Like a Geometron on a budget, the 141 gives you super aggressive geometry and sizing without stretching your wallet
Privateer 141 review: UK-designed trail bike hot on heels of Privateer 161 enduro rig, promises to bring same big sizing and aggressive geometry concept.
Privateer 141 need to know
- Trail bike iteration of Privateer 161 enduro bike, with 141mm travel and 29in wheels (27.5in on P1 size)
- Radical geometry for a trail bike, with long wheelbase, slack head angle and big sizing
- Size-specific chainstay lengths give the bike a high end feel
- Buy the 141 as a frame and shock, or full build, with raw, green or grey colour options
- Fox Performance Elite suspension, Hunt Trail Wide wheels, Shimano SLX drivetrain
It’s a rare thing for me to ride a bike that fits me perfectly. So rare, in fact, I can count the instances on one hand, and if I’m honest the Geometron fits smack bang in the middle of that palm. I’m also slightly uneasy, because when I find one of these bikes I’m always left wondering if it’s the sizing I’m really enjoying, or the bike itself. The Privateer 141 is just such an animal, leaving me perfectly positioned between the wheels.
So what on earth is going on? Privateer sizes its bikes P1 to P4 and the 141 that I rode is the biggest, with a reach of 510mm, which is very roomy. But it’s far from the only bike I’ve ridden to boast such a capacious cockpit.
The answer lies at the back of the bike – while most brands grow the reach of their bikes as you size up, Privateer also adds length to the rear end to keep the balance of the bike perfectly in proportion. This means that the size P4 141 has a 453mm chainstay length that puts me smack bang where I want to be for descending, instead of hanging off the back of a gargantuan front end. And of course, it’ll do the same thing if you’re not as tall as me aboard the P1 with 27.5in wheels and tighter 434mm chainsays: Privateer maintains a ratio where 35 per cent of the bike’s wheelbase is behind the BB, and 65 per cent in front of it, no matter what size you’re riding.
Before I get too carried away (too late?), the 141 needs an introduction. UK brand Privateer launched its first bike last year, called the 161 it was aimed at the enduro racer on a budget – 161mm travel, generous geometry and full builds under £3,000. This autumn it’s followed that up with a trail bike: the 141 has 141mm travel, 29er wheels, and is built from sturdy 6066-T6 aluminium. The suspension is a Horst link design, which means there’s a pivot on the chainstay, and the shock is driven by a rocker link mounted on the seat tube. It also means Privateer is using a suspension design that we know works well.
The 141 comes as a frameset with Fox DPX2 shock for £1,489, or just one build option for £2,989 with Fox Performance Elite suspension front and rear, Privateer’s own excellent Hunt Trail Wide wheels, Shimano SLX drivetrain and a clutch of sensible components. Flashy it aint, competent it sure is.
The geometry is key though, it’s where Privateer really wants to make its mark. I’m not going to go on and on about it, because with a 1,300mm wheelbase and sub-65° head angle it’s the most aggressive trail bike I can think of. Enough said.
How it rides
The 141 is overweight compared to the competition, at nearly 15kg in size XL it’s a chunker. I really couldn’t give a damn though, because with a steep 76° seat tube angle and long chainstays you’re in a great place to pedal from. More importantly though, this bike kills it on the descents and my guess is that the weighty frame and light wheels really helps the suspension.
“Why does this bike feel so composed and so fast?” I found myself asking after every steep and rough descent I threw it down. The handling of the 141 puts everything into slow-motion, like you have all the time in the world to think about your riding – how to set up for the next corner, whether to load the bike for grip, and when change your line. All of that builds confidence and speed.
It doesn’t get bogged down either, the bike sits up nicely under braking, then delivers you a ton of well damped grip in the turns. Finally, there’s a decent amount of progression to that Horst-link suspension too, meaning I never suffered from a harsh bottom out but still managed to use all the travel.
I’m a big fan of the Schwalbe Magic Mary, and with the Addix Soft compound Privateer has specced (not pictured) it perfectly complements the bike – it has a lovely slow-damped feeling, calming and grippy as hell to boot.
Why does it ride so fast? I asked earlier. It’s my position on the bike that I love about the 141. Centred on the bike, I feel no need to hang off the back on rowdy stuff, or try and hump the stem on flatter corners. I’m just in the right place to tackle anything with only subtle changes to my body position, and it’s a feeling of deja vu I remember from riding the Geometron.
I admire the foresight and boldness of Privateer for going down this road. Geometron and others have been here before with super-aggressive geometry… and reigned it back in, in some cases, when the market wasn’t ready. Perhaps now with the success of Pinkbike’s Grim Donut against the clock, we’re about to enter the new age of long-low-slack. I started off this First Ride wondering if it was the sizing and balance that I like, rather than the bike. I’m finishing though, finally understanding that it doesn’t matter – the two are inseparable.
I love this bike. Can you tell? It’s not perfect – the Fabric Scoop saddle doesn’t feel comfy for me, the mostly external cable routing is easy to service but I’d prefer it neatly tucked away, and I’d rather run SRAM brakes than Magura because I prefer their familiar feel. But it’s the sheer performance of the bike I love, and the fact you can get a bike with varying length chainstays (not cheap) for less than £3,000, making it a wallet-friendly Geometron.