2021 Commencal Meta TR 29

2021 Commencal Meta TR 29

Test Location: Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado

Test Duration: 4 months

Size Tested: Medium

Wheel Size: 29”

Travel: 140 mm rear / 150 or 160 mm front

Build Overview (as tested):

  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 RS
  • Fork: RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, 160 mm
  • Rear Shock: RockShox SuperDeluxe Coil Ultimate
  • Wheels: DT Swiss M1900 Spline

Blister’s Measured Weight (as tested, w/o pedals): 35.6 lbs / 16.16 kg

MSRP (2021 builds):

  • Meta TR 29 Frame Only: $1,599–$1,699
  • Meta TR 29 Origin: $2,499
  • Meta TR 29 Ride SRAM: $2,999
  • Meta TR 29 Essential: $3,799
  • Meta TR 29 Race (tested): $4,599
  • Meta TR 29 Signature: $5,299
  • Meta TR 29 Öhlins AXS: $6,499
Luke Koppa reviews the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Commencal Meta TR 29 Race
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  Intro //  The Frame //  The Builds //  Fit & Geometry //  Full Review //  Comparisons //  Bottom Line

Intro

In 2020 Commencal launched an all-new version of their “Trail” bike, the Meta TR 29, which returns unchanged for the 2021 and 2022 model years, apart from some tweaks to the build options.

The bike had always looked intriguing to me personally since it seemed like it could offer a nice compromise between being efficient and fun enough on the climbs and mellower trails throughout the Gunnison-Crested Butte valley, while still being burly enough for frequent laps at Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s bike park and the longer, steeper, chunkier descents here.

Also, it’s 2021, and mountain bike frames and parts are harder to get your hands on than an eel that’s taken a bath in a jar of bike grease. So I’d be lying if I said the fact that the Meta TR 29 Race’s estimated shipping date of June wasn’t a factor when I decided that it was going to be my next bike.

I’ve now spent a full season on this bike and also lent it to reviewer Dylan Wood to get his take on it. So it’s time to finally weigh in on how it lived up to my expectations, and who else should be considering it. You can check out our “Long-Term / Short-Form” video review if that’s your preferred medium, or keep reading for a more in-depth review of this downhill-oriented Trail bike.

The Frame

“Burly” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the bike industry, but I think it’s well deserved when discussing the Meta TR 29.

This bike, like all of Commencal’s, is only available with an aluminum frame. It’s also clear that the folks at Commencal were more concerned with making a bike that’d hold up to a lot of riding than trying to minimize weight. One of my main hopes with whichever bike I opted for was that it would be fun for many years to come. Along with its modern geometry (more on that below), Commencal’s reputation for making durable frames was a big factor when I ended up picking the Meta.

On the other hand, there’s no getting around that the Meta TR 29 is heavy. At 35.6 lbs / 16.16 kg for my size Medium Race build, the Meta TR 29 is anywhere from “slightly” to “a heck of a lot” heavier than a lot of other bikes with similar travel. Personally, I wasn’t too worried about that. I’ve found that I’m much more sensitive to a bike’s suspension pedaling characteristics than how much it weighs. Plus, I think part of my ski-reviewer thoughts on how weight tends to be a plus when it comes to overall downhill performance also carry over to my thoughts on bikes.

Weight aside, the Meta TR 29 has pretty much all of the features I’d look for in a modern frame. Cable routing is all internal, with the derailleur and rear brake cables briefly coming out of the frame above the bottom bracket. There’s also a spot for you to internally route a remote lockout for the rear shock, though I don’t think a whole lot of people will be going that route, given the weight and geometry of this bike.

In terms of frame protection, there’s a pretty thick guard under the bottom bracket that extends a bit up the downtube, and then some soft rubber around the drive-side chainstay and seatstay. Because I frequently end up shuttling Crested Butte’s famous Doctor Park trail throughout the summer, I added some All Mountain Style protective strips to the upper downtube and a few other spots on the frame.

Luke Koppa reviews the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Commencal Meta TR 29 Race w/ All Mountain Style Frame Guard
Luke Koppa reviews the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Commencal Meta TR 29 — Chainstay / Seatstay protection

The front triangle of the Meta TR 29 leaves room for a water bottle, but whether yours will fit will depend on a few things. My 24-oz bottle contacts the piggyback of the shock, but in a stroke of luck, I randomly found a smaller 21-oz bottle on the side of a trail and it fits (with maybe a millimeter to spare) when I have the cage mounted as low as possible.

The Meta TR 29 is set up to run a sizeable 200 mm rotor, and while you can’t go smaller than that, you could run up to a 220 mm rotor out back. Other randoms include ISCG 05 tabs for a chain guide, 148 mm Boost spacing, press-fit bottom bracket, a 34.9mm-diameter seat tube, and stated tire clearance of 65 mm / ~2.56 inches.

As far as the suspension design goes, the Meta TR 29 uses a linkage-driven single-pivot layout to provide 140 mm of rear travel. Depending on the build, you can pair that with a 150–160mm-travel fork. One of the things that excited me about the latest Meta TR 29 was that it has a pretty substantial amount of anti-squat, with it sitting around 130% at sag for the easier gears. Coming from the 2019 Specialized Enduro 27.5, I knew I wanted something that was going to feel a bit firmer on the pedals, even if it happened to weigh more. So far, the Meta TR 29 has definitely checked that box.

The Meta TR 29 is compatible with both air and coil shocks, though the Race build I have is the only one that comes stock with a coil shock.

Luke Koppa reviews the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Commencal Meta TR 29 Race — Water Bottle Compatibility w/ 21-oz bottle
Luke Koppa reviews the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Commencal Meta TR 29 — Tire Clearance w/ 2.35" Schwalbe Nobby Nic

Given that Commencal is a direct-to-consumer brand and most folks will be ordering directly from their site, I figured I’d briefly touch on the ordering and shipping process. First off, their customer service team was great — they quickly helped me with the ordering process when there was a processing issue on their site, and they kept me up to date on the shipping process without me needing to bug them. When the bike finally showed up, it was extremely easy to get it up and running. All I had to do was get the handlebars on, adjust the cockpit and seat height, set up the tires as tubeless, pump them up, set sag, and get going. The derailleur was shifting perfectly out of the box, and overall the bike was basically as pre-built as I could hope while still having it fit in a bike box.

The 2021 Meta TR 29 is available as a frame-only for $1,599–$1,699 (depending on the color), and in 6 full build options. You can also use Commencal’s “A La Carte” program to build up a frame with your choice of available parts.

