Whyte E-120 XT - First ride £2,999.00

Carbon fibre ripper

BikeRadar score3/5

Whyte bikes are designed in the UK by Ian Alexander and a great team of dedicated riders. The E-120 is their carbon fibre 120mm-travel (4.7in) trail bike, which has been designed to hammer trails in any weather.

Ride & handling: Agile feel and super-active suspension, marred by odd sizing

One thing that stands out about the E-120 is how tall it looks. It’s not high off the deck – a healthy 13.5in bottom bracket height keeps the bike nicely planted – but the tall head tube forces a fairly high riding position.

We’d like to see this size (L) with a lower head tube and the option of an XL frame size with this head tube, because the current large is a compromise between the two.

The wheelbase is also fairly stout at 43in, although with the slight flex in the rear end, the E-120 always finds its way through rough sections.

The only time we noticed the short wheelbase was on fast, rougher trails, where the bike became a little skippy.

The Quad-Link suspension is super-active and very efficient. We didn’t even bother touching the two-position ProPedal platform damping lever, and loved the ground-hugging ride.

The 69.3-degree head angle was also very apt for the bike – nice, quick steering kept the E-120 feeling agile without it getting too skippy.

The whyte e120 xt provides a ground-hugging ride that is perfect for uk conditions: the whyte e120 xt provides a ground-hugging ride that is perfect for uk conditions

Frame & equipment:Full-carbon chassis decked out with quality kit selection

The E-120 uses the same Quad-Link suspension system that can be found on bikes from big brother brand Marin, and shares many other similarities with their popular Mount Vision frame.

The front triangle is built using Whyte’s ‘multi-monocoque’ construction technique and is joined to the carbon rear end by the Quad-Link system, which features super-light carbon fibre links. These are covered with bearing caps that can be filled with grease to keep the crap out.

Our size large test frame had a long – 170mm – head tube, which is mated to a 23in top tube and a 20.5in seat tube. The neat seat clamp, known as ‘Getta Grip’, eliminates the traditional slot in the frame by pressing a pad through a window in the frame, located under the clamp itself.

The effect of this is lower clamping pressure, which is better for carbon posts – no crap in your frame come winter and it’s fully approved by Easton for use with all their posts.

Out back there’s huge mud clearance and Whyte’s own Big Grippa dropouts, which offer similar stiffness to bolt-through designs in a quick-release format – although we’d rather have a simpler Maxle system.

There are three models in the E-120 range. We tested the middle-specced E-120 XT, which comes adorned with a full Shimano XT drivetrain, XT tubeless-compatible wheels and Avid Elixir CR brakes.

An Easton EA50 90mm stem and Easton Monkeylite XC carbon bar complete the controls, and a Thomson Masterpiece seatpost and Fizik Gobi saddle kept all testers comfy.

Bigger gripper dropouts offer plenty of stiffness: bigger gripper dropouts offer plenty of stiffness

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