Short ride review of commencal super4 team
Here is my review of the commencal super4 team. Please take note, I am not a seasoned rider, started riding about a year and a half ago, so this review is pretty much an amateur rider review. I can only compare it with my previous Iron Horse MKIII 2008 as it was the only other full suspension bike that I had.
The Decision making process
After a long break from any offroad riding since I got out of hospital 3 weeks ago due to dengue and got rid of my most precious Iron Horse MKIII aka Silvia Saint(you will always be missed and yes, I name my bikes) about a week ago, I decided to divert myself from DW Link suspension system and go with a single pivot suspension system bike. A few was in consideration and those were:
- Santa Cruz Heckler
- Morewood Shova
- Commencal Meta 5 or Super 4
- Trance X2 (ok, so its not a single pivot bike....but it is a good bike)[/li]
There are more single pivot bikes but those above are the only option that I can obtain in Malaysia in a short period of time. After much consideration of the pros and cons, it boils down to commencal meta5 and Super4. High level reasons:
- Short top tube
- Slack HT angle
- Short chain stay
- High BB clearance
After 2 hours worth of thinking between the 2 bikes, a super4 or a meta5, I've paid and since both bikes cost the same, Leong the boss there was kind enough to let me be by ownself and think which ended with him setting up both bikes for me to try. A short going down the stairs and abit of Kiara (not much but just a little, very little offroad since I don't want to scratch the bike) I decided for a super4, since it fit nicely to my riding style which is XC aggressive and trail riding. Meta5 is too slack and too aggressive in terms of the geometry although I know I would be smiling going downhill with it. Although at that point of time I still have some reservation on the shorter amount of travel than what I am used to which a ride later completely changed my mind.
Highlights of the specs (The specs are stock specs so if you are unsure do check commencal website):
- Super4 team size S 2010
- Fox Float RPL Shock 100mm
- Rock Shox Reba SL 120mm (This will later change to a PIKE or Talas 32 once I get my bonus)
- DT Swiss X430 wheelset with SLX hubs (Changing the hubs later to a Hope and probably syncross or another DT Swiss with Hope floating rotors)
- X0 RD
- SLX FD
- PG970 Cassette (changing to a PG990 with green spiders to match my commie very much later)
- X7 Shifter (changing to x9 very much later)
- Formula RX hydro brakes (I AM SO IN LOVE WITH FORMULA BRAKES ever since I got it for my first bike, and it was only a K18, short and smooth but grippy mid stroke and a very light brakes. Thats my opinion anyway)
- FireX3.3 Truvative Cranks (Definitely changing this but much later to XT with a bashguard)
- Welgo Mg Pedal
So I went to Putrajaya Challenge Park today since it will be closed for the weekend due to official opening ceremony and a race competition. Being my first offroad ride after checking out from Asunta Hospital, I don't expect much from my ability to pedal although PCP (as the locals here call it) is like my home ground as I've been more often then the much raved Kiara or else where for that matter.
Turn on my Lockout for both front and back for the short relaxing climb from the parking area to the trail head. A quick stop to full open both fork and rear shock and to check on the rebound settings plus finishing off my ciggie. Looked around, scanned the area for any sign of other riders, "Hmmmmmm, looks like I am alone today. It is working day so that could be it" I told myself. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPP...I went. Started with a steep, short but sweet descent followed by a few switchback climbs, not a problem, nailed it without a hitch. Due to slacker HT angle, the climb felt different comparing to my Iron Horse, the suspension push rear tire to glue itself to the ground but the crossmark tires is definitely not meant for these trail conditions, it sucked up the slightly wet packed dirt with loose gravel and basically I have slick tire by the time I finished the climb. Exiting the trail smiling. Honestly, I am not sure how to describe the trail condition but I hope you readers can imagine the 'wet packed dirt with loose gravel'.
Super4 verdict: Good
A short 1 minute break and BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPP!!!! I went into trail no.2, (this is where the fun is)...Probably due to the not so long hiatus from offroading and still recovering from dengue, my legs were trembling the minute I started my first descent and it threw off my confidence abit and I was praying, please don't let me fall...First downhill switchback followed immediately by a sweeping short punch climb and then a sharp turn to the left for downhill steps, the single pivot felt really plush and responding well in fact even better than my previous bike although it only has 4 inches of rear travel. The rear arm felt enormously stiffer than my previous bike. The fork needs some fine tuning though, I felt like it was missing something, I felt that my RS revelation could do better. Probably to me, revelation is much stiffer. Another switchback followed with a few stepping downhill. BRAAAPPPP!! I'd definitely went faster than before, the plushness boost my confidence but my legs were still shaking....a quick stop at the bottom to clear my thoughts and to turn the lockout on the shocks, it is fireroad climbing time with roots, not a problem....although Iron Horse MKIII, superlight or a hardtail could do better. First switchback climb, second switch back climb and the next fireroad climb with some sweet short punch climb, I did it without failing although it requires a little more effort (not to mention some intermission quick 5 or maybe 20 seconds stop to catch my breath, mind you, I am not exactly fit) due to its slackened geometry and short top tube (and this is only on a 120mm travel fork). Smiling again by the time I exited, a barking dog suddenly appeared shook-ed me up abit while I was pedaling towards the gazebo but thank god it was just barking not chasing after me. I am afraid of dogs, you see...
Super4 verdict: AWESOME!!!