As is a theme with most of Commencal’s bikes, the Meta TR 29 builds offer good bang for your buck. Likely thanks in large part due to Commencal’s direct-to-consumer model, the Meta TR 29 builds come with some higher-end components than many similarly priced bikes.

This is most notable in the suspension department — a big reason why the 2021 Meta TR 29 Race caught my eye was that it came with top-level RockShox suspension while still costing well under $5k. You won’t find any fancy carbon parts on any of the Meta TR builds, nor any top-spec Shimano XTR or SRAM X01 drivetrains, but I think Commencal does a good job of going higher-end for the parts that I’d personally care about the most.

The least-expensive Meta TR Origin builds do not get dropper posts, but the others get a 125 mm dropper on a size Small, 150 mm for a Medium, ~175 mm for a Large, and ~200 mm for the XL in most cases (exact travel depends on the particular dropper model for each build).

Commencal recently released their 2022 lineup, though they haven’t announced prices for most of the 2022 builds. In the full review section, we’ve noted the differences in components between the 2021 and 2022 Race build (many of which we’re very happy about).

Here’s an overview of all of the 2021 and 2022 Meta TR 29 builds (click to expand each one):

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 11-speed
  • Brakes: Shimano MT-501 2-piston
  • Fork: RockShox 35 Silver R, 150 mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select
  • Wheels: E13 LG1 EN Base
  • Seatpost: Ride Alpha solid post (400 mm for S & M; 450 mm for L & XL)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM NX Eagle
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide T 2-piston
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RC, 150 mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+
  • Wheels: E13 LG1 EN Base
  • Dropper Post: KS Rage-I (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 170 mm for L; 190 mm for XL)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX 2-piston
  • Fork: Fox 36 Performance, 150 mm travel
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance
  • Wheels: DT Swiss M502
  • Dropper Post: KS Rage-I (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 170 mm for L; 190 mm for XL)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 RS 4-piston
  • Fork: RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, 160 mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox SuperDeluxe Coil Ultimate
  • Wheels: DT Swiss M1900 Spline
  • Dropper Post: KS Lev Integra (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 175 mm for L; 200 mm for XL)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT
  • Brakes: Shimano XT 2-piston
  • Fork: Fox 36 Factory, 160 mm travel
  • Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XM1700 Spline
  • Dropper Post: KS Lev Integra (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 175 mm for L; 200 mm for XL)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle AXS
  • Brakes: Shimano XT 4-piston
  • Fork: Öhlins RXF 36 M.2 Air, 150 mm travel
  • Shock: Öhlins TTX1 Air
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XM1700 Spline
  • Dropper Post: RockShox Reverb AXS (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 170 mm for L & XL)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM SX Eagle
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide T 4-piston
  • Fork: RockShox 35 Silver R, 150 mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select
  • Wheels: E13 LG1 EN Base
  • Seatpost: Ride Alpha solid post (400 mm for S & M; 450 mm for L & XL)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM SX Eagle
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide T 4-piston
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RC, 150 mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+
  • Wheels: E13 LG1 EN Base
  • Dropper Post: KS Rage-I (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 170 mm for L; 190 mm for XL)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX 4-piston
  • Fork: Fox 36 Performance, 150 mm travel
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance
  • Wheels: DT Swiss M502
  • Dropper Post: KS Rage-I (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 170 mm for L; 190 mm for XL)
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle
  • Brakes: TRP DH-R EVO 4-piston
  • Fork: RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, 160 mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox SuperDeluxe Coil Ultimate
  • Wheels: DT Swiss EX511 w/ 350 hubs
  • Dropper Post: KS Lev Integra (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 175 mm for L; 200 mm for XL)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT
  • Brakes: Shimano XT 4-piston
  • Fork: Fox 36 Factory, 160 mm travel
  • Shock: Fox Float X Factory
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XM1700
  • Dropper Post: Fox Transfer Factory (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 175 mm for L; 200 mm for XL)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT
  • Brakes: Shimano XT 4-piston
  • Fork: Öhlins RXF 36 M.2 Air, 150 mm travel
  • Shock: Öhlins TTX1 Air
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XM1700
  • Dropper Post: KS Lev Integra (125 mm for S; 150 mm for M; 175 mm for L; 200 mm for XL)

For the 2021 Race build that I have, there’s a nice mix of reliable components I’d already spent a lot of time with, and some new-to-me ones that I was curious to try.

I’ve spent a lot of time with the GX drivetrain and know I get along pretty well with it, so there was no worry there. While I hadn’t used the coil version of the SuperDeluxe Ultimate shock, I knew the air version and Lyrik Ultimate were huge upgrades from the base-level Fox suspension on my previous bike, so I was very psyched about that.

On the brake side, I was curious to see how the 4-piston G2 RS stoppers compared to the more downhill-oriented SRAM Code R brakes I’ve been running for the past few years.

Luke Koppa reviews the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Commencal Meta TR 29 Race on Green Lake Trail, Crested Butte, Colorado.

This was my first time using a KS dropper and the DT Swiss mid-level M1900 wheelset, but I had heard good things about both. This was also my first time running Schwalbe tires (Magic Mary + Nobby Nic, Super Trail casings, Addix Soft compound), so I was curious to see how I’d end up getting along with them.

All in all, it seemed like a build that will be a significant step-up from my previous bike in terms of suspension, in particular, with other parts that didn’t raise any immediate red flags. The fact that it cost less than a lot of similarly spec’d alternatives was a big plus.

Fit & Geometry

For a 140mm-travel bike, the Meta TR 29’s geometry is notably modern / progressive / whatever we want to call bikes with slack head angles, long reaches, steep seat tube angles, and low bottom brackets, among other things.

Reach ranges from a not-super-small 440 mm on the size Small, all the way up to 515 mm on the XL. My size Medium Meta TR 29 has a 465 mm reach, which is a bit longer than most size Medium bikes I’ve spent time on, and even some of the size Large bikes from last year.

To keep the bike from feeling too stretched out with that long reach, the Meta TR 29 gets a very steep 78.6° effective seat tube angle, and the actual seat tube angle looks pretty steep, too.

All sizes of the Meta TR 29 get 435 mm chainstays. For the Small and Medium sizes, those aren’t wildly short, though still a bit on the shorter end of the spectrum. That said, with more brands making bikes with chainstay lengths that vary by size, the Meta TR 29’s chainstay length starts to look pretty short when you get into the Large and XL sizes and their big reach numbers.

