Bike Check: Matt Simmonds' Privateer 161

Jun 23, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  


Matt Simmonds said farewell to World Cup racing after a final year on Cannondale's experimental downhill race team earlier this season-ending a 14-year stint travelling the world racing bikes. He's not stepping away from racing completely though and will instead focus on British National rounds and his coaching venture, ProLine MTB, with Privateer Bikes.

Privateer's bombproof frame and affordable cost make them a tantalising proposition for those who want to race self-funded but Matt has been able to pull in a number of sponsors to give his personal bike the pro build treatment. Alongside one of the most talked-about frames of the year are components from Ohlins, Shimano, Kenda and Hunt that leave Matt with a super-sweet race build.

Matt is pretty into his set up geekery and has provided us with all the tech info on the bike we could wish for. Let's dig in and take a closer look at his stealthy enduro assassin.
Rider Name // Matt Simmonds
Height: 6’2/187.9cm
Weight: 84kg/185lb
Instagram: @mattsimmondsdh

bigquotes"Since the start of lockdown I’ve been riding the 161 and can honestly say it’s been a highlight of many a day.

Its steep seat angle makes tackling the climbs so much faster and it smashes the gnarliest descents. The 161 does it all and I’m really looking forward to taking it further afield and finding it’s boundaries, if it has any!"
Matt Simmonds

Privateer 161 details
Frame: Privateer 161
Shock: Öhlins TTX 22 M, 457 lb/in spring
Fork: Öhlins RXF36 M2 Coil. 60 lb/in spring
Wheels: Hunt All-Mountain Carbon, 29"
Tires: Kenda Hellkat Pro
Drivetrain: Shimano XTR
Brakes: Shimano XTR
Size: P3
More info: privateerbikes.com

Matt has coils front and rear when it comes to suspension. Set up details are below.

Fork
Spring - 60 lb/in spring
Rebound - 8 clicks
LSC - 6 clicks
HSC - 2 clicks
Shock
Spring - 457 lb/in spring
Rebound - 3 clicks
LSC - 5 clicks
HSC - 1 click

180mm rotors front and rear for Matt's XTR brakes are slightly smaller than the 200/203mm rotors we've begun seeing on some pro Enduro World Series bikes.

Matt is pretty picky about his brake levers and makes sure they are angled at 30° with reach around 42mm from the bar.

Matt runs his bars at a huge 810mm with grips.

Matt's Kenda Hellkat tyres are pressured to 24-26psi front and 26-28psi rear.

A 32 tooth chain ring paired with Shimano's 12 speed XTR drivetrain. In case you were wondering, he runs his pedal tension six clicks from neutral.



