Looking for something obscure, exclusive and a little bit mad? Look no further than the Production Privée Shan 5! The small Andorran boutique brand is known for its steel bikes but has just broken new ground with the latest iteration of a classic. The 2023 Shan 5 combines a steel frame with a carbon fibre swingarm, generating 150/140 mm of travel. But how does the unusual Andorran deliver on the trail?
Production Privée Shan 5 | 150/140 mm (f/r) | 14.72 kg in size M | € 5,652 (rolling chassis) | Manfacturer’s Website
Production what?! Production Privée! While the small Andorran boutique brand might still be more of an insider tip, hardcore mountain bike connoisseurs really know to value their unique steel bikes. While visiting Forestal’s headquarters, we didn’t miss the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes at Production Privée, which was absorbed by its neighbours at Forestal, and is based in the same building. If you think that building steel bikes in 2023 makes you old-fashioned, you’re totally wrong! On the contrary, Production Privée research and develop a wide range of materials. For example, they build bike frames using thermoplastic mouldings and steel-alloy composites. With so much innovative drive, it comes as no surprise that the new Shan 5 is nothing but unconventional either, combining a 4130 chrome-molybdenum MCS steel frame and a carbon swingarm. The frame silhouette relies on a unique design language that combines the straight, slender lines of the steel tubes and the wide, curved carbon swingarm, creating a contrasting yet harmonious overall look. The aim of this unusual material combination is to reduce the unsprung mass at the rear by using a lighter carbon swingarm, which in turn should improve the rear suspension’s performance. In addition, Production Privée fine tuned the swingarm’s carbon lay-up to achieve an optimal degree of stiffness. Production Privée don’t just design the steel frame and carbon swingarm in-house in Andorra – they also manufacture them in-house. The Shan 5’s predecessor, the Shan N°5, which relies on steel for both the frame and swingarm, is still available for purchase, but has effectively been replaced by the Shan 5, meaning that it will soon disappear from their portfolio. The new Shan 5 is available as a frameset with Öhlins TTX2 AIR shock for € 2,929, or without a shock for € 2,299. Production Privée also offer a rolling chassis, which retails at € 5,652 and comes with a fork, shock, dropper post, a complete cockpit, wheels and tires. According to Production Privée, the core components are a perfect match for the bike and at the same time leave you with plenty of freedom for customisation. You can buy a Production Privée bike either directly on their website or from an authorised dealer – although there are only a few and all of them are based in Andorra and Spain.
The 2023 Production Privée Shan 5 in detail – Yellow lightning
When riding through the forest astride the Production Privée Shan 5, you certainly don’t go unnoticed. The unusual combination of a steel frame and carbon swingarm is topped off by a striking yellow finish, which attracts plenty of curious looks at the trailhead. Usually, you’ll get a simple side gaze at first, followed by an assertive nod of approval – and sometimes you can even hear someone shout “Steel is real”’! If they look closer, you might get asked: “is that a carbon swingarm?!” Simply put, the Shan 5 is the perfect tech-talk trigger! The decals are proof of the fact blending in wasn’t high on Production Privées priority list. The lightning bolts on the top tube and seat stays perfectly fit the Shan’s vibe and exude a cool vintage racing look – unsurprisingly, the design department was inspired by 60s and 70s motorsports. Alongside the striking, bright TZ750 Yellow finish of our test bike, there are three more colours called TZ250 Red, YZ250 Metal Blue and R3 Metal Silver – it’s hard to find a more blatant motorsport tribute out there!
Someone’s into racing…
Kachow! At our office, the Shan 5 was quickly renamed the “Yellow Lightning”.
Ladies and Gentleman, this is Shan Number 5.
Like most steel bikes, the Shan 5 has a rather slim frame silhouette. Swinging your leg over the saddle for the first time, the slim tubes might look a little weird, especially if you are used to beefy carbon bikes. The transition between the top/down tube and head tube is rather striking, with the head tube standing out as a well-defined, free-standing design element. The weld seams between the steel tubes are strikingly beefy, but at the same time harmoniously integrated with the bike’s overall appearance. The rear end is the polar opposite, relying on a more organic shape and burlier appearance, which is typical of carbon frame constructions. If you take a closer look, you’ll realise that the one-piece swingarm is reinforced with a bolt connector at the front of the seat tube, as well as with an additional brace between the chainstays. At first, we weren’t too sure about the tiny amount of clearance between the chainring and swingarm around the main pivot point, where you can barely fit a paper sheet between the frame and chain. However, on our test bike, there’s still no sign of the chain grinding against the frame – chapeau to Production Privée’s confidence!
Curvy! Steel doesn’t have to mean boring straight lines
With its organic shape, the carbon swingarm clearly stands out from the main steel frame triangle.
If you hold the Shan 5 against a modern carbon bike with beefy carbon tubes, the slim steel silhouette takes a little getting used to – but looks awesome once you do get used to it!
