Privateer have been once around the cycle now, and with it they add a new bike to their collection, the 141.
It's not hard to understand the positioning of the 141. Their 161, or budget priced brute as Mike Kazimer put it
, clearly had an eye on going really damn fast. So the 141 should take some of that inspiration, but with more of an eye on a bit of everything. More versatile and less single minded.
As the name suggests, it has 141mm rear wheel travel and uses the same wheel size idea as its bigger brother, with the larger sizes rolling on 29" wheels and the smallest on 27.5" wheels.
• Wheel Size: 29"
• All aluminum frame
• 141mm travel, 150mm fork
• 64.5° head angle
• 485mm reach (size P3)
• 446mm chainstay (size P3), changes with sizes
• Frameset £1,489 / €1,739 / $1,759 USD
• Complete bike £2,989 / €3,489 / $3,719 USD
• Available for pre order now, delivery January 2021
Privateer save some money with the use of off the shelf frame parts, which are a little rougher around the edges when compared to some other, more refined, aluminum bikes out there that use their own, designed in-house, frame parts.
Privateer's M.O. from the day they stepped into the industry has been about affordability. And while that is a word with positive connotations, the underlying mechanics to make it happen meant frames on the cheaper side of things. That cheapness coming from their use of open mould frame parts and perhaps a bit less development time than some of the other brands.
From afar the 141 is a nice looking bike. The proportions and design are attractive, and follow very closely the same silhouette of the 161. Getting closer and zooming in is where the details start to jump out, and perhaps where you can see how Privateer bring their bikes in at the price they do. If you think it looks a little like RAAW Madonna too, then you'd be right. Privateer bikes are actually made at the same Taiwanese factory as RAAW, and they say, imitation is the best form of flattery.
Cable routing is a mix of external and internal, with the gear and brakes lines cable tied to the outside of the frame and clamped at the head tube, with the dropper post line being run internally with a short section of external under the shock.
The brake hose and gear cable are all external, using mostly cable ties to hold them to the frame. On either side of the head tube are bolt on guides, which on our test bike looks to be creasing the brake hose while not clamping the gear cable tightly enough.
The dropper post cable is routed internally, using bolt on pieces and goes external for a small stretch under the shock before going back into the seat tube.
The 141, like the 161, uses a huge two piece construction to connect the bottom bracket, main pivot, lower shock mount and rocker pivot that is made from two machined pieces welded together. In contrast to the open mould frame parts, this must have cost a lot.
There's a large one-piece rocker link driving the trunnion mount shock and a 180mm post mount brake.
The BB is threaded and has full ISCG tabs. The brake mount is a 180mm post mount. The main connection between the chainstay and mainframe uses three bearings, two on the drive side and one on the non-drive side. The rest of the pivots run on bearings with the lower shock mount using the standard Fox hardware and bushings.
There's stick on frame protection on the chainstay, seat stay and underside of the down tube, but it's pretty basic and is coming unstuck already.
Geometry & Sizing
In a bit of a copy from Specialized, the sizing is not your average S to XL but P1 to P4. The smallest, P1, size is a 27.5" bike while the rest are full 29" bikes.
Reach numbers range from 440mm to 510mm with evolving chainstay length as you go through the sizes, from 434mm to 452mm. The size range should mimic the 161, fitting riders from 1.60m up to just about 2m.
There's a generous bottom bracket drop, giving a BB height from around 340 - 343mm depending on tire choice for the 29" version. The P1 gets a smaller 15mm drop with the smaller wheels and should be around a 335 - 340mm BB height.
A 64.5° head angle is nice and slack while helping out the versatile nature of the bike and with generous head tube lengths it should help to put the hands in a better window for the bike's aggressive intentions.
The 141 has a slightly slacker seat angle than the really steep 161, around 1.3° slacker at between 78.7 - 78.9° depending on size. Effective and actual angles quoted, and also with the seat at full dropper extension, but no exact seat height measurement for that fully extended length. Privateer say it's possible to run a post with 150mm of drop on the P1, 175mm drop on the P2 and 200mm drop on the P3 and P4.
The 141 follows the layout of the 161, with a four-bar layout, a Horst pivot and large one-piece rocker link. It uses a 205 x 57.5mm trunnion mount shock, with the trunnion attachment up at the link.
There's 15.9% progression with a starting leverage ratio of around 2.6. Following the bit of a hump at the beginning of travel, the leverage ratio descends all the way to 2.19.
Anti-squat in the easiest climbing gear starts really high, up at 176%, dropping all the way to 84%. Around the quoted sag window, 21 to 35% rear wheel travel, the anti-squat is between 152% and 140%. Anti rise is between 38% and 49% with it generally increasing through the travel.
Options, Price & Availability
A frame kit option comes with a Fox DPX2 Performance Elite and headset. It retails for £1,489 / €1,739 / $1,759 USD.
The complete build option comes with a Fox 36 and DPX2 Performance Elite fork and shock, Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain with an XT shifter, Magura MT5 brakes with 203mm front and 180mm rear rotors, a OneUp V2 dropper and Hunt Trail Wide wheels with a Schwalbe Magic Mary and Hans Dampf tire combo, both in Super Trail casing and Soft compound. It retails for £2,989 / €3,489 / $3,719 USD.
Both frame only and complete bike are available in raw, charcoal grey and heritage green colours, and are available to pre-order now for January 2021 delivery.
Jumping on the 141 it felt comfortable straight away, the low BB and long reach combined with the long headtube give a nice feet and hand position. I'm 188cm tall and the P3 size fits like a glove.
The slightly slacker seat angle, compared to the 161, feels really nice too, and gives a not too stretched out but not too upright riding position on steeper climbs and flatter sections of trail. It enables the seat to be in a nice middle ground allowing adjustment either way.
Around Champéry, and the Valais region of Switzerland, the 141 feels to be a really nice little option for many looking for a bit of a do it all mountain bike. That aggressive geometry brings stability, a nice rider fit for comfort and the inherent livliness from the shorter travel while still having enough to let you get away with a bit of murder here and there.
It also looks to be a good recipe for markets like the UK, with mixes of trail centres pedals to longer and techier days out in the Welsh and Scottish hills. Privateer's being UK based means this isn't much of a surprise.
Riding wise it feels good so far after a few rides. Perhaps I'm looking at this bike through the eyes of a bike engineer and too critically, but in a battle of marginal gains here and there that separate the mediocre from the great, is it too rough around the edges?
It will be interesting to see how it holds up long term compared to some more refined bikes and what the reduced price actually gets you long term, rather than just on paper. But on first impressions it's a lot of bike for not a lot of money, but I'm chin scratching as to how much of that is just the spec. Time will tell and I'll report back with a full review in the coming months.