Commencal Max Max Part 2

Jul 9, 2008
by Jordan Holmes  
I would have never thought 599$ in the biking world would get a complete bike that was worthy of being ridden hard. Commencal has proven my theory wrong with their marketing of the Max Max. The Max Max has been one of the most exciting bikes I've rode in a while, and it's definitely unique. Start with an Aluminum frame, stir in some rigid forks, a pair of v-brakes, and a set of wheels and you've got yourself the Max Max, or better known as "my best investment all year".A short time has passed us by since we last spoke about the Max Max, so we will give you a little bit of a recap. The idea behind the Max Max was to take an affordable street bike, ride it and only replace what needed to be replaced, and explain to you guys why I chose the parts I did. Well, it has been a few months now, and I figured I would let you know how things are coming along, so sit back, grab a drink, and read on.

The Commencal Max Max has been treating me quite well. As I presumed, rigid forks do take a toll on your body, specifically your arms. However, I am forced to bite my tongue because I knew it was coming. The rigid fork is a nice change however it provides no forgiveness, like a suspension fork. With a rigid fork there is none of that "aww man, I was so close to making that". Instead, you swap that out for "aww man, I've never crashed so hard" or "it feels like my arms are internally bleeding". The rigid fork has forced me to become a smoother, and more "dialed" park and trail rider. I find myself pedaling less, rolling longer, and overall having more fun, but don't forget about the pain. Other than the fork or lack there of, the Max Max has been performing well.


There have been a few modifications done to the Max Max so far. Little alterations just to make the bike feel better, or roll better, or just straight up perform better. I noticed after my first couple of rides that my shoulder blades were very sore after riding. So after fiddling with the seat height, wheel placement, I found out that by lowering my bars by a bit, it put less stress on my shoulders while riding. By lowering my bars I brought my shoulder blades lower down (half a inch or so) which slackens up the angle of my arm in its rotating cuff, which in turn allows for a more comfortable ride for me.


The lack of component adjustments was contradicted by the parts I changed. The first item to be added was the Yess ETR-B chain tensioner. This tensioner is new to Yess Products line up for this year, and is a pretty unique design. The ETR-B features a single tension spring, which allows for 90 degree's of adjustment. It also features a length adjustment, chain line adjustment, and a super simple installation method. The ETR-B is designed to keep upwards pressure on the chain. This forces the chain to stay snug, and the chain line to stay true. This system was particularly appealing because it keeps the rear drop outs clean, compared to the more "generic" chain tensioners that bolt into the derailleur hanger. With clean drop outs I still don't have to worry about bashing it on a rail or a cement curb or anything, so it's one less thing to worry about. Yess also makes the ETR-H for horizontal drop out mounts and the ETR-V for vertical drop out mounts. The Yess ETR-B is a logical tensioner in my eyes. The design keeps the roller tucked up under the crank/bash ring assembly which protects it from getting beaten or abused. It uses a generic Shimano derailleur pulley so you can easily swap it out if you wear it out or should you loose or over abuse the original one.

The Yess tensioner was a little bit more complicated to setup on the Commencal than it should have been. Initially the post that holds the roller into the arm was too short to reach my chain ring, even with the appropriate spacer in place. After a replacement, longer post was sent out, the issue was resolved, and it is now working correctly. Before purchasing this product I would definitely look into it, to see if you may run into any problems, however Yess was very helpful in getting my issue resolved.


I ditched the basic Wellgo pedal's for a pair of Premium Slim Pedals. They are extremely thin, and light, which makes them a perfect addition to the Max Max. 16oz for a pair? I am sold for sure. They are not only extremely light, but feature a basic pin design, and a comfortable concave for your foot. They are only 17mm thick at the thickest point so they stay out of the way. So far I am super pleased with the design and functionality of the Premium Slim pedal, plus the eye catching red they are painted adds for some extra flash while you ride. I also changed out the basic Commencal grips for a pair of Blk Mrkt Adam Hauck grips recently. They are a soft compound, non-lock grip that are ideal for park riding. They are slightly larger than a stock grip, and are also flanged. At $11.99 a pair it doesn't matter if they get abused, however they provide an exceptional amount of grip, and that's what I want out of them.





Something that frustrates me beyond belief is when simple designs don't work how you want them to. One thing I am sure most of us have experienced is when a rear or front wheel gets a little bit out of true, and your brakes begin the ending rubbing. So, once the rear wheel got a little wobbly I decided to strip the Max Max of its brakes and run it brakeless for a while. Brakeless is nice for a number of reasons. First, if a bike's handlebars feel too slim, or if you're feeling pressed for space removing the brakes frees up a bit of bar space. It saves you from fighting with your brakes to work if your wheel gets bent, or if the brake cable stretches. It also has forced me to be a more dialed rider seeing as I can't alter my speed directly. So far I am very happy with my brakeless decision. My rolling speed has increased due to the lack of drag, and it's 1 less thing that could go wrong.


