A full season of top-level enduro racing is incredibly hard on both bike and body, so what sort of bike should the hard-riding enthusiast choose to get them through a competitive season without leaving their wallet as mangled as their rear tyre tread? Privateer Bikes - sister brand to the well-established Hunt Bike wheels - reckons the 161 is the answer.
Like the name suggests, it sports 161mm of rear-wheel travel paired to 170mm up at the front, all rolling on 29" wheels, save for the smallest frame size. The frame is aluminium, with durability and ease of maintenance having been chosen over weight savings, while the geometry is very progressive - 80° seat angle anyone?
Despite this being the first bike from the company, Privateer has chosen to have a full range of sizes, with four options from P1 up to P4. These sizes aren't really directly comparable to the usual small to extra-large size ranges, with each having a low standover height that's designed to allow riders to choose a reach figure that better suits their preferences.
The chainstay length also varies between each size in order to keep the rider's weight in the right place, no matter which end of the size spectrum they are. It also meant a whole load more work had to be done as changing the chainstay length influences the suspension kinematic, which in turn needed more work to ensure a consistent response. It's a lot more work, but Sam Meeghan, Product Manager for Privateer said: "If we were going to do our first frame, we might as well do it right and deal with the hassle."
The shortest P1 bike is the only one to get 650b wheels - Privateer had considered a 'mullet' setup but didn't believe there was any benefit to it - and a reach of 454mm for a seat tube length of 400mm/16", which is still pretty sizeable. The 29" wheeled P2, P3 and P4 bikes measure in at 470mm, 490mm and 515mm, meaning reach figures compare well against the likes of original long-bike Gs Mondraker, though not quite to the extremes of Pole and Geometron.
However, Privateer has pushed the boat out when it came to the seat angle. While plenty of bikes now lurk well past the 76° mark, not many brands have broken past the high-seventies - something the brand did umm and ahh about as more of a mental limit for consumers, though the final effective 80° angle was chosen simply because they felt it worked best.
The actual seat angle is slightly more relaxed varying around 75.5°ish across all the sizes due to a fair degree of offset, but it should really help to keep the rider in the right place for climbs and keep the effective top tube sensible with the large reach figures.
The head angle is 64° across all the sizes, with short offset forks on the complete builds, while a 30mm bottom bracket drop - 15mm on the 650b bike - means this is a pretty low-slung bike and should translate into a load of stability when you're tired and trying to make it through whatever gnarly sections you need to.
Other details on the bike are designed to keep things nice and simple for maintenance, with large main pivot bearings and axles for the four-bar suspension system plus mostly external cable routing for the rear brake and derailleur. As with most modern bikes, it's designed about a 1x drivetrain only.
Interestingly, the bike uses off-the shelf tubing, but in order to get these fairly extreme lengths, Privateer has been rather cunning with the way it's all stuck together around the bottom bracket - otherwise the stock lengths simply wouldn't stretch.
The bike comes as either a frame only for £1,399 with a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock attached or the complete build pictured for £2,989. Those are your only options - they want to keep things simple - but the kit is all really well thought through.
Drivetrain is from Shimano, with a 12-speed SLX setup save for an XT-lever shifter, which means you get the multi-release gear shift function. It also means they've not spent excess cash on bits that are liable to get broken or wear out, saving money for the top-line shock and RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork with its RC2 damper, plus a Hunt EnduroWide wheelset with Michelin Wild Enduro rubber.
OneUp provides the long-travel dropper post - it can be adjusted downwards from 200mm travel - and the brakes are from Magura, with four-piston MT4 callipers at either end. They're not our favourites in terms of feel, but they are mighty powerful.
The bike is available for pre-order now, with stock of P1 and P2 bikes in black having landed plus the rest of the sizes and a raw colour scheme set to land in May - current issues notwithstanding. As it's direct-sales only, the bike also comes with a 60-day ride and return offer. To pre-order or check out more details, head to their site below. We're keen to get a test bike in as soon as possible, so stay dialled for that...
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