The Rider Firm has upped the ante: First Hunt wheels, now a brand new enduro bike frame for less than £1,500

Need to Know

  • Oversized bearings for UK muddy conditions, complete with two bearings on the driveside.
  • Custom one piece rocker link for stiffness and pinpoint alignment, matched to open mould tubes for cost saving.
  • 160mm travel via Horst Link, and designed for a 170mm fork to make the bike enduro-ready.
  • Progressive geometry — 515mm reach on the biggest size, 1,314 wheelbase and a 64° head angle
  • Projected SRP will be between £1,100 to £1,300 with shock

If you were to dream up the perfect modern enduro race bike, it would probably boast 160mm or 170mm travel with 29in wheels and modern geometry. It’s become a reliable formula for competitive success between the tape on and the showroom floor. But most bikes that fit this category don’t come cheap; even entry level frame and shock-only enduro bikes cost upwards of £2,000. So what are your options if you want you want to be king of the mountains but can’t spend such a princely sum?
New British brand Privateer reckons it has the answer, in the shape of The 161 — an alloy enduro frame with progressive geometry and a relatively modest pricetag.

>>>> Our guide to the best enduro bikes of 2019

The 161 actually has 160mm travel, and it’s mated to a 170mm fork and rolls on 29er wheels, making it on point for enduro. It’s the brainchild of The Rider Firm, the group of passionate road and mountain bikers who brought us Hunt wheels. Its ethos centres around providing high performance for sensible money, and also forms the foundation of the Privateer sub-brand.
“I don’t think there’s a frame out there that has this level of attention to detail, and has had this level of experience, and this level of finishing, for this kind of pricepoint; around £1,100 to £1,300 for the frame and shock,” says Tom Marchment, from the Rider Firm.
A closer look at the numbers backs up his claims; there are three sizes with the largest coming with a 515mm reach, a 1,314mm wheelbase and a 64° head angle. Tapping into that kind of progressive geometry has meant buying a Geometron or a Pole or a Stumpjumper Evo until now, all of which are £2k and over for a frame only.
Privateer is for people like ourselves,” Tom says, “and not people with a ton of cash who do a posh job and live in a high rise in the middle of London. This is real money we’re talking about that we could spend on a trip to Morzine, or our kids.”
The process for making the bike started in March last year, The Rider Firm brought in Ali Beckett, formerly of Nukeproof and more recently one of the brains behind the Forbidden Druid we featured back in our May issue. “We started with everything on the table but in the end we went for a four-bar rocker link,” he says.

Aluminium was the obvious choice for frame material because it offers such a good performance to cost ratio. “I’m not saying we’ll never make a carbon frame, but for anything gravity related I couldn’t see why someone wouldn’t win a race because they were on an aluminium bike over a carbon bike,” Tom says. “And if you crash it into a tree you can still ride it.”
Using aluminium rather than carbon helps explains the relatively modest price, but there are sensible engineering decisions that further reduce costs. Much of the tubing for the 161 isn’t specificially designed for the bike, instead it’s carefully chosen from existing catalogue tubes to suit the bike. This makes total sense for Tom and Ali, who don’t want to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when they don’t have to. But in areas where unique parts make sense – the forged areas, such as the bottom bracket and main pivot – Privateer has developed its own designs.

It’s the geometry that’s taken the bulk of the development work for the brand and the lion’s share of testing time. “We’ve tested lots of different stuff and looked at lots of different numbers and really thought about the detail,” he says. “But if we decide something needs changing we will, because this is still the prototype phase.
When can we expect to see the finished bike then? Privateer says it’ll have stock in early 2020. The plan is to build complete bikes later that year. What happens if you buy a 161 and don’t get on with it? “After 45 days of riding, return it and we’ll give you your money back,” says Tom. “But we don’t think we’ll get many back because we work that hard and try that much, so we don’t have to be worried.”