I prefer to run my street or park bikes brakeless, but please oh please, if you don't feel you're ready to ride with no way of slowing down quickly, do us a favor and don't. I have seen people get hit at bike parks, dirt jumps, or even cruising around town. If you don't feel in control, you're not in control. I would not advise an amateur rider to take his/her brakes off.


When I first decided to get the Max Max I got a message from another Max Max owner saying "the Max Max is a nice bike, but the 'in house wheels' are far from strong". Now, don't get me wrong I am not trying to claim to be some kind of smooth rider, but I like to think I am not a hack. Needless to say I have now changed out the stock 32 hole, XC rim width wheelset for Mavic DeeTraks. The DeeTraks wheels are super solid, and utilize the straight pull spoke design. They are aimed around the freeride community, so they are a heavier design, but bomb proof when it comes down to strength and that is what I need on this street assasin. They feature a satin black finish, and yellow graphics, which in turn looked really good with the black frame of the Max Max. A nice touch that Commencal has blessed me with is the fact they used a proper single speed spacer kit for spacing the rear cog correctly. Commencal fitted the chain ring with the correct spacers, which are both clearly labeled for easy installation on a new wheel. It took me all of 15 minutes to change wheels over, and I am pleased with the final product.


Along with the DeeTraks wheelset I also picked up a pair of Schwalbe Table Top tires. The Table Top tire is Timo Pritzel's signature tire, and has a unique design. The first thing I noticed when I picked the Table Top tire up was its weight. They are extremely light, 572 grams a tire. That's slightly heavier than a full medium slurpee from the corner store. They feature a very low rolling profile with a forward facing V pattern. A simple tread pattern, matched with a soft rubber compound, and a little bit of folding bead love, and you've got yourself the Table Top tire. So far I am very stoked on these tires, they have less rolling resistance than the previous tires, Kenda K-Rad, and supply around the same amount of traction. I have found I prefer it in park over dirt due to the low knob profile, however I am sure they would perform great on hard pack dirt. I pumped the Schwalbe's up to 60 psi and they have just the right amount of rebound and compression under impact.



Note: Tire is slightly heavier than Slurpee

The short rear end aids the bike in being very flick'able, and responsive, however the slack headtube angle makes it so it's not touchy while turning, sliding, drifting, crashing, or tricking, but who does that?. The rigid fork is definitely a head turner, and when fellow riders ask the price they are always blown out of the water. "$600 for the complete bike?!" is the usual answer, which is quickly followed by "where can I buy one?". The Max Max has a very comfortable ride height, with ample top tube clearance, and a wheelbase that is just big enough.


I have been cruising, riding, jumping, and manual'ing the Max Max around for a while now and I have to say over time I have become more and more accustomed to the way it feels and rides. It sits at a comfy height, the chain stays are the perfect length so you don't loop out to easily when manual'ing or cat walking. The top tube length has grown on me at 21.65 inches. It seems to be a nice midway point where your balance is correct, but it does not feel too short in front of you. The high gloss black finish makes it a very eye catching bike, and with such a clean and simple paint job it definitely appeals to the public. With the basic component upgrades I have done the Max Max is now 27 pounds, 7 ounces, an acceptable weight for a street bike. The Max Max hasn't seen too much air time, however the times that it did it felt very comfortable while floating.

Commencal has created a winner of a bike for a price that suits it. The $600 street bike has turned out to be a very good investment, not that I ever doubted it as a bike. Most people that I talk to about the bike are very surprised with the overall quality, look, and feel that the Max Max provides. I would say the Max Max would be an ideal bike for an average park rider like myself, or a commuter looking to have a little fun on the way to and from work.


-Dolla Bill


55 Comments

  • + 20
 Looks hella fun, who cares if the fork is crappy, you're out there riding, thats what we all want to do in the first place anyway.
  • + 5
 all wheels have a break-in time...

why would you take off you brake if you just needed to true your wheel (which you have to do with all new wheels)?

"Something that frustrates me beyond belief is when simple designs don't work how you want them to." A WHEEL?!?!
  • + 4
 a mavic deetraks wheelset is at least $400 (in an online shop, more at an LBS), so is this bike really that great of a deal? Once you add a higher end wheelset like that and start riding around, you can no longer say that you're on a $600 bike.
  • + 3
 add a $500 wheelset to anybike and its becomes more expensive.......