92 Comments

  • 62 4
 While I'd ride that setup any day, with coil front and back it probably weighs more than the Cannondale DH bike he was riding last season.
  • 3 0
 Thinking the same thing
  • 5 0
 I guess that would depend on if that DH bike was set up with the dual shock configuration or the single shock.
  • 54 0
 weight listed is not the rider...
  • 87 6
 I keep saying this: I don't know why people somehow expect modern enduro bikes to be lighter or even the same weight as DH bikes. They are built to almost the same toughness standards, have to endure similar tracks, even tend to share wheels, tyres, brakes etc, while enduro bikes have heavier drivetrains, seatposts and accessories.
People don't expect Dakar rally trucks to weigh the same as WRC Cars, right?
  • 28 0
 @Arierep: and they have to last longer than a single 3-5 minute run.
  • 12 23
flag nozes (Jun 23, 2020 at 11:02) (Below Threshold)
 @Arierep: No,but I expect to be able to pedal my bike and not pushing it up most climbs.
  • 65 5
 @nozes: if 2kg is difference between pedaling and pushing bike up a climb you have bigger issues.
  • 4 0
 @nozes: Don't knock it if you can't ride it.
  • 5 0
 Doesn't matter, the Privateer pedals extremely well for the long and slacked out monster it is.
  • 16 0
 @nozes: so, like others said, if the bike weights 16kg instead of 14kg then you have to walk up the hill??
Ergonomics and suspension kinematics matter way more than 2 or 3kg
  • 9 13
flag CM999 (Jun 23, 2020 at 11:42) (Below Threshold)
 @Arierep: true but what’s wrong with having both? Why accept the compromise? It’s like the commencal tr last week that weighs more than a dh bike and that’s supposed to be a trail bike
  • 5 1
 @CM999: first, you seem to imply that a heavy bike will be a bad climber, when in reality I don't see that. While I won't say weight is irrelevant, it's nowhere as important to climbing and overall pedaling as most people assume.
Second, I don't know for how long I've been into the sport, but for years consumers were coerced into that weight-performance-durability compromise BS, which almost invariably resulted in crappy tyres, suspension and alloy frames that lasted for a season.
  • 10 4
 Why would you want a light Enduro race bike?
  • 1 0
 @CM999: Cause money and budgets...
  • 4 0
 Still, you can guess with the chainring he's using, that even with a few lbs heavier, pro racers would still have time to drink a coffee at the top of the mountain while we would still be struggling to climb with lightest bikes
  • 7 4
 @CM999: Ok trail bikes need dropper posts, they have 5 more gears than dh bikes, the seats have more padding/are bigger, they have bigger derailleurs, they have much bigger cassettes, and they usually have more reach than a dh bike. If you ride hard and have 200mm rotors with 4 piston brakes and dh tires I don't see how you think a trail bike should be lighter than a dh bike. Especially as a 29er needs more rubber which is heavy and the bigger wheels need to have more material for strength on top of more material to make a bigger rim. Add in the weight of longer spokes and im really unsure of why you think a dh bike should be lighter than an aggressive 29 inch trail bike. And then I have a tube and water bottle and one up pump on my trail bike as well which means my full carbon trail bike weighs considerably more than a dh bike. Weight is only a problem for xc racers and people who dont actually ride and spend their days on forums.
  • 8 0
 @Arierep: What’s interesting to me is the trend where enduro bikes have started getting heavier as the sport progresses. Back in 2014 a lot of pros bikes weighed around 28-30lbs on the EWS circuit and now you’d be hard pressed to find one in the 30lb range much less under 30 (with people moving away from carbon wheels, air shocks, adding DH tires and inserts). Same trend for modern trail bikes as well (a lot of brands speccing their 140mm bikeswith Lyriks and 36s, double barrel shocks, big tubing and DH tires). I wonder how much faster people are now, and if them being faster is actually due to them DH-ifying their bikes or just due to things like geo, better tech etc.
I acknowledge that on some tracks burlier is better but sometimes I think a lot of people just get caught up in trends when they’d be better off with something closer to a conventional trail bike (enduro racing was originally considered “DH racing on trail bikes”, now not so much). Then again I don’t really race so what do I know.
  • 3 1
 @bridgermurray: you are right, the enduro race bikes kept getting heavier, but I think it's easy to see why. Longer frames are heavier, 29er wheels and tyres are heavier, DH casings and inserts are heavier, alloy rims are heavier, coil shocks are heavier, last generation forks are heavier. This seems to be a matter of the bikes evolving and becoming more capable, reliable and task specific. I don't have any hard data to back this off, but I recall hearing "mechanical" being thrown around on the EWS in 2017 or so than today.

Mind that I'm in no way advocating that dedicated enduro race bikes are the best option for most riders, because I don't think they are. On their primal form they probably were, and I think that's why we now see HD trail / AM bikes (Sentinel V2, Sight, Meta TR...) to occupy that original versatile spot
  • 2 0
 I have a Meta AM29, coil front and back, cushcore in the rear. 17.6kg lol. Honestly you don't really notice it that much.
  • 1 0
 @Brasher: I have an XL aluminum Slayer 29 and I don't want to know how heavy it is. That said, it's a far better fit and climbing position than my old Canfield Riot (which was still super fun). I'm also pushing 300lbs (at 6'4) and the last thing I'm worried about it the weight of my bike impacting my performance. Ha ha.
  • 2 2
 @Daledenton: First of all you dont have a double-crosn fork, so that outweights the drivertrain and dropper. Secondly DH frames must be much stiffer and tougher so they are heavier (usually for around 1-1.5kg) than trail frames. This is for a trail bike, Meta TR is a trail bike just by the name. Trail bikes shouldn't be more than 14,5kg loaded with everything even for aggressive riding.
  • 1 0
 @jsnfschr: i have a carbon slayer and carbon hoops still weighs 37ibs but you don't notice it that much.
  • 1 0
 @Arierep: great answer
  • 1 0
 @vid1998: a 40 weighs 1.5 pounds more than a 36 and the cassettes have a half pound difference in weight. A full water bottle will eat the rest of that margin and then toss on a one up tool cause who likes riding with packs and you’re definitely over a dh bike. And then you have a dropper post still, longer reach on a trail bike and dh bikes aren’t that much stiffer than a modern trail bike. Why do you think trail bikes should be under 32 pounds fully loaded? My remedy 9.8 weighs a lot more than that if you have a water bottle and tool kit/pump/tube and I have exo tires and no coils. If you have a 29er and need dh casing tires you have no chance of hitting that number with water and tools.
  • 2 0
 My original comment was a neutral, factual statement. It never put a value on on which is better.

