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Athertons part company with Commencal

Athertons part company with Commencal

Billy Thackray Billy Thackray

It’s official, Gee, Rach and Dan Atherton will leave Commencal. But who will they ride for next year?

After five great years with Commencal the Athertons are on the move. The internet rumour mill has been grinding out speculation for a while that the fastest family in downhill will make a switch to riding GT bikes next year.
But with Rachel possibly taking a year out to recover from injury and Dan finding a new challenge with Enduro events, will this mean that only Gee will be racing World Cups next year?

We expect an announcement from the Atherton camp soon.

Here’s the PR bit from Commencal:

The Edge of Reason

Together we have written some of the most beautiful story lines in the history of World DH, the story of one family, two brothers and a sister, as united in life as they are by their talent. A story that the sporting world loves to generate.

Back in 2007, encouraged by COMMENCAL UK, the Atherton family started riding the Supreme DH. Passionate about competition and the emotions generated by the discipline, Max Commencal, the founder of the Andorran brand, lost no time in making them his ambassadors.


The worlds DH elite dominated by a single family!

Between 2007 and 2011, Rachel, Dan and Gee claimed no fewer than 52 victories, 17 of which were World Cup events.
Obvious highlights include world championships won by Gee and Rachel in Val di Sole in 2008. That same year, during the Vallnord World Cup, on COMMENCAL’s home turf, Gee and Rachel dominated the DH while Dan, the eldest of the three, won the 4X final. A truly epic weekend, almost beyond belief.

In 2008 and 2010, Rachel and Gee were respectively crowned overall DH World Cup winner, a triumph.

A parallel evolution partnering with the worlds best riders has always been the generator behind the evolution and performance of Commencal’s bikes. During these five years of cooperation, athletes and engineers have strived to create new, more modern, stiffer frames, with optimized weight distribution and lower center of gravities. All with one goal in mind: to be on the top step of international competitions. Given the track record acquired by the Supreme DH throughout its three incarnations, with two world championship titles and two overall World Cup wins, we are not exaggerating when we say the partnership was beneficial!

But it is not just about the material and technological aspects of the relationship. Over the past five years, the association between COMMENCAL and the Atherton family has resided especially in their mediatization and accrued recognition for both sides by the riders and followers of the sport.

The connection between these two entities shows primarily that, without each other, we would certainly not be where we are today. We would all progress, of course, but this partnership has on the whole brought some panache to what is a beautiful story.

Today we are about to go our separate ways (the contract runs until the end of the year), but the entire COMMENCAL staff would very much like to thank Rachel, Gee and Dan, as well as their manager Brownie, and their staff for all the beautiful moments spent together, the ups and downs, doubts and victories, which ultimately will be part of two stories forever united.

Good luck…

  1. marki3boy

    I reckon they’ll be on Saracen.

  2. argh

    I’d heard they’re going to be back on Muddy Fox…

  3. NJ

    Heard a rumour about Scott. But not sure how that would work B’dawg rumours are to be believed??

  4. Wideopen Dave

    According to Brian Lopes it’s GT…not sure what they would mean for Slugger/Sick Mick.

  5. hugo

    I heard an ultra secret rumour raleigh are hitting up the world cup with this bad ass prototype: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_lcDalD63nts/Sb0SVMiiHbI/AAAAAAAAAUs/cX60TSVkI-A/s400/strika.jpg

  6. Gaz

    That’s a classy press release for the end of a relationship and pretty good thinking to get in there early and get some positive publicity out of it.

    Well done Commencal and good luck to the A Team with the new rides.

  7. billy

    @Hugo..is that a Striker? I went straight in for the Grifter.

  8. cooke

    @billy hahamy mate has a grifter soo funy ragin one of them around right retro beasts for any one who doesnt know what we are on abouthttp://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=raleigh+grifter&um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&biw=1280&bih=632&tbm=isch&tbnid=bDIWfG8KFZ8B2M:&imgrefurl=http://www.visionmotorservices.co.uk/cridge/v/bikes/raleigh-grifter.JPG.html&docid=CrjyUL1CFtJSeM&imgurl=http://www.visionmotorservices.co.uk/cridge/d/2055-3/raleigh-grifter.JPG&w=640&h=480&ei=QPm7TpX6PM6r8QOj_729Bw&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=452&sig=115830257430752165010&page=1&tbnh=123&tbnw=162&start=0&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0&tx=78&ty=36

  9. Canuck

    I miss the glory days for GT – so sad for such a cool company. If Dan and Rachel don’t race DH a Brendog/Gee/Slugger GT Brit team would def put em back on the map in the DH1 – and maybe sell more in Halfords 😉

    (What UCI World Cup? … when’s that happening?)

