The Privateer 161 is red hot, melting our servers when we posted up our first review of the pre-production frame. If you are looking for a weekend racer to move up the pack a little, or to scare your mates on the descents, then the Privateer 161 could be right up your street. But, is it too race focussed?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: What’s the best 2020 Enduro Bike under € 3,500 – 9 mountain bikes in review

Privateer 161 | 170/161 mm (f/r) | 15.9 kg in size P3 | € 3,199 | Manufacturer’s website

The Privateer 161 in detail

The 15.9 kg Privateer 161 features 161 mm of rear travel, a low-slung Horst link suspension system, 29” wheels and very on-trend geometry. It’s a champion of simplicity and no-frills performance. The € 3,299 bike doesn’t hold back on its spec, getting the essentials, most importantly the brakes, suspension and tires, bang on. Suspension is taken care of by the outstanding, burly 170 mm RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork with the RC2.1 damper and at the rear, a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock controls 160 mm travel. The brakes are powerful, albeit lacking in modulation Magura MT5s for fierce braking power. Privateers will love the rugged reliability of the 12-speed Shimano XT shifter and SLX drivetrain. The bike rolls on 33 mm internal width Hunt Enduro Wide wheels (Hunt is Privateer’s sister brand) shod with aggressive Michelin Wild Enduro tires. Finishing kit is all branded, with a RaceFace 35 mm Atlas bar and 40 mm Aeffect stem, while a 170 mm One-Up Components V2 dropper finishes the build.

Low slung
The bike feels low slung beneath you with a lot of room to throw radical shapes. The bike is very easy to lean over into fast, railed turns.
Shock tune
Privateer have lightened the compression tune since our last test and it makes a huge positive difference.
Eye popping
Magura MT5 brakes are fierce stoppers. We didn’t even mind the 180 mm rotor on the bike, as it ekes out a little more modulation from the ‘stick in the spokes’ brakes.

Privateer 161

€ 3,199


Fork RockShox Lyrik Ultimate 170 mm
Rear Shock Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate 161 mm
Seatpost OneUp V2 Dropper 180 mm
Brakes MAGURA MT5 203/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/SLX 1x12
Stem Race Face Aeffect R 40 mm
Handlebar Race Face Atlas 820 mm
Wheelset HUNT Enduro Wide. 29"
Tires Michelin Wild Enduro Magi-X / Gum-X 2.4"/2.4"

Technical Data

Size P1 P2 P3 P4
Weight 15.9 kg

Specific Features

Good for shorties
The redesigned seat tube is now a straighter shot, so you can run the 170 mm dropper slammed all the way down.
Heavy but tough
The Hunt Enduro Wide 29 wheels proved tough in our testing, but accelerate slowly and need energy to get going.
Outstanding performance
A poor fork can determine the limits of a bike. The Privateer 161’s RockShox Lyrik Ultimate sets the bar beyond ours.

The geometry of the Privateer 161

It’s a big bike, with a lengthy 490 mm reach (in size P3, the third of four sizes), 64° head angle and long 446 mm size-specific chainstays. However, it’s the 80° seat tube angle that has the forums most excited. The largest three sizes, P2, P3 and P4 of the Privateer 161 come with 29” wheels, while the smallest P1 is designed around smaller 27.5” wheels. A 30 mm bottom bracket drop should provide a nice feeling of integration on a 29er and the generous dimensions and slack angles result in a lengthy wheelbase of 1278 mm for the P3 size.

