Frame and Features | As with their 161 enduro bike, Privateer opted to go with 6061-T6 aluminum to build their E-161 eMTB and house the Shimano EP801 drive unit. They kept the same 160mm travel rear end and 170mm fork combination from the non-powered sibling, but opted to go for a mixed wheel (29” front, 27.5” rear) setup to obtain closer geometry and therefore more comparable ride feels. Unlike most brands, there’s no plastic to be seen covering the motor and battery, instead Privateer wanted to ensure the E-161 would hold up to severe punishment, so opted to go with aluminum battery and motor covers, including a 4mm thick hard anodized aluminum motor skid plate. The upper suspension rocker is a one piece forged unit for improved stiffness and the best bearing alignment. Privateer opted to route the cables internally on the E-161, due to the easy access afforded by the downtube cavity where the battery sits.
Drive Unit And Electronics | The Privateer E-161 makes use of the common and popular Shimano EP801 drive unit, which is powered by a Shimano 630Wh integrated battery which can be removed from the downtube with a ¼ turn of a 4mm hex key. The On/Off button is integrated clearly into the top tube of the frame, with a EM800 display on the bars to show off details such as speed and mode selected. The classic wired 2-button, toggle style remote is fitted on the bars, which may not be the latest and greatest but offers reliable performance and solid ergonomics. This Shimano system features three power levels and a walk mode, and has two on-the-fly profiles which can have the power modes tuned independently using the Shimano E-Tube Project app.
Suspension | Privateer continues to use a Horst Link suspension system to deliver the 160mm travel to the rear end of the E-161, but tweaked the kinematic to tailor the performance to the different needs of the bike due to the motor. Anti Squat levels were dropped compared with the 161, sitting at around 110% at sag through the cassette to increase the traction on offer to the rear tire and account for the lower levels of pedal bob typically generated due to the power of the drive unit. Anti Rise has been increased to a still relatively low 55% at sag to offer some improved geometry preservation when braking, and progression sits at roughly 30% to offer good bottom out resistance. Privateer worked with Fox to develop a tune on the Fox Float X2 that works best with the rear end of the bike.
Geometry | Privateer came to the market with some quite extreme geometry on their 161 back in 2019, but the majority of the numbers are now where current trends have settled, aside from the effective seat tube angle which still ranks amongst the steepest. For the E-161 they’ve taken what they’ve learned from the 161 and kept the numbers that worked for them, but slackened the seat tube angle to a still rather steep 79 degrees to give slightly better traction on the rear tire when powering through slippery terrain. Sizes on offer are P1 to P4 which equates to a typical small to XL size range, with tight 20mm gaps between sizes to allow riders to choose their best fit, and size-specific chainstays with 10mm increases from the P2 to P3 to P4 to offer the best balance for taller riders.
Build Options | It couldn’t be simpler with the E-161 right now: you buy the singular build offering, or you look elsewhere. As it stands you get a true Privateer-style no-nonsense build with the priorities placed on durability and rider confidence, for a standard price of £5,999 direct from Privateer’s site. Privateer called upon the Performance Elite level Fox Suspension to offer good adjustability but save the cost on flashy coatings, with a 38 up front and Float X2 in the rear. The drivetrain is a dependable Shimano SLX 12spd setup with a 165mm eBike crankset; and the brakes are provided by Hayes with their Dominion A4 stopping on dual 203mm rotors. OneUp Components is called upon for the dropper post, with a 150mm drop on the smallest P1 and 180mm on the larger sizes. Privateer’s in-house brand Hunt provides the E All-Mountain wheelset, which are wrapped in a pair of Maxx Grip Maxxis tires with downhill casings on both ends. The remainder of the components are in-house Privateer, with an alloy bar and stem combo and custom saddle.