First, I’d like to thank David Taylor (@the_duke_1974) for taking this dope ass picture. I delayed this publication because the smoke rolled into Colorado so badly a few weeks ago, I couldn’t get any good pictures. David and I just happened to be at the same place at the same time on Indy Pass, and he whipped out his big camera and took this picture.
I like my bikes like I like my burritos, thick. I typically try to find the chunky, rocky, rooty, don’t-fall-or-you’ll-break-you’re-face-type trails. With that comes heavy, long-travel bikes. Smoothed berms and flow trails don’t do anything for me, the same way dead turns at the ski resort don’t do anything for me. It gets quite boring. With all that being said, any of Commencal’s bikes fit the bill.
Williams Racing Products (WRP) is a small component manufacturer out of Victoria, Australia. It’s run by top-bloke Mic Williams. He’s producing aftermarket stems, Commencal parts, and Specialized parts; all of which are beautiful pieces of artwork.
Just look at this thing, it’s absolutely beautiful. It might as well be on the runway laced up in a dookie rope. The finish is superb and the little addition of the ‘WRP’ made it very clear that I was better than everyone else around me. I’ve said this before, but the industrial design and overall appearance of bike components are extremely important. How many times have you bought something because it looked good?
The yoke is made out of 6061-T6 aluminum, which is a general-purpose aluminum alloy. It’s developed using what is called ‘precipitation hardening’, which is a heat-treating method that results in excellent yield strength. Yield strength is the maximum stress a material can withstand before permanent deformation. This is a very standard material, originally developed back in 1930’s, and is used in just about every industry you can think of. It’s time-proven, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’ll last forever.
WRP says they will be shipped with high-quality Enduro bearings. Anodizing will be available, upon special request. But, there are numerous local shops around that could anodize these for you, if you so choose. But, be aware that if you get someone else to anodize it, it’ll void the warranty.
You might be wondering what this thing weighs, but let’s be real, you’re on a Commencal. You don’t care about weight, anyway. You didn’t get those thighs riding some lightweight carbon superbike. But, in case you were wondering, it’s 156.7 grams, which is a negligible weight difference.
With a lifetime warranty against manufacturers’ defects, WRP is pretty confident in its product.
As far as installation goes, I’m not really going to talk about that too much. Take bolts off, put bolts back on. It’s very simple; any idiot can do it.
I’ll admit, I fangirl hard on Commencal. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that they don’t make the best value per dollar bikes on the market. I’m not a huge fan of carbon, and they’ve stuck to their guns and have kept their bikes traditional aluminum. Dent the downtube? Keep on riding. Pop a weld? Tac it back up. Most importantly, their US headquarters are about 10 minutes from me. So, if anything goes wrong, they’ve got my back.
So, what exactly are we changing compared to the full 29” version. The yoke works by essentially lengthening the shock to compensate for the smaller wheel. As a result, WRP says:
[The bike] sits in a higher leverage portion of the stock curve – [with] a little more beginning stroke at the proportional sacrifice of a little ending stroke.
WRP sent me some graphs. I love graphs. This first one will get everyone all boned up. With the mullet link, the axle path is slightly more rearward. If we follow the same justification used by any other manufacturer, this means energy from rocks and chuck are translated more laterally, meaning less loss of momentum.
I want to make it clear that you don’t actually have a different axle path. Again, because the bike sits slightly further in the travel, the beginning migration path of the 27.5” will result in a more rearward path – 3.05mm more rearward to be exact. The graph above is a normalization, where both lines start at zero. If the pink line was translated downward 19.05mm, the two lines would overlap.
The charts below show the change in leverage ratio and anti-squat, compared to the full 29”. The leverage ratio effectively increases at all points of travel, which should result in a softer feeling ride given the same shock. Therefore, if you’re going to use this mullet link, you might consider pumping a few more PSI, getting a slightly heavier spring to compensate, or adding some preload. I go into that more later on.
I’m sure you notice the little extra pink on the right side of the graph. That’s right, you’ll get an extra 4mm of travel with this yoke, without having to change the shock. I’m all about more travel.
The anti-squat graph shows the bike in first gear (51t). With this yoke, you should feel a slightly better pedaling platform throughout the travel, but that really only matters around the 40mm mark (25% sag).
Efficacy of the Mullet
At this point, I think we all know the idea behind the mullet system. Intuitively, the adage ‘business in the front, party in the back’ makes sense. But, I needed to give it a try before I could form a proper decision.
Among the different physical aspects between the two wheel sizes, the 27.5” will always take less power to turn one rotation, but that one rotation is always a shorter distance. This lends the 27.5” wheel to be easier to pedal, but at a slower pace – given the same gear ratio and crank length. As a result, there’s a perception of inefficiency. I say this because this was the most glaring difference between the wheel sizes. If you’re going from a 29” wheel down to the 27.5”, you’re probably going to feel a bit slower on the climbs. But, I don’t ride bikes for the uphill.
I took the bike around a part of the CDT in a super small town called Twin Lakes, Colorado. The trail itself sits just under Mt. Elbert, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. I had hopes of taking this bike to the top of that peak, but I came back to reality and knew that wasn’t ever going to happen. Props to Darric Roark for doing it (among others, before you start yelling at me).
