The Meta 5.5, like much of Commencal’s range, is based on its “Contact System” suspension model. This uses some fancy trickery to take a single-pivot swingarm and give it more grip, more subtlety and seemingly more travel than it really has.
It flies off drops or bounces down rockeries with far more confidence than it should. Yet that five (and a bit) inches of travel means that it also climbs back up the mountain fairly well too.
Up and down
Five inch trail bikes don’t have the leg-sapping pedal bob or wallowing suspension of longer-travel bikes, but they do have the bounce to keep you rolling on technical ups and downs. Unlike hardtails and lower travel full-sussers, they also don’t tire you out quickly, which us why five inches seems to be the length of choice for most riders right now.
The Meta 5.5 doesn’t quite match some of its five inch rivals for goat-like climbing ability – for that you’d need a lighter, flashier bike like the Turner Spot or Whyte E-5. But they’d set you back a grand more. And they’d still come down more slowly than the Commencal because it just tears down the hill.
A bike for maniacs
Fortunately, it’s kitted out with stuff that lets you ride like a lunatic, even if you have the skills of an accountant. Even the bottom-of-the-range 5.5.3 features gears, cranks and brakes that will work well in filthy conditions and shrug off the odd hard knock. And at a price that takes some beating.
While bikes like the Spot, the E-5 and the all-mountain, all-carbon Scott Ransom look a bit more bling and have price tags to match, the Meta 5.5 does it all so well you won’t need anything more.