The terrible weather at Whyte’s recent press camp at Cannock Chase, the Midlands, seemed fitting for the UK brand’s 2013 launch. While their signature lifetime warrantied bearings and big tyre clearances are still very much in evidence on the new mountain bikes, there was plenty of evolution on display too.
M-109 and M-109 S 29er marathon/XC full-sussers
The big news is a completely new line of 29in-wheeled full-suspension bikes.
Whyte started as an epic cross-country/marathon brand but had added nothing new to the arsenal of their ultra-enduro racer Steve Heading’s for years. Apparently, he took to the prototypes of the 2013 M-109 S bike straight away though, logging more than 1,500 off-road miles on it in his first test month. We’re not surprised – this all-new chassis is a seriously quick but playfully agile all-rounder.
The M-109 S marathon racer looks fast standing still
Whyte are famed for their responsive long front/short rear geometry, and designer Ian Alexander has worked hard to transfer those proportions and characteristics to the big-wheeled format.
The only way to minimise chainstay length was to drop the twin linkage Quad II design in favour of an FSR-style four bar ‘Quad 4’ layout. It still uses Whyte’s well-proven, lifetime warrantied bearings though, and the lack of a behind-the-seat-tube brace means masses of mud room.
There’s more triangulation of the rear end, for stiffness at the axle, and the lines are certainly extremely clean if not as distinctive as before. Post-mount rear brakes, dropper post readiness and BB30 press-fit bottom brackets keep things bang up to date.
Whyte have deliberately chosen hydroformed, triple-butted 6061 alloy for the frame, rather than carbon, as they felt the money saved on the chassis would be better invested in top quality wheels.
The own-brand, 21mm, carbon rimmed XC-209 C wheels are very impressive too – only 100g heavier than SRAM’s ultra-light Rise 60 hoops and comparable in terms of stiffness. They’ll be available aftermarket too, at a very reasonable £1,100 in either QR or 142x12mm rear. This should make upgrading the basic spec M-109 easy.
A direct mainframe to chainstay pivot lets the back wheel come in super-close
In terms of individual models, the M-109 gets a Fox Evolution fork and shock with Shimano SLX transmission and Deore brakes, plus Whyte’s own wheelset for a 13kg claimed weight at £1,999.99.
The M-109 S gets a Fox Performance shock and fork and a predominantly Shimano XT spec, as well as Whyte’s new carbon 29er wheels as standard. Whyte’s wise prioritising of the rolling stock also extends to the excellent Maxxis Ikon 2.2in tyres on both models.
T-129 and T-129 S 29er trail suspension
The same basic chassis is the foundation for the two new T-129 bikes – the basic T-129 and T-129 S. The only differences are a slacker, 68-degree head angle (rather than 69.5 degrees) and 120mm of rear wheel travel.
The T-129 S brings much of the radical Whyte 146 trail DNA to the 29er market
These bikes start at £1,749.99 for the RockShox Reba RLT and Monarch RL damped and SRAM 2x10 X9/X7 driven T-129. WTB’s new tubeless-ready i19 TCS rims are teamed with WTB Wolverine and Nano tyres on 15mm front and 142x12mm rear axled hubs.
The T-129 S runs the same RockShox suspension and wheels, but more X9 uprated Elixir brakes, Maxxis Ardent and Ikon tyres and a RockShox Reverb dropper post. That makes it a definite bargain at £1,999.99.
Whyte 146 aggro trail bikes
The arrival of the 29er bikes sees the demise of the T-120 trail bike, but the longer-travel 146 lives on in three evolved models – the 146 S, 146 Works and 146 X1.
The 146 X1 is the state-of-the-art aggro trail bike in Whyte’s new range
A mid-frame cross brace is claimed to add 11 percent to the previously flexy chassis, for a negligible weight gain.
All models get a 150mm version of Fox’s new 34 forks up front, to amplify the accuracy gains that add roughly 250g and £250 to each price point. This means the SRAM X9 146 S is now £3,249.99. The SRAM X0, Stealth Reverb 146 Works is £4,249.99, and the new 146 X1 is £5,249.99. Not cheap, but that gets you the cutting-edge SRAM XX1 single-ring 11-speed enduro groupset, SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheels and a Factory series Fox 34 fork and CTD shock – it’s still a comparative bargain.
905 and 901 26in trail hardtails
While the flagships remain aspirational in terms of technology, spec and performance, the rest of the Whyte range is dropping to more affordable levels.
This is most obvious with the 26in hardtail segment, where the Whyte 19 and Ti have been replaced by an adjustable dropout version of the 905 at £1,699.99. The deservedly popular 901 continues at £1,199.99.
929 29er trail hardtail
Significantly, the trail hardtail range is now headed up by the 29er 929, a rework of the 829 that Whyte acknowledged was a result of our review conclusions. The relatively slack geometry is similar, with 0.6 degrees of adjustment from the swinging rear dropouts but the fork travel increased to 120mm. Switching to a Shimano XT/e*thirteen crank based 1x10 transmission and Hope/WTB wheels has lopped a large amount of weight out of the package too, making this an attractive alternative for aggro trail riders.
The big front tyre and fork suggest the 929 is likely to be a technical singletrack beast
729, 629, 529 29er XC hardtails
The same weight-saving focus has applied to a trio of 100mm travel XC bikes. If Whyte’s planned production weights are to believed then the £1,499.99 729, £999.99 629 and £799.99 529 should be popular with riders wanting maximum speed and control.
Crud Catcher mounts and continuous cable routing underline the all-weather suitability
805, 802, 801 26in XC hardtails
Meanwhile, the 26in XC hardtail range has already been a good seller for Whyte in 2012. A new, lighter frame for the £699.99-£899.99, 805-801 range should reinforce that for 2013.
Carbon XC 29er hardtails
The speedy but confidently slack 29-C 29er carbon frame is unchanged for 2013. As with the 929, though, there’s now a small frame size option. The top Torq Team 29er in the £2,199.99-£3,249.99 range includes Whyte’s carbon wheels, while 2.2in Ikon tyres flatter speed and surefootedness.
FSA carbon SL-K bars keep the position low but speed high on the Team
Cyclo-cross and commuting
The distinctively relaxed-geometry CX bike and R7 urban ranges continue for 2013, too.
Unfortunately, the torrential rain and flooded trails of the Cannock launch made definitive first ride conclusions too dilute to draw on. But look forward to a steady flow of reviews on BikeRadar as soon as production samples are available. The bikes aren’t currently available in the US.