  10. Big Al

    I hope Commencal sign a new Team for next year. I don’t think that it will do the Athertons any harm to be on different teams at all. dan seems to fit into the enduro thing well, so needs a sponsor who wants a good rider in that field and the same for Gee. Hopefully Gee will try and do all the new DH races coming up! The family can only do good. The same for Commencal.

  11. VonDH

    1.Cube bikes breaking into Downhill
    2. Rose
    3.Their own brand of downhill bike
    5. Team Dai Small Coal the welsh Downhill mining Champ

  12. MaverickDH

    Zerode for the best bike and run by Red Bull should be a kick arse DH MTB team

  13. stacy kohut

    one of these days, these riders with the big outside industry sponsors are just gonna buy the bike they WANT to ride(you know, the one that really fits them and they can really perform on), get the sucker painted in corporate colors, and then look out………
    more than a few racers out there on the w.c. are being held back by their contracted bike sponsors. if i was in these guys shoes, i’d be throwing down the credit card on the bike i wanted to ride, not the one i was being paid to ride.

  14. Part Time

    @billy you mug, the Striker was obviously the way ahead, coaster brakes for wet weather skids, singlespeed, dual crown forks…..and what did the Grifter have? Wafty raked out forks and excessive weight. Unlucky.

  15. army dh team (jack)

    all this team rumors chat is like watching the loose women of mountain biking, just let it all unfold instead of guessing whats next.
    @teamrumors are you derren brown

  16. Justin

    Stacy, I think if a bike company has enough money to sponsor a WC standard athlete, they should be making whatever geometry frame the rider wants in order to be comfortable. But thats just the sizing and angles I’m talking about. Any frame/suspension design thats supposed to be better than the rest is all in peoples heads. Its all based on opinion instead of science. All elite riders will have ridden maybe 5 different frame designs during their career. If they are fast, they are fast. If they don’t progress past top 50 in the world, they are to blame, not the frame they ‘have’ to ride. Look at Peaty, Nico, Gracia, Minnaar. Lots of different designs, all consistently up there.

  17. hugo

    @army dh team – killjoy

  18. beyonce'

    @ stacy thats the dumbest shit ive read all week!!

  19. stacy kohut

    @beyonce …right, because it doesn’t happen in other sports.(mx/sx/car racing/ski racing, should i go on?)
    buy what you want, ride, race, no excuses. wow, thats so hard to understand?

  20. Das Juden Bear

    does this mean commencal will stop over charging for frames, now that its just not as cool to ride them any more? High prices possible down to the success of the Athertons??? BTW before anyone trolls out on me, I own a commencal frame and yes its great. I just think there are way too expensive given the issues of frames cracking and the historical warranty fiasco, madison / numerous retailers dropped them in 2011 partly due to such issues. £2500 for a 2012 meta “team” 4X frame with “atherton” stuck to its side, seriously get real commie! these were £1400 in 2010 WTF!

  21. Maximilian

    I think myself that Commencal frames are a bit expensive, but I guess this comes from the company’s positioning as “premium”. You must realize that there are brands who wouldn’t sell if they were cheap. Red Bull is just the most obvious example. Or think POC! Would they be so coveted if they were in 661 pricing territory? No. Interest would fade after a short while and demand would sink. It’s a gamble of marketing strategy. Anyhow, I didn’t hear until now about Supreme’s cracking. I had a V2, now have a V3 and have ridden a bunch of others who were handled the hard way but stayed bombproof. So this is new to me…

    As for the Athertons, I will miss them on Commencal, but I wish them the best of luck with any sponsor. It’s the same thing as with Brendan this year and a lot of other athletes in other years: contracts and offers. Fans will just adjust to the new sponsors. It doesn’t matter what we, the public, like most, but what’s more useful for them. As long as there are sponsors for our sport, we should be greatful!

    Have a great weekend!

  22. Morgan

    I think Maximillian has hit the nail on the head with the above post. Nobody wants cheap stuff, even if it’s good. We’re all slaves to the market and the hype. Maybe if companies didn’t pay so much for the massive media presence, their products would cost less. Then they’d be sold because people had faith in brands, because word of mouth woiuld be based on actual experience. Not because some company has shelled out for a designer to write “best product ever” on their adverts. We’re all bike whores, selling ourselves to the highest bidder. Me included!

  23. Max

    @Stacy: Downhill isn’t as big as MX for example so buying your own bike would never work. A downhill rider can not afford to go to all the races if they don’t have a bike sponsor who pays the travels/accomondation and all that stuff.
    MX is such a big sport that you can buy whatever bike you want and have side sponsors and still make lots of money. Downhill just isn’t big enough today.

  24. stacy kohut

    animal and redbull would pick up the tab.
    quit trying to rationalize away the fact the some of these racers could take their future into their own hands by buying the bike that they feel suits them the best.