With the new Shan 5, Production Privée left the rear suspension layout untouched and employed the same single pivot design they use with all of their other full-suspension bikes. However, the shock isn’t driven directly by the swingarm, but by a clevis that connects the shock and rear end of the bike. Production Privée also stick to traditional methods with the cable routing, guiding the rear brake line and shifter cable through conventional cable ports on the down tube rather than through the headset. The alloy inserts in the cable ports look pretty smart, surrounded by thick weld seams. That said, the ports are too tight, preventing the cables from moving, which resulted in the dropper post cable ripping the port out of the frame during a crash that twisted our handlebars hard. Fortunately, the frame itself didn’t get damaged, but it’s still annoying. Production Privée should work on the ports to give the cables a little more freedom of movement. A generously sized, ribbed chainstay protector prevents paint chips and chain slap. The bottle cage bosses are positioned on the bottom of the down tube, where the water bottle is exposed to muck and dirt – which isn’t the best solution in our opinion. If you’re not so keen on getting a little extra fibre in your water, we recommend carrying your drinks in a hip pack or a backpack.
The ribbed chainstay protector of the Shan 5 ensures a quiet ride on the trail.
The cables run past the main pivot point without making a rattling noise on the trail.
For all weld lovers: don’t forget to wipe off the drool!
The spec of our 2023 Production Privée Shan 5
For this test, Production Privée sent a rolling chassis of the Shan 5 specced with components of their own choice. For the suspension, the Andorran manufacturer relied on Swedish suspension expert Öhlins, combining a 150 mm Öhlins RXF36 M.2 fork and matching TTX2 Air shock. The fork employs not one but two air chambers, allowing you to adjust the final progression of the spring using a conventional shock pump, without having to add or remove volume spacers. A sticker on the lower legs provides all the air pressure recommendations. Moreover, the fork features externally adjustable high- and low-speed compression adjustments as well as a low-speed rebound dial. The Öhlins TTX2 Air shock controls 140 mm of travel at the rear, and features both high-speed and low-speed compression and low-speed rebound dials. That said, there are no setup recommendations for the shock, and the Shan 5 is not yet listed in Öhlins’ online setup guide. With a 30% sag setting, our Shan rode like a treat.
Despite only having one air chamber, the Öhlins TTX2 AIR can be finely tuned to suit your needs and riding style.
The two air chambers allow for infinite adjustment of the final progression.
Crankbrothers supply both the dropper post and wheelset. Unfortunately, the Highline 7 dropper only offers 150 mm of travel, which isn’t enough for a modern trail bike, unless you have really short legs. Everyone else has to pull out the dropper from the frame to achieve the right saddle height, which restricts freedom of movement on the trail. The dropper post is paired with Production Privée’s in-house remote, which has great ergonomics and excellent haptic feedback, with both side-to-side and angle adjustment. The wheels are Crankbrothers’ Synthesis carbon model, which are designed with more vertical compliance built into the front rim and more stiffness for more stability at the rear. However, the expensive wheels are paired with MAXXIS’ paper thin EXO casing, both on the Minion DHF front tire and the HighRoller II rear tire. While the thinner casing might help save weight, it forces you to run higher tire pressures to avoid punctures and irreversible damage to the rims. On top of that, at 2.3″, both tires are pretty narrow, which detracts from their damping characteristics. The harder MaxxTerra rubber compound offers a good compromise between traction and durability, which works well at the rear but doesn’t provide enough grip at the front. We recommend upgrading to wider tires with a tougher casing and softer compound – you’ll enjoy better damping characteristics, and your carbon rims will appreciate it!
Hopefully it will grow with time! At 150 mm, the dropper post is far too short for a modern trail bike.
It’s never good news when you read “thin EXO casing” and “expensive carbon rims” in the same sentence.
The rolling chassis doesn’t include the brakes nor the drivetrain. Our test bike comes equipped with a cable-operated SRAM GX drivetrain, but SRAM’s UDH mech hanger also allows you to use their new Transmission drivetrain. The golden chain adds a touch of bling to our test bike – perhaps a bit too much for our taste! On the other hand, we like the minimalist look of the Formula Cura brakes, which feature tool-free lever reach adjustment, at least in theory! In practice, however, the small rotary wheel is pretty hard to turn with your bare hands, thus requiring a tool to adjust the lever position after all. On our test bike, the brakes are paired with a 200 mm rotor at the front and smaller 180 mm disc at the rear. We recommend upgrading to a bigger 200 mm rotor at the rear, which is more resistant to heat build-up on long descents and therefore delivers a better overall braking performance.
The golden chain and cassette are a bit too much for our taste! Fortunately, everyone’s free to choose their own drivetrain components with the rolling chassis!
For more braking torque and better modulation, we recommend upgrading to a bigger 200 mm rotor at the rear.
With their unique design, the Formula Cura brakes are an excellent match for the Shan 5.
