UK-Designed Privateer 161 Enduro Race Bike in for Test

We can't all collect sponsors and support teams for mountain bike racing. This enduro bike is built for the true Privateer.

A handful of fortunate athletes in the Enduro World Series have a whole team of support personnel to make the magic happen, while the rest maintain their own machines and flight schedules. The 161 from Privateer Bikes was designed with the latter group in mind. The frame is simple to maintain and decidedly robust with an aim at enduring multiple fast and rough descents. We first caught a glimpse of the 170/160mm Privateer 161 aluminum prototype on its 29″ wheels at Eurobike in 2019, and now it’s time to push this bike deep into some turns.

The 161 blueprint was shaped by the capable hands of Alastair Beckett of Redburn Design. The frames are sized by numbers in place of the usual scale, and I will be testing a Size 2 Matte Black model. The front to center (reach) on this size is a stabilizing 470mm, matched with 440mm chainstays to culminate in a 1250.29mm axle-to-axle measurement based on the stock build’s 170mm RockShox fork with its 42mm offset leaned into a 64° headtube angle. Chainstay lengths vary by 5mm per size, and the smallest Size 1 rolls on 27.5-inch wheels while the larger three sizes take wagon hoops.

The more notable dimension across this gravity wagon’s clean physique is its perfect-postured 80° seat tube angle. My first spin on the bike included a few thousand feet of climbing, and that steep post was noticeable from the moment I kicked off the curb. With the saddle further forward it’s easier to maneuver through technical ascent obstacles, and to keep the slacked fork pointed precisely. It also makes the 470mm reach feel relatively short, and I already slid my saddle back a full centimeter from where it typically clamps onto the dropper head.

Privateer mounts a RockShox SuperDeluxe Ultimate on all of their framesets and complete builds for maximum tuneability, and based on the first few laps it appears to be the right damper for the job. With external low-speed rebound and compression tuning capabilities, most riders will be able to dial in their preferred ride characteristics without cracking the air can open to fiddle with spacers. The 161mm of rear axle path pivots a one-piece rocker with a dependable Horst-link suspension design and reportedly massive pivot bearings.

The rear triangle has loads of space for mud and tires and minimal “loam shelf” factor for mud to collect on. To properly test this UK-inspired frame I made sure the first ride was rainy and slick.

Cable and hose routing is all external, save the dropper housing which can be internal to the base of the down tube if you choose. Head tube cable guides on either side keep the hoses quiet and will likely help the frame’s finish look clean for a little longer.

Like most bike companies, Privateer is fresh out of complete bikes and build components for media testing, so I put this one together with some sweet review gear and some bits of my own. I’ll be reviewing a set of Hope Tech 3 V4 4-piston brakes along with their new Fortus30 rims laced to violet Pro4 hubs. It’s a legit British mashup.

On the rubber front, I mounted up a set of Hutchison Griffus 29 x. 2.4″ tires with their heavier gravity casing.

Finally, to smooth out the front end the bike currently has a 160mm Formula Selva C coil fork mounted up. That’s right, it’s “under forked” by 1cm. I will be swapping in a 170mm squisher as soon as it arrives, but I’m loving the silky feel of this coil for now. The Selva C will go on a 160m bike to be tested further, with a full review to follow.

The full review will be published some time in autumn, after this bike sees a wide variety of Italian, Swiss, and French dirt.

Privateer 161 frames are priced at £1,489, or about $1,950USD.