Commencal has broken cover with a new development project and a prototype enduro bike using an unusual four-bar suspension design. The Andorran company has until recently used a single-pivot "faux bar" suspension layout on most of their bikes and has enjoyed widespread racing success with their single-pivot enduro bike, the Meta AM.
But they've been developing and racing a six-bar DH bike
for some time now, and it looks like they're experimenting with moving away from the single-pivot layout for enduro too.
The prototype bike uses a short-link four-bar layout, which means a rigid rear triangle is connected to the mainframe via two short links, much like a VPP or Maestro system. But in Commencal's design, the lower link connects to the rear triangle in front of where it connects to the mainframe. That's not an entirely new concept - it has been done by Alchemy
, Jamis/Speedgoat's Chris Currie
and Damon Madsen
before, and there may be others I'm not aware of - but it's certainly rare.
In Alchemy's design, the lower link rotated anticlockwise at first (if viewed from the drive-side), then clockwise again as the suspension moved deeper into its travel. It's not easy to say based on the photos we have so far whether Commencal's design will do the same (it's hard to make out the pivot locations from the photographs), but it looks to me like the lower link will rotate clockwise throughout most of its travel. That would make it most similar to Chris Currie's design of the three mentioned above.
The development of the prototype is part of what they're calling the Commencal Enduro Project
, a three-year initiative inspired by the DH development program which spawned that six-bar DH bike on which Amaury Pierron won the opening round of the 2022 World Cup. Commencal says the purpose of the enduro project is "to enable us to improve, firstly in racing and then for everyone."
The prototype bike seen here is the fruit of the enduro project so far, which began in June last year. Commencal say it has already allowed them to "confirm new kinematics and geometry principles." To me, that suggests they're hoping to expand on the four-bar design in future, but I could be wrong.
Don't expect to see it at the races any time soon though, as for now only Commencal's enduro project riders Alex Rudeau, Guillaume Larbeyou and Louis Jeandel will be riding it, specifically for R&D purposes.
More information as we get it.