Production Privée Shan 5€ 5,652SpecificationsFork Öhlins RXF 36 M.2 150 mmRear Shock Öhlins TTX Air 140 mmSeatpost Crankbrothers Highline 7 150 mmBrakes Formula Cura 4 200/180 mmDrivetrain SRAM GX/XX1 1x12Stem PP R2R 50 mmHandlebar PP LGB 780 mmWheelset Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon 29″Tires MAXXIS MINION DHF MaxxTerra EXO/MAXXIS Highroller II MaxxTerra EXO 2.3″Technical DataSize S M L XLWeight 14.72 kgSpecific FeaturesSteel frame with carbon rear endNo bottle cage in the frame triangle
The geometry of the 2023 Production Privée Shan 5
The Production Privée Shan 5 is available in four sizes, S to XL. Overall, the bike’s on the long side, but still far from extreme, with reach values ranging between 445 mm in size S to 508 mm in XL. While this doesn’t cover the biggest size range, the intervals between sizes are rather moderate. Chainstay length is 437 mm across the board, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the balance of a bike can vary greatly between sizes when the chainstays don’t grow with the bike. At 64.3°, the head tube angle is pretty slack for a trail bike, while the 450 mm seat tube in size L is very long, potentially restricting freedom of movement on the trail.
Helmet Troy Lee Designs Flowline SE | Glasses Smith Wildcat| Jersey Fasthouse Roam LS Jersey | Shorts Troy Lee Designs Flowline | Kneepads ION K-Pact | Shoes Northwave Overland Plus | Socks Tuscany Bike
The 2023 Production Privée Shan 5 on the trail – Mambo No. 5
How does the yellow lightning fare on the trail? When pedalling uphill, the Shan 5 places you in a slightly rear-heavy pedalling position, making you feel as if you were pedalling from behind. While this sensation isn’t at all unpleasant on level ground, it makes it more challenging to negotiate steep, technical climbs, where, together with the short chainstays, the rear heavy position causes the front end to lift off the ground a little too easily. As a result, you’ll have to actively weight the front wheel to keep it tracking. On long fire-road climbs, the rear suspension bobs slightly, but this can be quickly solved by reaching for the climb switch on the shock. If you don’t, the rear wheel follows the contours of the terrain with painstaking precision, which comes at the expense of climbing efficiency but also ensures a comfortable ride.
When gravity takes over, the Shan 5 turns into Mambo No 5, making you swing your hips on your way back down into the valley. The faster you carve through a corner, the more you’ll dance on the pedals. Especially with fast, consecutive turns, you can really throw the Shan 5 from one berm into the next, while a tall fortress of loam builds up all around you. The Shan 5 also feels at home on bike park tracks with man-made berms, where it encourages you to aim for corners in a straight line, only to shralp your way out with a loud braap, pushing the flimsy tires to the limit. The short chainstays make it easy to steer the bike with your feet and flick the rear end into corners whenever you feel like it.
Whenever you spot a natural kicker, you can’t help but pop off it and take off in the air. The firm rear suspension provides bags of support, making it easy to pop off ledges and generate speed by pumping through rollers. At the same time, the progressive suspension bails you out with botched landings when you get a little too excited. Overall, the rear suspension tune is on the firm side, which suits the bike’s character rather well. As a result, the Shan 5 isn’t the most suitable bike to simply bomb your way through rock gardens, and if you do, you better hold on tight, because the rear suspension is quite stingy at releasing its travel. Add speed to the equation, and the Shan 5 gets pretty nervous, threatening you to buck you off the saddle any second. Therefore, we recommend letting off steam by playing with the trail features rather than ploughing your way back down into the valley in a straight line. When negotiating flat corners, you should actively weight the front wheel to keep it tracking. This is partly due to the short rear centre, and partly to the hard rubber compound on both wheels – a tire with a softer rubber compound would already make a difference. When the trail gets steeper, the unfortunate combination of a long seat tube and short-travel dropper significantly restricts the freedom of movement on the bike, and on top of that, you have to actively weight the front wheel to keep it tracking when braking and cornering.
Who should take a closer look at the 2023 Production Privée Shan 5?
The Production Privée is a great option if you’re not fussed about fast laps and just want to have a great time on the trail. If that’s what you’re after, the Shan 5 is a fun companion that always encourages you to play with the trail features. If you spend lots of time on fast, rough trails, you better bring along the right set of skills or just look elsewhere. With its 150/140 mm of travel, the Shan 5 feels at home on moderate home trails but doesn’t shy away from the occasional bike park session either – albeit mainly on flowing trails where you can shralp through corners and collect some air miles. However, the Shan 5 cuts a great figure not only on flow trails, but also in your bike shed, where tech nerds could spend hours looking at it. But beware, taking Production Privées trail bike to the forest without having to answer questions is pretty much impossible.
Our conclusions about the 2023 Production Privée Shan 5
With its distinctive frame silhouette and exotic appearance, the Production Privée is a real head turner that doesn’t go unnoticed on the trail. The frame’s unconventional steel/carbon concept is a unique selling point that makes the Shan 5 stand out from the crowd of modern trail bikes. On the mountain, the Shan 5 slaps a big grin on your face and comes to life on flowing trails with its agile character, implementing direction changes with great eagerness. In fast, rough trail sections, on the other hand, it prefers to ride a tad slower and also requires some creative line choices.
TopsAbsolute head turner Playful handlingMean berm slicerFlopsGets nervous at higher speeds Requires you to actively weight the front wheel in open, flat cornersNo bottle cage mounts in the main frame triangle
For more info, visit Production Privée’s website.
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Words: Felix Rauch Photos: Simon Kohler