That being said, trail bikes don't need to weigh more than DH bikes. The increase in travel means each lever is longer, (the fork itself is a lever) so the frame has to be more robust for the same riding. However the DH frame is made for more intensive riding, requiring even more of a robust build.

Dual crown forks are heavier, longer stroke coil shocks are heavier, bars need to be heavier, etc.

The drivetrain weight difference isn't much, but where the DH bike does claw ground back is the lack of a dropper. Pretty much everything else will weigh more.
  • 1 1
 @wellbastardfast: ditto~ carbon 37# trail destroyer. I'm used to pedaling heavier bikes & people still acuse me of riding an Ebike when I pass them on a climb.
  • 40 4
 Here's a factory pro's "Privateer" bike. Oh the irony...
  • 6 3
 Was thinking the same thing. The tires appear to be the only thing that someone for whom cost was a big object would choose.
  • 14 0
 If he wasn't commissioned he would just be a pirate.
  • 1 0
 @jollyXroger: a pirate??
  • 3 0
 @Ds1234: it's easier if you just google "privateer vs pirate"
  • 2 0
 @jollyXroger: thanks for the vocab lesson. I guess the username checks out.
  • 26 0
 SWEET! Same height and weight! I can use his setup and be just as fast.
  • 3 6
 unless you are as fit as Mr Simmonds I have a feeling the set up will feel a wee bit harsh for you and other mortals.
  • 1 0
 @freestyIAM: I have the same fork, same rider weight, same setup. I actually run more LSC. It's extremely plush while being firm and supportive. Not harsh whatsoever.
  • 11 3
 Bike check that avoids the question of weight. Also. Love my Saints but in my experience if you're picky about the lever to bar distance then Shimano ain't the brand of choice IMHO
  • 10 0
 Run and praise what your sponsor gives you
  • 2 0
 @CM999: I love my [insert name here] and highly recommend. It has all of the good qualities and none of the other ones.
  • 10 0
 My dude... take that sticker off your front rotor
  • 2 0
 Haha, yep... it burns my eyes! Oh god wait... it's still on the rear one as well... at least it's balanced I guess?
  • 9 0
 i thought that wuz gangsta like leaving the sticker on your hat brim?
  • 1 0
 I'm sad to say that was one of the first things I noticed too.
  • 1 0
 I find it strange he is using last gen rotors rather than either of the 2 new FREEZA ones. Is it because they centrelock only?
  • 1 0
 @browner: That's a good guess. Those rotors work really really well tho. And are pretty easy to find for spares.
  • 7 0
 I really dig the frame design and minimalistic color scheme. I'm short and 29ers arent my thing, but the P1 on 27.5 is really catching my eye for my next bike.
  • 4 1
 I'm short as well and really like 29ers. There are pros and cons, but I'm liking my 29er more than my 27.5 right now.
  • 4 0
 @tacklingdummy: In the same boat and now favor my modern 29er
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: 5'6" here, I ride a medium Trek Fuel EX 9.7 and I love it. My last bike was a Cannondale Bad Habit with 27.5"x2.8" Michelin Wild Enduro's, so I'm kind of use to the larger diameter I guess. But when I hop on my dads Cannondale Trigger with 27.5" wheels I feel awkward on it.
  • 1 0
 FYI - the small has a 120 head tube height. I came close to grabbing one but that's to tall for me even if designed for 27.5 wheels
  • 2 0
 @artistformlyknowasdan: I'd reach out... that may be a typo, because currently based on their geo chart their Size 2 has a shorter headtube than the Size 1. And the Size 1 and Size 3 have the same head tube length??

Right now it goes - Size 1: 120, Size 2: 110, Size 3: 120, Size 4: 130.

I have a feeling Size 1's head tube length is actually 100mm.
  • 2 1
 Size 1 is 120 because it’s a 27.5.
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: I did and they replied that the reason it was 120 was bc it ran 27.5 wheels. That's about 10mm taller than I would ever consider for a frame
  • 2 1
 @artistformlyknowasdan: could you not just run no spacers under the bar, I prefer a higher bar anyway so I don’t have the problem, but if you just run bars with no spacers and that are flat or just 10mm rise then it might be fine
  • 1 1
 @Ben2601: or I could just get a frame with a reasonable length head tube for small. 120 is not found pretty much on any other small sizes for a good reason, it’s to big
  • 1 0
 @artistformlyknowasdan: You should check out Knolly. They focus on short head tubes which allows you to customize your fit. Small and Medium Fugitive LT head tubes are 98mm.

