Commencal Meta Power TR Ride Review
Cons: Mediocre suspension components, SRAM SX drivetrain, can be a handful in tight spots
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Commencal Meta Power TR Ride
|Price||$5,299 List||$7,500 List||$5,999 List||$4,830 List||$7,000 List|
|Pros||Reasonable price (relatively speaking), fun on a wide range of terrain, confident descender, solid distance range||Outstanding battery life, whisper quiet motor, just right geometry, intuitive operation||Very nice build, stealthy looks, hard-charging downhill performance||Reasonably priced, good distance range, well rounded performance, solid component spec||Lightweight for an e-bike, normal trail bike feel, range extender battery, quiet motor|
|Cons||Mediocre suspension components, SRAM SX drivetrain, can be a handful in tight spots||Readout display not standard feature, SRAM Guide brakes not powerful enough, reported motor failures||Expensive, sluggish handling at times, came setup with tubes in tires||Heavy, sluggish handling at times, controls/display are difficult to read||Less battery storage capacity, less powerful drive unit, expensive|
|Bottom Line||A ripping, versatile eMTB that can tackle the gnarly stuff in a relatively budget-friendly package||Class-leading range, power and innovation make the 2020 Specialized Turbo Levo Comp Editor's Choice for the third year in a row||The YT Decoy is an aggressive e-bike with an enduro attitude||The Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro is well rounded and reasonably priced||Lighter weight and less powerful, the new Levo SL is the e-bike for the rider who seeks a "regular" trail bike experience with a just a little pedal assistance|
|Rating Categories||Commencal Meta Powe...||Specialized Turbo L...||YT Decoy CF Pro||Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro||Turbo Levo SL Comp|
|Downhill Performance (30%)|
|Climbing Performance (20%)|
|Distance Range (25%)|
|Power Output (15%)|
|E Bike Controls (10%)|
|Specs||Commencal Meta Powe...||Specialized Turbo L...||YT Decoy CF Pro||Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro||Turbo Levo SL Comp|
|Battery Size (Wh)||630Wh||700Wh||540Wh||500Wh||320Wh (+160Wh Range Extender)|
|Wheel size (inches)||29||29||29 front/27.5+ rear||27.5+||29|
|Motor System||Shimano DU-EP800||Specialized 2.1, Custom Rx Trail-tuned 250W||Shimano Steps E8000||Giant SyncDrive Pro Yamaha||Specialized SL 1.1 (240W)|
|Motor Power (torque)||85Nm||90Nm||70Nm||80Nm||35Nm|
|Measured Weight (w/o pedals)||53 lbs 8 oz (Large)||50 lbs 7 oz (Large)||50 lbs 10 oz with tubes (Medium)||52 lbs 3 oz (Medium)||41 lbs 10 oz (Large)(2lbs 6 oz - range extender battery)|
|Measured Effective Range||26.1 miles||29.6 miles||19.1 miles||19.02 miles||13 miles|
|Fork||RockShox 35 Gold RL, 150mm||RockShox Lyrik Select RC DebonAir||Fox 36 Float Performance Elite E||Fox 36 Float Rhythm 150mm||Fox Rhythm 34 Float 150mm|
|Suspension & Travel||Contact System 4-bar, 140mm||Future Shock Rear (FSR) - 150mm||V4L Virtual 4-Link 165mm||Maestro 140mm||Future Shock Rear (FSR) - 150mm|
|Shock||RockShox Deluxe Select+||RockShox Deluxe Select+||Fox Float DPX2 Performance Elite||Fox Float DPS Performance EVOL||Fox Float DPS Performance|
|Frame Material||Alloy 6066||M5 Premium Aluminum||Carbon Fiber||ALUXX SL aluminum||M5 Premium Alloy|
|Frame Size Tested||Large||Large||Medium||Medium||Large|
|Wheelset||Spank Spike Race 33 rims with Formula hubs||Roval Traverse 29, 30mm internal||E*Thirteen E*Spec Plus||Giant AM 27.5+ rims/Giant eTracker hubs 35mm internal rim width||Roval Traverse 29, 30mm internal|
|Front Tire||Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO+ 2.4"||Specialized Butcher GRID GRIPTON 2.6"||Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 29" x 2.5"||Maxis Minion DHF EXO 27.5 x 2.6||Specialized Butcher GRID TRAIL GRIPTON 2.3"|
|Rear Tire||Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO+ 2.4"||Specialized Eliminator BLCK DMND 2.3"||Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 27.5" x 2.8"||Maxxis Rekon EXO 27.5 x 2.6||Specialized Eliminator GRID TRAIL 2.3"|
