Commencal Premier HD 4 / Plus – Review
At under £500 the Commencal Premier Plus bike is quite simply the best budget MTB available. (Edit – Now Available for only £361) A bold statement to begin with but one I will stand by and hopefully explain over the next few paragraphs.
Originally bought this bike on a whim, coming from a DH background I wanted a bike for occasional XC and commuter use. Something for longer trail rides, to help with my fitness and to ride when lugging my full suspension DH / freeride bike around wasn’t an option.
After a few rides on the Commencal my opinions on its suitable usage changed drastically. This bike is massively fun to ride and reminded me of my days riding a BMX. There is something very endearing that in the age where MTB products are growing in price, advancement and technology such a relatively cheap and simple MTB can provide so much fun.
Frame and Ride:
The ride and handeling of the Commencal Premier HD is spot on in my opinion, she is not as “poppy” as some more expensive hard-tail frames and doesn’t have the Geo of some XC race sleds.
The ride is very neutral and easy to get used to and whilst the frame feels very solid and stiff the thick and solid tubing does a good job of dulling out any trail vibrations whilst giving you some great feedback.
The frame sizing is pretty standard, although being 180cm tall, I opted for the Size M frame which is around the 17.5″ mark. The smaller frame suited a more “chuck it about” riding style and I could still get a good XC riding position with the saddle and seat-post raised up.
The main problem in any budget MTB is the cheap suspension forks. For road and bicycle path use they will be fine. For off road MTB use you will be looking for a swift upgrade. There are almost no differences in performance between any of the models offered at this price. RST, Suntour or the bottom budget Rock Shox – they are not suitable for serious MTB use. Whilst the forks on the Commencal provided some dulling of trail buzz and took the edge of rocks and logs I would advise running them on lock out 75% of the time (a function handily achieved by the on the fly lever on the top of the fork stanchions).
The Tektro Hydraulic disk brakes were a real surprise. They were absolutely fantastic in fact. A massive improvement in performance over some mid range disk brakes from 4/5 years ago (Hayes Nine anyone).
Commencal own label stem, seat, post, bars and grips. All functional, look good, what more do you want at this price. Havent felt the need to upgrade on any of the contact points in the past year since buying the bike.
The crank set is Suntour XCR a solid performer with as you would expect, minimal flex under normal riding. Some budget bicycles have absolutely appalling crank sets fitted, so the Suntour whilst not being a posh bit of kit was more than satisfactory.
The Grouset is made up of Shimano shifters and mechs, no problems here and no need to upgrade until they wear out. The gear shift can be a little clunky at times and slow at times but in no way a problem. The groupset is proper MTB equipement and not plastic or gimmicky like on some other brand bicycles. Its all up to the job!
Wheels are Jalco with commencal graphics and hubs are Commencal own brand. Rims are a little skinny but reasonably lightweight. If your doing a lot of proper off road in the wet then I would look to change the tires, for a mix of road, hard pack and fast rolling trail they are spot on.
This is a fantastic looking bike (especially in black) with some great functional kit for the money. It has competition from Cube, Specialized, Cannondale etc… But the Commencal has an adventurous feel to it and is a lot more unique. You really do feel like you are riding a much more expensive bike and the the Commencal brand name should help you keep a respetable resale value a few years down the line.
The frame tubing is confidence inspiring, not to thin and tinny, unlike some other brands tubing they can handle some abuse. The bike isnt ultralight at around 14kg for the size L but i would rather the bike can handle itself in a crash than end up with a dented/cracked frame. The frame decals seem permanent and look great.
The Commencal is a bike not afraid to get stuck in. It handles all situations well and is as fun taking downhill as happy it is going up. Get those forks locked out for a BMX feel or upgrade for a midrange mountain bike.
If you are looking for a serious mountain bike under £500 then look no further than the Commencal.
Now at only £361 (reduced from £535) at CRC this bike is a no brainer. GET IT
In Addition –
Commencal Premier HD 4 – £349 probably the best value of the range.
Commencal Premier MD – £329 same as above but with the downgrade to Tektro Mechanical disks.
Commencal Premier HD 3 – £379.99 Exactly as HD 4 – but with 9 speed instead of 8.
Commencal Premier HD 2 – £409.99 addition / upgrade to some SRAM groupset components.
Commencal Premier HD 1 – £434.99 Avid exlixr 1 hydro disk brakes and 3×9 Shimano groupset.