedals. It was a nice addition, not only for visual aesthetics, but for ride quality as well.

So, as it stood after installment 2 we had changed out the grips, pedals, rear wheel, tires, and removed the chain tensioner. I had removed the brakes, and the Max Max was in a very comfortable position, and weighed in at 27 pounds 7 ounces. So what happened with the Max Max after that?

Read on.



Now that we're all up to speed, let's take a look at what the Max Max ended up as. I was tired of the abuse that the rigid fork was laying on my wrists, and the excess of useless weight on the front of my bike, so I decided to change it out. The decision was hard, but when the time came I picked up a RockShox Argyle 409. Why? There's a couple reasons. Not only is it one of the lightest production forks for its suspension range, but comes in a sweet "mint green" color. That and the fact that it features an air spring, and is internally adjustable down to 80mm of travel. I have yet to lower the travel to 80mm, but I have been thinking about doing it, so keep your eyes peeled. The change from the rigid fork to the suspension fork was drastic and was most noticeable when pumping hard, the Max Max accelerated a lot faster, and I'm loving the fact my wrists don't ache after riding for extended periods of time.

After changing the fork I was able to put my 26" Mavic DeeTraks front wheel on to match the rear I had been running. The final change between rigid fork and stock wheel to Argyle 409 and DeeTraks wheel was a really good idea, not only to keep the weight around the same, but to add suspension to a bike that had none previously.






Once the fork was changed out, all the cards could be put on the table. The stock look to the Max Max had been changed so much that it was time to go for the steeze factor, or better known as visual aesthetics. So we now had matching wheels, a nice clean fork, no brakes, new grips, nice tires, and a fancy pair of anodized red pedals. One evening I sat down with a fairly large stack of Pinkbike stickers (yes, I know, self promotion) and decided to go to town. One thing that makes a bike in my eyes, is a nice sticker job, so I went to work. Here's a quick arts and crafts lesson, overlay stickers on welds, then take a sharp exacto blade and cut out around the weld. It contours the sticker to the shape of the weld, and makes it look as if it was a production sticker job.





Once the sticker job was complete it was time to look at the smaller items on the bike. Since the Max Max was built with mostly factory built parts by Commencal, I wanted to swap some out for aftermarket options. The bar and stem combo was still stock from the factory, and was running a 25.4 clamping diameter. I changed the stem out for a Transition Temple Lite stem that uses a 31.8 clamping diameter. I picked up a DareDevil OS bar, Devinci's in house brand to complete the new bar and stem combo.





After the white Temple Lite stem was equip, I added some generic white bar ends to seal the deal. Now the cockpit was ready to go. There was only a couple more things that I was stressing over. The seat and post combo that the Max Max came with was a simple dirt jump style seat, and a bolt and clamp system seat post. The seat was heavy and the post was border line dodgy and pretty heavy too, so I changed the post out for a RaceFace seatpost I had from a previous build, and a Transition PBR seat. Why the PBR seat? Why not? It's the best party beer, and the Max Max was clearly all about partying. So, I put that setup on the Max Max, and it was complete.




So now the Max Max is visually where I wanted it to be. It has a clean black, yellow, mint, and white color scheme, with a little hint of red. I have to say that the step from Installment 2 to this was a big step, but the final product turned out very well. Final weight on the Max Max was 27 pounds, 11 ounces, a respectable weight for a hardtail bike. Once all the changes were in place it was a lot like a new bike. The change from the rigid fork to the suspension fork was probably the most noticeable change. After riding the Max Max around for a while with the rigid fork it was giving my arms and wrists a beating. A 5 pound rigid fork is not a better decision than a 5 pound suspension fork, but it was worth the try. I noticed that there are other companies that produce lighter rigid forks, which could be a nice option, but at this time was not in the cards (plus my wrists are so happy now).

360 tire grab
360 tire grab






With 65 psi street tires, the Max Max is extremely fast rolling. As well, with the shorter chainstay and toptube design it was really good at pumping. You could gain a lot of speed, really fast with the Max Max. I found that the stock gearing got you up to speed really fast, but that final speed was not very fast. I would recommend anyone who is going to purchase a Max Max to look into optional gear ratio's if your going to be using it as a commuter or just pedaling it around quite a bit. That being said, once you could get the Max Max into its pumping groove it was all about speed and being smooth.

