Commencal’s new Supreme 20

supreme20_2One of (or arguably THE) top bike brands in Europe has has a little surprise in their lineup for the smaller kids out there for 2014.  The Supreme 20 takes Commencal’s legendary suspension platform and tweaks it out for a small rider who wants to hit the park with Dad (or Mom) and the parent who’s tired of freaking out whenever their little one gets bucked any time they hit some roots or rocks.  

Intended for riders in the 6-9 range (though it’s low stand-over should also be fine for taller 5 year olds), this bike seems to have a lot of the elements missing in most kid’s bikes.

What’s to Like:

Air suspension, front and rear – The Fox rear suspension is probably the most solid part on this frame.  It’s the same thing you’d find on lots of quality adult bikes, complete with their CTD system (Climb, Trail, Descent) which allows for the rider to adjust the suspension depending of the style or riding or terrain.  It’s likely more than is required on a kid’s bike, but who’s complaining?  The best part is that it’s an air shock which can be easily adjusted to the weight of the rider without hunting down a host of different springs as the rider grows.

The fork in an interesting choice.  Commencal probably went through the same pains every biking enthusiast does when they try to find a decent kid’s fork, there are a few decent choices in 20″ forks out there (White Brothers, and Spinner) but none are exceptional, and all are hard to find and expensive.  So Commencal has gone an interesting route by spec’ing a fork intended for a 24″ wheel.  So long as the frame is designed around the increased stack height up front, this shouldn’t cause any problems, all while allowing the manufacturer to include a higher quality fork.  The RST First fork is an air fork, which has the same advantages as the Fox shock in back.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes –  I don’t understand why some kid’s bike makers go through the trouble of including disc brakes, but half-ass it with cables.  The momentum to hand strength ratio for little riders is much different than adult riders, and kids need as much power put towards making them stop as possible.  Hydro brakes are MUCH more powerful than cable disc brakes, which means more stopping power with less pressure on the hands, and much less hand fatigue.  It’s nice to see that Commencal didn’t underestimate the value of hydro brakes for smaller hands, and included some Tektro HDC330s with reach adjustment (another required feature for smaller riders).

Tapered Headtube – While I’m not a huge fan of tapered headtubes, they are the industry standard and it’s always nice when a kid’s is compatible with standard bike parts (I’m looking at you bikes with threaded headsets).  The tapered headtube will allow you to adjust the head angle if you’re so inclined.  In theory, you could install an angleset to counter some of the geometry change by running a 24″ wheel up front (to get an extra season or two out of the bike before it’s outgrown).  You’d certainly want to confirm that frame clearance wouldn’t be an issue before attempting this though.

Not Sold On

supreme20Single Speed – Seeing as this bike is aimed at riders between 6 and 9 years old, I don’t see the point of not including a rear derailleur.  At that age kids are more than capable of using multiple gears, and making this frame single speed only relegates it to pretty much park-only.

Possible Improvements

Make it modifiable –  Even if it’s not included stock, it’d be nice to see room for a derailleur hanger and some cable routing so intrepid parents could modify if desired.  Likewise, it looks like the dropouts are removable, so the ability to upgrade the rear wheel to 24″ would be invaluable to parents who would like to keep this bike going for more than a few years.

Price – While they don’t seem to have North American pricing, and  who knows if the bike will even be available for purchase this side of the Atlantic,  the price is pretty steep.  Based on complex calculations and currency conversions we estimate the complete bike will have a price tag of about $3,000.  At that price you’re up against a Lil’ Shredder, which is better spec’d.

Bottom Line

While we haven’t had a chance to test or see this bike in person, on paper it looks like a great choice for the little rider who’s mostly focussed on park (a huge, growing market).  It’s an awesome looking frame that comes with a capable parts spec for the young rider looking to step up his or her game.  It’s pretty pricey, but once you get past that it looks like a great ride for the park or any other terrain that doesn’t require too much pedalling.

Check out online at Commencal’s European site: www.commencal-store.co.uk/PBSCProduct.asp?ItmID=12502744 and let’s hope we see them on this side of the Atlantic soon.

Supreme 24

Commencal also sells their Supreme 24, which is pretty much identical to their world cup winning bike, only for the slightly smaller set.