Review: Production Privee Shan GT

by
May 31, 2017

Andi has been testing the Production Privee Shan GT to see if the newer 29er matches the pedigree of the original Shan.

Brand: Production Privee
Product: Shan GT
From: Production Privee
Price: €699 (Frame Only), Complete Bikes From €2549
Tested: by Andi Sykes for 6 Months

Production Privee is an Andorran based frame and component maker who, until very recently, specialised purely in producing steel hardtails, along with a range of bars, stems, and other accessories.

The small brand started off as a project between a couple of friends who worked for fellow Andorran brand, Commencal. After leaving Commencal the duo met with Cedric Gracia with the idea of a new stem design. Gracia was so impressed with the design that he offered to ride the stem if it was put into production. Now if you check out the cockpit of CG’s Santa Cruz bikes you’ll find a Production Privee bar and stem.

What really put the brand on the map though was its aggressive steel hardtail named the Shan (Shan “山“ is the Chinese word for mountain). Over the years the Shan has evolved from a 26in bike to 27.5in, and has now spawned another model called the Shan GT 29er.

Production Privee Shan GT
Retro racer styling.

As with the original Shan, Production Privee is keen to point out that the Shan GT is a very capable adaptable machine. While Production Privee does call it a ‘Trail Bike’, the GT feels just at home on the downhill track as it does riding XC or tearing up the bike park.

Our review bike came built up with 29in wheels, but chubby curious riders will be happy to know the frame can also run 27.5+ wheels and tyres too.

As a firm lover of steel hardtails I was keen to swing a leg over the Shan GT, and as I also own the 26in and 27.5in versions of the Shan, I was also curious to see how the bigger wheeled bike compared.

Production Privee Shan GT
Low-slung 29er.

The Bike

For anyone who has been attracted by the cult following of Production Privee, you will already be well aware that steel is the preferred frame material, even the brand’s all new full suspension frame features a full 4130 frame.

Therefore it’s not at all surprising to see that the Shan GT is manufactured from steel and uses a few of the design features that Production Privee developed for its earlier bikes.

Production Privee Shan GT
Production Privee uses 4130 MCS steel for all its frames.

The tube set the Shan GT is manufactured from is a custom triple butted 4130 tubing. Production Privee calls the material MCS steel and uses is for the Shan GT, Shan 27.5 and Shan No5. Slim steel tubes make up the front end of the frame, while the rear end has a few clever engineering tweaks to give an efficient yet compliant ride.

Production Privee Shan GT
The large KTP+ yoke has ample clearance for 29er or 27.5+ wheels and tyres.

One of these features is where the chainstays connect to the bottom bracket shell (press fit if you’re wondering). This special yoke area is  called the KTP+ and gives the hardtail a short rear centre length for a snappy feel, while also boosting tyre clearance. If you inspect the chainstays you will also notice that some clever shapes have been introduced. These aren’t just for looks nor just for clearance, but are also said to help absorb trail chatter and shocks. It’s not a replacement for rear suspension, but the Shan GT is more comfortable than hardtails while retaining a rowdy side.

Production Privee Shan GT
QR Maxle to keep the rear wheel in place.

The Shan GT uses replaceable alloy dropouts which bolt to the steel frame via two chainring bolts on either side. A 148x12mm Maxle is used to keep the wheel in place, and as you can see from those measurements the GT is a Boost compatible bike, the first in the Production Privee range.

Production Privee Shan GT
The hourglass headtube is featured on all Production Privee frames.

Neat Tig welds are used to keep the tubes together, which are arranged to create a bike with a low standover height. A few details that have been carried over to retain the Production Privee signature design language include the extended and braced seat tube, and the beautiful hour glass head tube that uses drop-in cartridge headset bearings without need for additional cups.

Production Privee Shan GT
Retro racer styling.

The Shan GT I had on test is officially named the Shan GT 935, that refers to the Porsche 935 GT car that the GT shares its paint job with. Production Privee also has a white, blue and gold model based on the old Rothmans racing colours, and there will also be black and gold Lotus JPS inspired models, and white and red Corvette variants in the future too.

Production Privee Shan GT
The deep glossy finish has survived a hard life on our test bike.

The paint quality and attention to detail are very impressive especially given that the frame with rear axle and headset is just €699, roughly £605, similar to steel frames from Stanton and Cotic (neither come with headsets included though) and more affordable than the Ninier Ros9 that retails at £899. While you might notice from the photos that this test bike does have a few chips in the paint, it is worth mentioning that this test bike has already seen serious action in the Alps and been a sample test bike for European mags already. It’s been around the block that’s for sure.