Mad Pop
Mad Pop




The Max Max's geometry was very comfortable. It put you in a upright position, with a really short feeling rear end. Overall the Max Max felt really short, even though it uses 26" wheels. I ran my rear wheel basically maxed out in the drop out, meaning the longest setting I could get. I found it performed well in the park, but with the wheel far back in the drop out I noticed the center of the weight had now shifted from right over the cranks to slightly behind you as the rider. This did a couple things. One small downside, it made manualing a lot harder. My weight had to be so far back over the wheel that I had no leverage on my arms/legs. However, on the flip side of that issue, I found that it felt a lot more comfortable when spinning, and airing.

Longer Setting
Longer Setting

After everything I had changed on the Max Max component wise, after all the minor alterations I made to my setup, I was complimented by multiple riders that the Max Max had "that feeling". What is "that feeling"? It's a small phrase I just made up to signify how easy it was to adapt to. As stated I had a couple BMX riders try the Max Max, as well as letting fellow riders try it, and basically just collecting the general feeling everyone got from it. Most riders felt that it would be easy to adjust to. They felt it was really predictable, had good pop, had a fairly good balance point, and felt really comfortable. No one who rode the Max Max had something they really disliked about it, however there was some talk about lowering the top tube on the seat tube to create a lower standover height, shortening the upper portion of the seat tube so the seat could be slammed, just little things.

Whip in the Hip
Whip in the Hip

Whip on the Gap
Whip on the Gap

Overall I think the Max Max is a really good purchase for anyone who is interested in getting into hardtail riding, but doesn't want to dump a lot of money. I think for the price, and the quality of the product it is a really good purchase, and I would highly suggest anyone who is interested in this genre of the sport to look at the Max Max. As well, the Max Max frame is the exact same as the Absolut 1 and 2, so you get the same frame as the better bikes, for a much lower cost. Effective way of dealing with your bike if your tight on cash.




Mad Props to Commencal on the Max Max



As you know we don't all like the same things, so I figured I would put in a small note here. There are a couple things I wish would have been changed on the Max Max's stock build. We will start with the component build. Obviously the wheels were not up to spec, and I was quite happy to hear that Commencal has beefed up the wheels on the Max Max lineup for 2009. The brake adapter that the Max Max is sent with is very confusing to look at, and I'd be scared to set up a disc brake without someone who knew what they were doing. It features an odd adapters, a funny connection and comes with extra confusion. It would be nice to see some plain adjustable disc mounts on the frame instead of the adapter job. And finally, I'd like to see removable v-brake posts. It's a small addition, but quite nice when you take your brakes off, to take the mounts off as well. I have caught my jeans on them, and it does not feel good.

In Canada Commencal is distributed by KMI Distribution. www.kmi.ca

To learn more about the whole Commencal line up, please visit www.commencal.com



Related Links:
The Little Bike that Can - Max Max by Commencal (First installment)
Commencal Max Max Part 2 (Second Installment)

-Jordan Holmes


59 Comments

  • + 17
 brakeless, props! Big Grin
  • + 5
 How can anyone say this bike is good when they had to change everything...I smell a "i get free stuff review". Let's face it, this bike is a horrible deal! Everything is junk and you'll end up spending three times as much upgrading. Specialized's p1 is why better spec'd and is only around 6-800 depending on a sale. Also, giant and Kona offer lower end models and they are all better value with a front shox. If you're really hurting pick up Brodie, Garry Fisher or Khs.
  • + 2
 Waukeetx, Yes, Kona along with other big time manufactures make a bike around the same price range. However, the Max Max shares the same frame as the Absolut 1 and 2, Commencals higher end hardtails. What you get is a really nice frame, and from there you get to decide what you want on it. On another note, this bike could have been built up with any component spec. The Argyle 409 is really the only extremely expensive product that was put on the Max Max.
  • + 0
 how does the maxmax handle compared to the p bikes? ive ridden p's before and thought they handled like tanks, tho they can get into a manual easy, they're heavier than anything i know
  • + 4
 I don't understand how the adapter is complicated?

