Privateer 141 Review: An Aggressive Trail Bike Under $4K

Check out the 2021 Singletracks Mid-Travel Mashup reviews on Singletracks and video reviews on our YouTube channel.

The Privateer 141 might just be the most interesting bike in our roundup. It’s a trail bike, from a newer brand, that is built long, slack, and stout like an enduro bike. Compared to the 20mm-shorter-travel Pivot Trail 429 that’s also in our test, it’s a huge departure. 

The 141 is a 29er, with 141mm of rear travel and a 150mm fork. It’s made from aluminum and uses a Horst link suspension layout with a single-piece aluminum rocker arm. This should extend bearing life and frame stiffness, according to Privateer. The bearings on the frame are big, and they used an extra bearing on the drive side to bear extra load. 

Some of the cable routing is internal and some is external – both of which, where it makes sense. The dropper cable is routed internally, but the gear cables and brake hose are external for easier and less messy swaps. 

All of this is to say that the frame is made to withstand harsh riding by hard riders, and it should be an easier bike to maintain. 

Geometry

Privateer uses a P1-P4 sizing scheme rather than a small to large system. We tested the P2, which would be a medium. Our P2, SLX/XT build weighs 34.3 pounds, and retails for $3,949. The price for a frameset is $1,759.

Build kit

This build kit feels like a solid deal for just under $4,000. You get a Fox Performance Elite DPX2 and a Fox Performance 36 with a GRIP1 damper. The drivetrain is mostly Shimano SLX, with an XT shifter that allows you to grab more than one gear at a time. The included wheels are the Hunt Trail Wides, wrapped in Schwalbe tires.

Test pilot profile height: 173cm (5’8″) weight: 75kg (165lb) testing zone: Colorado Front Range

The cockpit includes a OneUp V2 180mm dropper (bravo), a RaceFace stem and handlebar, and Magura MT5 brakes with a 203mm rotor up front and a 180mm rotor in the rear.

Climbing

Climbing the 141 became a point of internal debate. For a bike that sits in between the trail and enduro categories, I typically only grabbed it when I had a descent that justified the climb. At 34lbs, the 141 is anything but light and in this regard, it reminded me of pedaling a long-travel 29er at times.

The geometry and efficiency of the Horst link means that the Privateer will grunt up nearly everything, but it’s not going to inspire you to mash the pedals like the Norco, Ibis, or Pivot that are part of this mashup. The pedaling platform on the 141 does feel very firm and upright and it stays rather active while climbing up chunky stuff. 

I was surprised at how well the bike got along on more moderate terrain. On flatter trails, the Privateer was more enjoyable to pedal than a long-travel 29er. The geometry though, with that almost 79° STA, makes the most sense on really steep climbs, and it doesn’t feel too cramped on lesser grades. 

Still, the weight was probably the biggest factor for me, and it’s something that might be the deterrent were I to consider this my trail bike, rather than a light-duty enduro bike. I did get used to it after a bit.

Descending

Descending is obviously where the 141 shines, and it took me a few rides before I felt like I could shine with it. The reach is long, and quite a bit longer than the other bikes in this roundup, and any other that I have ridden in a while. I joked to a friend at first that it feels like I’m riding Falkor.

With that comes a very forward posture on the bike, but I felt like it also elicited better cornering once I got it down. The long reach and long wheelbase allows the 141 to feel so stable over everything, while the bike also stays fairly nimble. 

It surprisingly doesn’t feel terribly long around switchbacks or slow to respond darting through trees. The longer chainstays don’t feel like they pull much from being able to whip the rear around either. 

Where I think it gets interesting is how the geometry and the suspension mix, and it reminded me of Santa Cruz’s debut of the latest generation Tallboy in 2019. A lot of people thought it was crazy that a 120mm bike had a 65° HTA, and it’s kind of similar with this Privateer. 

You can get yourself into situations where the geometry will outperform the suspension. The bike might feel completely stable through something steep and choppy, but you’re using the maximum amount of suspension. But the 141 was much more versatile than I thought, and I had fun on this bike riding it on singletrack in Wyoming and Colorado, and on double blacks at Deer Valley Bike Park. 

Component check

At this price point, this build kit is pretty impeccable. The Fox suspension — with a Performance 36 fork and DPX2 shock — is a great choice, as are the Magura brakes, and Hunt Wheels (owned by the same company as Privateer).

There’s nothing I’d really change about the build, though there are some areas where you could lighten it up, like the cockpit, or through the drivetrain and wheelset, but overall, it’s a really spot-on build, and I’d say the same for the frame. 

There’s plenty of room for a bottle, or if you wanted to add a tool strap, in the frame, and I like that the cable routing is mindful of what needs more maintenance and what doesn’t, or what’s easier to maintain and what isn’t. 

Closing thoughts

Talking about what kind of rider is going to enjoy the Privateer, it’s a little more clear than some of the other bikes. The 141 is a big trail bike, for people who want stability for speed or the geometry for bold moves. 

It’s not something that I would buy if I was riding more intermediate or moderate trails where I wasn’t using the full capability of the geometry and suspension, and there are certain enduro races where this bike would be a great option.

Privateer continues on what Hunt Wheels have done well, and that’s packing a lot of value into a really good product that will handle abuse over time.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Great aesthetic and functional frame features
  • A very capable 141mm trail bike

Pros and cons of the Privateer 141 trail bike.

Cons

  • Heavy at 34.3lbs (size P2 tested)
  • Long geometry can take some getting used to

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