we have sold tons of these in canada without problems, if someone folds a set of wheels after a year of ridin in a bike park then ya its time to upgrade, but if you're going to upgrade a wheelset on a bike like this, ryhno lites or single tracks would do fine for about $200
  • + 5
 the whole point to this bike is that it a very high quality frame (same frame as absolut 1 and 2, both $1050 and $1500 respectively) with some good parts on it to get people out there riding! If they decide to upgrade after a while or after they get a couple more paycheques, awesome! Thats the best part, someone can afford to go riding right away and later this frame can be upgraded to the nines!
  • + 2
 But nick for a lot of kids it's tough to even get the initial $600 together and that's the idea of the Max Max-a place to start and get out riding. We know that you don't need to go to Dee Traks wheels, but a nice rear rim upgrade can be done for a lot less too.
  • + 1
 he only bought the rear wheel and you can find one for around $250, I think he was just showing that the bike needed a new rear wheel to take the abuse, an mtx or rhyno lite would have worked too
  • + 2
 My best mate bought the cmmencal max max in ltd green and the wheels, for lack of a better word shocking!!! Hubs, are perfectly good, rims are bearable,spokes ....made out of cheese. Apart from that i have not found anything else i dont like about it.
  • + 2
 brakeless and rigid is pretty deadly because of the simplicity and hardcoreness of the bike.... if it was just a chromoly frame it would be insane. but sounds like it works good so...
  • + 4
 the maxmax is absolutely briliant for the money it cost and then u add what u want to make it better. end of story
  • + 4
 for $600 you can get the Max Max, which is saving the rider that 150$ towards an upgrade.
  • + 1
 i have the 24" and i love it, the wheels have been alright so far, no problems so far, decent brakes. the only thing i have changed is the pedals and grips. and taken the front brake off.
  • + 4
 so pretty much you paid more for a bigger bmx bikes
  • + 2
 yeah thats what i understood too...
  • + 0
 i buckled up the back wheel of mine stupidly quick, buts its a fairly easy & cheap thing to replace with a better product.. im currently saving for a pair of dirt jumper 3's or some RST gilas but in the meantime im not that fussed about riding with the rigids. i think its a great bike for street and dj. however i wouldnt ride it brakeless...
  • + 0
 i agree. but rigids are fun for riding park and street Smile . but not very versatile when it comes to jumping
  • + 2
 rigid brakeless is bad ass, you don't need suspension or brakes to ride street. Do work son!
  • - 1
 i'm sure it's a wonderful frame, but it just seems like kind of a kick in the nuts to market what would be categorized as a street/park bike, and have parts that couldn't possibly take the kind of abuse the bike was intended for... i will agree, it's a good platform for kids to start on, but for the extra $150, you can get an stp 2 which is ready to ride outta the box...
  • + 0
 yeah but the stp is a completely different kind of jump bike...different style
  • - 1
 haha i come back and i got -9 props for suggesting an alternative option based on my experience and with no malicious intent tough crowd! guess i should have bagged on kona then suggested buying a ridiculously overpriced custom frame eh!
  • + 2
 i want those pedals though
  • + 0
 i am getin one of these for some street ive got some 4x wc so i'll put them i wd go brakeless or disk brakes rim brakes are really annoying if u buckle the wheel
  • - 2
 you know whats real funny, is you could get a very nice bike of pinkbike for that much then getting some dumb bike that will last you a week. Even if your like real young; i mean when i was like 13 i killed bikes more then i do know because i have alot more control know then back in the day. Somebody said that you could just replace the rear rim with a ryno lit or a single track; Ive tried both and demolished them in 2 weeks max. Apparently people have no clue what real park riding is
  • + 1
 Looks like the guy doing the review knows what he is talking about...
He rides park all the time and loves the bike Wink
Pretty simple really
  • + 0
 Anyone know where can you get these in the US? Or are there any online dealers? I'd rather not pay international shipping.
  • + 0
 I'm pretty sure that BTI are the US distributors for Commemcal-go to their site and check it out.
  • + 0
 27.9 lbs is the stock weight, thats not bad! My bro has one and bent the rear wheel first day!
  • + 8
 LIke he mentioned in the article, the wheels weren't up to strength for any type of hard street riding.
  • + 0
 and get a sick bmx for 600! hahhaha
  • - 1
 We are all aware that a BMX bike (of which I have the greatest respect) can take more abuse than some MTB bikes, but that is not the point, this is a review of a 26" MTB with an aluminum frame and rigid cromo fork that weighs 28lbs complete and has significantly more riding possibilities than a 20" park bike. This is not a camparison to a 20" cromo BMX that weighs 38lbs for $600cdn.
  • + 0
 wait a sec? Did you say cromo fork? It is hi-tensile steel, thats why it weights so much Razz Sam goes for the seatpost.
(ya, i kno its old reply, but whatever) I think im getting this 1 for now. Only 333€ brand new from dealer... (green)
  • + 1
 nice bike ???
  • + 0
 why would you ride brakeless
  • + 0
 its more fun/lighter
  • + 0
 i haven't seen this kind of bike in our city!!!!!
  • - 3
 rigid brakeless is poinless.
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