According to Commencal’s geo chart, the Meta TR 29’s head angle sits at 64.5° with a 561mm-long (150mm-travel) fork. That’s already pretty slack for a bike in this class, and the Race and Signature builds get 160mm-travel forks, which will slacken it out a bit more.

All of that translates to some pretty long wheelbases, with the size Medium with a 150mm-travel fork coming in at 1230 mm.

For reference, here’s the full geo chart of the Meta TR 29:

Luke Koppa reviews the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Commencal Meta TR 29 — Geo Chart w/ 150mm-travel fork

As far as comparisons go, the Privateer 141 is the most obvious one. It shares extremely similar numbers when it comes to reach, top tube length, head angle, and seat tube angle, though the 141 has different chainstay lengths across different sizes, making for longer wheelbases in the larger sizes.

That said, the Meta TR 29’s numbers put it squarely on the more aggressive side of the spectrum. It’s longer and / or more slack than most bikes in this class, such as the Santa Cruz Hightower, Ibis Ripmo AF, Pivot Switchblade, Propain Hugene, YT Jeffsey, and Canyon Spectral. In addition to my optimism regarding the Meta TR 29’s long-term durability, the fact that I doubt its geometry will feel “outdated” in many years was another big factor when I was considering the bike.

Some Questions / Things We Were Curious About

(1) With a hefty weight and decidedly downhill-oriented build and geometry, how versatile will the Meta TR 29 prove to be as a do-it-all Trail bike, particularly on the uphill and more moderate downhills?

(2) On the other side of things, I spend a lot of time lapping the bike park at Mt. Crested Butte, so how well will this bike (and the components of the Race build) handle frequent days riding lifts?

(3) The Meta TR 29’s bigger sibling, the Meta AM 29, looks very similar on paper, apart from its increased front and rear travel. So who should be opting for one over the other? A local shop, Butte & Co, has some Meta AM’s in their demo fleet so I’m looking forward to testing them back-to-back.

(4) All of the Meta TR 29 builds offer a pretty nice value for their respective prices, but what about the lowest-tier $2,499 Origin build? Butte & Co also has that version so I’ll be giving it a try, too.

Bottom Line (For Now)

The Commencal Meta TR 29 is a bike that’s got a relatively modest amount of travel, but with geometry numbers, frame details, and component specs that all make it seem like it will be able to handle the sort of riding often best suited to longer-travel alternatives. That’s the main reason I thought it could work well for the majority of riding I do, and I’m eager to see how well it lives up to my expectations.

Blister Members can check out my Flash Review for my thoughts after my first few rides on it, and then stay tuned for our full review where we’re planning on having a few of our reviewers weigh in.

FULL REVIEW

Dylan Wood and I both spent time on the Meta TR 29 Race this summer and fall, and now that we have ridden it everywhere from mellow XC trails in Gunnison to demanding bike park race tracks in Crested Butte, we’ve compiled our thoughts on this aggressive Trail bike.

Fit & Geometry

Dylan Wood (5’11”, 155 lbs / 180 cm, 70 kg): First, it’s worth mentioning that at my height, I am squarely between the Medium and Large sizes of the Meta TR 29, based on Commencal’s recommendations. That being said, and despite the fact that I typically get along best with size Larges for most bikes, I had absolutely no issues with the fit of the size Medium Meta TR.

When first pedalling the Meta TR around, the steep seat tube angle was one of the first things I noticed. My feet were farther under (rather than forward of) me than I am used to, and it did take some time to get accustomed to the new positioning. I’ll touch more on the seat tube angle later in this review, but other than that, the bike’s geometry made for a pretty comfortable and familiar fit. I was pleased with how far the handlebars were out in front of me from a seated position — I didn’t feel too stretched out or too cramped, but it did feel slightly shorter than most size Large bikes I spend time on (no surprise there).

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa Blister mountain bike review on the Commencal Meta TR 29
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

As I just touched on, I am on the tall side for a Medium, and I also have relatively long legs; I am usually rocking a 77 cm seat height (measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the middle of the top of the saddle). When applying this seat height to the size Medium Meta TR, its 150 mm dropper post sticks out from the seat collar quite a bit. If this were my personal bike, I’d put at least a 175 mm dropper on it. I think I had the room for a 200 mm dropper, but if you’re considering that, I’d just recommend double checking you have enough insertion depth. I don’t see the stock 150mm-travel post as a negative for everyone, since there are plenty of shorter riders who could get along with the size Medium with a 150 mm dropper, but if you are taller and / or have long legs, just know there’s plenty of room for more dropper-post travel.

Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg): I’m more squarely in Commencal’s recommended height range for the size Medium Meta TR, and I’ve also gotten along really well with the fit.

Like Dylan, the steep seat tube angle was immediately evident, but was also something I quickly got used to. The seated climbing position feels pretty compact without being scrunched, and the long 465 mm reach left plenty of room to move around on the descent.

I’m a bit shorter than Dylan and I’m still running the 150 mm KS Lev Integra dropper with several centimeters of post showing. I’m generally a fan of being able to slam a seat as low as possible so I’d prefer a 175+ mm dropper. This hasn’t been a problem on normal trail rides, though I have slammed the post when I knew I was only going to be riding the bike park and I really, really preferred the lower position for hitting jumps. So while the stock dropper hasn’t bugged me for normal trail rides, I’ll definitely be looking into getting a 170 or maybe 200 mm dropper next season, given how much time I spend in the park.

The main area I’ve been tempted to tweak when it comes to fit is the cockpit. During long, relatively flat climbs, my wrists have sometimes ended up a bit sore. I’ve experimented a bit with the stem spacers, and bumping the bars up that way does help a bit in this regard. But I also prefer a lower bar for descending, so I’ve just stuck with one spacer under the stem and have generally been fine. And the 780 mm bar width is exactly what I want, which is a plus (though I could see some folks wishing for an 800 mm bar).

Climbing

Dylan: Coming in at almost 36 pounds as-built without pedals, I wasn’t expecting the Meta TR 29 Race to be some sort of rocket on the uphills. And, well, it isn’t. However, this bike still compares fairly well in terms of climbing performance for mid- to longer-travel Trail bikes.

