Around £1,100 to £1,300 for frame and shock

Hunt has upped the ante, from wheels to a brand new enduro bike. Introducing the Privateer 161 alloy enduro bike with progressive geometry and modest price.

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Dream up an enduro bike to race enduro aboard and you’d probably come up with something like this — 160mm travel matched to a 170mm fork, 29in wheels, and modern geometry. The best enduro bikes seem to mix up this formula with great success, but they don’t come cheap, even the cheapest frame and shock-only enduro bikes costing upwards of £2,000. So what are your options if you want to race but you don’t or can’t spend a king’s ramsom?

privateer 161

160mm-travel via Horst Link, and designed for a 170mm fork to make the bike enduro-ready

New British brand Privateer reckons it has the answer, in the shape of its first bike, The 161 — an alloy frame enduro bike with progressive geometry and a relatively modest price tag.

The 161 actually has 160mm travel, 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, which brought us Hunt Wheels that promised the best performance hoops without demanding silly money. And it’s this ethos that’s being brought to Privateer, a bike that the brand says pushes geometry boundaries, doesn’t cost a banker’s bonus but that can still carry a rider to the top spot.

privateer 161

Oversized bearings for UK muddy conditions, complete with two bearings on the driveside

“I don’t think there’s a frame out there that has this level of attention to detail, that comes with this level of experience that’s gone into it, the finishing details, and the package with the shock in this kind of pricepoint, around £1,100 to £1,300 for frame and shock,” says Tom Marchment, from The Rider Firm.

But then he would say that, wouldn’t he? A closer look at the numbers though makes us think he may have a point. There are three sizes and the biggest boasts 515mm reach, a 1314mm wheelbase and a 64° head angle. That kind of progressive geometry doesn’t come cheap, you have to look to the likes of Geometron or Pole, or more mainstream the Specialized Stumpjumper Evo, if that’s the kind of bike you’re after.

privateer 161

Progressive geometry – 515mm reach on the biggest size, 1,314mm wheelbase and a 64° head angle

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 and we could spend it 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 Nukeproof bike designer and most recently the brains behind the Forbidden Druid we featured back in May. “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 of it’s good performance to cost relationship. “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 explains something of the relatively modest price, but there are sensible engineering decisions helping keep the costs low too. Much of the tubing for the 161 isn’t specifically designed for the bike, instead it’s carefully chosen from existing materials 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. Then there are parts that did need specifically developing, and Privateer has not shied away from the development.

It’s the geometry that’s taken the bulk of the design work for the brand though, one of the longest development processes, Tom says. “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 it send it back 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 people will get it and want to send it back.