In 1998 Max Commencal was left with two choices: buy back his own company that he was pushed out of, or wipe the slate clean and start afresh. “I preferred to start from zero. I didn’t want to give money to those guys…” he explains having turned his back on ten years of work at Sunn, leaving him to stare at a blank canvas. He added the first brush strokes in the form of Andorran investment, which led Max away from the south of France and into the principality tucked away in the Pyrenees.
Commencal remains in Andorra some 20 years later with Max still at the helm of the office, which is within earshot of the World Cup track, although it’s not likely you’ll find any of the close to 60 employees in the office come race day. Racing is an integral part of day-to-day life at Commencal with them enjoying World Cup success with racing royalty like Anne-Caro, the Athertons, and of course the current crop of Commencal Vallnord racers who are a near-permanent fixture on the WC podium.
The company has gained some real momentum in recent years and they’ve expanded into America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in quick succession. The prices are lower which is another way in which Commencal has got such a strong foothold in the market at the moment.
Look through the line-up and there is a distinct absence of carbon in the Commencal portfolio. They did offer the likes of the Skin, Super 4, and Meta in carbon for a few years, but after visiting the manufacturer in China, Max decided to put a stop to it all. “I was so disappointed to see the bad, bad conditions for the workers… young people with the carbon dust, with only a poor paper mask. The owner was saying ‘No, it is like this’… I wasn’t comfortable with that.” That was the end to carbon at Commencal, but it wasn’t just the humanitarian side that leaves the company as aluminium advocates. As Max explains, a carbon mold is expensive and leaves little room to tweak and change the design, something which Commencal are constantly playing with, especially with their race team.
WHY BUY A COMMENCAL?
Life at Commencal is a family affair; it’s not only Max’s name above the door and on all the bikes with two of his children firmly involved in the company. It’s a tightly knit bunch in the office and out of it too, their race teams seem to share the same family-like structure too, coincidentally or not… the enduro team run by the Ravanel’s and the downhill team by the Ruffin’s. There’s plenty of faces from the office in Andorra popping up at the races across the World too, not least Max: “I like to sell bikes everywhere. I am proud to be present in America, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia. I like the competition. I like to work with top riders to help them. I think it’s the real DNA of the brand. Travel. Sport. Work.”
Commencal recently celebrated their twentieth anniversary and look to be in a very strong position for the next twenty. Max remarks, “I’m not so young now but what is clear is that I enjoy what I’m doing a lot, two of my children work with me. I have a super nice team actually. I really like to work with them, to travel with them. When I come here I don’t feel like I’m going to work, it’s a pleasure.”
From this structure comes very passionately designed and built MTB’s. Join the club today!
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If you need any help choosing your Commencal bike, please don’t hesitate to give us a call – 01206 299641