In a seated position, the Meta TR 29 lets you put down some powerful pedal strokes without sucking all your energy into the suspension. Pedal bob is relatively low, and the easy-to-reach climb switch adds support without sacrificing too much traction for longer, smoother climbs. Efficiency-wise, I’d say the Meta TR is pretty average when it comes to Trail bikes with similar travel.

Luke Koppa reviews the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Luke Koppa on the Commencal Meta TR 29, Green Lake Trail, Crested Butte, Colorado.

Regarding the Meta TR 29’s steep 78.6° seat tube angle, in my opinion, that’s what makes the Meta TR stand out when climbing. (In reality, the effective angle is likely just a hair slacker on our Race build, considering the extra 10 mm of front travel combined with my high seat height, but regardless, it feels steep.) I did several notoriously steep climbs in the Crested Butte area (e.g., Teocalli Ridge) on the Meta TR, and rarely did I find myself needing to stand up to pedal a very steep climb — from a seated position, I was able to weight the front wheel enough to prevent wandering. Not only that, but I also didn’t feel inclined to scoot all the way up to the uncomfortable nose of the saddle to keep that front wheel planted — the seat tube angle on this bike makes steep climbs much more comfortable and achievable. On flatter climbs, it felt awkward at first, almost like I was going to slide off the front of the saddle. Though, after tilting the saddle slightly backward and logging more time on the Meta TR, I became very accustomed to the steep seat tube angle and found myself loving it every time the trail turned sharply uphill.

Luke: Yep, Dylan hit the main points. The Meta TR’s longer wheelbase, slack head angle, and fairly portly weight definitely don’t make it feel particularly eager on the climbs. Unlike, say, the Pivot Switchblade, the Meta TR is not a Trail bike that feels like it’s really encouraging you to get out of the saddle and put in quick bursts of power.

Fortunately, that’s not really my style anyway. And more importantly, the Meta TR’s geometry and suspension platform work very well for the alternative — sitting and spinning. As Dylan noted, the Meta TR doesn’t feel like it’s sapping much of your input with each pedal stroke, and I’d go as far as to say that it’s on the more efficient side of the spectrum when it comes to lack of pedal bob. Not quite as firm as the Switchblade or Revel Rail, but a heck of a lot more efficient than my old Specialized Enduro 27.5 and the past few iterations of the Specialized Stumpjumper (I haven’t tried the 2021 versions). At the same time, I’ve rarely felt like I was needing more traction on looser, trickier bits of trail.

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood pushing the Commencal Meta TR 29 up for another shot — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

I care more about grinding up climbs steadily and efficiently than I do about sprinting and high-output bursts, so the Meta TR works really well for me. I’ve occasionally flipped the shock’s climb switch on paved roads, but apart from those, I pretty much always leave it open.

As for that steep seat tube angle, it did take some getting used to but I no longer really think about it. It makes sitting and grinding up depressingly steep sections of trail less miserable than they could be, and makes my weight feel more centered on the bike than most I’ve ridden. It does feel a bit weird when you stay seated on trails and roads that are slightly downhill, but at this point, I only really notice that when I’ve recently been on something with a slacker seat tube angle.

Descending

Dylan: If the Commencal Meta TR 29 doesn’t impress you on the way up, just wait till you get the bike going downhill. That’s really where the Meta TR starts to separate itself from the rest of the mid- to long-travel Trail bikes.

The Meta TR punches above its travel when it comes to descending. When riding fast, chunky terrain, it remains very composed and stable, allowing me to stay off the brakes a little more than many other ~150 mm Trail bikes, such as the Santa Cruz Hightower. Situations like these are also when I see the weight of the Meta TR as having a positive effect on the way the bike handles — it stays on line and doesn’t get bucked around as much as lighter Trail bikes like the Canyon Spectral 29. This weight, paired with the Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil on our Race build, made for a very planted, glued-to-the-trail feel that inspired me to ride the Meta TR faster and faster. For this reason, I’d see no problem with frequently taking this bike to the bike park, or entering an Enduro or casual Downhill race. That said, longer-travel Enduro bikes like the Canfield Lithium still do offer a more composed feel and keep their speed better through very rough sections, and offer more forgiveness on big drops and g-outs.

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Despite the Meta TR having a relatively long reach, it doesn’t feel super cumbersome when the trail gets tight and technical, especially in the Medium size we have. Its relatively short 435 mm chainstays (same across all sizes) make tight switchbacks negotiable, though they do mean more of the rider’s weight is on the rear wheel. I found myself having to focus on keeping weight on the front wheel, especially in corners, to maintain a good amount of front-tire traction. Overall, I think it’s a fair tradeoff for a little more maneuverability, though.

On smooth and more flowy bike park trails with berms and jumps, the Meta TR is still great fun. The shorter chainstays make it a little easier to pop into the air than you might think, though the coil shock and relatively heavy weight of the bike (which create that glued-to-the-trail feel I was mentioning earlier) do somewhat counteract this and make for a generally below average experience on slower, more flowy “blue” / intermediate jump trails. I.e., it’s a little harder to get into the air. However, on faster “black” / advanced trails where it’s more about carrying speed than popping off smaller lips, the Meta TR 29 has no problem getting into the air.

On mellower XC-style trails, the Meta TR 29 starts to lose its charm a little bit. Its hefty weight and generally plush feel make it feel pretty sluggish on undulating terrain where keeping your momentum results in more enjoyment. It does feel more efficient than longer-travel Enduro bikes like the Santa Cruz Megatower, but the Meta TR 29 definitely does have a bias for steeper, faster trails.

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Luke: Again, Dylan did a great job of hitting the highlights here. The Meta TR lived up to my expectations on the descents — it stays more composed and easier to control in challenging terrain than many bikes with similar travel. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, I know I was able to ride several of my favorite higher-speed trails faster on the Meta TR than I could on my old Specialized Enduro 27.5 Elite.

As a terrible flat-corner-er, I was a bit worried I’d have to drastically adjust my body positioning to keep the Meta TR’s front wheel rubber-side-down during the dusty summer days in Crested Butte. Thankfully, it was a pretty quick adjustment period; I found that the bike naturally encouraged a more forward position and I have yet to experience a catastrophic front-wheel pushout. (And now that I’ve put that into writing, I should probably never get on it again…)

I did some back-to-back laps with longer-travel rigs like the Canfield Lithium and Commencal Meta AM 29 Origin, and at least for me, I noticed few downsides with the Meta TR. If things are really rough with sizeable rocks and drops, I tend to take it fairly slow no matter which bike I’m on, so I rarely felt myself wishing for more travel than the Meta TR had on tap. And on repeated, consistent, but more “mid-size” chunk, I was really impressed by the consistency of the Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil — for only offering 140 mm of rear travel, the bike does a really good job of using it effectively without often feeling overwhelmed. If I was frequently riding really fast down legit DH tracks like Captain Jack’s at Mt. Crested Butte, I’m sure I’d be wishing for more travel. But currently, the Meta TR has yet to feel like it’s really holding me back.

