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Spotted: Privateer Bikes Prototype Downhill Bike

May 6, 2024 at 23:23
by Nick Bentley  
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Mixed wheels and a lot of aluminum.

Privateer Bikes has been slowly growing their lineup, intentionally adding models as they see fit. In addition to their 141 and 161 trail/enduro bikes, they appear to be working on a full-fledged downhill bike, as seen over the weekend at Fort William. The Fox 40 fork is a pretty easy tell-tale sign, but there's more at play than simply more fork travel.

This particular bike was being piloted by Joe Connell, the 2024 Scottish Downhill Champion in the Masters category and a Privateer-supported rider. He mentioned that the bike was built around the frame components of a 161, albeit with a modified rocker link.

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We reached out to Andrew Sykes, Senior Marketing Manager at The Rider Firm (Privateer's parent company), to get more information on the project.

Hey Andi, would you like to tell us a little bit about this bike that Joe is riding right now?


Yeah, talk of a DH bike started as we were gearing up for the launch of the Gen 2 range. I had previously managed a downhill team, and Joe Connell was keen to get back on a DH bike and as the Gen 2 161 is dual crown ready and can be easily overstroked to 174mm of rear wheel travel, we decided to see how far we could take things with a custom link.

Nice, we see this a lot with other Enduro bikes now to make it a sort of park bike, right?


Exactly! The production Gen 2 161 can be fitted with a dual crown fork and by removing a spacer from the stock rear shock, riders can get 174mm out of the back making it a perfect park, UK downhill bike.

OK, nice. But how did you get from there to the bike Joe has?


Dan Hicks, the engineer behind Gen 2 and our A-L-P Suspension, and I started chatting about a custom link and we decided to kick off a bit of a skunkworks project. Initially, we kept it all under wraps to see if it would even be possible. It didn't take Dan too long to design a link that gives the Gen 2 161 200mm or rear wheel travel from the stock shock. It's very much a V1, and there is more work needed, but as we saw a few weeks ago with Joe taking the Masters Scottish Title and achieving a time that would have had him place 3rd in Elite, we're not far off already.

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So this is a standard 161 frame still though, right?


This is actually a pre-production Gen 2 frame; you likely saw these last year being raced ahead of launch. Joe actually won Ard Rock on his. The only reason Joe is on a pre-production frame is that we don't have the correct size production frame for him just yet, he rides a P2 for his enduro bike but for the DH Joe prefers a P3. In terms of geometry and the rear end, adjustment, etc., this is the same as a production frame. However, the production front triangle is even better suited to the DH project as it offers more space for the rear shock, and the production frame is even stronger.

Does that mean you're going to do something more to the link?


This is certainly something you're going to see more of. Dan has already put together a proposal for a V2 linkage with Joe's help and feedback, and we're hoping to get this produced in the next few weeks and begin testing. The current plan is to really push the limits of Gen 2 and see what's possible. We know many Privateer Bikes customers build their bikes up with dual crown forks, which is why Gen 2 is rated for dual crown use, but we're just testing the waters around Downhill.

So right now, it's just a test mule, really?


At the moment yes, but you never know what might happen. I think it would be amazing if Privateer was to develop a specific DH bike, but at the moment there are no plans for this. This is just a fun project that we're all really stoked to work on, it also gives us a really good development platform for testing upcoming HUNT products too.

Nice, so we should watch this space then. Thanks for your time, Andi.


Yup, watch this space! There is more to come. No problem!

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51 Comments
  • 54 9
 Nobody ever: “Hey can we get a shapey curved top tube with a hump where it meets the head tube?”
  • 4 1
 Mondraker?
  • 3 1
 My 1987 GT Pro Performer would be to differ (the downtube at least) lol
  • 6 0
 Beach cruiser vibes
  • 1 0
 Nostalgia for my recently deceased aluminum Guerrilla Gravity frame.
  • 1 0
 HOT TAKE: I think Ns Bikes managed to make it look good with the Define. :/ But the bulge is a bit more subtil on the Define than the final version of the 161 Gen 2. lol