Doesn't one end just go over the axle and the other end get bolted to the little tab on the frame? Then the caliper just pivots about the axle?
  • + 1
 Yes, pretty much correct bonfire. However, your axle has to be long enough to use it. As i found out, mine were not, in which case i would be forced to buy a new axle, or hub. It seems like a extra piece of metal, and confusion that could be cured by just welding an adjustable tab on it.
  • + 3
 in his pictures he looks good then you watch the video and he rides propper dirty :/
  • + 0
 Interesting. Other than the longer axle thing, it seems like a perfect way to go. As in theory when you move the wheel back the adapter moves the brake correctly in an infinite path. Perhaps some revision and it might a bit better.
  • + 0
 i think it should be slimmed down alot. i know on other bikes it is a pain in the arse to reset the disc but with my maxmax it sticks out a lot. i over the ride but it does really anoy me. might just be being a little too much of a clean freak, but feck it, and why the props i have the bike aswell, so i think i'm in a postition to make my opinion heard.
  • + 3
 I agree with waukeetx. You've changed absolutely everything (except the chain, cranks/bb and headset). I bet I can take any bike on the market and make it a little better and suited more to my riding style in that discipline by changing absolutely everything. I wonder how much you actually spent (or what the retail values would be for everything you put on) because the kid buying a $600 bike most likely can't afford all the aftermarket upgrades. You should ahve placed yourself on a budget and made something realistic that the bulk of all riders (and their parents) can afford.

All in all, you did build yourself a pretty sick street/park bike
  • + 0
 spwrench, It just so happens I had a number of the parts i put on the Max Max, so it didn't cost me much. The only real big ticket item was the Argyle 409. However, that being said, you could put a Argyle 318, or even a RST Space fork on it, and it would do the same duty. The fact its an expensive fork doesn't change the fact that its a fork, and it replaced the rigid one that was on there.
  • + 1
 nice Smile but you're wrong about the tires. tabletops are made for DIRT, not for park. they're designed by dirt rider Timo Pritzel, and they suck on parks (they're damn slippery). if your wrists hurt with a rigid fork you should do something about your style/landings, because i and other people i know ride rigid often too, but it doesn't hurt, not now and not in the beginning.
longer chainstays are like you said better in airs (more stable), but it spins less fast.
but anyways, nice review tup
  • + 0
 Spongebob, Thanks for pointing that out. My experiences with the Table Top tires in park were not bad, just got to air them down a bit as its a harder rubber compound. I am sure over time i would have figured out how to ride rigid, but with the time frame given it was logical to try a suspension fork to.
  • - 3
 wow spongebomb. you must just be such a good rider because your wrists don't hurt with rigid forks. sounds like you should be riding a bmx bike. they're even better for skateparks and dirtjumping
  • + 1
 i didn't want to be a dickhead (maybe i sounded like one, if so, sorry). i just wanted to tell my experiences about some stuff Wink
  • + 1
 Haha just wondering cause I'm a noob that wants to get into hardtail riding. I've been looking at the maxmax and the 09 mongoose ritual dirt. The maxmax is 600 online and i can get the ritual for 650 with free shipping. What should I get? I know I can build on the maxmax if i get better so it's a question of what has a better geometry and if it's worth spending a little more for a fork thats supposedly crappy (RST Launch). Also there's a 09 maxmax for 500 on ebay?
  • + 1
 i basically did the same as this with my old ride. except i changed everything except the frame and seat post/clamp hehe. new forks,brakes.headset.bars,stem,cranks,wheels,seat,chain,single speed, grips,tyres,bashguard,pedlas,rotors ect Big Grin check it out on my piccys Big Grin
  • + 1
 u dont like the look or the ride?????
i have an 08 absoult,and i gotta say commencal have really got what it takes to build a decent frame!
even the standard spec is ok till u can upgrade(except the dj3)lol
  • - 2
 insept aluminium sucks for dirt, park etc. so its all wrong
  • + 0
 r u kidding me ive had my aluminum frame since 2005 nd its super strong no cracks nothing nd all i ride is park and dirt
  • + 0
 and your point is??? it has been proven time and time again that steel is so much better than ally
  • + 0
 u can get the absout in steel, ur flipant comments seem to b getting u in trouble! and i can see why! i changed from a steel frame this yr and my riding has improved no end, just cause its ur prefrance DONT mean ur right!
  • + 0
 yeah, wow. it's a good thing you got off that steel frame. frame material is a huge part of how well you ride. dolt
  • + 0
 how does aluminum vs steel change the way you ride? ive been debating on picking up an azonic steelhead for dirt cheep or a commencal maxmax or absolut or superteam, whats your input?
  • - 1
 i was making a joke about the tard above who thinks it makes a difference. it coudn't possibly steel usually lasts longer which is good for a bike that you're gonna smash on. it's not as stiff so it's not as likely to crack as aluminum
  • - 1
 what is it wiv u know all bikers!!!!
here cause we all love to ride!!!
and the steel frame was holding me back,why do u think ti bikes are so sought after???????????????
easy to call some one a tard when ur miles away init!
and to back myself up the steel frame does have up points!
its just easyer to get on with a lighter frame!
TWAT!
  • + 0
 a good dirt jump frame in aluminum isn't going to be lighter than a good steel one by any more than a few ounces. maybe your old bike was just a piece of crap. and ti bikes are hardly sought after, unless you're rich or some kind of xc nerd. i'd call you a tard to your face if you showed up and said that where i ride. don't say dumb shit and i won't have to abuse you.
  • - 1
 ur a prick,its clear from ur profile that ur not really a rider,perhaps u just icolated ur self from all ur other hobbys by being a jackass! well, well done ur on ur way to doing the same again! a bloke of ur age should of lernt some manners by this point,the way u speak im suprised it aint been beaten into u! my riding has improved,and it is down to the bike! maybe u should spend a bit more time riding rather than on ur pc slateing people that u know nothing about! and if u came to where i ride with that attiude ud get a lot more than called a tard.
  • + 0
 personalyi wudda put brakes onit mainly hydros but yano its your bike lol