I also agree with Dylan regarding the upside to the Meta TR’s weight — while I’m sure there’s more to it than simply added grams, it has a more calm and planted feel than the lighter Canyon Spectral or Pivot Switchblade.

As for jump and flow trails, I’ve actually gotten along quite well with the Meta TR. It feels natural and predictable on takeoffs, and in the air, I’ve noticed its weight less than I expected. I do agree that there are definitely bikes in this class that are easier to get off the ground, especially on smaller side hits. But on any jumps that actually have built-up lips, the Meta TR was a lot of fun.

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

On flatter, smoother trails (e.g., Lupine, Gunsight Connector, & Strand Bonus in Crested Butte), the Meta TR does feel a bit less exciting and engaging than some of the alternatives in this class with more moderate geometry. In my mind that’s just the price you pay for better composure on faster, steeper, chunkier trails, but definitely worth noting if you’re not frequently riding trails on the faster, steeper, and / or chunkier end of the spectrum. And I do still find the Meta TR more fun on mellower trails than most longer-travel bikes I’ve used, so it’s not like it’s just an Enduro bike with less travel (which was one of my main worries when considering it vs. the Meta AM).

Thoughts On The Build

Dylan: At $4,599 for the 2021 version, the Commencal Meta TR 29 in the “Race” build offers an exceptional value for the parts that come on it. I really like how Commencal prioritizes the suspension on their bikes as a whole, as well as this build kit specifically. The 160 mm RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork did a great job of devouring every rock and root that I put in front of it, and I found it difficult to bottom out on fast g-outs and big drops and jumps. I ended up settling on 63 psi in the fork (resulting in about 20% sag), which is rather low pressure for my weight, but I do tend to bias my weight rearward when I am riding. I also ran thirteen clicks of low-speed compression, three clicks of high-speed compression, and five clicks of rebound (all counted from fully closed). The fork came stock with two volume spacers installed and Luke opted to remove one of them, and I was very happy with the amount of progression in the fork with just one spacer installed.

The RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate was also a great fit for this bike, making for a supportive feel in berms and g-outs, as well as being very reactive to successive rooty and rocky impacts. I continued to run the 350-lb coil that came stock on the size Medium bike, and ran about three turns of preload that resulted in 30% sag on the dime. I also ran five to seven clicks of low-speed compression, depending on what kind of trail I was riding (more low-speed compression for more flowy trails with rollers, berms, jumps, etc.; less compression for steeper trails). I do think that having an air shock on this bike would not only shed some grams but also create a poppier, more playful feel in the bike, as well as obviously making the rear suspension feel more progressive. The coil had a more dead, planted feel, which I thought was appropriate for the terrain I was riding, but I could see how an air shock would be best for more flowy and moderate terrain.

The rest of the build kit was quite fitting for the bike. The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain shifted well and was reliable throughout my time on the bike, no complaints here. Like Luke, I also got along well with the Fabric Scoop saddle, and the rest of the cockpit spec made sense on the bike. The Schwalbe Nobby Nic (rear) and Magic Mary (front) tire combo worked really well for this bike, with the Nobby Nic being a little faster-rolling and the Magic Mary being more aggressive / grippy. I felt like I had great traction on wet, loose, dry, and hardpack surfaces without feeling too slow. The DT Swiss M1900 rims were reliable and withstood some pretty heavy use well, though the rear wheel did become pretty out of true (likely due to Luke spending lots of time on them at the bike park and shralping every corner).

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

The biggest thing I would change about this bike are the brakes, and apparently, Commencal agrees, since they changed them for the 2022 Race build. On the 2021 Race build, I found that the SRAM G2 RS 4-piston brakes were fine on shorter, mellower descents. However, on any long, sustained descents like Teocalli Ridge in Crested Butte, as well as anything steep over ~2 minutes long, I found myself disappointed by them. The G2 brakes did not dissipate heat well and faded over the course of a descent, requiring more and more force to slow down, which was pretty tiring on the hands and forearms, despite the 200 mm rotors at both ends. Luke also pretty quickly blew through the organic pads that came on the bike, and I replaced them soon after I got the bike with some semi-metallic Jagwire pads. Given how fast the Meta TR 29 encourages you to ride, I think this bike would be much better off with some SRAM Code brakes instead, which we’ve gotten along well with on long, steep descents.

For 2022, the Meta TR 29 Race will come with TRP’s DH-R EVO 4-piston brakes and their 2.3mm-thick 203 mm rotors at both ends. While we haven’t tested them, given that they’re the brakes that folks like Aaron Gwin are running on World Cup DH tracks, I think this is a great choice by Commencal.

Luke: Not a whole lot to add here — I love that the Race build in this bike gets you top-tier suspension at a sub-$5k price, and the rest of the components aren’t seriously lacking. Commencal hasn’t released pricing for their 2022 models, but I’d fully expect the 2022 Race build to also be a great value, relative to other bikes next year.

Like Dylan, I’ve loved the RockShox bouncy bits on this bike. While I have actually been contemplating putting a RockShox ZEB on the Meta TR (mostly because of how much I loved it on the Trek Slash we reviewed), I think that’d be overkill. And the Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil has just been excellent during my time with it.

Regarding how the bike would compare with an air shock, I have actually been able to spend some time doing this comparison. Now, I’ve ridden the Meta TR (and Meta AM) in their “Origin” builds, which come with the low-volume RockShox Deluxe shock. I’d be much more curious to see how the Metas compare with a higher-volume shock like the Super Deluxe air, but with that caveat out of the way, my time basically confirmed Dylan’s suspicions. With an air shock, the Meta TR and AM feel notably more lively from a suspension perspective. There’s still no getting around the fact that these are long, slack bikes, so they’re never gonna feel extremely snappy or engaging on flat, mellow trails. But with an air shock, the Meta TR and Meta AM do feel a bit easier to get off the ground, particularly at slower speeds. However, the Meta TR Origin also feels significantly less composed than the Meta TR Race when you encounter an extended section of rough trail, or over the course of a long, chunky descent. I wouldn’t describe my style (or lack thereof) as particularly “jibby,” so I’m pretty happy trading some liveliness for more consistent performance in rough sections of trail.

