"When my 161 first arrived I felt that excitement that all of us share on new bike day, seeing a new bike sitting there I couldn't wait to get on it and see how fast it could go! Having ridden a Santa Cruz for a number of years I wasn't sure what to expect from the 161, I had heard really good things and had tried a few of my friends’ bikes at the local trails but never in anger. The first thing I noticed was the weight of the bike, running a very similar spec to my Santa Cruz. I was expecting the bike to be a lot heavier not being carbon, this was not the case at all with the bike coming in a mere 400g heavier than my previous race bike (in P2 sizing).
Fergus Ryan | First Thoughts
We took it to the local trails and got the first test ride underway, the second and perhaps most obvious difference between the bikes was the seated position, the 80-degree seat angle gives you a super comfortable climbing position which although noticeable straight away will be a lifesaver in terms of fatigue for those longer EWS climbs. Out on the trails, I took the bike down a variety of fast, rough, steep and mellow trails.
With the out of the box setup, the bike gave a really planted feel and gave me grip, where I had struggled on previous bikes this in turn, allows you to push on and the bike comes into its own the faster you go. I did however notice that when pushing into turns and pumping on flatter trails the bike was blowing through its travel quickly and I was losing speed where I could have gained it. A quick change to my suspension settings (increased tokens) and opening the rebound further and this problem was fixed along with giving the bike a more lively feel, something I definitely value in a bike.
One thing that I am yet to try on the bike but am very keen to investigate is coil shocks. I have always loved running air shocks when riding my home trails as they give bikes a more active platform making our shorter and smoother UK trails more fun however when it comes to flat out racing on the world stage the added small bump you can gain from the coil shock could offer enhanced grip to the bike helping me to hold lines in the rougher terrain. I am very interested to compare the two shocks and seeing which one is faster against the clock.
Having now spent a good few weeks on the bikes I am feeling more comfortable and confident by the day. I have made a few changes along the way which have helped to make the bike go faster. As mentioned above, we added some more volume spacers to the rear shock, this allowed me to return to a 25% sag without compromising in traction or pumping.
With the decreased volume we were able to open up the shock both in compression and rebound, this allows the shock to move far more freely through its travel giving the bike a far more lively feel whilst tracking the ground better at those higher speeds. We have also changed my bar length and shortened it down to 760mm this is to give me more space to manoeuvre back and forth without compromising on stability due to the Privateers nice long wheelbase.
My next mission will be going to do some telemetry testing with the guys at Dialed Telemetry to see if my feelings match the data, from this we can hopefully dig into some more detail. Look out for another journal post about this soon."