Took a 10 minutes for a ciggie, turned on the propedal and went into the trail, it started quite tame at first and then, at the fork junction, the red trail marker time. Turned off the propedal, turned right and trail started to point down, the single pivot is working like magic, it felt bottomless, nailed the berm faster than I ever did and just let loose on the ramp, swooooosssshhhh and another ramp...nevermind...swoooosssshhhhhhh...followed by a BEDEBAAAAAAABBBBBBBBBBBB.... I lost control and my right hand was off the grip (need to change it to a lock-on, as the grip has some play and not fully "gripping" the handlebar)...and there goes my skin on my left shins no thanks to the some gravel on ground (mental note: must get myself a veggie guards for those important parts on my body). Got up, continued cycling, had to gain momentum because the next steep short punch climb requires you to do so, nailed it again but the crossmark slickened up tires gave me some trouble towards the end, the suspension is pushing it down to give it more traction but the tires are not responding well. These tyres are definitely not for slightly wet packed dirt with loose gravel. In fact, I had to push on some punch (some I'd always push because I am just not good enough) and switchbacks climbs unless I loose up those sticky dirts on my tires which I had no problem with when I was on Nevegal on my previous bike. Verdict: Could be tires, could be the bike, or me but I am blaming on the tires for now. Smiling because I got some manly wounds :P
Super4 verdict: Average (It could be the tyres...again :P)
Took a 3 ciggies worth of break to clean off my wounds, enjoying the evening scenery. I was short of time. This trail is the most fun trail to ride and also the longest. The experience of 5 or 6 tight downhill switchbacks (I could be wrong but there are definitely alot of it) with drops...yum. The excitement over at the 'playground', as my buddies would call it, at the end of the trail which consist of a proper downhill(black marker trail, not my cup of tea), some trail bike friendly downhill trails and some pump tracks was too much to bear. Not to mention, table tops, berms, ramps and other cool terrains but I had to choose to skip it as I need to get out before dark. Some other time I guess since I was riding alone and I was pretty much the only one on the trail.
Super4 verdict: No verdict but I am sure it would have been excellent
Took another trail out. This one, too, quite fun, descending over a bridge, a couple of short punch climb, followed by a quick descent and a short ride over the ledge bridge which you could have a view over the whole entire Putrajaya. This trail is really short, 300 meters at most, it ends at a bird watching / gazebo tower.
Super4 verdict: Not much to be said, its kind of a tame trail to test the Super4 team
I love this trail and what a way to exit and finish off the ride. Flowing and fast although its kinda short. Midway there are 2 markers, green one pointing straight and a red one pointing right (easily missed), both are equally fun. However, the red one is more technical. The red marker trail condition are mostly dry packed dirt with small loose gravels, very slippery in a good way, since if you brake wrongly for those back brakers, its really easy for you to drift off track. Turning right to go for the red is not easy, by just simply turning right once you reach the marker won't cut it. There are 2 ways, one is to stop and position your bike to point it to the trail entrance but this will make you loose momentum, however, if we use the berm to left which is sweeping to the right which will cut cross the trail you are currently on as you are approaching the marker junction, you won't have to stop, it will give you the speed you want to enter the red marker trail and the flow that you sought after. For those who can't imagine, I will post some pictures later on. What can I say, with the limited skills that I acquired and a bike to support it, I nailed it even faster than before. Those tight descending switchbacks which are steep are much more fun to clear. The crossmark did not let me down this time, this probably due to the dry trail condition and the fact that I cleaned all the sticky mud that got stuck earlier before entering this trail. Smiling to my ears as I exhale at the trail exit.
Super4 verdict: Excellent
In the end
The shorter top tube than what I am used does made my overall climbing experience harder comparing to my previous bikes. Even with full lockout, that fact does not change and the bobbing...oh well thank god for RPL but once it starts to point down, it makes a whole lot of difference. Maneuverability is top notch on most times and twitchy on some but it is my first ride on the bike and given my physical condition, I think I need sometime to get use to it but not long. The frame geometry is spot on in what I am looking for. The 4 inches of travel probably felt like a 5 incher, good and bad since you will be pushing your bike to and probably over its limits. Swing arm definitely stiffer than my previous bike.
The fork will need to go once I have the cash, it flexes and I would think a 130mm travel would be perfect for me but I need an adjustable one definitely for those climbs.
The brakes, its a FORMULA, even though its not R1 but still...4 words...I just LOVE IT. Light, powerful middle stroke and beautiful white color. My previous SLX is crap comparing to this.
Saddle, good enough for a short ride, I have big butt, so long haul all the time on saddle type of ride will kill me, tried a 35km on the road ride, my butt was screaming in the last few km. Sad part is, if I want to change to say, a WTB or FIZIK, I need to change the seatpost as well. Joplin with a plush saddle is the answer for me.
Wheelsets and hubs are good enough for now, sturdy and not so much flex to me. In a country like Malaysia, where it rains heavily and often, the tires just wont cut it. Even though it is a good rolling tire but it only shine when the trail is dry. It hugs mud like a baby to a mother.
Bottom line, you gain some, you loose some. I gained a top notch descender but sacrifice some of the climbing capabilities that I hope I will not miss. Who cares about pushing up a hill once in a while, if you can rocket it down later. What goes up must come down eh?. Am I missing something over meta5, I wouldn't know. What I do know, I got a great bike with decent specs and at a good price. What more do I need.
P.S: I will now name my super4 Snow White in English and Kak Ros in malay language (Sapa tengok Upin dan Ipin mesti kenal). And, oh, sorry no pictures of the trail or the bike. I had it on me but was busy enjoying the ride. Will add it on later when I go for another ride there.
This review is posted on mtbr, fakawitribe, bbb and commencal owners club forum.
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