Commencal Supreme DHv2 – Atherton Edition

Commencal Supreme DHv2 - Atherton Edition, Blister Gear ReviewFrame: 2011 Commencal Supreme DHv2 – Atherton Edition, with Fox RC4 rear shock, size L/XL.

Intended Use: DH Race

Geometry Chart: Commencal Supreme DHv2

Rider: 6’2”, 205 lbs., athletic, technically proficient, fast and fluid.

My regular DH bike: Morewood Makulu, size Large, with an Avalanche Woodie rear shock.

Test Location: Colorado Front Range.  Steep, fast, rough, rocky trails, with plenty of small/mid sized jumps.  Generally in dry, dusty, loose over hardpack, pebbly terrain, but 2 days with freshly melting snow and riding in tacky awesomeness mized with muck and puddles.

Duration of test: 4 days, total of about 30 runs.

Commencal Supreme DHv2 – Atherton Edition, BLISTER

The Commencal Supreme DHv2 is one of the most decorated downhill bikes on the World Cup, so going in to this review, the question wasn’t whether this thing was any good. Rather, I was looking to identify any specific strengths or perceivable weaknesses, and see whether the bike demanded an expert-level rider, or whether it could accommodate advanced or intermediate riders, too.

Fit: I was able to demo the longer of the two sizes Commencal offers for their Supreme DH bike. Initially, it felt a tiny bit cramped in the cockpit, as I am used to a bit with a .3” longer toptube, and correspondingly longer reach (my Morewood Makulu toptube measures 24.0”, the Commencal Supreme DHv2 measures 23.7”), as well as a .5” longer wheelbase. After a good handful of runs on the bike, I felt right at home.  However once the review was over and I jumped back on my Morewood, I was instantly a little more comfortable. (You can read my review of the Makulu here.)

I would consider the L/XL Supreme DHv2 frame to be appropriate for riders up to 5’10″, or 6’ if they prefer to use a 50mm stem. (I would need a 60mm stem to get the reach I need at 6’2’’, but I don’t generally go for that long of a stem on my DH bike.)

Geometry: I rode the bike in the stock 64deg head tube angle setting the entire test. It felt perfect, and I saw absolutely no reason to change it. With Maxxis Minion 2.5’s, the bike sat right at a 14” bottom bracket height, and with a nice deep sag at 35%, this felt perfect on trail. I wouldn’t change it at all.

Commencal Supreme DHv2 – Atherton Edition, BLISTER

I did play around a little bit with the chain stay length adjuster, and found this to be a nice feature. I rode most of the time at 17.5” which matches my Morewood chain-stay length. At that setting, the bike felt perfectly neutral and was easily maneuverable; a great setting for all-around DH usage. With the bike set to 17.8” – the longest setting – it certainly opened up the bike to a more aggressive, high-speed ride in rutted berms, chop, and blown-out nastiness, but this length of chain-stay really required the user to pin it all of the time. At slower speeds and on the brakes, the bike lost a little life and responsiveness.

In the shortest setting (17.3”), I did not feel that the length matched the sag I had set quite as well. I think this short setting would ride best in a bike park with the bike set to 30% sag for a more maneuverable, poppy / jumpy ride characteristic. With the short chain stay setting and a deep sag setting, the bike tended to slightly oversteer at high speed in the rough stuff.

Suspension:  I really love the simple linkage single pivot design on DH bikes. It flat-out works. The bikes are nice and plush on the bottom end; ramp up cleanly through the travel to provide support for the lip of a jump or a deep g-out; never harshly bottom out, but instead allow the rider to use the full range of travel. The Commencal Supreme DHv2 possesses all of these traits. The mid-height and slightly rearward position of the main pivot give the rider a nice, small amount of additional support while sprinting, and offer a nice amount of chain stay growth as the bike settles into its stroke.

Commencal Supreme DHv2 – Atherton Edition, BLISTER

Overall, this is a perfectly designed and executed suspension platform. The Fox RC4 shock compliments this arrangement flawlessly, and is easily tunable to handle the moderately progressive nature of the bike. I ran 130psi in the air chamber, and opted for a very mild amount of low speed compression, relatively fast rebound, and 35% sag on the shock.

Finish: Commencal is known to make bikes that simply look good. They are cleanly designed and have great paint jobs with a purposeful aesthetic. The Supreme DHv2 is no exception. This bike is gorgeous.

Trail Feel: The Supreme DHv2 just pins it. It is extraordinarily confidence inspiring, and begs the rider to go faster and faster. As noted earlier, this bike is one of the most decorated designs on the World Cup, but it is not only going to be appreciated by riders at that level. It will reward all riders and never feels like too much bike.

I appreciated how adjustable the frame is, and how easy it is to change the feel of the bike for the ride. You can easily set this up as a world cup race bike (38%-40% sag via 50 lb lighter spring, 63deg head angle, 17.8” chainstay); as a general purpose DH race bike (35% sag, normal spring, 17.5” chainstay, 64deg head angle); or as a long travel bike park ride (30% sag via 50 lb heavier spring, 65deg head angle, 17.3” chainstay), and really use it for all of these, any given day, all summer long.

Braking: the Commencal offered a subtle firming under heavy rear wheel braking, just enough to let you know you were shedding speed, but nothing I would call heavy brake jack. I don’t brake hard in choppy trails, but set a speed before and bang through. The Commencal has an adjustable brake feedback mount that I rode in the middle setting. I experienced no issues with braking performance, so I didn’t feel the need to play around with the setting. In a longer test I would certainly do so, but in this case, I was pleased with all aspects of the frame’s ability to handle hard braking events.

Overall, I would strongly recommend the Commencal Supreme DHv2 to any rider that it fits properly.  It is a super fast, smooth, responsive bike that is really good at everything: it’s great at pedaling, it’s great at cornering, and it’s excellent in a straight line, eating up nasty rock sections.

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