Privateer 141 Beauty Shot



Words by Robert Johnston
Photography by Adam Lievesley

After much success and buzz around the 161, our testers were anxious to get some time on the shorter travel Privateer 141. Privateer Bikes has been on our radar since we first learned of their inception a couple years ago by the enthusiastic guys at mother brand, The Rider’s Firm. Learning that a bike brand was to be founded with the same ethos as the great performance-to-value-oriented brand, Hunt Wheels, we were excited at what this proposition would bring to the mountain bike frame world.

Fast forward a couple years and Privateer is a brand that is on many riders wish lists, with their race-proven 161 enduro machine firmly carving their unique position into the densely packed mountain bike market. Offering progressive geometry, suspension capable of handling the meatiest terrain and a value proposition that puts many brands to shame, the Privateer 161 quickly gained a large fan base, but its race-focused nature was perhaps a touch too much for your typical rider. To cater to the wider market, they set about producing a more manageable and versatile rig for the slightly less gnarly trails out there and came up with the Privateer 141. Read on to find out how it fared over a winter of abuse in the UK midlands.

Privateer 141 Linkage

Privateer bikes already had a winning formula in their 161 platform, so it is no surprise to see a very similar silhouette and all the same features on the 141. It is hard to find fault in their box-ticking frame design, with every element being well thought out, though it is not as polished around the edges as the more “premium” manufacturers. This should come as no surprise though, as the performance on offer for the very reasonable price tag must be achieved with some compromise.

The frame is constructed from 6066-T6 Aluminum throughout, with every tube hydroformed to a specific shape to offer the desired stiffness and looks. Privateer were able to save some cash by opting to use off-the-shelf tubing as opposed to having a custom tube set made, so it is safe to assume the 141 is somewhat overbuilt, but extra durability is hardly a terrible thing in isolation. The welding is quite rough and industrial to look at when compared to the likes of Trek’s post-smoothed seams but should not detract from the frame strength. Their Horst Link suspension features a one-piece rocker link, which should offer better performance than a 2-piece unit and is a sensible use of some frame budget. Reassuringly big bearings are used throughout the pivots for extra durability and stiffness, with the main pivot seeing a third bearing added to the drive side to manage the extra forces – a nice touch for riders hoping to abuse the 141 for the long haul. These bearings are all very readily available for pennies from your average bearing store, further innkeeping with the Privateer ethos when the time comes to replace them.

Privateer 141 Rear Stay

Privateer dialed the geometry back slightly for the 141 when compared to their ultra-progressive 161 model. However, this still leaves the Privateer 141 firmly at the extreme end of the spectrum for the trail category, being more aggressive than many bikes in even the enduro sector. Sizes are mainly governed by reach and stack figures instead of seat tube lengths, with the sizes numbered P1-P4, opposed to small through extra-large. This is made possible by short seat tube lengths with plentiful post insertion, allowing riders to happily size up or down and still run a healthy length of dropper. The P1 size features 27.5” wheels to suit the needs of shorter riders, with the rest sporting 29” front and back. There is not a mixed-wheel Privateer 141 option and they suggest against modifying an existing setup due to the geometry effects. Reach numbers are generous across the range spanning from 440mm on the P1 through to 510mm on the P4, and stacks are equally large at 607mm-646mm. The size P3 tested for my 6’2” (189cm) stature roughly equates to a Large and features a stubby 450mm seat tube to complement the generous 485mm reach and tall 637mm stack. A 64.5-degree head angle pairs with a 78.5-degree effective seat angle at max extension. The BB has 15mm drop for the P1 and sits 30mm below the axles for larger 29” wheeled sizes. Size-specific chainstays are in place to maintain the balance of the Privateer 141 across the size range. The 6mm increases for each size step from 434mm on the P1 up to a whopping 452mm on the P4, which is about as long as anyone is offering. These numbers are certainly progressive; however, some may suggest they’ll soon become the norm for the aggressive trail and enduro categories.

The Horst Link suspension system is one that many companies have favored over the years, but Privateer has applied their own ideas for the optimum kinematics, with some quite extreme figures in place to control its 141mm of rear travel. In the biggest 50t cog on the cassette, a healthy 150% anti-squat (AS) at sag is in place to counteract pedaling forces, rising through the gears up to a whopping 200% in the 10t cog. The increasing AS as you move down the cassette is a smart design ploy since there is more weight transfer in place when mashing the pedals in the harder gears. This should offer great pedaling support at all times, however, may not make for the most compliant rear end when on the gas. The leverage ratio drops from 2.6 in the beginning of the stroke down to 2.2 at bottom out, offering coil-friendly progression without becoming too extreme to utilize air shocks such as the Fox DPX2 that comes fitted as standard. Anti-rise is a low 48% at sag, which should allow the rear end to conform to the trail well at the expense of an extension of the rear end pitching the rider more towards the front of the bike.

