Max Commencal could easily be called one of the ‘Godfathers of Mountainbiking’, or maybe one of the ‘Godfathers of Downhill’? He has been around since the early days and has had such an influence on our sport that he deserves those titles.
Photos: Steve Jones, Seb Schieck and Commencal.
He set up the legendary brand Sunn back in the 1980’s working closely with suspension specialist Olivier Bossard, thinking up and creating classic bikes such as the Radical and Bmix (amongst others). During that period Sunn won numerous championship titles, both in BMX and MTB, with riders such as Nico Vouilloz, Anne Caroline Chausson, Francois Gachet, Fabien Barel, Cedric Gracia, Christophe Leveque and Britain’s Dylan Clayton.
The Sunn dream ended messily in 1988, but after two years of thought and planning Commencal Bikes was launched in 2000. Max has always brought a certain flair and philosophy to everything that he has done and Commencal was no different. His attention to detailing, styling and design integrity is world renowned. Back in the early days his use of colour, bold graphics and photography was ahead of its time. Where Commencal have gone many other brands have followed, and this is largely down to Max.
Commencal Bikes was always going to be a success, but in 2008 the almost unthinkable happened when the Atherton family of Gee, Rachel and Dan all won their individual categories riding on Commencal bikes at the Andorra round of the World Cup. That was a once in a lifetime occurrence.
Fun, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate… we are lucky to have Max Commencal.
Who is Max Commencal?
I made my way into the world of bikes by chance. I’m 60 now and I don’t know where the time has gone!
Where do you live?
What’s your job title?
Majority shareholder and CEO of COMMENCAL Bicycles.
What do you do?
I try to be involved in all areas of the business – new product design, marketing and communication, athletes and teams etc. I contribute to the Sales and E-Commerce departments and I don’t stop thinking about strategy for the coming years. I love the bikes but also the management, numbers and the statistical side of things too.
How long has COMMENCAL been going for?
COMMENCAL was born in 1999 and the first range was launched in the year 2000.
How did you get into MTB?
By chance! I had never really ridden a bike before I started, just a little Moto. I became interested in BMX and then got fully involved in mountain biking.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I had several. Building new Renault cars, working at a Silo plant for 10 hours day, door-to-door sales, preparing boxes of dry dog food… Many experiences that perhaps did not help me progress in my career, but which at least helped me to make decisions about what I didn’t want to do in the future!