Sunn Shamann S1
From: Jim Walker
You don’t see many Sunn bikes on UK trails, but the French Based company are on the up after a long spell in the wilderness. They became famous in the 1990’s, when some of the biggest names in mountain biking were riding for their team, such as the legendary Nicolas Vouilloz. However, internal issues developed within the company and they all but disappeared until 2005.
The Shamann series bikes are Sunn’s specific ‘Enduro XC’ bikes, designed to optimise comfort along with light weight performance. As a result, I got the Sunn specifically for the Gore Bike Trans Wales event, having decided that a lightweight, 100mm travel bike would be the best companion for long days in the saddle.
The S1 is the middle range in the Shamann series and for your money you get a RockShox Monarch 3.3 shock, RockShox SID Race 100mm forks, Sram X9 and X0 components, Truvativ Stylo cranks and Formula R1 brakes. The issued bars were too narrow for my style, so I swapped them for some 700mm one’s, which I felt improved the riding position dramatically and gave the bike a more secure and aggressive feel.
I opted for the 45cm (medium) frame and found it to be just a little on the small side for a 5ft 11in rider. The 70degree head angle ensured steering was sharp whilst still allowing an aggressive approach on the big downs.
The first thing that struck me about this bike was the aesthetical aspect. Let’s face it, everybody likes to have a bike that looks good and I think the understated colour coded finishing touches on the Shamann leave a great looking bike, that isn’t too in your face bling – then again, that might be your thing.
At 100mm, the travel on the bike proved to be ample for all the trails on the Trans Wales, with the suspension soaking up bumps without compromising comfort. As someone who regularly rides 30lbs + bikes, I’ve found previously that many lightweight bikes such as the Shamann struggle for control on fast downhills and as a result, I;ve often found the bike bottom out from beneath me on only slight corners. The Shamann was different and felt planted on all surfaces and was an effortless joy on trail centre style sections allowing cornering at full speed.
As a full-suss bike, my main reservations regarding the Shamann were how it would handle on the up’s. I was worried that there would be too much pedal bob and that it would struggle to compete with the climbing attributes of any lightweight hardtail. The S1 however proved itself to be a fantastic climber. The pedal bob was negligible and it had a very secure feel, giving a pleasant climbing experience on those long Trans Wales climbs.
Having been put through almost 400km of riding in the space of a week, the Shamann’s durability proved to be reassuring. The Truvativ/Sram drivetrain was subjected to lots of mud, river crossing and numerous submersions into traditionally drivechain destroying bog water, but everything is still running as smooth as when it came out of the box. The entire package also survived a few heavy crashes and smashes without showing any sign of faltering.
Overall: The Sunn is light yet reassuringly durable. With a bolt-through fork added, I think this could be a real gem