EDIT: The bulge is not that much less pronounced on the Define but the sharp tubing lines on the sides make it look good.
  • 1 0
 Kona managed to make it look good on the process 111,134 and 153, back then...
  • 1 0
 this trend just is so weird to me. it *looks bent*. like, "hey! we crashed head-on into a wall for you already!"
  • 32 12
 Nobody is gonna buy your bike if it’s ugly yo
  • 60 0
 name checks out
  • 13 0
 @leprechaun1309: a Young design should be right up a Drake fans alley...
  • 9 0
 More of a YT guy?
  • 4 0
 @KDix85: I can't believe it... a rap beef so pervasive it's landed on Pinkbike of all places.
  • 1 0
 @bikeybikeybikebike: Kendricks got the people goin...
  • 12 0
 @tonkatruck How come your spy shots never come with interviews?
  • 12 0
 We're going to need to re-title these articles "Seen & Heard".
  • 9 0
 There was a solid path to create a great looking "Privateer 201" based on the looks of the Gen 1 designs... but damn this just is not it. Looks like someone bolted a dh fork onto a 2004 Kona Dawg.
  • 5 0
 So the preproduction doesn’t have the hernia but they decided it was just right for the final product?
  • 8 1
 I have a Gen 1, 161. Safe to say I will not be looking to buy another Privateer solely based on the fact that the new design is hideous to me. One of the many reasons why I bought the Gen 1 was because I liked how it looked. I would even have preferred internal head tube cable routing compared to the bump. Hernia needs some surgery.
  • 1 0
 @Grady-Harris The production Gen 2 bikes have a slightly different front triangle to the pre-production frames, which offers more strength, and improved room for the rear shock reservoir, bottle and tool mount. The additional strength and space mentioned above, are reasons why the production frame is actually better suited to this project, and we'll have Joe on one as soon as they arrive.
  • 5 0
 Lets get a betting pool going on the weight.
  • 9 0
 With so many World Cup riders adding lead weights, maybe a hefty DH frame isn't a bug, it's a feature.
  • 5 0
 Looks like my old 2008 Spec Enduro.
  • 8 3
 Fugly.
  • 3 0
 Looks like the 1st gen Norco Aurum
  • 3 0
 A mostly full seat tube on a DH bike, whoda thunk!
  • 3 0
 Dan Hicks, not to be confused with Dick Hands
  • 2 0
 DH / park bike with long dropper post compatibility could be an interesting niche
  • 2 0
 Proper cool, giz a go mister!
  • 3 1
 Nobody wants a trunnion shock on a dh rig
  • 3 3
 I like the brand, but holy damn how did no one in the company tell the designers this is ugly af.
  • 1 0
 Are they doubling down on this look???
  • 1 0
 all that and TRUNION?! looks like some road bike bullcrap.
  • 2 1
 spotted haha
  • 1 0
 Looks like an enduro
  • 1 1
 Lol redefine ugly?
  • 3 1
 Fugly.

This bike is fugly….
  • 3 5
 another horst link downhill bike eh? scroll scroll scroll
  • 2 5
 it is not
  • 3 8
flag hardtailhooner (May 8, 2024 at 14:10) (Below Threshold)
 It's a linkage driven single pivot.
  • 7 0
 @captainclunkz: rear axel quite clearly on the Seatstay
  • 1 0
 @captainclunkz: Can't be a single pivot, there are multiple links there. A horst with funny geometry maybe but I dont think this is a single pivot. See here for true linkage driven single pivot: www.pinkbike.com/news/review-kona-operator-29.html
  • 1 1
 @captainclunkz: "At the time, we saw a lot of interest in high-pivot, mid-pivot and 6-bar suspension designs. We evaluated each based on what we felt riders wanted from Gen 2 and came to the conclusion that an evolution of the Horst link platform offers the characteristics that we were after. While alternate platforms all have their benefits, Horst link offers highly customisable anti-rise and anti-squat values, enabling us to develop our highest performing kinematics and a consistent and predictable ride. "
Copied from their page
It is 4 bar Horst as the rear wheel doesn't travel in a circle around BB, probably the easiest way to determine
  • 3 2
 @GrzesiekDH: I'm pretty sure the secret sauce of Horst links is the pivot in front of and below the rear axle. An "Evolution of the Horst link platform" maybe, but I don't think it would be considered a Horst link.
  • 3 0
 @kbonesddeuce: yeah, splitting hairs perhaps, but I don't believe this would have flown during the Horst link patent era. There were no 4 bar bikes around even resembling what Specialized was doing, but perhaps that was an artifact of no one being able to take a lawsuit from the big red machine. Regardless, thank the Lord the patent is lifted, because there are a lot fewer turd bikes out there now.
  • 1 0
 @biking85: here here! Raise a glass for fewer turds !
  • 1 0
 @kbonesddeuce: think again. rear axle is not connected to the main pivot as the axle is on the seat stay.
  • 1 0
 @biking85: there's no way it would have gotten by the horst patent.
"If the pivot is directly in front of the rear axle, with the axle attached to the seat stay, it is called a Horst link."
people need to go back and look at the picture again. axle is on the seat stay, not on the chain stay. pivot is in front of the rear axle. the placement of the pivot is where privateer is trying to make some changes to the way the horst link rides. just because specialized thinks they got it right with FSR and putting the pivot on the chainstay lower than the axle doesn't mean there isn't 2 ways to skin a cat.
  • 1 0
 @novajustin: My understanding was that the pivot placement being beneath the axle was a criteria. I am stopping myself short of actually looking it up. Happy trails.
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