As with Boost, stealth dropper post routing is a new feature for the Shan GT, but once it exits the seat tube the dropper hose/cable is externally routed along with brake hoses and gear cables. Make of this what you will, but I actually prefer the easy access of an external cable in certain instances and routing on the Shan GT is neat and tidy.

Production Privee Shan GT
The Crank Bros dropper continues to work well.

The build for our bike was pretty close to the complete bike option you can choose from Production Privee, with the only differences being a Crank Brothers dropper post and a Maxxis Shorty up front (to cope with the winter slop). Production Privee only offers one build option for the Shan GT, but most buyers will likely opt for a frame only and to custom build their bike how they like using their own parts.

Production Privee Shan GT
Own brand bar, stem and headset are quality items.

Handlebars and stem are the same Production Privee items that Cedric Gracia chooses to use, and the bike even came with a set of Production Privee’s C35 grips. These are quite a clever bit of kit and feature an offset internal tube which in effect allows you to fine tune the sweep of the bars. The bars, stem and headset top cap all have two white lines which help you to align everything properly too, very trick.

Plugged into the front we have a pair of RockShox Pikes with 140mm travel, which is the maximum that the Shan GT is designed for. Interestingly, Production Privee also produces a headset spacer that plugs into the bottom of the headtube in case you decide to run the bike with plus tyres and a shorter fork but still want a taller, slacker head angle.

Production Privee Shan GT
Dependable Rockshox Pike up front.

Being an all purpose hardtail with a playful, gravity tilt to it, the Pike is a great choice. Boost spacing allows clearance for a nice wide tyre, and its good to have a simple, but effect fork up front with plenty of stiffness for manhandling this 29er through rock gardens and moorland at speed. The only controls available on our Pike were rebound, compression, air pressure and the option to add or remove Tokens. Right off the bat, I added an additional Token so I could run a lower pressure for small bump sensitivity while not blowing through all the travel at once.

Production Privee Shan GT
Spank Ozzy Trail 345 wheels are strong and reliable

Spank Oozy wheels are a strong and dependable option and not too heavy either. Boost hubs to match the frame with a 15mm thru axle on the front and 148x12mm rear. If you were to choose a Production Privee build, the Shan GT would come with High Roller II tyres front and rear, but as I received the bike for test during the winter we chose a rear High Roller II with a Maxxis Shorty up front for added grip. The tyres are, of course, set up tubeless.

Production Privee Shan GT
SRAM takes care of gear shifting duties.

SRAM handles the transmission duties with the GT running a 1×11 SRAM GX/NX groupset mix. This might not be as light or as fancy looking as a 12-speed Eagle option but any potential breakages aren’t going to weigh too heavily on your pocket, plus the performance is excellent.

Production Privee Shan GT
You can’t go wrong with a set of XT stoppers.

With SRAM taking care of suspension and shifting, you might think that Production Privee would also draw from the Big-Red-S to provide the brakes too. But that’s not quite the case, with the Big-Blue-S (that’s Shimano FYI) finally getting a look in with a set of dependable Deore XT brakes mounted onto the GT. To aid cooling on long alpine descents (or warm Yorkshire descents), the XT brakes are paired with IceTech discs and finned brake pads.

Production Privee Shan GT
The Crank Bros dropper is cable operated.

The final piece of the build is the Crank Brothers dropper post. This isn’t what we would normally opt for as the drop is the only 125mm, and the actual Production Privee build comes with a Reverb. That said it has performed really well with no mechanical issues whatsoever throughout the review.

The Ride

Production Privee Shan GT
Big wheels = big speed.

Now I have a fair amount of experience with Production Privee hardtails so I had an idea of what the Shan GT would feel and ride like, but as soon as I set off on my first spin I realised that my expectations were well off. The Shan GT might just look like a standard Production Privee but everything about the frame has been adapted to get the most from those larger wheels.

Production Privee Shan GT
Big wheels also = more grip.

I realise that this is a bit of a cliche but it feels like your sitting in the bike rather than on it, and to start with that was a little odd and not at all how my own personal Shans feel. On the first spin along our local trail, I initially felt that the GT is much better suited for longer rides in the saddle, but I was left concerned that this comfort might have subdued the Shan’s wild side. I needn’t have worried.

After that first ride I popped a couple of extra Tokens in the Pikes and planned my next ride, a road climb up to the top of the Peaks and a long, rocky, and extremely sketchy descent at speed. The comfortable position made the road climb much more enjoyable than it has on similar bikes and being a hardtail, power goes right to the rear wheel to drive you onwards with a surge of each pedal stroke.

Production Privee Shan GT
Happy up and down the trail.

