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
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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 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