  25. Canuck

    Team Red Bull would be sorted. Just get em on Knolly’s that’d be a blast.
    Team Red Bull = Geeman +Rach + Knolly’s x Brendog!

  26. bob

    canuk that is the biggest bullshit ive eva herd

  27. bob

    they should go to Yeti there bikes would suit them another high end brand like commencal yeti has all types ov bikes so it would work best for them

  28. powered_by_pies

    @stacy_kohut – Not quite sure what you’re trying to get at here with your comments? A rider should just go out and buy their own bike? Seriously? Why would they want to do that when they’re getting paid to ride a bike that they had a huge part in developing? No way did Commie just hand them some supremes off the peg and say ‘right, there you go, get on them and ride through any problems you’ve got.’ The Supreme’s have been developed by the Athertons throughout their time with the company, so it IS ‘their’ bike. They get the bikes for free, and get paid to ride them – why the hell would they for one second think ‘actually, this bike’s gash, I’m gonna go to my lbs and buy something else out of my own pocket….’

  29. bandit

    good to see the Atherton’s moving on from Commencal, to fresher pastures…

    ..several seasons of Commencal warranty and supply problems for UK distributor Madison…not what they needed from their “premium” bike brand??

    considering Animal, Pro / Shimano Japan and Madison were bankrolling Team Atherton during Commencal’s “warranty” seasons, what benefit did Madison actually get from supporting the family?

    you can’t support a Pro DH race team by selling some Pro handlebars and Shimano Saint components 😉

    thankfully, Madison dropped Commencal for 2012 to concentrate on selling Shimano and Saracen (and many other profitable, non-troublesome brands)

    good luck to the talented Atherton clan, wherever they land :)

  30. Maximilian

    I ask you frankly: how is Commencal “a troublesome brand”? I can’t say I’m a stranger to rumours, but I never knew Commencal had a reputation of a company making bikes that break. Maybe this is a UK thing that I have no idea about? I’ve had 4 Commencals until now and they were as sturdy as they come, never had an issue with any of them.

    On the other hand I can think of a US brand that considers itself the Ferrari of the mountainbike world and comes with those “delicious idiosyncrasies” that all exotic car enthusiasts rave about. Transalted to basic english, they build frames that everybody expects to crack but they label them as “pure racing equipment”, as if race bikes shouldn’t withstand a little abuse.

    And one more thing: I have ridden all incarnations of the Session 8/88 and my take is the following: they are overbuilt for the forces that normally apply to downhill bikes and will handle them with no problem. If you smash your bike sideways into a tree, I don’t think you’ll be too lucky with the beercan thick tubes. I say this because all Supremes are a tad on the heavy side but can cope with such things better, as far as I can think about it.

    So please tell me how Commencals are warranty-prone? I don’t mean it in an ironic way; as an owner I am truly interested! Thanks!

  31. Norbert

    Maximilian – I have some friends with cracking commencals and one who had one precracked under the bearing before he even rode his. They had quality isssues. You were just lucky.

  32. bada badman badunit badbad

    for all those KEY BOARD heroes Belt Up!”!

  33. Frame smasher

    November 15th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Maximilian – I have some friends with cracking commencals and one who had one precracked under the bearing before he even rode his

    Big deal – even i’ve broken 2 Marins and an Orange hardetail. When i started riding you had ‘crack’n’fail’ being the brand to avoid. All bikes break at somepoint – some just sooner than others!

  34. matthew halley

    i rekon they will be riding for halfords plolo’s

  35. Maximilian

    I don’t see the logic here. Because three bikes broke, that means that all the brand makes is low quality??? I think you have to question your friends if they received any proper replacement from Commencal and then worry about “a troublesome brand”. While at it, ask them what they did with the bikes. You can throw 10 Demos off a 20 story building and they WILL break, but that doesn’t mean they are fragile nor lacking quality. I say this because everybody knows that almost every warrannty claim starts with “I was just riding along, when suddenly…” Yeah, right! Let’s be honest with ourselves!

    I actually know a Commencal that cracked. It was a MaxMax that was spun and jumped berserk. The guy got a CrMo replacement (a more expensive frame in that period) no-questions-asked and the bike has switched a few owners since then but still runs flawlessly. As the smasher above says: everything breaks if you abuse it. But don’t act surprised then! I have a 1.91 m / 95 kg frame that was never easy on gear, but the last bikes that I broke go 10 years back and were an aluminium Marin Palisades Trail, a Gary Fisher Level Betty and a cheap GT Palomar and I don’t pride myself with that. It was only my own stupidity, the bike didn’t have any fault!

    (Those who have difficulties in reading text, don’t worry! The internet is full with awesome pictures for you people! 😉 )

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