This was my first time spending more than a few rides on Schwalbe rubber, and I quickly became a big fan of the Magic Mary / Nobby Nic combo. I tend to prefer front tires that don’t require maximum commitment before their side knobs dig in, and the Magic Mary checked that box for me. The Nobby Nic is maybe not the best in terms of braking traction, but it was totally adequate for me. And maybe most notable of all, I think Schwalbe’s Super Trail casing and Addix Soft casing / compound combo is excellent for a bike like the Meta TR 29. The tires have been very easy to get on and off the rims, yet I still haven’t flatted them throughout many days in the bike park (I have been running a Tannus Tubeless insert in the rear). And I’ve been very happy with the grip and durability of the Soft rubber compound.

[Note: The 2022 Race build will come with a Maxxis DHRII up front and a Maxxis Dissector out back. Unfortunately, they come with Maxxis’s lighter EXO casing and lower-end Dual rubber compound, so this build change seems like more of a step in the wrong direction. I’m guessing it’s a result of supply chain issues and/or a way to compensate for the 2022 Race build’s nicer brakes and wheels.]

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

As for the DT Swiss M1900 rims, they’ve generally been fine. Since it’s 2021, my Tannus tire insert showed up a few days after it was supposed to. I still wanted to ride the bike for those few days, but of course, I managed to put a sizeable dent in the rear rim during that time. After adding the insert, I have yet to further damage the rims, but the dent has meant that I need to top off the air pressure before each ride. If / when I manage to truly wreck them, I’ll probably be looking at the slightly burlier DT Swiss M1700 rims that come stock on the higher-end Meta TR builds.

[Note: The 2022 Meta TR 29 Race will come with DT Swiss’s burlier EX511 rims and their higher-end 350 hubs (vs. the 370 on the 2021 version). Another smart choice by Commencal, though we’ll see how much that raises the 2022 build’s price.]

Regarding the rest of the bits bolted to the bike, I don’t have much to report. SRAM’s GX drivetrain isn’t my absolute favorite, but it’s performed just fine. The cockpit components have cockpit-ed well, and the Fabric Scoop saddle is really comfortable for my butt shape (the 2022 version will come with an SDG Bel Air V3 Atmos saddle).

Like Dylan, my two main build-related gripes come down to the brakes and dropper.

The stock G2 RS brakes have been totally fine for most of the riding I do. But when my friends convince me to go ride some trails on the steepest and roughest end of my comfort spectrum, I have been wishing for more power and heat management. As I noted above, I don’t tend to ride those trails very fast, which means I’m on the brakes a lot. And when that happens, I do notice a bit of fade and lack of power compared to the SRAM Code R brakes I had on my last bike. I’m glad Commencal put 200 mm rotors to help alleviate this, but I know I’d prefer having something a bit more powerful. And as Dylan just touched on, turns out, Commencal agrees and the Race build has burlier TRP DH-R EVO brakes for 2022.

As for the dropper, I really like the KS Lev Integra when it comes to the actuation and ergonomics (it comes with the KS SouthPaw alloy remote). I mostly just wish the size Medium came with a longer-travel post. The Lev Integra on my bike also extends a bit when you pull on it when it’s compressed. I know you’re not supposed to do that anyway, and as far as I can tell it hasn’t affected its performance, but it is a little odd. Unfortunately, dropper travel is the one gripe that isn’t solved with the 2022 builds — the 2022 Meta TR 29 Race will still ship with a 150mm-travel Lev Integra.

All in all, though, I think the 2021 Meta TR 29 Race is an excellent value for how much it cost, particularly for those who prioritize suspension, and I think the 2022 version will be even more appealing to those interested in this sort of downhill-oriented Trail bike.

Comparisons

Commencal Meta TR 29 Race vs. Meta TR 29 Origin

At $2,499 for the 2021 version, the “Origin” build is the least expensive version of the Meta, and as you’d expect, it’s generally not quite as good on the ups or downs as the $4,599 Race build. The most noticeable difference is suspension components — the RockShox 35 Silver R fork and Deluxe Select shock don’t match the suppleness, consistency, and adjustability of the Lyrik Ultimate and Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil on the Race version. The air shock does create a slightly more lively feel on mellower trails, but if you’re looking at the Meta TR mostly because of how it performs above its travel class, we’d recommend the Race (or even more expensive builds) due to their notably better suspension bits.

The Origin build also doesn’t come stock with a dropper post, and while its 11-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain is excellent for the price, its 2-piston Deore brakes lack power and consistency on steep, sustained trails.

These bikes obviously feel quite similar overall, given their identical frames, but we think that the Race build makes a lot more sense for those who want to get a whole lot of performance out of their Meta TR without feeling like they’ll need to upgrade several components in the near future.

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Commencal Meta TR 29 Race vs. Meta AM 29 Origin

The same things we just noted about the Origin build of the Meta TR apply here, but what about the differences between the 140mm-travel Meta TR frame and 160mm-travel Meta AM?

Well, it’s mostly what you’d expect. The longer-travel Meta AM is a bit longer and slacker than the TR, and combined with that extra bit of travel, that makes the AM feel more sluggish and less exciting on mellower terrain. Not a super drastic difference, but a noticeable one. On very steep, rough sections of the trail, the Meta AM Origin doesn’t feel drastically more stable than the Meta TR Race, but if you spend a lot of your time on those sorts of trails, it’s definitely worth considering the higher-end builds of the Meta AM. The two frames feel really similar in terms of geometry, as well as climbing efficiency. So if you spend the majority of your time on really chunky, steep trails, the Meta AM builds could be a better fit.

Commencal Meta TR 29 Race vs. Canyon Spectral CF 8

The Spectral we tested is a size Large, so this comparison isn’t quite apples-to-apples but it’s still worth mentioning.

These two bikes aren’t very different in terms of geometry or price, but they feel pretty different on the trail. The Spectral is a notably more maneuverable, snappy, and reactive bike. In tight terrain, it’s a bit easier to flick around, and it also feels a bit less sluggish on the uphill thanks to it being about 3.8 lbs (1.72 kg) lighter than the Meta TR 29 Race. That said, at higher speeds and in rougher terrain, the Meta TR 29 Race is notably more planted and composed. The two bikes feel pretty similar when it comes to pedalling efficiency, though the Spectral’s lighter weight gives it the edge there, while the Meta wins in terms of flat-out composure when pointed downhill.

