Riding a little bike is something I have missed for a few seasons now. After I made the transition over to a full suspension, the idea of having only front suspension was something I didn't want to think about. I was quite pleased with my 6" bike, rolling around town late at night, with no intentions of doing anything. However, this winter I had a change of heart. After a lot of thought about my riding style, and my skills on the trail, I felt I could better myself by riding a hardtail for a while. In riding a hardtail, I felt that it would force me to be a better rider, not only on the street, but on the trails. Most people I talked to about this agreed, by saying "if you're smooth on pavement, you're smooth on trail". Simply put, if I could better myself as an everyday rider, once I hit the trails I would be good to go.
So after much thought, and analyzing of the bank account, I decided that a hardtail was something I wouldn't mind investing in. However, that being said, the money tree couldn't withstand another clear cut season, so I decided to look into the "best bang for my buck". After carefully studying of a lot of bike companies, Tyler mentioned to me about the Commencal Max Max. At first I was turned off by the thought of a rigid fork, but at the age of 19 I still have strong wrists, that are more than willing to take a bashing once again.
A few weeks went by, some phone calls, and my new little $599 bike was in my hands. Yes, $599 is the base price on the Max Max (and I got a sticker pack worth like $100 on its own!). Some people may ask why I didn't pay a bit more to get a bike with front suspension, or better brakes, so I will explain it to you.
The Max Max is quite a unique piece of work. Marketed as a base hardtail, it came stock with a rigid fork, v-brakes front and back, and 26" wheels. A lot of the components are Commencal branded, which makes for a fairly cheap building price. The part that really stands out to me however, is the 6061 T6 aluminum Absolute frame, which is the exact same frame as is featured on all the higher end Absolute build ups. Commencal's belief when making the Max Max was that if you manufactured a bike, that had a very nice base frame, but built it up with affordable parts, more people would ride your bikes for longer and just upgrade parts instead of frames, which in my eyes is 100% true. Utilizing a very comfortable frame, Commencal began to build up their Max Max with as many "in house" products as they could use. The result? A bike built completely out of Commencal branded parts, with the exception of the cranks. This has allowed Commencal to set a really low base price for the Max Max, making it an ideal bike for a lot of groms, and kids who can't afford a high end street bike.
Now, let's talk about the frame. The Absolut AL frame is constructed out of 6061 T6 Aluminum. It's utilizing a 21.65 Inch top tube length, and a 13.58 Inch seat tube length. At its shortest setting, the Max Max is 40.15 Inches hub to hub, and the horizontal drop outs allow for about an inch of growth, up to 41.33 Inches at its longest setting. Utilizing a 69 degreed headtube, and 73 degree seat tube, the Max Max feels quite comfortable, but still short due to its shorter top tube length.
Rear Drop Outs
Component wise, the Commencal is fairly basic. As stated, most parts were produced either in house by Commencal, or out sourced to a different factory. We will go from front to back. The front fork is Commencal's own Hiten Steel fork. Fully rigid, really basic, but still very comfortable feeling. I am yet to take a shot to the wrists from this one, but I am sure it will feel good. The Max Max is using a Commencal FR stem, with 60mm of reach, that clamps onto the 6061 Double Butted 2" rise bars, that yes, Commencal produces.
Commencal Bar Fork Fork Decals
The Max Max utilizes Commencal's v-brakes front and back, which rub against a set of Commencal Deluxe rims, which are produced by Alexrim. The rims roll on a set of Commencal Deluxe hubs, both of which are bolt on, and the whole assembly is driven by a set of Trivativ Ruktion cranks. The Ruktion crank set was new to 2007, and was targeted towards the Freeride and Downhill scene, as a cheap, but reliable crank setup. In turn, they should work fine for some street and urban riding.
Ruktion Drive Side
The thing what struck me about the Max Max was the attention to detail on all the welds. Each weld is perfect, right down to the finishing bead. Commencal was not lying when they said "The Max Max is built around the frame". Regardless of the "lower" standard of components, the frame makes up for at least 2/3rds of the cost. The re-enforcement on the rear side of the seat tube struck me as a great idea. Not only would this gusset help with forward motion on hard impacts, which would stress the welds, but it is also aiding on reverse stress, and horizontal flexing. Commencal also introduced a different way of connecting the chain stays to the BB yoke. They used a straight connection, compared to other companies, using a mounting bracket of form. This closer connection allows the tire to be very close to the frame, creating a shorter bike, and with the use of a 24" wheel, could be much shorter feeling.
Headtube Rear Support Seat Stays Underside of Support
All in all I couldn't have asked for a better deal. I took the Max Max out for my first rip the other night. A calm, rainy, Wednesday night. What a better time to ride. The Max Max felt right at home hopping up ledges, and cramming into window sill wall rides, and it's awesome when all you can hear is the hub. No clinking, or clanging, just the quiet "tick, tick, tick" of the hub. The rigid fork laid a beating on my arms, but no pain no gain, so I will have to stick it out, and teach those arms how it's done. Commencal has really hooked the market up with the creation of the Max Max. So many bikes nowadays are "sick" but cost a "sickening" amount of money. The Max Max is definitely 599$ well spent.
The plan with the Max Max is to build a bike on a budget. We over at Pinkbike realize that by testing all these high end bikes gives you guys a taste of what your bike could be, but may not be due to your budget. So, the plan is we will build this bike over the summer months by searching for the cheapest, yet best deal on the products we will replace. So stay tuned to see how this budget build goes, and I hope you guys enjoy reading what I write. If you want to request any idea's for parts, drop me a message through the Pinkbike message system.
Commencal can be reached at Commencal.com
As well, check out my album for all the pictures of the Max Max.
Grip it, and rip it.