Privateer 141 Bottom Bracket

As previously mentioned, the Privateer 141 really does tick all the boxes when it comes to the trail and enduro mountain bike desirables. There’s a threaded 73mm BB surrounded by ISCG-05 chain guide tabs; a Boost rear axle; 31.6mm seat tube; 180mm brake post mount; and ample clearance for 2.6” rubber and a 34t chainring. Cable routing is a good compromise of clean looks and service friendliness, with the gear and seat post cables internally routed with clamping ports, and the rear brake routed externally. There are bolted guides in place on the headtube which help to keep the cables neatly fixed at the most favorable angle. The most obvious cost-cutting measure is in the chainstay protection, which is rough and ineffective at preventing chain slap, leading to a noisy bike in the rough. This can be easily remedied by investing in some rubber mastic tape or another mountain bike-specific solution. Small touches like this confirm that the Privateer 141 is not intended for the boutique end of the market. We’ve since been informed that Privateer will soon offer a higher quality ribbed rubber protector to remedy this and we welcome to addition. The durable frame does come at a price, at a seriously portly 8.15lbs (3.7kg) for the smallest size without shock and axle. This places the 141 firmly at the top end of the weight list for the class, though exactly which class it belongs in is very much open to debate with the contrasting geometry and rear travel figures.

Privateer offers the 141 as a frame only with a Fox performance elite DPX2 shock for £1489 (roughly $2,050), or as a single complete build at £3149/$4,300. This complete SLX XT build tested is spec’d with a very well thought out build that offers faultless performance for the relatively cheap price tag. A 150mm travel Fox 36 Performance Elite fork featuring the excellent GRIP2 damper is a perfect match to the custom tuned DPX2 Performance Elite rear shock. As the name of the build suggests, the Privateer 141 is spec’d with a mixture of Shimano’s SLX and XT 12spd group set. This consists of an XT shifter mated to a SLX cassette, derailleur, and crank – very much the smart rider’s choice, providing the phenomenal Hyperglide+ shifting at a good compromise of cost and quality. Braking duties are handled by Magura with their capable MT5’s, featuring a 203mm rotor in the front paired to a 180mm out back. In-house brand Hunt are called upon for the wheels, with the 30mm internal Trail Wide wheelset in place to offer good performance without breaking the bank.

All size Privateer 141s feature the same Raceface 35mm cockpit with 20mm rise Turbine R bar and 40mm long Aeffect R stem; and a 180mm OneUp V2 dropper supporting a Fabric Scoop Elite saddle. The bike to ground connection is managed by 2.35” Schwalbe Super trail Addix soft rubber, with a Magic Mary in the front paired to a Hans Dampf out back producing a good compromise of grip and rolling resistance across most terrain conditions. There is nothing in the build list that calls for an immediate swap-out in my eyes, with all components offering stellar performance though avoiding any level of “bling”. The result is an undeniably heavy complete bike, but one that should allow for countless miles of mindless riding with minimal maintenance and prove to be fairly cheap to maintain in the long run.

Privateer 141 Action

Bikes have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years, with radical changes in geometry leading to some heavily blurred lines between the previously well-defined categories. No longer can the rear travel number of a bike tell you the full story of the capabilities of a bike, and there are few bikes I have ridden where this is truer than in the case of the Privateer 141.

From the first glance, the Privateer 141 has an aggressive stance and sizable presence, with the low-slung top tube and sprawled out wheelbase suggesting that this is not your ordinary “trail” bike. Thankfully, this length is disguised effectively by the steep – but not extreme – seat tube angle when it comes to getting yourself to the top of the trail. The resulting seated position is comfortable for long efforts in the saddle after a small adjustment period and centers the rider weight nicely between the wheels to minimize the front end wandering that could otherwise plague its lengthy front-center. The very high anti squat figures do their job remarkably well, with next to no suspension movement when on the gas throughout the cassette, whether stood or seated. There is truly no need to engage the lockout on the shock here, with the bike standing up tall as you put down the power. The drawback is the lack of sensitivity over the squarest edges on the climbs, where the Privateer 141 may as well be a hardtail when you are putting a lot of force through the chain, so line choice is essential to maintain momentum and grip on the way up. Find a smoother pitch of climb and lay down some watts though and the 141 picks up speed surprisingly well considering its portliness – you only really notice the weight when you accelerate from a stand-still. The BB height is managed well by the lack of “bob,” allowing you to get away with the relatively low static BB height on the way up, for the most part.

Privateer 141 Climbing Shot

Mellower sections of trail are a bit of a mixed bag, with the speed-eager geometry matched by an efficient platform for both pedaling and pumping. You really need to be on the ball to get the best out of the Privateer 141, but if you are willing to give it some energy you can reap the rewards and absolutely charge on the downs. I was very pleased to discover that the balance found when climbing is maintained for the descents with ample weight on both wheels from the get-go, letting all concentration go into reading the trail ahead. The length of the bike does require tight turns to be setup on wider lines, so it is a relief that the 141 is a relatively easy bike to pop from side to side on the trail. This is mainly due to the peppiness of that Horst Link rear end, spec’d with just enough support to prevent it from wallowing when loading the bike for a pump or hop. That peppiness gives a bit more trail feedback than the typical suspension setup on a bike with this kind of geometry and really adds the feeling of speed to the trail, managing to maintain just enough fun on mellower terrain to remind you of the fact that it is meant to be a “trail” bike.

