As part of the development of all our bikes, we at Privateer believe in rigorous testing and pushing the limits of our products to best meet the demands of our riders. So earlier this year, we gathered a team of incredibly talented riders and experts. Our goal? To fine tune our brand-new prototype frame alongside Fox’s latest innovations.
Privateer x Fox Suspension Testing
Who was involved?
Our athletes play a very important role in the development and testing of our bikes, so we invited along Privateer riders Fergus Ryan, Katy Curd and Joe Connell, who combined, have decades of racing experience between them. Joining this talented trio, was our very own Ollie Mant one of our in-house engineers who received his master’s in engineering at Swansea University. It also doesn’t hurt that Ollie is an exceptionally talented enduro racer and is able to provide amazing insight while throwing himself down the side of a Welsh mountain.
With our riders assembled, their job was simple. Push our prototype trail and enduro bikes to the limits, while testing out various tunes of Fox suspension forks and shocks. Setting up suspension and monitoring telemetry data was handled by seasoned suspension expert, Jake Ireland from Sprung suspension. Jake’s work on suspension kinematics, linkage design and race support was invaluable for this test session.
Heading up this team of test pilots was Dan Hicks, Privateer Bike’s Head Engineer, and the man behind our next generation of trail and enduro bikes. This session of testing brought together a lot of what Dan has been working on for the past few years, from the initial brief to fully functioning prototypes that would soon race the EDR and eventually make their way to market.
Where and why?
The chosen terrain was the renowned trails of South Wales, a perfect blend of steep descents, rough tracks, jumps, groomed bike park trails, and a rough DH runs, everything an Enduro racer and their bike is likely to come across in a run. Being a brand that prides itself in making “Ready to rally” bikes out of the box, we felt that this diverse terrain was the perfect first stop for a year of extensive rider testing.
Fine-Tuned to Perfection:
The morning was dedicated to precision. Handlebars were trimmed, stems adjusted, saddles finessed. Basic set up for sag and rebound were dialled in, while compression was kept open for rider’s preference. Then we moved onto shuttle runs. This gave us more time to ride, we tested by doing a run, record the riders feedback, and paying particular attention to the areas of the trail where the bike did something undesirable or unpredictable. If the feeling was uncertain, we'd repeat a run with the same settings to be sure the feedback is the same. We then made a change to address the issue the rider was feeling and repeat the run. Our general approach was to keep doing this until there’s nowhere the riders can identify the bike performing as they wouldn’t like. With the varied trails enduro racers face, the bikes need to work well in all situations. By focussing on mitigating where the bike doesn’t work as intended, the riders can be confident of how the bike will work in varied and challenging terrain.
As testing came to a close, and with just a few hours of sunshine left we felt it would be rude not to make some time for some party laps. Photographer Sadie Aldridge & videographer Monet Adams joined us to capture some of the work and play the team were having.
Check out what the team thought of the day:
Fergus Ryan - "When it comes to testing new prototypes it’s crucial to put in consistent laps and collect as much data as possible not only to fine tune suspension but to potentially highlight any areas when the bike might be struggling or excelling. In this case is became quickly apparent after just a few laps how supportive the bike was and this allowed us to open up the shocks and run a very light tune compared with the Gen 1 bike. The open set up and lighter tune allows you to reach some really good shaft speeds which meant the bike was really reacting to the terrain at the same pace as I was riding it. This gave a predictable and comfortable ride which encouraged me to push the limits.
I am super lucky to also be working closely with Sprung suspension so the combined analysis from him and our engineer Dan has meant that in just a few days and shuttles we were on a setup I felt I could race. It’s also so confidence inspiring to see the data backup the feel and the progress we have been working towards with the Gen 2. All in all a sick day with a great crew and was really good to ride with the other Privateer supported team 🤘"
Dan Hicks – “We had a good laugh, mega riding on trails which were in excellent condition. We got the riders in a good place for them to start their season and confirmed the changes we want to make for the next round of suspension testing.”
Ollie Mant – “Mega fun couple of days riding with our sponsored riders, trying to hang on to their back wheel, with varying degrees of success! The trails were prime, dry and dusty, but still tonnes of grip, Wales never fails. Perks of the job. Riding and watching each other, it was highlighted quite quickly, that I was struggling in the corners, and I did go away from these days knowing I needed to downsize, not something I expected. Having never personally spent any considerable amount of time setting up a bike suspension, it was amazing to feel how small changes would feel when riding on rough trails at a good pace with quick fire laps, thanks to the shuttle lifts. We found I needed to reduce air pressures by around 5 psi and increase the high-speed compression by a few clicks in the end. The bike felt great before the testing but by the end, I felt the suspension reacted perfectly in all scenarios, the dream! I definitely came away feeling more confident in the bike and more confident on the bike in general!”
Joe Connell – "The test days in Wales were awesome. I spent a few runs finding a base setting that I was happy with, then I worked my way through the different frame sizes from P2, P3 and P4. It was interesting to see how the different sizes reacted to different sections, this allowed me to pick the P2 to move forward with the rest of the testing. With the data logging device on the front and rear suspension we were able to collect a lot of useful information on what the bike was doing underneath me and where it could be improved. We were able to find the best settings for racing but also for the shock and fork tunes for the production models when they get released. Working so closely with the engineer, Dan Hicks, throughout the test sessions was really valuable as he knows the bike inside out. Overall it was a very productive two days of testing in south Wales on some unreal tracks!"