I did this trail quite a few times all summer for consistency’s sake, while also offering a lot of different conditions in the same trail. The climb is a very loose, dry, and rocky fire road, followed by some up/down in the trees. The ground got a little more moist toward the top of the trail, which was very welcome.
With the combination of dusts rocks and high elevation (9200 ft. base), the climbing around these parts is tough. I found myself tapping the ground a little more often than I’m used to. The balance and position of the bike changed enough to just throw me off a little bit. After some contemplation, I came to the conclusion that my chest (high-up weight) was sitting a little further back than I was used to because the seat post is leaned back a little bit.
This looks like it was my error, and I want to share my resolution. I didn’t change my spring when installing the yoke because I already sit at a low sag %, but after talking to Mic, he suggested putting in another round or two of preload to compensate for the dynamic sag. I went for another run this morning with this info, and that seems to have solved my issues.
My wife has also been riding this a lot lately (it’s her bike), and her most profound feedback was the fact that she’s climbing tough/steep sections that she normally couldn’t get over with a 29”. I think this is due to the improved pedaling platform and the reduced torque it takes to rotate the wheel. For those looking to improve your riding experience, I’ve learned that improving your significant other’s ride is the best upgrade possible. When she’s happy, I’m happy.
Now, let’s talk about what really matters – downhill. The trail is absolutely fantastic, meandering through an enormous Aspen grove, where the ground stays in near perfect condition. There are very few switchbacks, so you can pin it for most of it. First, as far as I’m concerned, this is a top-class bike when pointed downhill. I got some shots of my wife hoofin’ it down this trail because I have a face for radio.
The smaller wheel is absolutely noticeable. I felt like I was back on my Clash. The back end just moves more easily, and it felt more natural. Compared to the 29” version of this bike, I could move my ass and feet much more easily. The bike just wants to dig into a turn. It’s easy to throw your weight around. The bike responds as it should, digging and popping in and out of corners.
Line choice is less important, especially going through the loose rock and dust around the Continental Divide. I felt my eyes looking further down the trail than I was used to, since the immediate impacts were less significant. That being said, I noticed the balance of turning to be slightly different. Getting the front wheel and back wheels to turn similarly will take some getting used to. I think it’s more the big front wheel, rather than the smaller rear wheel, since I’m so used to 27.5”. This will just take some time getting used to. Remember your learning curve going away from a 26”?
Ultimately, it feels nimble while maintaining a burly smash-through-everything vibe. The mullet setup is, honestly, the way to go. I never felt comfortable on a full 29er, and I always had to keep a close eye on my line with a 27.5 front wheel. It genuinely offers the best of both worlds. I hate marketing bullshit, but the term ‘flickable’ is the correct term. The bike is an absolute hoot to ride. The addition of the smaller back wheel just makes it fun. And that’s why we do this, right?
It’s important to note that this same part also works for the 2019/2020 Meta TR. This is also available for the newer 2021 Meta AM and TR. They also make a mullet link for the Specialized Enduro. If you’re looking for some super nice stems, they offer those, too. And, if you’re in the market for a 100% custom stem, check out their Custom Stem Builder.
I’ll just say it, I am a mullet convert. So much so that I’m already pricing out a 29” front wheel on my Clash in 2025. Like I said, this is actually my wife’s bike, and it looks like she’s not going back to a full 29er. That being said, I feel this is a great setup for smaller riders. I’ve never been convinced that shorter people should be on 29” wheels, including myself. The Meta is a little easier to pedal due to the improved pedaling platform and the smaller wheel, you get a little more butt-room, and it’s easier to control the back wheel. All combined result is a truly beneficial situation.
If you’re looking to convert your 19/20’ Commencal Meta 29”, I highly recommend considering the WRP mullet link. The mullet probably isn’t a fad, and I think it’ll be around for the foreseeable future. WRP makes these in-house and has nearly 100% control over the manufacturing process. This means he can keep things in stock much more easily, without relying on Asian supply chains, so you can actually buy this thing right now. In case you were wondering, Australia is the #6 aluminum producer, way ahead of the US.
If you just wanted to get your bike turned over to a mullet as cheaply as possible, it would end up costing about $500-600 USD, assuming you switch over your rotor and cassette. The part costs $425 AUD ($311 USD as of today). I’ve seen good used back wheels for $150, and you can get a good tire for $80. That’s not cheap, but it’s a hell of a lot better than getting a whole new bike. And, you’ve got the freedom to go back and forth.
With literally any product that’s ever existed, a level of legitimacy is added to any component that can get through the brutal punishment of racing. This exact part is already being raced on the SR Suntour/Commencal EWS team with Dan Slack and Jack Reading. As far as I’m concerned, that means it’s a good product.
On a more philosophical note, Mic really puts his heart and soul into bikes. With his business, WRP, and the Trinity Project with Chase Warner and Nigel Petrie, he’s all-in to try to provide us with some great bike stuff. This is the type of dude you want to support. He keeps the core value of mountain biking alive. That being said, as a consumer, I’d love to see a Commencal/WRP limited edition bike. Beyond the fact that it’d just be super cool, I think this would show a level of respect from Commencal for people like Mic. I wouldn’t knock them if they didn’t, but if they need parts, he’s got them.
Disclaimer: I didn’t get paid for this and none of these links are affiliate links.