Whyte 905£1,467.00

Technical speedster

BikeRadar score4.5/5

The evolved 905 may be Whyte’s entry-level bike, but its singletrack performance proves it’s as good as any other top thoroughbred. It offers a superb blend of race speed and technical confidence.

Ride & handling: New fork tranforms the 905 into a race- and riot-ready rig

Our major criticism of last year’s Whyte was the unsuitably low-grade fork, but the RockShox Reba on the '09 model has resolved that problem. It adds almost £100 to the price but transforms the overall ride. 

The stiffer fork and front end give the 905 accurate tracking, allowing it to slice into turns or across ruts and small rocks with astonishing precision. In fact, it turns so quickly and powerfully that it takes a while to stop compensating for the expected fork twist and understeer.

The geometry has been honed to blend surefootedness with responsive singletrack agility. Wherever we took it, at whatever speed, the 905 felt poised and primed for action. 

At the hint of any slip or slide, the broad bars and short stem grab control back immediately and instinctively. The 120mm of fork travel is not so long that it upsets geometry badly under braking either, and the Whyte never felt short of control on rocky descents.

Subtle tweaks to the 905’s geometry this year  have created a  compelling ride: subtle tweaks to the 905’s geometry this year  have created a  compelling ride

The 905’s shaped stays, long seatpost, chunky, low pressure-compatible rubber and flexible Fizik saddle all help to make this a comfortable bike, and one we’d be happy taking on long, hard-baked summer rides without getting a battered butt and back.

This doesn’t mean a diluted character under power though. Combine the stiff front and chainstays, responsive wheels and light overall weight, and you’ve got a real dragster in acceleration terms.

It holds high gears and stomps them through stall points with muscular authority too. That compliance and those chunky tyres also mean it finds purchase and propulsion well after most other bikes have spun out. 

Accurate handling and easy lift allow excellent line choice and pinpoint placement on technical climbs. Just switching to a set of lighter, faster tyres would turn this into a real race contender come the summer months.

We love the feel of the thru-axle reba: we love the feel of the thru-axle reba

Frame: Subtle tweaks to geometry have created a compelling ride

The 905 was conceived as the more affordable version of Whyte’s 19 hardtail. Apart from the latter’s lighter, finer boned AN6 tubing and its adjustable rear dropouts, it’s hard to notice significant differences on the trail.

The 905 shares all the significant tweaks the 19 Trail has had this year. By moving to an integrated head tube, Whyte have dropped the front end for a more aggressive feel. They have also blended the hydroformed top and down tubes into the back of the head tube along a shared seam for a stiffer front end.

Heavily hydroformed chainstays form a flattened leaf spring effect in the centre without softening power transfer. While not adjustable or replaceable, the CNC-machined dropouts are still super-neat boutique pieces.

The shaped stays leave masses of mud room too, while Whyte’s cunning wedge-and-cam seatpost quick-release keeps the seat tube sealed from rear wheel spray. The wide lever blade is secure and comfortable to use too. Most importantly, new shorter fork-specific geometry is identical to the 19 too.

Boutique drop-outs lack the 19’s adjustability: boutique drop-outs lack the 19’s adjustability

Equipment: Tough yet light wheelset, bling-looking brakes and classic Easton kit

Despite being 10mm shorter on travel, the 120mm Reba SL fork is a better performer than the RockShox Recon found on last year's 905. The Powerbulged lower leg with screw-through Maxle Lite 20mm axle creates a stiff but light chassis. We didn’t miss the external Floodgate low-speed compression damping adjustment found on the Race version.

The Shimano SLX shifters may be less clean and clicky in feel than XT, but the Shadow rear mech never missed a beat. The durable finish on the semi-polished SLX crank arms and hybrid steel/composite middle chainring means a long-wearing and good looking performance underfoot too.

Panaracer’s ASB sidewall-protected Cinder tyres help foil pinch flats and add confident speed through rough, rocky sections. While smooth surface speed suffers, they grip with outstanding tenacity in treacherous conditions. Top quality Mavic rims build a great tough yet light wheelset and the Hope freehub is a bonus at this price.

Carbon levers give the powerful Hayes Stroker brakes a bling look too, even if weight loss is negligible. Easton MonkeyBars and Fizik XM saddles are our favourite contact points, and Easton also provide the stem and seatpost. Semi-locked grips keep control firmly in your hands.

There’s no apeing easton’s classic monkey bar: there’s no apeing easton’s classic monkey bar

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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