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Downhill Bikes

Commencal Supreme V4 Race – Bike Test

220mm Andorran powerhouse

Team riders Remi Thirion and Myriam Nicole have podiumed on this bike which puts it in a very good place.

By: Steven Jones Images: Callum Phillpott

The high pivot with idler is a proven design which has been successfully used on many other bikes. In fact Nico Vouilloz rode the system on his V Process to much success back in the 1990’s. We were impressed with the UK made Empire bike, another idler design, when we rode it in San Remo seven years ago and the K Nine bike of more recent vintage.

Even though this bike is a big departure from previous downhill bikes from the Andorran company the Supreme name is no stranger, in fact we’ve now tested every version of Commencal downhill bikes including the one’s ridden by the pro riders including the very bike Gee Atherton took to world cup series glory in 2010. This time out the bike sports 220mm, it’s a big hitter.

Suspension/Chassis

The bike we rode was an extra large, however the Commencal page says these are now discontinued in this size which is a shame because even though the reach, wheelbase and front centre figures are the shortest by a country mile on production downhill bikes, the high bar and position of the bike didn’t feel that bad.

In terms of the idler design, Commencal say the high main pivot is used for a better performing suspension system, with the progression design to allow “more grip and excellent mid-travel performance.” They emphasise that the Boxxer Team is a stand out feature when in reality it’s very good fork, just not the not the best fork. On a sub £4000 bike however it’ll certainly do.

Componentry

The bike is loaded with goodies from the Boxxer Team to Vivid coil which worked impeccably, E Thirteen cranks and tubeless ready rims. The SRAM/Avid Code brakes are one of our favourites and the SRAM X9 shifting is workmanlike.

Feeling

Gliding over the roots with a reassuring thud emanating from its chassis the Commencal felt like it was leading us into a positive ride vibe, the silent chassis and excellent drive off the suspension system was enabling us to load the chassis and generate good drive quickly and efficiently. Certainly a fun bike to ride and the silence making it pleasurable.

Given that the Supreme is one of the shortest size downhill bikes on the market the ride and fit was totally surprising. OK, our XL was way off the fit of a Canyon Sender in a similar size but relative to some other bikes with larger reach figures it certainly didn’t feel too cramped. The high bar will have aided the short reach numbers on this bike.

The rearwards moving chainstay doesn’t push too much weight into the front wheel as some bikes of this design do, thanks in part to the short chainstay at 425mm and a combination of bottom bracket and suspension design. It’s still noticeable but it can be adapted to.

The Supreme has a beautiful suspension system which delivers support and the right amount of feedback to aid moving the bike up and over rock and root. In most big breakers the bike performed well, the silence impressive and the overall feeling from the chassis and wheels just right. Not too stiff, not too flexy.

The only occasion we noticed the weight was on flatter tracks, its not a massive issue, just that on paper it’s a fair bit heavier than most of the competition. Gee Atherton won the 2010 World Cup series on his 40lb Commencal, we just expected them to have lost a few pounds since then.

 

Limitations

We’re struggling to find a production downhill bike which is shorter in reach or in length.

Commencal recommend the L for riders up to 6’ 2” which we disagree with. In fact we’d recommend XL for riders 5’ 10” and up at the largest. And why are their downhill bikes still hovering around the 40lb mark?

Verdict

At just over £3000 the Supreme is a good bike for the money. There’s a positive and simple feel to the suspension, good flex/stiffness in the chassis and visually it’s quite unique. On the downside there were certain shaped breakers where the bike didn’t feel smooth but contrary to this the performance over root and wider spaced rock sections was on the whole very impressive. The short front was noticeable relative to other bikes but it certainly didn’t adversely affect the ride too much, in fact the forward weighting was good for front end grip in places. We found this particularly on one of the rides in a very wet Revolution bike park. OK, it’s not totally ideal and the bike could be improved on the overall balance.

Protection from chain strike was superb, such a smooth and silent bike, one of the best in class for definite. The idler proved far smoother than the pre-production version and even in hideous conditions never clogged or caused an issue. Overall a great looking bike, it arrived correctly set up which is rare from a bike company, it has been proven that it can perform and is about right on the money. Overall very happy with the V4.

Supreme V4 Race: €3,669

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