Privateer recently announced the full details
of the 161, a bike we first caught a glimpse of at Eurobike in 2019. It's aimed at privateer racers and hard chargers in search of a sturdy, reliable aluminum-framed machine that won't break the bank. Privateer offer a complete bike that's priced at $3,075, or the frame alone is available for $1,535.
There are four sizes, P1 - P4. The P1 size has 27.5" wheels, while all of the other sizes have 29" wheels. According to Privateer, running the bike as a mullet setup (29" front / 27.5" rear) isn't recommended, as it would lower the bottom bracket too much, while also slackening the head- and seat-tube angles.
Privateer 161 Details
• Travel: 170mm (f) / 161mm (r)
• 6066-T6 aluminum frame
• 64-degree head angle
• 80-degree seat tube angle
• 490mm reach (size P3)
• Wheelsize: 29" on sizes P2 - P4, 27.5" for P1
• P3 frame with shock: 9.8 lb (4.4 kg)
• Weight as shown - size P3: 35.2 lb (16 kg)
• Frame w/shock: $1,535 USD
A frame and shock recently showed up for review, and I built it up with a selection of parts that fit with the bike's intentions. Those parts include a Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain, SRAM Code RSC brakes, and a 170mm Fox 38. I was also able to squeeze in a 210mm One Up dropper post without needing to add shims to reduce the amount of travel. The 161 is currently equipped with a set of Stan's wheels and a Maxxis Assegai / DHR II tire combo, but given that this bike will serve as a rolling test platform that's very likely to change depending on the day.
Getting the bike up and running didn't take any longer than usual, although the dropper post routing through the seat tube is a little bit of a pain. The hole that the housing needs to pass through to get into the seat tube is tiny, and took some finagling to get that all situated. That was the only small hiccup in the assembly process – everything else went into place without any issues.
As shown, the Privateer weighs in at 35.2 pounds without pedals, and the frame with shock weighs 9.8 pounds. Keep in mind that that weight is with EXO+ casing tires – toss on some heavier DH rubber and you're looking at a bike that's pushing 37 pounds. Weight matters more to some riders than others, but it's worth noting that the 161 is on the heavier side of the spectrum. Even if you threw all sorts of lighter weight (and more expensive) carbon parts on it it would still be a challenge to get it below 33 pounds; something to consider if the numbers on a scale are important to you. Initial Impressions
I have a handful of rides in so far, which means I'm just past the initial setup process and into the best part of testing – putting in the miles. On the trail, there's no getting around the fact that 161 has a big, solid presence. I've said similar things about other bikes in this category, but with the 161 having the appropriate terrain is even more essential for an enjoyable experience. It's simply too much bike to make flatter, mellower trails all that entertaining – the weight, length, and that super-steep seat angle make it feel out of place in those situations.
Luckily, I have access to plenty of steep logging roads that lead to rowdier trails, terrain that's much more fitting for this big rig. The 80-degree seat angle works well on those uphill grinds; it's like being on a Stairmaster with a seat. The positioning makes it possible to remain in the saddle on steeper pitches due to the fact that your weight is nice and centered, rather than being behind the rear axle.
On the descents, the 161 feels best at higher speeds, on trails where there's room to really let it run. The feel of the rear suspension isn't wildly supple, even with 30% sag. It's well supported, but the Super Deluxe shock and its low compression tune doesn't erase the small bumps as much as I'd expected – a coil shock might be the ticket for getting a more ground-hugging feel out of it.
There's tons of stability, and with an assertive pilot the 161 can be a serious speed machine. Don't get lazy, though; I've had a couple of instances where it felt like I was on a runaway freight train, and I had to really focus on being aggressive to maintain full control.
Stay tuned for an in-depth review later this summer once I've spent enough time in on this intriguing new ride.