probaly hayes 9 or avids possably i see you got the lugs for V-brake have you ever ridin brake befor ?
  • + 3
 I, personally, would never ride that frame... but it is unique
  • + 1
 im interested in the price of the full bike, after the 3rd installment someone please reply. thanks Smile
  • + 0
 nice but i still ride for scott bikes better frames you now but you got a heavy nice bike Big Grin kidding wiyh you!
  • + 1
 what is the diffrend about dirt jump 1 and argyle 409?
  • + 0
 nice man nice looks good but what about the crank you gonna switch out to a bmx style one?
  • + 0
 really good write up, but why not change the cranks? (if you did missed that bit) but yeah pretty cool
  • + 0
 To be honest i never ran into a issue with the Ruktion cranks. They were more than strong enough for me, and the ISIS interface made it easy to change them out for future 3 piece cranks, while still offering the ability to change it to a bmx style crank.

Also, with a more "known" crank setup, it would have been easier to change out rings, guards, or even install a chain guide, due to how popular that crank design is.
  • + 0
 where would you get a an adaptor like that i need one! pleaseeeeeeee! help>
  • + 0
 nice maxmax... and nice riding too!

i also love my maxmax www.pinkbike.com/photo/2640551

Big Grin
  • - 3
 oh and don't forget about moongose 2009 Ritual (Dirt) $699.99
www.mongoose.com/mtn/ProductDetails.html?id=2751&enc=mtn|7

Spend 200 more and get the street version.

Why better deal..don't be fooled kids!!!
  • + 0
 Mongoose Ritual MSRP: $699.99 (MSRP reflects US pricing and does not include freight & assembly and may vary by region)

The maxmax is in CDN dollars at $599, the Mongoose at $699USD is closer to $799CDN plus it doesn't include freight and assembly, so add another $75, so now we are up to $875.

$275 is a significant difference in price, if you want a front suspension disc brake bike get the Absolut Cedric Gracia Signature Edition is the next bike in the platform from Commencal at around $999cdn, with a Marz Dirtjumper, Raceface parts and Avid Disc brakes.

Absolut CG Pic
www.tredz.co.uk/prodimg/19788_1_Zoom.jpg
  • + 0
 P.S. don't buy a commencal in canada. their support is shit
  • + 0
 Nice i like the finished product, good job on the build
  • + 0
 howthehell do you STOP?!?
  • + 3
 with your feet
  • + 1
 Like the flinstones!
  • + 0
 really nice pics keep it up
  • + 0
 do you change front hub ?
  • + 0
 dialed bike
  • + 0
 awesome
  • + 0
 not brakes ?? ^^
  • + 0
 brakeless is the way to go Pimp
  • + 0
 yeah sure, because stopping's no good. and you probably can't even manual without your brakes
  • + 2
 i can manual as long as i want without brakes Wink and where i live (in the netherlands) there are no mountains, so i don't need any brakes here Smile
  • + 0
 you must not like going very fast then eh?
  • + 1
 i ride street, no need to go fast Smile and even if i go fast i can stop pretty fast by putting both my feet on the ground. looks stupid but it works Razz
  • + 0
 ok. you're off the hook. sorry just causing trouble on pink bike. you know how it is.
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