|Shifters||SRAM SX Eagle||SRAM S700 11-speed||Shimano XT 11-speed||Shimano SLX 11-speed||SRAM NX Eagle|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM SX Eagle||SRAM GX, 11-speed||Shimano XT 11-speed||Shimano XT 11-Speed||SRAM NX Eagle|
|Crankset||E13 E*Spec EP8||Praxis||Shimano XT||Praxis Wavetm 36T||Praxis M30|
|Bottom Bracket||Part of motor system||not specified||not specified||not specified||part of the motor|
|Cassette||SRAM SX Eagle||SRAM PG-1130 11-42t||E*Thirteen TRS Plus||Shimano HG-M7000, 11-46T||SRAM NX Eagle 11-50T|
|Chain||SRAM NX Eagle||KMC X11ET||not specified||KMC e. 11 Turbo||SRAM NX Eagle|
|Saddle||Fabric Scoop Flat Sport V2||Specialized Bridge 155 S2||SDG Radar Mountian||Giant Contact Neutral||Specialized Bridge Comp|
|Seatpost||KS Rage-I||X-Fusion Manic 150mm||SDG Tellis 150mm||Giant Contact Switch dropper||X-Fusion Manic 150mm (large)|
|Handlebar||Ride Alpha R20 E-Bike, 780mm||Specialized Trail 780mm||Renthal Fatbar 35 800mm||Giant Contact 35 Trail 800mm||Specialized Trail 780mm|
|Stem||Ride Alpha Freeride 50mm||Specialized Trail||Renthal Apex 35 40mm||Giant Contact SL 35||Specialized Trail|
|Brakes||SRAM Guide RE 4 piston 200mm rotors||SRAM Guide RE 4 piston 200mm rotors||SRAM Code RS||Shimano BR-MT520 4-piston 203mm rotors||SRAM Guide R|
|Grips||Ride Alpha DH||Specialized Sip Grip||ODI Elite Motion||Giant||Specialized Trail|
|Measured Effective Top Tube (mm)||630||590||610||625|
|Measured Reach (mm)||460||435||449||454|
|Measured Head Tube Angle||66||65.5 High/65.0 Low||66||66|
|Measured Seat Tube Angle||74.7||76.5 High/76 Low||74.5||74.5|
|Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm)||347||340 Low||342||350|
|Measured Wheelbase (mm)||1235||1205||1215||1218|
|Measured Chain Stay Length (mm)||455||443||474||437|
|Warranty||Two Years||Lifetime||Five Years on frame||Lifetime|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Commencal is a direct-to-consumer mountain bike brand that makes everything from downhill and trail bikes to e-MTBs. We tested the more enduro-oriented Meta Power 29 Team in the past and found it to be a beast on the descents, but its performance was pretty one-dimensional. We got our hands on the TR (trail) version to see how it compares to the rest of our field. We tested the Ride build which is among the more affordable e-bikes on the market. While it has some low-end components, we were generally quite impressed with the performance of this versatile machine.
We found the Meta Power TR to be a versatile descender with the chops to tackle aggressive terrain with confidence and still be fun on mellower trails. It's no slacked-out enduro shred sled, but we didn't find anywhere we felt under-gunned while testing. At the same time, it remains reasonably maneuverable considering its weight and dimensions. We feel Commencal hit an excellent middle ground where this bike is comfortable no matter what you put in front of it. Sure the suspension leaves a bit to be desired, but it performed better than we anticipated and the rest of the build is pretty well sorted for the price.
The TR in Meta Power TR 29 stands for trail, and with 140mm of rear travel and a 150mm fork, this bike slots nicely into the do-it-all trail bike travel bracket. It's got just enough squish to handle aggressive descents and mid-sized drops, but not so much travel that it feels excessively large and one-dimensional. It remains relatively maneuverable and fun to ride on flowy trails and mellower terrain, though its 53+ lb weight does require a bit of body english in the tight stuff and at lower speeds. That weight also helps give this bike a damp, ground-hugging feel and loads of traction when leaning it over in corners. Unlike the more enduro-focused Meta Power (not TR), however, the TR feels more well-rounded and enjoyable on a much wider range of terrain while still being confidence-inspiring when things get steep and rough. It's not the most nimble or playful ride, but it certainly doesn't feel lethargic or boring either. Commencal's Contact System 4bar Linkage suspension design also seems pretty dialed and it feels supple and smooth with enough progression to handle bigger hits. Impressive given the limitations of the rear shock on the Ride build.
