Sunn Shamman S1 Finest
WO R D S : R YA N W A L S C H IMAGES : T I M B A R D S L E Y- S M I T H
Having started mountain biking in the late 90s, I am familiar with seeing Sunn already right there at the top. They had a stacked team of professionals that came across from BMX and skiing. The Sunn team had great names like Anne-Carolin Chausson, Nico Vouilloz and Cedric Gracia – they all began with Sunn and were an unstoppable force of calculated, and captivating characters that dominated the downhill circuit from the early 90s to the early 2000s.
Apart from Sunn’s name popping up in some vintage and retro MTB pages, it wasn’t until 2016 that I saw Isabeau Courdurier take the name to 2nd place in the Enduro World Series.
Never being a company to go with the grain, the Sunn Shamann is an eye catcher jam packed with tech and tube shapes that boggle the mind. From a downtube that shares the width of BB shells to an almost hidden shock that makes the frame look like that of a hardtail from some angles.
The Shamann is an XC race specific 100mm dual suspension race bike, with the S1 Finest (the model on test) the top tier model as its name suggests.
Currently there are many 100mm 29ers available in the market, most of which are highly capable cross-country race bikes, some that dip their tyres into the realm of trail riding. Bikes like the Yeti SB100 or even the Santa Cruz Blur CC tested recently in the pages of AMB. The Shamann sits slightly on the other side of this fence, it’s a serious racer, and that’s a good thing, nailing what Sunn set out to create.
It is easy to see that the Shamann is constructed of carbon fibre, with its wild conical headtube and stays that extend well past the rear axle. No other material could be as neatly moulded this way. Sunn has used a mix of both Toray 800 and 900 series high modulus carbon fibre for the mainframe and rear stays. This helps keep the weight down and the stiffness up.
The benefit of all the elaborate moulded carbon is strength where it needs to be, weight savings where possible and a very cleverly placed shock position lowering the central mass of the bike. The linkage is smooth and nearly invisible aligning the seatstay perfectly with the top tube and giving the illusion that this bike is a hardtail.
With the RockShox Deluxe RL Metric shock sitting low and rearward it has been located very close to the rear tyres debris. Sunn have a neat roost guard solution that clips onto the shock itself which worked effectively on both dusty and wet rides we tested the bike on. Another welcomed feature included on the Shamann is the integrated top chain guide, and we experienced zero rubbing, noise or fuss during the test. It is great to see companies exploring linkage design in conjunction with the decision to eliminate the front derailleur and offering 1 x specific fuselages.
The obvious choice for a 1x specific race bike was no doubt SRAM’s XX1 12 speed Eagle and to pull it up, SRAM Level TLs. A lightweight and durable performer that needs no introductions.
Setup of the Shamann as a package is super simple, starting with the Mavic Crossmax UST wheels. Mavic’s UST system is by far the easiest system to install tyres on especially when paired with French tyre manufacturer Hutchinson, no levers, no fuss and no need for a fancy pump.
With a dual cable actuated locking system paired to the RockShox Deluxe RL shock and SID World Cup fork we knew the intended use of this bike was racing. All the numbers add up to support this, especially the small 110mm head tube, 69 degree head angle, and 450mm reach (size large on test). The low and long front end combined with the 74 degree seat tube angle really help you get on and over the centre and drive the bike forward efficiently. With a huge rectangular downtube and the absence of a rear pivot, the Shamann acts just like a hardtail