It’s been a long time since Sunn has shone on the pop culture of cycling. After many years at the top of the game in downhill, seeing factory pilot Nicolas Vouilloz and company deliver 10 world championships aboard their bikes, the brand went into bankruptcy in 2013. Now, they have a new owner, and an impressively detailed and feature-rich lineup hitting all the hot categories…
The Sunn Special is a full carbon monocoque endurance road bike that’s got gravel written all over it. The frame uses high-mod Toray 700 fibers on all three trim levels and is fitted here with WTB Horizon 650Bx47 tires and a SRAM 11-42 1×11 drivetrain. The model above it gets a Shimano Ultegra R8000 2×11 group, and both use hydraulic disc brakes.
Thanks to clever design, though, it works just as well with rim brakes when using 700c wheels, which the S2 (lowest tier) model gets. Regardless of brake choice, they all come with Mavic wheels and dropouts designed around the Mavic Speed Release thru axle system. Tire clearance with rim brakes maxes out around 700×28.
Another clever touch is their adjustable headtube height, using frame spacers that bolt into place rather than a big, ugly stack of headset spacers. Slam the stem, or not, looks great either way, and helps get riders in a more upright position for endurance grinds without killing aesthetics. And, the Di2 junction box his under the larger cover, letting the button show through (pic on left).
Tube shaping is big and boxy, which deliver all of your power directly to the rear wheel. It’s available in four sizes (52/54/56/58). For now, their distribution is focused on Europe, but here’s hoping they come Stateside soon enough.
2018 SUNN MOUNTAIN BIKES
The Sunn Shaman is their 29er carbon XC race full suspension bike, using HM Toray 800/900 on the top model, and 700/800 fibers on the S1 and S2. All of which are built around 100mm of travel front and rear.
Shapely tubes make the frame-stiffening angles appear less angular, and the top tube’s line flows smoothly into the seatstays for a long, low and lean look. All cables and hoses run internally, with accommodations for a rear shock remote…but no dropper seatpost. The seat tube is simply too short to accommodate a dropper…or, at least, a stealth one. And while you could probably fit a short-travel externally controlled dropper on here, there is no real cable management for it, so the focus is obviously on keeping things simple and light for racing.
Like the Special, the Shaman has a massively wide BB box section, using a pressfit BB92 system to maximize the width…and stiffness.
An integrated chain keeper comes stock and is height adjustable to fit different size chainrings.
The rocker arm’s main pivot is hidden behind that black box. The shock is driven downward, with the lower mount concentric with the chainstay’s pivot. This minimizes hardware and weight.
For days when a hardtail is the right race choice, the Prim is their 29er carbon race bike without rear suspension. Also based on a 100mm fork, the front gets Boost spacing, but the rear end stays at 12×142.
Except for the base model, which keeps the top level carbon frame, but pairs it with a simply Rockshox 30 Gold fork with standard 100mm axle spacing and a 135×9 quick release rear end (not shown). Sounds dated, but it’s only €1,799. Thanks to a modular dropout system, you can at least upgrade that to a non-Boost thru axle down the road. All three models come with 1×11 or 1×12 drivetrains, but there is an optional front derailleur mount.
More aggressive riders will appreciate the brand’s DH heritage on the new 27.5″ wheeled Kern. Aimed at enduro and all mountain, there are three versions available – The Kern LT at 160mm travel, the Kern with 130mm, or the Kern SL with 120mm travel. All three are still using 12×142 rear axle spacing, but forks are all Boost for 2018.
Like the XC bikes, the rear shock shares a pivot/mount with the main swingarm, and there’s a nifty sag window to help you set it up (made easier with Rockshox Monarch’s printed sag markers). Notice the nod to Sunn’s original logo on the frame?
One bike that does get a Boost rear end is the new Plus, which, as you’d expect from the name, is built for 27.5×2.8 tires. It comes stock with WTB Scraper 40 rims with Ranger tires mounted on them. Up front is a massive 140mm travel SR Suntour Aion fork with 35mm stanchions. A Shimano SLX 1×11 (11-42) group with 203/180 brake rotors means this bike is made to get rowdy.
The brand was, and still is, known for BMX, and they’ve a healthy line up of race-ready options there, too. They’ve also expanded their line of e-MTBs to six models for 2018, and have a few 26″ and smaller wheeled options for youth. Check their website for the full lineup.