For some reason they don't list the head tubes lengths for their new Warden, but I believe they are almost identical to the Fugitive LT's.

EDIT - I just reached out, they'll be putting up soon... sounds like an oversight. Mentioned they use mostly custom made tubes which allows them to alter tube sizes for every size of bike so they tune each size to ride the same. Seems many companies use the same tubing and just cut it shorter for different sizes which saves money but doesn't allow for small head tubes on small sizes or frames tuned for each size.
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: they are on the list BUT given how much i like my Offering kinda hoping Evil has a new Wreckoning coming out soon. Looking to replace my Rune V2 with something a little more modern but not i n a rush since it's still really damn good
  • 2 0
 @artistformlyknowasdan: Nice.. ya all great bikes... also Knolly just emailed me back again (awesome service)... Head tubes lengths of the new Warden are: SMALL- 103mm, MEDIUM - 111mm, LARGE- 119mm
  • 2 0
 @islandforlife: now those are proper lengthens
  • 3 1
 Neutral presumably means halfway between easiest and hardest. 6 clicks from neutral is some heavy spring tension! Unless they mean 6 clicks from easiest.
  • 1 0
 Just got one of these. Pretty awesome bike. The pedalling sat down position takes some getting used too but the faster you go downhill the better this bike gets. It’s awesome. (Climbs well too)
  • 3 0
 Come on guys someone has to say it.
  • 3 0
 Looks so good all murdered out with the yellow highlights
  • 2 0
 I wish they'd have done the logos and writing on the frame in the same yellow as the ohlins, that would look awesome!
  • 1 0
 Agreed, that would look hot!
  • 2 0
 Rode my friends 161 at the weekend. Absolute beast of a bike. Very impressive
  • 2 0
 Looks like a Scott Gambler
  • 1 0
 What happened to the Cannondale DH program?
  • 2 0
 neat bike.
  • 1 0
 6ft 2 on a large. @Mondbiker:
  • 3 0
 Yep, recommended size for him, so?
  • 2 0
 @Mondbiker: he’s right in the middle equally qualified for both but went with the smaller size.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I agree, what is weird with that? He didn´t go for small or even medium, that would be weird.
  • 1 0
 @Mondbiker: might be a candidate for the pro riders who prefer a shorter bike list?
  • 1 1
 @thenotoriousmic: if 490mm reach is so short that is shocking to you then I guess he might?
  • 1 0
 I'm 6'4, I tend to ride L but sizes can vary by bike. Some bikes I wished I had XL, then my Scout went an inch longer in L between geo changes and now it's as big as I'd need for anything. A bunch of years ago I tried out Mondraker's at a shop..the Medium was huge!
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: Yeah bit odd, if you write to Privateer about sizing and that you are 6'2 or 6'3, then they recommend P4 which is XL, at least if you inseam is 34inches or 87cm. But he might just prefer a shorter bike
  • 1 0
 @NordicRider: I’m 6,3 and I’d go for a large / p3 myself. There’s absolutely no chance of even entertaining the idea of riding a 520mm reach bike with a 50mm stem. They just don’t work on the kind of trails I ride. See the appeal on big wide open bike park trails with lots of jumps but I don’t ride that kinda stuff anymore and if I did it get another downhill bike but all the stuff I ride is steep scratched in illegal tracks and you need an agile bike to make the most of that kinda stuff.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I won't even go into how scummy I think you are for riding illegal trails. But the fact remain that is what they recommend and you must keep in mind that the ETT is really short on this bike too, the P4 ETT is shorter than some L sized bikes, not everything is reach.
  • 1 0
 @NordicRider: that only matters when your sat down and nobody’s riding trails sat down surely?

We only have illegal trails here. Nobody gets the land owners permission. So what am I supposed to do not ride? Haha
  • 1 0
 Kona Process 161 Al version.
  • 2 0
 Black is the new Black.
  • 1 0
 who cares how much a bike weighs?
  • 1 0
 Mine is a P4. 13.400g complete. Very pleased with the bike.
  • 1 1
 Please do a larger 27.5 frame!
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