whyte s-120 wil australia

On Board | Testing The Raucous 2019 Whyte S-120 C RS

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Wil takes us on board for the first ride with the 2019 Whyte S-120 test bike

As part of our ongoing foray into the new-school 29er trail bike world, we recently got our hands on a 2019 Whyte S-120 C RS. With 29in wheels and 120mm of travel at both ends, the S-120 slots right into the short-travel trail bike category. Here it sits alongside fellow contemporaries like the Specialized Stumpjumper ST, the Merida One-Twenty, and Giant Trance 29. As you’ll see though, this one doesn’t exactly follow the status quo.

Shortly after pulling the S-120 out of its cardboard box and getting it built up in the workshop, I took the new test bike out to one of my local test loops. I clipped on a couple of GoPros, plugged in a lapel mic, and hit the record buttons to take you along for the first ride;

120mm Travel Meets Big Bike Geometry

Now if you’ve already read my first look story on the S-120, you’ll know that this particular trail bike stands out for its radical geometry.

How radical? Try a 65.5° head angle, a reduced-offset fork, and a healthy 456mm reach measurement for our medium test bike. That’s all paired to 780mm wide bars, a 40mm stem, and a generous 160mm stroke dropper post. Those are numbers to rival some brands’ enduro bikes.

The model I’m currently testing is the S-120 C RS, which sits right in the middle of the three model range. Right now, Whyte is only offering the S-120 with a carbon/alloy frameset. The mainframe uses a lightweight monocoque carbon fibre construction, and the rear being made up of hydroformed and welded alloy tubes.

whyte s-120 c rs fox 34 step-cast bike yoke revive
Whyte’s S-120 trail bike is all-new for 2019.

Whyte S-120 Features

  • Lightweight full suspension 29er trail bike
  • Monocoque carbon mainframe
  • Welded alloy Symmetrical SCR back end
  • Quad Link 4 suspension design
  • 120mm travel front & rear
  • Designed for 44mm fork offset
  • 65.5° head angle
  • 75° effective seat tube angle
  • 430mm chainstay length
  • Reach: 432mm (S), 456mm (M), 480mm (L), 504mm (XL)
  • Max tyre clearance: 29×2.3in
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell w/ISCG 05 chainguide tabs
  • Hidden Intergrip seat clamp system
  • Claimed frame weight: 2780g (Medium size, including rear shock & hardware)
  • Price range: £3,100 – £5,250 / $6,500 – $9,400 AUD

Testing So Far

Following that first ride, I’ve been riding the S-120 quite a bit these last few weeks. I’m pretty happy with settings and the build kit so far, though I have changed out the stock grips for some thinner profile Renthal Ultra Tacky grips.

And while the Maxxis Forekaster/Crossmark combo proved to be plenty quick on hardpack trails, I soon realised I’d need more capable rubber to back up this bike’s penchant for speed.

I got my hands on some much burlier Maxxis Minion tyres – there’s a DHR II on the front, and a DHF on the rear. Both are 2.3in wide and feature EXO sidewalls and 3C triple compound rubber.

whyte s-120 c rs renthal ultra tacky lock-on grip
Thinner and stickier grips courtesy of Renthal.
maxxis minion dhr ii fox 34 step-cast
The stock tyres left a lot to be desired in loose conditions. Enter a 2.3in wide Maxxis Minion DHR II on the front…
maxxis minion tyre clearance whyte s120
…and a 2.3in Maxxis Minion DHF on the rear. Loads of mud clearance through the rear stays.

Tyre Clearance

Whyte states an ‘official’ maximum tyre width of 2.3in for the back of the S-120. However, with the fresh Minion combo I’ve recently fitted, there appears to be loads of room on either side of the tyre both up at the seatstays, and down at the chainstays.

I also dropped out all the pressure from the rear shock to check clearance between the rear tyre and the back of the seat tube at full compression – there’s loads. I’ll see if I can get my hands on a 2.4-2.5in wide tyre to see just how big you can go.

maxxis minion tyre clearance whyte s120
Plenty of room down below too. I reckon a 2.5in tyre should fit in the back end.

Now for those who are interested in the on the 2019 Whyte S-120 C RS and are looking for more info, then make sure you check out the detailed first look story here.

