Whyte 2014

We made the trek south to the Forest of Dean a couple of weeks ago to check out what’s new with Whyte for 2014. And yes, ‘that’ wheel size features heavily, but first: the big wheels…

T-129 Works

29in, 120mm fun machine, £2,599.00

We got an extended play on this one (in fact rather more extended than we, or Whyte, expected after getting a bit carried away) and liked it very much.

The T-129 is meant to be the Fisher Price of the 29in world, tempting in those who’ve not got oodles of cash to splash on a whole new wheel size, and we think that Whyte has more than succeeded in their aim of producing a ‘gateway’ bike. We rode the top-end ‘Works’ version and thought that was a total bargain, but there’s a SRAM X-7/9 equipped ‘S’ model for £2,099 and a plain vanilla X-7 T-129 for £1,699 as well.

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M-109 C Team

29in 100mm marathon/cross-country, £3,999.00

The M-109 is another big-wheeled full sus, this one aimed at the fast and long crowd, though as with everything Whyte produces there’s an emphasis on fun as well.

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806

27.5in women’s hardtail, £999.00

Now this is an interesting one. Whyte set out to make a ‘serious’ women’s hardtail and there really aren’t many female-specific bikes like this on the market. For starters, they’ve gone 27.5in to get the rolling advantage of a bigger wheel size than 26in, without having to make the crippling geometry choices that are often needed to make 29in wheels work for short riders. The result is a bike that rides really, really nicely – it’s stable and neutral, again in the best possible way, but is a metric shedload of fun if you are prepared to push it harder.

We had a good look at the more expensive 806 (still under a grand) and there’s a 802 as well, which is £300 cheaper with the same frame but a more basic fork and componentry package. All the usual ‘girly tweaks’ we’ve come to expect are there – wide short saddle, Tektro brakes with a slightly different lever shape better suited to smaller hands, shorter (170mm) cranks, ‘narrower’ 680mm bars (which would have been standard not so long ago) and slim grips.

There are also some really nice performance details. A triple chainset gives a reassuring amount of gears (those extra couple at top and bottom can often be needed by riders who are perhaps less strong than their male counterparts but equally, if not more determined to get up the hill/to the chip shop first) and the fast rolling, tubeless-ready WTB BeeLine tyres come with tubeless valves included (though these aren’t being shipped to shops fitted, as shipping sealant is apparently akin to shipping nuclear waste!).

The attention to detail continues in the frame, which is made from the same custom 6061 aluminium as Whyte’s other hardtails; internal gear cable routing, masses of standover clearance, and though the top tube has been shortened slightly compared to the equivalent regular hardtail, it’s not so short that the ride feel is adversely affected – even Jenn (who is notoriously averse to overly short top tubes and cramped cockpits) found it to her liking. It’s also pleasingly stiff. We really haven’t ridden many female-specific designs which are as well suited to experienced riders as they are to beginners, but from the short ride we had on the 806, we think Whyte has nailed it.

The other stuff…

We didn’t get time to ride the rest of the bikes Whyte had laid out for us (mostly thanks to having too much fun on the T-129) but here’s a run down of the rest of the range.

The 29-C is Whyte’s 29in carbon hardtail, clearly aimed at those stick-thin racer types though as with the M-109 we imagine it’s probably as much fun as an instrument of pain can be. There are three spec options: the 29-C (SRAM X-5/9, £1,999), the 29-C S (Shimano SLX/XT, £2,999) and the bells/whistles 29-C Team (Shimano XT/XTR, £3,499). The top two come with Whyte’s XC-209 wheelset and all three have the same neat, tidy frame with internal routing, press-fit bottom brackets and chainstay-mounted rear brake.

At the other end of the scale is the G-150. Another 27.5in bike, it’s for the gravity enduro/trail crowd and comes in two versions: the Pike-equipped SRAM X-7/9 for £2,499 and the Float 34 CTD Kashima-equipped, SRAM XX1 for £3,999. Wheels and finishing kit are tough, with the ‘new oversize’ stem/bar standard of 35mm featuring and, of course, the de rigeur Stealth Reverb.

Finally, last but not least, there are three new 27.5in trail hard tails: the 901, 905 and – you guessed it – the 909, for which we’ll let the pictures do the talking…

901

27.5in trail hardtail, £1,199.00

905

27.5in trail hardtail, £1,599.00

909

27.5in trail hardtail, £2,299.00

Many thanks to Whyte and MaxPR for making us very welcome!

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