Privateer’s new E161 builds on the success of the 141 and 161 bikes, and takes the longer travel bike and tweaks it to suit the requirements of an ebike. Essentially designed as a training tool for their EDR athletes, the E161 is about getting the laps in on a familiar-feeling chassis.
This all-alloy frame offers up 170mm rear wheel travel via a Fox X2 Performance shock paired to a Fox 38 Performance fork. Power is handled by an SLX/XT 12-speed drive and helped by a Shimano EP801 motor fed by a 630Wh battery. Hayes Dominion brakes keep everything in check and their own mullet Hunt E All-Mountain wheels are shod with downhill casing Maxxis rubber.
Compared to the 161, the set tube angle has been slackened to provide more rear wheel traction when the going gets steep and really get the most out of that Shimano motor. Less anti-squat also helps to counteract pedal bob, further improving what you can eek from the power unit. Increased anti-rise aims to offer more braking control for harder charging on the downhills.
A forged and CNC’d single piece rocker provides stiffness, strength and a good seat for the dual sealed, oversized bearings of the main pivot. Internal routing is another change from the 161. Extensive chainstay protection also helps keep the E161 as a quiet ride on the trails.
The E161 is available in four sizes, P1-4.
Reach on the P2 is 470mm combined with a 420mm seat tube. Head angle is 64 degrees with a 79 degree seat tube angle. Chainstays are size specific with the P2 having 446mm numbers with a wheelbase of 1258mm.
Under the shadow of some tall, limestone peaks of the Dolomites was where the setup for the Privateer e161 was done. The usual sag set, rebound and compression mostly dialled off, lever throw wound right in and tyre pressure reduced and we were off.
The familiar whir of the Shimano EP801 motor, appreciating the higher cadence, was ever-present, providing plenty of go-forward as I would my way to the ebike loop at Bike Connection in Andalo. The ebike descent is a particular favourite as it combines much of what I’d ask of a bike at home. No big hits or berms of the bike park on the other side of the valley but lots of rock, root and natural techy goodness. More importantly, easy to bang out the laps.
After a few setup runs, I let a bit more wind out of the downhill casing Maxxis tyres to get the most of the limited grip available in the greasy conditions. To test the climbing grip, I decided to check the descent was clear and winched my way up it, with the rear only spinning up when on the greasiest of roots. The lack of anti-squat really letting the bike track and hook up even in the higher power modes.
On the downs, the bike felt more sprightly than you might expect, especially if using the fast rebound and natural features to sling the bike about rather than muscling it around. At 58kg, I don’t think I’ll ever be telling ebikes what to do, but you can use the terrain and some pop to your advantage here. The smaller rear wheel definitely helping when it comes to quick direction changes.
The Fox dampers did a cracking job of keeping the wheels glued to the deck, and the Hayes Dominion A4s were a welcome addition, being more than capable of hauling the bike back into line, at no point feeling overwhelmed by the weight of the bike, unlike some brakes fitted to ebikes.
As the lap count rose, I found the bike far more capable than I might have preconceived, and was happy spinning back to the top for more, making the most of the big battery and the low overall system weight my slightness afforded.
That said, while the smaller back wheel helps with direction changes on the slower, techier trails, the laps in the bike park took some extra muscle to shift the e161 about. It offers a cracking amount of fun for your buck, but there’s always a trade-off, and in the case of the e161, this is in the weight department.
I’m looking forward to getting a hold of a Privateer e161 to run out at home where hopefully I can really start to push on and see where the limit is with this bike on some techy climbs and slick descents.
You can check out the Privateer e161 ebike over on their website here.