So it climbs well and is a comfortable bike when spending longer in the saddle, so how does it handle going downhill? Does the Shan GT still have a wild side? Well simply put, yes it does! Those 29in wheels accelerate instantly and once up to speed the bike carries momentum and seems to generate more and more and more. The bigger wheels calm the terrain, but not in a way that mutes the fun, and that in turn gave me the confidence to ride faster, and harder than I’ve dared before on my local loops.

Production Privee Shan GT
Cornering is a breeze.

Getting through twisty switchbacks takes more effort than on smaller wheeled bikes, but you don’t lose any speed. The large wheels, momentum and the ability to simply keep off the brakes means you can plough through corners, over rocks, or up the side of trails where you wouldn’t normally dream of being. It has the ability to “monster truck” over things, but remains open to rider input, and can be surprisingly playful too.

production privee Shan GT review
The Shan GT is a capable climber

After that long downhill, I felt completely at home on the Production Privee Shan GT and all the way home I hunted for anything I could ride up, hop off, and hip (yeah, the GT makes you speak Rad too).

Now confident with the speed of the bike on rocky descents I went on to tame more trails. The muddy Hebden trails of winter were no match for the Shan GT. The clever chainstays and slack(ish) head angle ensured I was planted and not bounced around as much as you might expect from a steel hardtail. The speed and capability of the bike allowed me to zero in on full suspension riders on the ups and downs, keeping up with riders on full bounce machines on the downs is especially satisfying.

Production Privee Shan GT
Ready for takeoff.

I even managed to get out to Farmer Johns downhill bike park in Marple to run the Shan GT back to back with a Shan 27.5. Both were capable of clearing gaps, charging rock gardens and generally being damn good at tackling terrain, but the GT was instantly faster in, over and off everything.

Production Privee Shan GT
Trying not to look directly at the camera.

To sum it up, the Production Privee Shan GT is a hooligan hardtail, which will happily descend with the best of them one day, take you on a cross country mile munching epic the next, and get you on the podium of an enduro at the weekend.

Durability Notes

As mentioned above, our test Shan GT came directly from the Alps where it had already had a thorough testing and did come with a few chips and dings, but I wasn’t able to add any dings of my own while testing the bike. Being a steel frame, and given Production Privee’s reputation, I’m confident the bike will continue to perform for years to come.

Production Privee Shan GT
Rock hopping hardtail.

Production Privee has chosen a smart, durable component package to compliment the Shan GT, and except a gear cable change, new brake pads and general after ride maintenance, I haven’t needed to worry about any part on the bike. The only area I might want to keep an eye on is the bottom bracket, as press-fit variant don’t tend to last quite as well as their threaded counterparts.

Three Things That Could Be Improved

  1. While the press-fit bottom bracket hasn’t caused any issues so far, some riders might have preferred to see a threaded BB shell.
  2. Rack mounts would boost the versatility of the bike.
  3. A seat post with longer drop would be more preferable for most riders.

Three Things What We Loved

  1. Fast, stable, playful, and very comfortable for long distance riding.
  2. Retro paint
  3. Being stopped and asked about the bike while out riding.
Production Privee Shan GT
The perfect all rounder for any hardtail fan

Overall

I think that it is quite apparent that I have enjoyed the Production Privee Shan GT. The first ride threw me a little with how different the bike felt compared to my own Shan’s but after that initial ride, I quickly learned to appreciate what Production Privee had achieved. This is the bike for people who want to go fast but don’t really want a full suspension bike. People who want to go on a tour of the Lakes one week then uplift the next, it really is a very capable and rewarding all rounder.

Production Privee Shan GT Specifications

  • Frame // 4130 MCS Custom Steel Tubing
  • Fork // Rockshox Pike Boost 140mm
  • Hubs // Spank Ozzy 345 Boost
  • Rims // Spank Ozzy 345
  • Tyres // Maxxis Shorty 2.3in Front & Maxxis High Roller II 2.3in Rear
  • Chainset // SRAM GX 1x 30t
  • Front Mech // N/A
  • Rear Mech // SRAM GX 11 Speed
  • Shifters // SRAM GX 11 Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM GX
  • Brakes // Shimano XT 180mm rotors
  • Stem // Production Privee 50mm
  • Bars // Production Privee 780mm
  • Grips // Production Privee C35
  • Seatpost // Crank Bros Highline 30.9mm with 125mm drop
  • Saddle // SDG Duster
  • Size Tested // Medium
  • Sizes available // S, M, L, XL
  • Weight // 13.65kg / 30.14lbs

Review Info

Brand: Production Privee
Product: Shan GT
From: Production Privee
Price: €699 (Frame Only), Complete Bikes From €2549
Tested: by Andi Sykes for 6 Months

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