Size P1 P2 P3 P4
Seat tube 400 mm 420 mm 450 mm 480 mm
Top tube 553 mm 582 mm 603 mm 630 mm
Head tube 120 mm 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm
Head angle 64.0° 64.0° 64.0° 64.0°
Seat angle 75.3° 75.4° 75.5° 75.5°
Chainstays 434 mm 440 mm 446 mm 452 mm
BB Drop 15 mm 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm
Wheelbase 1,222 mm 1,250 mm 1,279 mm 1,316 mm
Reach 445 mm 470 mm 490 mm 515 mm
Stack 613 mm 634 mm 643 mm 652 mm

The Privateer 161 is the only bike in the test where we did not slam the saddle to the front of the rails, indicating that 80° is at the very limit of what you really need for real-world climbing

Helmet MET Roam | Glasses Oakley Race Jacket | Jersey Fast House Speed Shop L1
Pants Levi 511 Stretch | Shoes ION Rascal

The Privateer 161 on the trail

While you might expect something radical, in reality, the climbing position on the Privateer 161 is centred and comfortable. The steep seat tube brings you closer to the bars, making the long 490 mm reach feel less extreme. You feel seated further forward relative to the bottom bracket compared to the other bikes on test and it’s a very efficient position when the trails turn steeply upwards. While the Privateer 161 does not climb steep fire-roads significantly quicker than the other bikes on test, the forward position puts you back over the centre of the bike and requires less energy from the upper body pulling on the grips. However, highlighting the critical equilibrium of bike geometry, this same position is too far forward on flatter trails and is more demanding on the arms on flat or gentle climbs. The suspension is very stable, with only a gentle bob as you power up the hill. We never felt the need to engage the climb switch on the shock but at 15.9 kg, it’s no uphill sprinter.

Rolling into the descents, as soon as you stand up you notice the longer 490 mm reach and extremely low standover height. The Privateer has a very low centre of gravity and with the long 1278 mm wheelbase feels very stable. With its long front-centre (the longest in this group) it does demand a more active and over the front riding position to give grip to the front wheel. That means it’s not the best bike for lazy or inexperienced riders. In the turns, the Privateer 161 shows its strengths in open, full-throttle corners, where the natural stability, outstanding fork and shock generate huge amounts of grip. The suspension performance is perfect for tough tracks too, with a supportive progression that provides a smooth and sensitive response without compromising on stability and support. Through tight bends, the bike needs more muscle to throw around and it’s not as agile as some in the test, but that’s the price of stability. Overall, the build leaves nothing to be desired. There are no creaks or rattles from the cables and even the budget Hunt Enduro Wide 29 wheels feel well-matched, surviving some big cases though they do accelerate slowly. The only things we could really fault the Privateer 161 on were the budget frame protection. In all honesty, we’d much rather have the awesome RC2 fork damper over a fancy moulded frame protector.

How does the Privateer 161 compare to the other bikes in this test?

Uncompromising in its intent, the Privateer 161 is a hard bike to pigeonhole. While other bikes in this test like the Propain Tyee CF and Nukeproof Mega go almost as well on steep descents, they are easier to ride and enjoy in more scenarios. In contrast the Privateer 161 thrives on rugged tracks with a good rider at the controls. Give it the right conditions and it’s devastatingly fast. Its closest rival in this test is the YT Capra. Both are beasts on the descents capable of effortless speed with huge stability and there’s little to separate them. However, if we had to pedal back to the top we would all prefer to be on the Privateer.

Tuning tips: run seat in the middle or back unless the climbs are really steep | racers will want a lighter and stiffer wheelset

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










As a debut, the Privateer 161 is a triumph. The Privateer 161 is happy to spin up the steepest climbs, perhaps not always the fastest, but always in comfort. The long reach and wheelbase demand an active rider who can exploit the long and stable geometry. If you’re honestly looking for a bike to smash KOMs and climb the results tables and are happy to sacrifice versatility to do so, this is the bike we would buy.


  • low, stable and extremely fast
  • RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork provides huge control
  • balanced suspension


  • rider position not for inexperienced riders
  • feels dull on moderate trails
  • hard on the arms on gentle climbs

For more info head to:

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: What’s the best 2020 Enduro Bike under € 3,500 – 9 mountain bikes in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Torque AL 6.0 (Click for review)| GIANT Reign SX 29 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo AF Coil (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 700 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert (Click for review) | Privateer 161 (Click for review) | Propain Tyee CF (Click for review) | Trek Slash 8 29 (Click for review) | YT Capra Comp 29 (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Trev Worsey, Finlay Anderson