When diving into the Meta Power TR's geometry numbers, we were actually surprised how versatile this bike was given its dimensions. All sizes have the same head tube angle of 64.5-degrees which is pretty darn slack, along with a 453mm chainstay/rear center length. Our size large test bike had a 626mm effective top tube length, a 485mm reach, and a long 1,279mm wheelbase. Those numbers definitely put the TR in the long and slack category, especially for a trail bike, and are the main reason why this bike is capable of charging so hard on the descents. The slack front end, relatively long reach, and long wheelbase position the rider confidently between the wheels, and this bike feels super damp and very, very stable at speed. It gives the rider plenty of room to move around, and this bike feels composed when rolling into something steep or chunky. Yes, all that length can feel like a bit of a handful in tight switchbacks or low-speed tech, but it felt easier to handle in those situations than we expected.
The Ride build we tested makes some compromises to keep the price of this bike affordable (for an e-bike) but performed better than anticipated on the trail. The RockShox 35 Gold fork is a notable low-point, mostly due to its limited adjustability and our poor experiences with them on other bikes. That said, the e-bike rated version on the Meta Power TR feels pretty stout and more supple than we're used to with this fork. The RockShox Deluxe Select+ rear shock is equally unimpressive, but truthfully gave us little to complain about on the descents. SRAM's Guide T brakes aren't our favorite either, but the 4-piston calipers and 200mm rotors front and rear felt plenty powerful for this heavyweight bike. Commencal also thoughtfully chose some beefy rubber in the form of Maxxis Minion DHR II tires with the EXO+ casing which provide awesome cornering and braking traction. The cockpit setup also felt good straight out of the box with a sturdy front end and long dropper post.
The Meta Power TR is a solid climber with a bit of a monster truck feel. A nice steep seat tube and the power delivered by the Shimano EP8 drive unit are the real highlights and help you blast up climbs as long as the turns aren't super sharp. This bike is certainly a bit heavy and quite long, factors that come into play at lower speeds and in tight spaces.
Power is one of the main things that help heavyweight e-bikes from feeling like boat anchors on the climbs, and the Meta Power TR has plenty on tap for this 53 lb 8 oz bike. Geometry is the other player, and this bike is long and relatively slack with a nice steep seat tube. You mix those two together, and the Meta has no problem cruising uphill, it just prefers straighter lines and blasting up over obstacles in the trail. The steep seat tube angle lines the rider up nicely above the bottom bracket in a comfortable position with great power transfer. Despite the length of the wheelbase and relatively slack head tube angle, the longer chainstays and steep seat tube combine to make the front end feel planted and responsive, even on steep sections. Technical uphill puzzles and tight switchbacks are where this bike's length and weight are most noticeable, requiring a bit of forethought to ride clean. That said, it's not as unwieldy as we expected given its numbers.
Commencal's 4-bar suspension design offers pretty good pedaling support but remains relatively active. This results in loads of climbing traction and doesn't detract too much from the climbing experience thanks to the pedal assistance. The RockShox Deluxe Select+ shock on the Ride build doesn't have a compression damping switch, though we certainly would have preferred one for efficiency on road climbs. The Maxxis Minion DHR II isn't the fastest rolling, but it definitely provides loads of climbing traction and works well in a range of conditions. The SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain isn't particularly noteworthy, but it is worth mentioning that it comes with 160mm cranks. This shorter crank length might feel a little different if you're used to 175mm cranks, but it's easy to get used to and is intended to reduce the likelihood of pedal strikes.
Interestingly, we found this bike to pedal surprisingly well without pedal assistance. Sure, it's heavy, but when the battery died on a test ride in the middle of a steep climb, the Meta was much easier to pedal to the top than we expected. In fact, we rode it for nearly 40 minutes with no assistance and were surprised by how normal it felt. There seems to be little, if any, drag in the system when the power is off. Not that most people will want to climb without any pedal assistance, but it's not terrible if you have to.
The Meta Power TR 29 comes equipped with Shimano's newer EP8 motor which provides three levels of pedal assistance and a top supported speed of 20 mph. This new drive system is an improvement over the previous generation of Shimano motors, and it has more torque, less lag when you start pedaling, a smaller size, and lighter weight. Overall, we feel it is a more refined system and a nice spec on the least expensive build in the range.