Got any questions for me about the bike? Pop them into the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to answer them for you either here, or in the upcoming review!

whyte s-120 c rs fox 34 step-cast bike yoke revive
Stay tuned for the upcoming review.

2019 Whyte S-120 C RS Specifications

  • Frame // Monocoque Carbon Fibre Mainframe & Alloy Rear, 120mm Travel
  • Fork // Fox 34 Float Rhythm, Performance Series, GRIP Damper, 44mm Offset, 120mm Travel
  • Shock // Fox Float DPS, Performance Series, 210x50mm
  • Hubs // Whyte Alloy, Double Sealed Bearing, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
  • Rims // Race Face AR-27 Offset, 27mm Internal Width, Tubeless Ready, 32h
  • Tyres // Maxxis EXO 60tpi Forekaster 2.35in Front & Crossmark II 2.25in Rear
  • Crankset // SRAM Stylo 7K, 34t X-Sync 2 Chainring
  • Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
  • Shifters // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM GX Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Speed
  • Brakes // SRAM Guide RS, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Stem // Whyte Gravity, 40mm Length
  • Bars // Whyte 6061 Alloy, 15mm Rise, 780mm Wide
  • Grips // Whyte Lock-On
  • Seatpost // Bike Yoke Revive, 160mm Travel
  • Saddle // Whyte
  • Size Tested // Medium
  • Sizes Available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Confirmed Weight // 13.35kg / 29.37 lbs
  • RRP // £3,499 / $6,500 AUD

Want to check out some of the other trail bikes we’ve been reviewing? Here are some handy links for you to read at your heart’s content;

Comments (8)

    Pretty radical geometry but still poor tyre clearance? 2.3 max?

    @shortbread_fanylion – Yup, that’s Whyte’s “official” recommendation for the maximum width rear tyre for the S-120 frame.

    The frame itself actually has enormous clearance – have a look at the photos I’ve just added into the article above. Bear in mind I’ve switched the stock 2.25in Maxxis Crossmark tyre for a 2.3in Minion DHF. Even with the bigger tyre, there’s loads of mud room through both the seatstays and chainstays.

    I reckon you could easily fit a 2.4-2.5in tyre in there – I’ll see if I can get my hands on a bigger tyre to try out for ya!

    [ST Wil]

    That was my next question, what is the biggest tyre you can fit on the Whyte.

    Cheers Wil. Unlike a manufacturer to err on the side of caution.

    Great review, makes me miss my old T129 ! Can’t wait until the full review. Cheers, Paul

    Great first ride review WIl! Sounds like its gonna be a great bike!

    Still keen to find out if it might run a set of 27.5″ wheels with 2.5 – 2.8 tyres even though it doesn’t appear to be recommended by Whyte, look forward to you trying some bigger rubber further down the road….
    How does it compare to your previous Canyon Neuron? Close on travel but quiet different geometry?

    Anyway, great work, look forward to your full review before I get my wallet out….


    @binman & @muddy meddler – Cheers! Glad you enjoyed the first ride review and video!

    I’ll see about getting my hands on a 27.5+ wheel to see if it’ll fit into the back end. That said, without any option to adjust the frame geometry (aside from putting on a longer fork?), I reckon the BB height would get too low with the smaller 27.5+ wheel. Then again, the guys at Whyte have been keen to stipulate that this really is a focussed 29in specific design, and not a convertible 29/27.5+ bike like the S150.

    Compared to the Neuron, it’s very, very different! The suspension design isn’t as naturally efficient as the Neuron. The FSR-style pivot arrangement gives it good activity, and it’s noticeably more supple and comfortable over the rocks. Geometry wise, the two bikes couldn’t be further from each other. Whereas the Neuron feels very chill and easy to ride at lower speeds, the S-120 requires you to commit to a much more aggressive riding style, since the front wheel is so far ahead of you. It’s bonkers fast on the descents though – I’ve already nabbed a couple of fresh PRs and KOMs with that bike. Taking it shuttling on some enduro trails this weekend, so we’ll see how quickly it takes for me to kill myself :-/

    [ST Wil]

    Loving your comments & reviews – you’re testing 2 bikes I’m really interested in so I’d be interested to know how this compares to the Merida 120? The 120 seems really hard to get hold of and no demo bikes around so I’m really keen to hear any opinions you’ve formed so far?

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