Fast and Furious | We Ride Commencal's Newest Downhill Bike

When Commencal launched their newest big bike platform, the Furious, they told us their goal was to create a simple yet sophisticated machine that can be used for anything from racing to rallying your favorite freeride trail with your buddies. The bike caught our eye, so when we found ourselves in Andorra for the most recent round of the World Cup, we took the opportunity to put in a few laps aboard this bold beast to see if they pulled it off. Read on to find out!

Commencal Furious Highlights

  • Al6066 triple butted frame
  • 200mm travel
  • Progressive Contact System
  • 9’’ 1/2 * 3’’ Shock
  • 150mm * 12mm Rear Axle
  • Tapered Head Tube ZS44 / ZS56
  • BB107 Bottom Bracket
  • Double Density Chain Stay Protector
  • Down Tube Protector
  • New Internal Routing Seals
  • 12x150mm Rear Axle
  • IS Rear Brake Mount
  • Big Range Seat Tube Insertion
  • Weight: 16.8kg (Furious Race)

Initial Impressions

It's a looker! There's no denying that the Furious is easy on the eyes. The sloping frame, clean lines, and aggressive stance all conspire to create a bike that shouts "ride me" from the first encounter. Our test bike was the top-of-the-line Furious Race, which comes ready to roll with factory FOX suspension, a 7-speed DH drivetrain, Spank wheels and SRAM Guide RE brakes. Since Commencal is a direct-to-consumer brand these days, the fact that all this will only set you back $3999 USD no longer comes as a surprise but that's certainly no reason to not point how good of a deal that is again. Compared to big brother the Supreme DH V4.2, the Furious takes $200 off the price tag at the equivalent build level, and 700 grams off the scales. So far, so simple!

Never afraid to go out on a limb, Commencal also knows when to stick to their guns. When it came to the suspension design, they went back to their tried and trusted linkage-driven, single-pivot design for the Furious. The Commencal R&D crew believe that it is the platform that combines the highest degree of design tuneability with very predictable suspension behavior. They gave the Furious a significantly progressive leverage ratio curve, which they say provides the rider with a wide range of acceptable spring rates and shock settings to work within when setting up their bike. Interestingly enough, they also tune the leverage ratio to the frame size, since a smaller, lighter rider will require a less progressive design and vice versa.

Commencal has never completely jumped on the super-long reach train, and although the Furious is their longest DH bike yet, it still presents fairly conservative reach numbers across the four sizes available. However, the slack 63.5 degree head angle and medium length 440mm chainstays both contribute to the significant wheelbase which should provide for a stable yet fun ride. Commencal cites increased speed and more technical tracks as the main driving forces behind their design decisions here.

This stunning "Brushed Aluminum" version looks awesome in the flesh, but will only be available a bit later in the year.

As they would say at Commencal, simple is not simple.

Max Commencal does not believe in carbon bikes. However, this should not be mistaken for misplaced conservatism, as the boys and girls at Commencal put their heart and soul into making the best, most sophisticated aluminum frames they can. This is obvious when you inspect the new Furious, from the built in frame protectors to routing the cables in such a way as to minimize frame rub and premature wear, no stone has been left unturned. The frames are triple-butted to be stiff where needed, but also offer enough compliance to improve grip. The welds are all beautifully executed as are the paint jobs. As they would say at Commencal, simple is not simple.

On The Trail

The excitement for the World Cup was building when we pulled into Andorra, and even though the weather got in on the act and dumped a bunch of H2O on us on our first day of riding, that did little to dampen our spirits. From the first laps, the Furious was easy to get along with. We set up the shock at 30% sag, twisted some knobs and hit the lifts. This 6'0 (1m84) tall tester rode a size L, which felt just about right, given the healthy wheelbase and slack head angle which place the front wheel comfortably out in front. Note that the frame design keeps the same standover and stack height across the various sizes, so you are essentially free to size up or down and pick the reach number you prefer.

Superbly well balanced, we found it easy to load up the front, point, and shoot.

At 30% sag, the Furious behaves very much like a downhill bike. "Duh", you might say, but with its predecessor and namesake still in our memory, we were perhaps expecting more of a freeride feel to the Furious. However, given the leverage ratio and the shape of the curve, the Furious will work well within a relatively large range of sag, and towards the 20% mark the bike should become quite a bit more poppy. For us, we quickly came to appreciate the stability and predictability on offer as we rode trail after trail essentially blind - and in the wet, on day one. Superbly well balanced, we found it easy to load up the front, point, and shoot.

The Vallnord bike park offers up a mix of machine built and natural trails, many of which feature a healthy dose of that Andorran trademark steepness. We had little trouble pointing the Furious down whatever trail happened to appear in front of us, from hard pack park berms to loose and rocky chutes the bike took it all in stride. The bike rolls easily, and the weight distribution places the rider naturally between the axles. The Furious is not the liveliest of sprinters, but Commencal's decision here was to favor suspension performance over pedaling efficiency, a choice that we agree with given the bike's intentions. There is little by way of pedal kickback to interfere with your flow and fun, and the bike remains planted and stable under braking too. It takes to the air easily and lands with poise, without any weird suspension movements to throw you off your game. In one word, confidence-inspiring (technically, that's two words).

Easy to set up and easy to maintain, this is a versatile platform that will cater to any gravity rider's needs while leaving a little extra in the pocket for those lift passes and entry fees.

Compared to the Supreme DH V4 with its high pivot design, the Furious presents a more "normal" feel at the rear wheel. However, do not make the mistake of writing it off as "just" a park bike. Its angles and suspension are right up to par with many a dedicated DH bike, and the Furious will not feel out of its elements if speed is your middle name and racing is your weekend game. Easy to set up and easy to maintain, this is a versatile platform that will cater to any gravity rider's needs while leaving a little extra in the pocket for those lift passes and entry fees.

Build Kit

A few comments on the build kit of our Furious Race test bike:

  • The Factory FOX Float 40 and Float X2 suspension package is superb. With near unlimited tuning options and awesome performance in the rough, the list price of the suspension components alone is more than half the actual list price of this bike. No upgrades needed here!
  • The SRAM GX 7-speed drivetrain is a great addition to any DH bike. The shifting performance is smooth, the gear spacing on the money, and coupled with a chain guide the chain retention is up to the job as well. Much better than any 11-speed conversion that's for sure.
  • SRAM's Guide RE brakes are in fact Guide levers combined with Code calipers (they were designed by SRAM specifically for e-bikes but this particular combo has long been popular with gravity riders anyway). We found them to offer adequate power for dealing with the steeps of Andorra, although we would still prefer the full-on Code set-up for that extra bite.
  • Commencal's house brand Alpha components finish off the contact points, while Spank's excellent Spike 33 wheels round out this build nicely. For the money, we have few complaints if any.

What's The Bottom Line?

We arrived in Andorra expecting more of a freeride bike, but what we found was a versatile and capable DH shredder. From weekend park warriors to amateur racers alike, the Furious can be adapted to any type of terrain and to any riding style. Easy to set up, easy to maintain, and easy to get along with, the Furious still turned out to be a wolf in wolf's clothing. Commencal's biggest problem with the Furious now might be convincing people why they should still look at their flagship race bike, the Supreme.

For more information, head on over to www.commencal.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord (product) and Nico Brizin (action)

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