Whyte’s bikes may not look quite as mental as they did 10 years ago, but the UK-based brand are still among the most innovative manufacturers around. This is reflected in the cunning detailing on their Ti hardtail flagship, which makes it super-responsive and versatile now as well as future-proof for years to come.
Ride & handling: Good balance of tracking accuracy and comfort, with a truly killer kick
The Whyte offers a superbly balanced all-round ride and never felt flustered however fast we threw it down descents or ripped it through techy trails.
Flexy fork notwithstanding, its line-holding is immaculate, and with an in-line seatpost there’s plenty of weight on the front tyre to keep it biting with consistent tenacity too. We pushed it harder and harder through turns, rutted descents or drifted berms without finding a limit to its composure.
The elaborately shaped seatstays suck a lot of sting from the back end too. Even when running smaller rear tyres it didn’t skip or punish vertebrae on rocky trails (although there is noticeably more chatter coming through stiffer cranks).
Where the Whyte really comes into its own though, is when the power goes down hard. The BB30 crank may be a right pain to fit, but the pain it can inflict on chasing riders is ample payback.
Pedal to rear wheel solidity is outstanding and the 19 charges climbs and leaps up crux sections like a bike possessed. Fitting a layback post will increase rider room from close combat compact to climber friendly stretch if you need it.
Frame: Quality chassis, but multi-bolt dropouts won't appeal to all and cable routing is awkward
The 1,620g (3.5lb) frameset is made by Chattanooga, Tennessee residents Litespeed. The machined head tube seams neatly into the slightly squared bi-oval down tube, which leads down to the oversized pipe of the BB30 bottom bracket shell. Whyte’s monster lever-cam closure ‘Get A Grip’ seatpost system tops out the seat tube and seals the front facing slot in the process.
It’s the back end where really interesting things happen – the bridgeless seatstays are elaborately swerved in and out through an accentuated hourglass profile. The chunky chainstays get an A-frame bridge, but there’s still ample tyre and heel clearance.
The machined titanium dropout pieces are cut away to carry Whyte’s tri-bolted adjustable dropout system, allowing for easy chain tensioning for singlespeed use or some fine tuning of the wheelbase, ride height and steering angles – a big versatility bonus. We’ve had no creaks or slippage problems, and the frame will be Maxle Lite rear axle compatible when new dropouts become available.
The additional bolts put off some of our testers straight away. The staggered under top tube control routing is awkward, and only having a single hose guide on the rear seatstay leaves the pipe flapping. While the subtle etched logos look high class, a Ti rather than alloy head badge would seem more appropriate for a near-£2,000 frame.
Equipment: Pick your own, but you'll need to weigh up pros and cons of BB30
The component-driven decision with the Whyte is whether to exploit the potential of the BB30 bottom bracket shell. Right now only FSA make BB30 cranks, and they’re as rare as chicken’s teeth in the UK.
While it’s been fine for three months, we have no real gauge of long-term lifespan. They are outstandingly stiff in use though, and if you’re not totally convinced, you can swap the shell for a conventional crank anyway.
In a similarly versatile vein, while the Whyte is primarily designed for 120mm (4.72in) forks, we ran it with a well sagged travel-adjustable 140mm (5.5in) fork without it struggling to keep the extra leverage under control.