The Production Privée Shan is as close to a downhill bike as you will ever get from a hardtail…
From Dirt Issue 123 – May 2012Words by Steve ‘The Butcher’ Walker. Photos by Tom Grundy.
This is a true story. I’ve always wanted someone to build me a custom ‘all–mountain’ hardtail. I put some figures together (geometry wise), asked a few people in the know what they thought, and very nearly phoned a fantastic specialist steel frame builder – Curtis Bikes. Some narrow–minded, miserable twats poo–pooed the idea, reckoning that the hardtail (with a long travel fork) was a thing of the past, antique like, something that should be left well alone.
So, continuing with the true story…while going flat–out (or what I thought was flat out) at the Kona Mash Up a few years back on a 140mm full suss trail bike, with the right angles, I got blitzed by some bloke on a all–mountain ‘antique’. It felt like I was going backwards. The bike and the unknown rider were nothing like a thing of the past, but I suddenly felt like one (a thing of the past that is).
From that day on I completely changed my outlook on hardtail bikes and the people who ride them, and so my search for the ultimate ‘fast as f–k’ hardtail began. Then, like a bolt out of the blue up rocked the Stanton Slackline. My search was over…or at least I thought it was.ALONG CAME A SPIDER
Put it this way, the first time I threw a leg over the Shan it was a bit of a shock.DOWN–A–HILL
The Production Privée Shan is as close to a downhill bike as you will ever get from a hardtail. Our test bike came with a 150mm Fox 32 fork and it ripped down Hopton Woods. However, it’s begging for a (Fox) 36 while being ridden on DH type terrain. The Shan is the fastest hardtail (whilst going down–a–hill) on the planet. Hence why you need a 36 for uplift days etc., and yes I would (and probably will, if the guys at Production Privée let me) race it.UP–A–HILL
It is an ‘All–Mountain’ bike right? In that case you’ve got to be able pedal it up–a–hill. Because the Shan goes down so well you are probably saying to yourself “it’ll pedal up like a hay bale”. Wrong. The bike climbs quite well. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a greyhound, but if a cruise to the top is all your looking for then you won’t be disappointed.JUMPING
Similar to the Slackline, jumping the Shan on a mountain bike trail is a breeze. Thank God that bike builders are finally realising that trail type hardtail bikes have to leave the ground at some point. If the terrain is fast and the jumps are built with mountain bike riding in mind then the Shan is in its element. It feels zippy, balanced, with an all–round ‘big bike’ confidence inspiring feel to it. Like riding a DH bike I suppose. Just don’t take it to the dirt jumps. It feels like a fish out of water.MANUALS
If a bike doesn’t manual well then it should be sawn in half with an angle grinder. “Put the angle grinder away, this one’s a goer”. Pulling manuals on the Shan, whilst on the trail, is a doddle. But it isn’t ever going to be of any use down the BMX track, and anyone who tells you otherwise has obviously never ridden or raced BMX. You wouldn’t take your bloody 224 (with its slack head angle and low bottom bracket) to a place that is ruled by little wheels and rigid forks would you? Fish, dry land, no water for miles…do you get the picture? Let’s say no more on the subject.TURNS…
This is where the Production Privée Shan stands out from the rest. It goes around turns like Jenson Button’s F1 car. It has a very low 30mm drop bottom bracket (and that’s in an already low hardtail world), so turning the thing at speed is a blast. Every time you rail a turn, bermed or otherwise, you just want to burst into song. On a minute and a half run that I use regularly to test bikes on the Shan put three seconds into every other hardtail. All together now “doe a deer, a female deer”.WHAT’S UP DUCK?
Now listen here duck (rubber or otherwise), and listen gooooood. If you are after the fastest ‘all–mountain’ hardtail on the planet, DOWN–A–HILL then this, in my humble opinion, is it. It’ll rock your world. You can then trundle back up (under your own steam) and set off on your next ‘hair–raising’ descent. And when I say ‘hair–raising’ I mean the ones on the back of your neck. Riding this bike is like watching a movie musical spectacular. You see, I told you, dreams do come true!WHAT DO I REALLY THINK?
If anyone ever tells you the hardtail is dead then you should slap them in the face with a wet fish. I don’t know a lot about Production Privée as a company, but what I can tell you is that the Shan is an absolute blast to ride. The four sizes are right on the money (most bikes of this nature come with a top tube length that is too short), and while we are on the subject of money, you won’t have to re–mortgage the house to get one. It comes with a sensible seat post size (30.9 for dropper types), a tapered headtube, and a good overall paint finish. Plus they are doing a run of 50 frames with a limited edition colour scheme that resembles a parrot. “Who’s a pretty boy then?”
As things stand I reckon there are only two ‘all–mountain’ type hardtails on the market to choose from, and they both begin with the letter ‘S’. One is designed in England, the other in France. If the purse strings stretch far enough, buy both. That way on your Saturday trail ride you can sing a number from The Wizard of Oz, and on your Sunday uplift (with the option of pedalling back to the top) something from the Sound Of Music. Either way, whichever bike you choose, you won’t stop singing.Price: €599.00
|Head tube angle||66º|
|Seat tube angle||72.5º|
|Seat tube length||400mm||430||470||510|
|Top tube horizontal||560mm||580||600||635|
|Head tube length||105mm||115||125||135|