The Shimano EP8 motor now delivers 85Nm of torque, putting it on par with the Bosch motor of the Trek Rail and just a hair behind the 90Nm of the Brose motor in the Specialized Turbo Levo. On the trail, the Meta Power TR feels plenty powerful whether blasting along the flats or grinding up a steep climb. Power comes on right away with virtually no lag, and it hangs on for just a second once the pedals stop turning. The three pedal assist modes, Eco, Trail, and Boost, provide a nice range of support to suit the terrain or your preferences. These pedal assist settings can also be customized using the Shimano e-tube app. This is a nice feature that allows you to adjust the level of assistance, max torque, and more for each mode to dial it in perfectly for your needs. Having the ability to fine-tune the support settings may not matter to everyone, but we really enjoyed it because we found the factory settings to be a bit too similar in Trail and Boost at higher torque levels, so we just went ahead and adjusted them.
Despite the many improvements made with the new EP8 motor, one thing that didn't change much was the noise level. We'd say it's a touch quieter than the previous version, and it doesn't have any annoying rattle coming from the housing, but it's still a bit more noticeable than the Turbo Levo, for example. It's relatively quiet in low torque situations, although the volume ramps up with the output from the motor. We don't think it's a deal-breaker, but it's certainly not as stealthy as some other systems.
With a large 630 Wh battery and Shimano's newer EP8 motor, the Meta Power TR impressed us with its distance range. In fact, it was one of the top performers in our standardized range test. During our test period, we also took it out for some lengthy tail rides and found that it can go the distance and rack up some serious vertical in the process.
Our standardized range test involves riding each eMTB in its highest output setting up and down a steep paved road for as long as possible to run the battery down from a full charge. We have the same rider test each bike in this way so that they are ridden in a consistent manner to reduce as many variables as possible. In our test, we rode the Meta Power TR 29 for 26.1 miles with 5,321 feet of elevation gain/loss. This is quite impressive, but not all that surprising given the larger 630 Wh battery and Shimano's new EP8 motor. In the field, we had similar results. One tester was doing laps on some super steep trails and logged over 6,000 vertical feet of climbing before draining the battery. Of course, this bike's range will depend on a huge number of factors including rider weight, terrain, temperature, and output setting, but when compared apples to apples with the other models in our test, it is up there with more expensive competitors. The Shimano e-tube app also gives you the ability to tweak the motor's output settings, which may help to extend battery life.
The Meta Power TR uses Shimano's EP8 motor system and the Shimano SC-EM800 display and handlebar-mounted controls. This is among our favorite systems with good ergonomics and a relatively easy-to-read display mounted next to the stem. Charging is relatively standard with an easily accessible charging port.
The Meta Power TR 29 has a large dedicated power button on the left side of the down tube. Pressing this button turns on/off power to the motor and display. The controls are mounted on the handlebar next to the left grip. This low-profile unit has 2 buttons that shift up or down through the motor's pedal assist modes. These controls are streamlined with good ergonomics and are very easy to reach with the thumb while riding. Activating the walk-assist mode involves pressing the bottom button until pedal-assist is off, then pressing and holding it while you walk.
The SC-EM800 display is attached to the handlebar and situated next to the stem in an easy-to-see location. This LCD-colored display shows current speed, pedal-assist mode, and remaining battery life on the main page. Assist mode is shown in small font but is also color-coded to make visual identification a little easier. Remaining battery life is displayed graphically with 5 bars representing the remaining battery charge that turn off progressively as the battery is depleted. A small button on the bottom of the unit allows you to toggle through several other pages with information like maximum speed, average speed, trip distance and time, estimated range, etc. We found the main page to be the most useful while riding. You can also connect via Bluetooth and the Shimano e-tube app to customize output settings and dial everything in to your preferences, and it's claimed to have improved connectivity with smartphones and GPS devices.
The Meta Power TR 29 has a relatively standard charging cord that gets plugged in to a small charging port at the bottom of the down tube. This charging port has a small cover that folds up. While this system works just fine, it can require a bit of fiddling to get the cover closed, and we feel its location makes it more susceptible to ingress from water, dust and debris. We didn't have any issues during testing, but we think it's something to keep an eye on.
The Ride build of the Meta Power TR 29 we tested is the least expensive of the four builds offered. It has some notable weak points, but we found even the questionable components to perform relatively well out on the trail. Considering this is one of the least expensive eMTBs we've tested, we weren't complaining too loudly. Of course, you can also opt for one of the pricier options and get yourself into a nicer build to start with.
