Getting a chance to ride the AM and TR back to back offered the best insight on these bikes. While similar, the Commencal Trail is the weapon of choice if climbing is in order. Despite it’s slack angles, the trail surprised me over and over with its climbing efficiency.
With the shock locked, it was a veritable XC machine, with our kinda geo. It was also quite comfortable on long rides. While some of the enduro bikes like the AM will climb acceptably, they aren’t particularly cozy for a 20 or 30 mile ride that ventures to the XC side of the spectrum.
The Trail V4.2 Race is equally comfortable on an XC loop as it is ripping an aggressive flow trail. In fact, on a ride in Bend, Oregon I was blown away that the bike didn’t flinch on a ten mile climb or the ten-foot drop we hit on the way down. Stable in the air, the Meta TR enjoys popping off trail features and takes well to mid-flight inputs. Direction change is quick and precise whether on the ground or off.
Small bump compliance is exceptional, which should come as no surprise given the Fox Factory suspension spec and the proven suspension design that is both simple and effective. While Commencal’s parts spec looks good on paper, it really shines out on the trail. We never experienced as much as a single hiccup from any part of the bike despite months of floggings under various riders. While the e*thirteen wheels aren’t the lightest option, they have stood up to all the abuse we can throw at them. The SRAM drivetrain also proved to be rock solid, with snappy shifts throughout the gear range.
The Trail does have its limits however. In the rough stuff, it’s clear where the Meta AM pulls ahead with the longer travel and coil rear shock. Commencal did a great job making the Trail a capable rig, but deep braking bumps or rock gardens definitely overwhelm the suspension travel. We were asked countless times on the trail and by friends, which bike was better between the AM and the TR and it’s likely a question many of you at home will have. With similar geo and shared features between the two the call ultimately comes down to terrain.
If you enjoy climbing, primarily ride smoother natural trails or flow trails, and aren’t regularly riding anything overly chunky at high speeds (think Bend, Oregon style terrain) the TR is your weapon of choice. It’s a bike that can stretch from XC rides to bike park jump trails while handling most everything between. The TR is great do it all bike so long as you aren’t thundering through rock gardens or massive braking holes.
Should your rides routinely take you on trails with large rocky sections you used to ride your DH bike on, the Meta AM is going to reward your extra efforts on the climb. Of course, you could also go out and buy both for the price of most high-end carbon enduro bikes. If you’re like us, owning more bikes is always the better option.