Both are excellent values for the money, with the Spectral making more sense for those who spend their time on a wider variety of trails, particularly those that aren’t extremely steep or rough. If you’re on the opposite side of things and prioritize performance on challenging descents more than you do low weight, the Meta TR is a better call.

Commencal Meta TR 29 Race vs. Pivot Switchblade Team XTR

This is a somewhat similar story as the Spectral comparison, but to a greater degree. The much lighter Switchblade feels far more efficient and snappy on the uphill when compared to the Meta TR, but the Meta feels far more calm and composed when the trail gets steep and rough. The Switchblade is firmer on the pedals and more exciting on mellower terrain, while the Meta does a better job of smoothing out successive rocks and roots, and generally gets knocked around a lot less in steep rock gardens and the like.

If you’re looking for a “versatile Trail bike” both could potentially be worth a look — it just depends on your definition of that phrase in quotes. The Switchblade is a far better choice if you prioritize climbs just as much as descents and / or ride a lot of rolling terrain, while the Meta TR 29 makes a lot more sense if you prioritize downhill performance on chunkier, steeper, longer descents.

There’s also the price — the cheapest build for the Switchblade is $5,999, and it still comes with lower-end suspension than the $4,599 Meta TR 29 Race, with the two sharing roughly otherwise similar components. But you should also consider the ease of having your bike serviced from your local shop, as well as the fact that the Switchblade weighs a whole lot less than the Meta TR.

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Commencal Meta TR 29 Race vs. Canfield Lithium

We have the Lithium in a size Large, so this comparison isn’t perfect, but we’ll add our two cents.

On the uphill, the Lithium feels a bit more efficient when pedalling (our size Large is also about 12 oz lighter than our Medium Meta), though the Meta TR’s front end is less prone to wandering when the trail gets steep. When pointed downhill, we’d expect the shorter Lithium to feel a bit more maneuverable in really tight spots (in equivalent sizes), and its suspension also stays more active under braking. The Lithium corners really, really well for a 29er, and all of our reviewers thought it felt quite playful for being a pretty long-travel bike. That said, it’s not extremely composed compared to other bikes in its class, and we found the difference in stability between it and the Meta TR 29 to be surprisingly small. For having 121 mm less travel out back, the Meta TR 29 doesn’t give up a whole lot when the going gets rough.

Overall, the Lithium will probably work better for most folks looking for a fun park bike that also pedals quite well. For what it is, the Lithium is a blast to flick through corners and to get in the air, but it’s still a very efficient climber. The Meta TR 29 makes more sense for those who generally like to keep their bike on the ground, and those who don’t mind a bit more weight in exchange for a more planted feel.

Who’s It For?

There are a few types of riders who we could see getting along well with the Meta TR 29.

(1) Riders who want a versatile, do-it-all Trail bike, but who also spend plenty of time shuttling descents or riding lift-served terrain.

The Meta TR 29 handles a variety of terrain well, and it is particularly impressive in terms of how well it handles rough, fast, and steep trails. Its burly frame and component spec hold up pretty well to the bike park, and for this reason, I’d choose this bike over most other ~150 mm Trail bikes if I rode plenty of chairlifts.

(2) Riders who prefer a composed, planted ride over a poppy, playful one.

The Meta TR Race tends to prefer to stay on the ground and provides plenty of traction in bumpy situations. The Meta TR can be a bit poppier and less glued to the trail when paired with an air shock, but it does still outperform most other Trail bikes in this regard.

(3) Riders who like to do long climbs followed by long descents.

The Meta TR provides an efficient pedaling platform for grinding out long climbs. When the trail turns steep on the way up, the also-steep seat tube angle of the Meta TR lets you stay seated and continue to pedal your way up. Then, when the trail turns downhill, the Meta TR Race handles just about anything you throw at it, though you might want to upgrade the 2021 model’s brakes if you love descending long, steep trails.

(4) Riders looking for lots of value out of their Trail bike.

Commencal has an advantage over non-direct-to-consumer brands with the way they are able to price this bike, and they pretty much nailed the build kits on the Meta TR 29 when it comes to the value you get for your money. Other brands make more sense if you want the fewest grams for your buck (e.g., Canyon Spectral), but if you want maximum all-round performance (with a downhill bias) per dollar, the Meta TR offers a lot to like.

Dylan Wood and Luke Koppa review the Commencal Meta TR 29 for Blister
Dylan Wood on the Commencal Meta TR 29 — Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Bottom Line

Dylan: If you’re in the market for a new Trail bike and you like to go really fast downhill, the Commencal Meta TR 29 might be the bike for you. Riders who don’t want to make any sacrifices in how their Trail bike descends might be better off on a longer-travel Enduro bike, but the Meta TR 29 is still more versatile than those when the trail isn’t so gnarly. It’s a heavy bike, so if weight is a concern for you, you’ve got plenty of lighter alternatives. But I also believe its weight mostly goes to a good cause — keeping the bike going exactly where you need it to.

Luke: Overall, I’ve been really happy with the Meta TR 29 Race as my do-everything bike for the riding I do. It’s efficient (but not “quick”) on long climbs, it descends rough and steep terrain as well as many longer-travel bikes, it’s held up very well to many days in the bike park, and it’s a good value. It’s not a bike I’d recommend to everyone, but if you want one bike for everything and you have a preference for trails on the steep and chunky end of the spectrum, it’s excellent.

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13 comments on “2021 Commencal Meta TR 29”

  1. Regarding the Waterbottle fit underneath a piggyback shock, this is a common problem in many bikes. Why the bottle bosses aren’t lower down is beyond me, but you can get various adapters to do so yourself. Either lower down, or tilting the bottle more towards horizontal, since it is usually the cap of the bottle that touches.

    Wolftooth has the B-rad bases, and other combines make stuff too.

    • Thanks for the tip! Yeah, just looking at this frame, I don’t really understand why the bosses aren’t a touch lower, but at least it works for now.

    • I have the B-RAD Bottle Shift on my Meta TR (Large 2019 without a piggyback shock) and while I didn’t have much clearance issues before with larger bottles, the slight offset and angle that it gives the bottle cage makes it so much nicer to reach for, and solved a previous problem with clearance for the strap on my pump mount. Can’t recommend it enough and will be getting another one for my other bikes. Going to be trying out a Fidlock bottle with it as well.
      Another solution may be to use the standard B-RAD mounts to shift the bottom of the cage downward or to use a King Cage Bottle Lowering Cage.