The suspension components are the least impressive aspect of the Ride build we tested. The RockShox 35 Gold RL fork controls the 150mm of front wheel travel and is eMTB rated. While it isn't the plushest or most tuneable fork around, it feels significantly more sturdy and supple than the non-eMTB rated versions. This came as quite a surprise to us given its poor performance on various other bikes in the past. A simple RockShox Deluxe Select+ shock handles the 140mm of rear suspension. Again, this shock doesn't feel incredible, nor is it very tuneable, but it did its job admirably. We would have preferred a shock with a compression damping switch for climbing, but with the pedal-assist power it's not a deal-breaker.
The Meta Power TR 29 is capable of going pretty fast and the 53+ lb weight of this bike means you need some serious stoppers to control your speed. The SRAM Guide T brakes aren't our favorite, but the 4-piston version paired with 200mm rotors front and rear did a fine job of slowing and stopping this bike. Commencal spec'd a SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain, which is plenty easy to gripe about, but honestly worked pretty well for us during testing. It has more than enough gear range for an eMTB, but it's a bit heavy and doesn't shift under power as well as some other options.
One place that Commencal didn't skimp on was the ever-important tire selection. They equipped the Meta Power TR Ride with quality rubber front and rear so you won't have to shell out some cash immediately for tires that can handle this bike's weight and downhill capabilities. A matching set of Maxxis Minion DHR II in a 2.4-inch width with the beefier EXO+ casing provides excellent cornering and braking traction. The tougher EXO+ casing also provides additional sidewall support and puncture protection needed for a heavier e-bike. Those tires are mounted to Spank Spike Race 33 rims and Formula hubs. The rims have a 30mm internal width and they felt beefy enough to handle some big hits and chunky terrain during testing. Despite the wheels being tubeless-ready, we did have some difficulty seating the rear tire, and it required removing the pre-installed rim strip and replacing it with a double wrap of Stan's tape.
The cockpit of the Meta Power TR 29 also felt pretty dialed and ready to back up some hard shredding on this bike. Commencal spec'd a number of components from their house brand, Ride Alpha, including the handlebar, stem, and grips. They chose a burly freeride stem and a 780mm wide 20mm rise handlebar with e-bike wire routing. This combo felt nice and stout and helped when muscling this heavy bike around. At the back of the bike, a 175mm (size L and XL) KS Rage-I dropper gets the seat low and out of the way. This dropper feels a little clunky but gets the job done. The Fabric Scoop Flat Sport saddle proved to be quite comfortable for any length of ride.
Mountain biking is an expensive sport and adding a motor and battery into the equation only increases the price. When we purchased this bike it cost $4,999, making it a bit of a unicorn with a price under the $5K mark. Since then the price has gone up by $300, likely due to the current spike in bike demand and supply chain related parts availability, etc. That said, it's still one of the least expensive options on the market, and it comes with a burly frame, big battery, and quality drive system. We still feel it's a good value considering its well-rounded performance and solid distance range. It's absolutely a great entry-level eMTB and could be a really good option for the rider who likes to upgrade parts over time.
The Meta Power TR 29 is a versatile and hard-charging eMTB that is offered at a reasonable price (for an e-bike). This bike is long and slack, making it stable at speed and confident on aggressive trails, yet still loads of fun in more casual terrain. It's also a comfortable climber with a bit of a monster truck feel. Yes, it is a bit of a handful in super tight terrain due to its length and weight. The new Shimano EP8 motor is an impressive spec at this price point and the 630Wh battery grants it an impressive range. The Ride build we tested is budget-friendly, and while there are some low points, everything came together pretty well on the trail. If you're looking for a ripping e-bike that won't break the bank, we think the Meta Power TR is a great option to consider.
The Meta Power TR 29 is offered in 4 complete builds including the Ride version we tested.
If you're willing to spend a little bit more, the Race build will set you back $5,999, but comes with several key component upgrades. It has a more tuneable RockShox Lyrick Select+ fork, SRAM Guide RE brakes with 220mm rotors, A SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, and trusty DT Swiss H 1900 Spline wheels.
The next step up is the Signature build at $7,199 (still less than the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp). It comes with flashy Fox Factory suspension and dropper post, Shimano XT brakes and drivetrain, and DT Swiss H 1700 Spline wheels.The top of the line build is the Ohlins AXS. It comes with an Ohlins suspension package, Shimano XT brakes, a SRAM GX Eagle AXS drivetrain, a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post, and DT Swiss H 1700 Spline wheels. At $7,899 it's a screaming deal for an AXS equipped bike.
— Jeremy Benson, Joshua Hutchens, Chris McNamara