Between the long rear triangle and the Hunt wheels, there is an unexpected compliant quality, helping the back end conform to the trail and find decent grip on the off cambers. This does detract a small amount from the tire rolling, berm shralping-ability; but takes nothing away from the speed it can be ridden at on smoother bike park terrain. The low bottom bracket and equally distributed weight led to the Privateer 141 being an absolute animal through the corners, where you can tip the bike in hard and let it rip. In the steeps, composure and control are plentiful, so long as you can keep the wheels rolling and grounded. The DPX2 does a stellar job of ironing out the worst of the chatter, to the extent that you could easily be fooled by assuming there is more travel on tap. That is until you get into some seriously chunky terrain, where the geometry can begin to write checks that the rear end struggles to cash. It is not that the 141mm of travel is poorly managed, just that the geometry encourages you to push the poor 141 as hard as any enduro bike out there. For its relatively short travel it does do a good job of taking the bigger hits thanks to a healthy level of progression, but once you tip past a certain high level of raggedness it can get overwhelmed, leading to a clench-inducing time. And this is where I come to the real question with the Privateer, what and who is it for?

Privateer 141 Jumping

Novice riders will gain great confidence with the geometry on offer, allowing for speeds to increase without a hint of nervousness, and the balanced ride allowing for natural and intuitive handling. The inability to rely on the crutch of long travel will lead to skill benefits and encourage slightly more clever line choice, but it may ultimately come at the expense of an extra rim ding or two over a season of riding. For more advanced riders, the Privateer 141 can add some extra excitement since the limit can be reached more easily than its longer travel compadre, but it can still support some serious shredding. While it is not the one bike to rule all for those who make regular trips to the gnarliest terrain, it poses a good candidate for an everyday bike that will see a wide variety of trails.

It is clear that some time and consideration were spent with the parts package on Privateer’s 141 full build, with a sensible and appropriate choice for each and every component spec’d. From the powerful and well-modulated Magura brakes; the incredible Shimano Hyperglide+ drivetrain tech; and the well-controlled Fox performance elite suspension, there is really nothing I would change until it needed replacing. The only thing I would perhaps add would be a bash guard for the chainring – a small piece of extra security that can pay dividends when it comes to crunch time far from your car. Otherwise, there is so little to be desired, and with a price point that will appeal to the masses it’s easy to see why Privateer have increasingly long backorder times.

Privateer 141

The Wolf’s Last Word

The balance that is present on the Privateer 141 leads to predictable and efficient manners across the full spectrum of riding, and thus provides a great tool for most riders, so long as they understand the top end of the capabilities. With a dialed component package and a great value, it is hard to recommend against the Privateer to those looking for a do-it-all trail killer. Just know that there are limits where geometry will not compensate for more travel and the longer geometry will make it worth examining for those in tighter, slower terrain.

Price: £3149 / $3,949 – Complete

Weight: 32.63lbs


Frame: 6066-T6; 141mm
Fork: Fox 36 Performance Elite, 150mm
Shock: Fox DPX2 Performance Elite 205×57.5mm

Brakes: Magura MT5, HC 1 Finger lever; 203F/180R Magura Storm HC rotors
Handlebar: RaceFace Turbine R. 800×20. 35mm Clamp
Headset: ZS44/ZS56 sealed cartridge
Saddle: Fabric Scoop Elite. Radius
Seatpost: OneUp V2 Dropper. 31.6x180mm
Shifter: Shimano XT M8100 12spd
Stem: RaceFace Aeffect R. 40mm. 35mm Clamp

Wheelset: HUNT Trail Wide. 30mm internal.
Front tire: Schwalbe Magic Mary, Addix-Soft, Super Trail, 29″ x 2.35″
Rear tire: Schwalbe Hans Dampf, Addix-Soft, Super Trail, 29″ x 2.35″

Bottom Bracket: Shimano SLX Hollowtech II
Cassette: Shimano SLX M7100. 10-51. 12-spd
Cranks: Shimano SLX M7100. 170mm. 32t
Derailleur: Shimano SLX M7100. 12-spd

We Dig

Incredible balance
Aggressive geometry
Firm pedaling platform
Great value and spec

We Don’t

Encourages behavior beyond capabilities
Unwieldy on the tightest trails
Heavy for its class


Want to win some free schwag? Leave a comment and vote up the most thoughtful comments and each month we’ll pick a winner. The person with the smartest and most helpful replies will earn some sweet new gear. Join the Pack and get the latest news and read the latest reviews on the top mountain and electric mountain bikes.