  2. Great first impressions, I was wondering how tall you are and how the bike fits you? I fall right between S and M on the size chart.

    • I’m 5’8”, 155 lbs (about 173 cm, 70 kg) with a ~31″ (79 cm) inseam. Overall, I’m getting along quite well with the fit of the size M bike. It feels quite compact when seated on flatter terrain, due to the very steep seat tube angle, but then nice and roomy on the descents without feeling like I’m too stretched out. If you’re right between sizes, I think it’d mostly come down to terrain and personal preference — the more you’re riding a lot of trails with super tight switchbacks or the more playful you want the bike to be, the more I’d lean toward the S. The fewer super tight trails you ride and / or the more you want to prioritize composure at higher speeds and steeper terrain, the more I’d lean toward the M. For how big of a bike it is by the numbers, it has not felt particularly cumbersome or big to me.

  3. That’s a great looking bike at a decent price. Heavy though. Not that weight matters too much, but it would be nice to see it in the 32 lb range instead of the 35 lb range.

  4. It looks like a sweet bike, and I definitely appreciate the niche that Commencal fills in the market these days, with progressive, sendy bikes that are built to last, and come in at great price point.
    But I gotta ask, why would you get a bike like this instead of one with ~20mm more rear travel? It doesn’t sound like it climbs very well compared to more conventional “trail bikes”, and weighs as much as a 160mm steed as well. Between the geo, weight, and climbing/descending performance balance, I feel like I would just rather be on a bike with 20mm more travel, and reap the benefits of having that extra bit of squish. Thoughts?

    • Great question — it’s one I found myself asking as well, and unfortunately, one I haven’t found a satisfying answer for.

      Given the variety we’re seeing in bikes in all categories these days, it’s hard to make broad generalizations between travel classes. What I can say is that, compared to the Meta *AM*, the Meta TR is a bit more enjoyable and engaging on less challenging trails, to the point that I am confident I prefer the TR for the “everyday” riding I do, whereas the AM feels like it’s just a bit “more bike” than I need. That said, longer-travel bikes that are a bit lighter, pedal well, and are not totally pushing the boundaries in terms of geo (the Canfield Lithium and Revel Rail come to mind) do make a strong case as alternatives to the Meta TR as a do-everything bike for descending-oriented folks. Personally, I found myself actually feeling more confident in steep and chunky terrain on the Meta TR Race than those bikes, though I think some of that comes down to the build differences between them, and I think those two longer-travel bikes actually climb better overall than the Meta TR Race. So I think it’s the overlap between (relatively) more climbing-oriented long-travel bikes and (relatively) more descending-oriented mid-travel bikes that makes these decisions tricky. If you have a strong focus on steep and rough trails and don’t care too much about mellower, smoother trails, though, then that’s where a longer-travel bike like the Meta AM definitely starts to make more sense.

      • Thanks for the response, Luke, and for a great review to begin with. Yeah, it is cool to see bikes that defy categories like this one, and I’m not surprised to hear that it descends as well or better than some of the 160-ish bikes you’ve been on.
        Small aside, I was always a guy who believed in “under-biking”, but recently, with the advent of longer travel steeds with climb-friendly geo, “I over-biked” myself (based on travel, at least) and have been loving it. I feel like I’m really able to make to rear suspension maximize its travel, having it supple off the top with enough mid-stroke support and bottom out resistance on bigger hits. It just feels like I have more to work with, you know?
        So I just wonder if there are limitations in that regard to a bike that is simply working with a smaller amount of travel. Anyways, cheers! Keep up the great bike review work, guys!

  5. I’ve got the Meta TR 29 Signature, which comes with the 160mm Fox 36, and it feels purpose built for the PNW. I’ve been riding it for several months and am very happy. The bike goes up well on our long climbs. I don’t really notice the weight too much. Great rig overall!

  6. I have this bike too and agree with much of the review. Brakes are good for most riding, but after a day at Trestle, my fingers and forearms are cramping. I burned through the original brake pads in 3 months. My back 1900 rim is busted and will need to be replaced after one season. The suspension is pretty phenomenal and can handle double blacks no problem. Although the bike is heavy, the climbing position is good, and I’ve powered it up two 4k climbs. The bike is crazy fast on the downhills. It likes to get in the air. If you’re between sizes, get a size down.

  7. I have the 2021 Commencal Meta TR 29 Ride in size M (i’m 174cm) and it fits me perfectly. The bike rides very well and i had no issues so far. Very happy with it. The climbing with its steep seattube angle is super and was eyeopening, it also makes the weight almost not noticeable. On the way down the bike is more stable being that haevy!
    Thanx for the great review.

  8. I have the 2021 Meta TR 29 Race that was tested in this article in a size Medium. I replaced the stock 50mm 31.8 stem with a Race Face Turbine R 35 Stem in 40mm length to shorten the reach a little and improve handling. I have Race Face Next Carbon bars cut to 160mm which is good for some of the tight single track I ride in MN. The stock DT Swiss 1900 wheels with the 3 Pawl 370 hub left a lot to be desired so I converted the rear hub to a Star Ratchet and added the 52t conversion kit for increased engagement. Major difference with that upgrade. As a heavier rider(225 lbs) I also had to upgrade the stock spring to 600 lbs. Keep that in mind as they are hard to come by if the stock 350lb spring doesn’t work with your weight or riding style as they are hard to find right now. With XT pedals, my bike weighs in at 36.04 lbs.

    Just like the reviewers say: If you are pointed downhill, the Commencal is an absolute bruiser that will crush any trail and obstacle you throw at it. However, the weight penalty for me is significant in my opinion when riding flatter trails with some punchy climbs and tight switchbacks. Climbing is efficient with the steep STA, but your friends in their lighter rigs will be waiting for you at the top of the hill wondering what’s taking you so long. It’s a sled so unless you have some sustained downhill trails that can take advantage of it’s descending skills, the compromise and sluggish nature of this bike on any uphill trails makes the TR Race very one dimensional in my opinion. I think lighter riders will have an easier time like the testers who only weigh 155 lbs, but at my weight it ends up sapping a lot of your energy when you have some longer rides. I’m contemplating selling this for a lighter weight, better all rounder that will get me down to the 29-30 lb range.

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