Privateer 141 SLX/XT review: UK-designed trail bike promises to bring same big sizing and aggressive geometry concept as its 161.
Following in the footsteps of its bigger brother, the Privateer 141 SLX/XT is the second bike to come from Privateer. As such, it shares a lot of the same DNA with the 161. Notably, the 6066-T6 aluminium frame construction, rocker-link four-bar suspension design and size-specific rear ends, not simply chainstay lengths. It also adopts P sizing, where P2 to P4 roll on 29in wheels and the smallest P1 gets 27.5in wheels.
Privateer 141 SLX/XT review
The build kits share a similar ethos too, where the focus is firmly fixed on the performance benefits of the best full suspension mountain bikes that have lighter wheels, better suspension components and good brakes, not eye-catching carbon frames. In fact it’s pretty much polar opposite to Canyon’s approach with the Spectral CF 7.0.
So is the 141 just a short-travel version of the 161? Yes and no. As we’ve just outlined, there’s a lot of crossover, but the 141 is designed as a trail bike that you could race enduro on, while it’s the other way round with the 161. In terms of geometry, the key differences are that the 141 has a 2° slacker seat angle, and a 0.5° steeper head angle. And it’s the seat angle that makes the bike much more versatile, as you don’t feel like the pedals are behind you when you’re sitting down spinning along flatter trails.
The 150mm-travel 36 Performance Elite fork adorning the Privateer 141 is pretty much identical to the Factory-level fork on the Vitus, bar the shiny Kashima coating on the upper legs. As such, you get the top-of-the-range four- way adjustable GRIP 2 damper to fine tune the suspension response to your specific needs.
It’s paired with the latest Fox Float X shock, so in addition to the rebound and lockout lever, you also get a low-speed compression adjuster to dial in the pedalling response. Not that you need to add low-speed damping, as the high degree of anti-squat designed into the suspension linkage takes care of pedaling efficiency.
Often it’s the little things that are easily overlooked that make a big difference to the ride quality of a bike. Like Privateer’s pairing of a Shimano XT shifter with the SLX drivetrain so you can take advantage of the unique feature that lets you dump two gears at time when the trail takes a surprising downturn. Then there’s the 5° engagement angle of the freehub on the Hunt Trail Wide wheelset that gets power to the rear tyre when you need it quickly. Even the slightly tougher Super Trail casings on the Schwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf tyre combo is a nice touch, as the tougher sidewalls give peace of mind in rocky terrain. And while the four-piston Magura MT5 brakes aren’t as dominant as the offerings from SRAM and Shimano, they deliver smooth, progressive stopping power and aren’t phased by big, heavy riders. A well-considered spec then, and all that’s missing is a more robust chainstay protector to better silence chain slap. In fact, Privateer already has a new one on the way and it will be available at a discounted price to existing customers.
While the Privateer 161 has a sit-up-and- beg riding position, the 141 feels, dare we say it, perfectly normal. With a 487mm reach on the size P3, it’s still progressive in terms of length, but the rest of the geometry is much more in keeping with the other bikes in this category. Yes, the BB is a touch higher, but given that it also has the longest wheelbase, that plays to Privateer’s advantage as it makes the 141 feel more dynamic. The longer chainstays also help keep the Magic Mary glued to the ground, even when running the handlebar relatively high, a riding position that really lets you hang it out on steeper, technical descents. Could the rear suspension be plusher? Yes, Privateer could probably reduce the anti- squat a touch, but then it wouldn’t pedal as well. As always, it’s a trade-off.
For a small UK brand with what are essentially two models, Privateer has proven that you don’t need to be an online behemoth to produce a competitively priced trail bike. By focusing on the most important aspects of the spec while dialling in the geometry and suspension, the 141 delivers a ride quality that’s on par with the very best bikes in this category. Yes, it’s not light, but the Privateer 141 is solid, capable and perfectly balanced. It’s one hard-charging trail bike that still pedals and climbs with aplomb, so it never feels like you’re dragging around excess baggage.