Sunn Tzar S2 - First ride £1099.99

Long-travel hardtail

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Aggressive trail riding and enduro downhill events have become more and more popular over the past few years, and French brand Sunn have responded by creating a hardtail that can be used for all of the above. We took the Tzar S2 for a spin to see just how well it could handle the abuse.

Ride & handling: Keeps you grinning after every ride

The first thing on the Tzar to catch most people’s eyes is the dramatically sloping top tube, which provides masses of standover height. It does mean you’ll need to extend your seatpost quite a bit to get the proper extension out of your legs, though.

The cockpit on our short model was just about right for singletrack shenanigans, and roomy enough to let us climb fairly comfortably in most situations. On really steep climbs, the front tends to lift a little, but that’s not a massive problem and not really what the Tzar is about.

It’s about raw natural speed and when you do get the opportunity to drop the hammer, it’s one hell of a fun bike to ride. The angles work to create a bike that’s comfortable being ridden fast over roots and braking bumps without that ‘Uh oh, I’m out of my depth on a hardtail’ feeling.

We felt comfortable hacking down hills and slamming into turns – thanks to the 68.3º head angle and compact steel frame you won’t feel completely rattled after every descent. On the whole, this little package seems to work well together and keeps you grinning after every ride.

Frame & equipment: Compact frame and tough build make this a great all-mountain razzer

The Tzar is made from 4130 double-butted steel and designed around a 150mm-travel (5.9in) fork with big mountain riding in mind. The finish is nice and it’s good to see some gusseting neatly assigned to high-load areas such as the underside of the down tube-head tube junction.

Cable routing is neat, but we’d prefer continuous outer cables. On the plus side, there are cable guides ready to accommodate a dropper seatpost. Out back, there’s enough clearance to keep the 2.35in tyres rolling through foul conditions and the Nc-Do dropout enables you to switch to singlespeed easily enough.

The build really lets you keep your options open. If you’re looking to get aggressive, the RockShox Sektor fork gives plenty to play with when the bumps start coming thick and fast, and Avid’s Elixir 3 brakes provide plenty of power.

When it comes to taking it more easily, the double chainset from Truvativ with 24/36t chainrings gives you a wide enough selection to let you get up most climbs. We weren’t fans of the cheaply finished front hub, though, and came close to losing the 15mm spacers more than once.

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