Whyte T-129 S review£1,999.00

Trail Bike of the Year 2013

BikeRadar score5/5Find prices on Bicycle Blue Book

We first met the all-new 120mm 29er at a washed-out Whyte 2013 press launch in Cannock Chase, the Midlands. If we’re honest it was eclipsed on the tighter, stop/start trails by the 100mm travel M-109 S. But as soon as we hit the more testing trails of Wales it was obvious that this was the bike the other 24 in the What Mountain Bike Trail Bike of the Year lineup had to beat.

Trail bike of the year 2013 – whyte t-129 s

Video: Whyte T-129 S 

The Monarch shock and Reba fork of the 129 felt a lot stickier and more reluctant than the plush Fox dampers of the 109 on their first day, but after a couple of months of testing the seals had bedded in and there was no sign of hesitation from the RockShox pairing as we peeled off the fireroad at Coed-y-Brenin and hit the Beast trail proper. 

We weren’t paying much attention to the suspension at all, because the handling balance had us hypnotised. The 68-degree head angle pushes the big Maxxis Ardent tyre a fair way out front, but the balance in your hands via the 80mm stem and 710mm bars is spot on. 

Whether we were hooking tyre-carved berms on cheeky trails in steep, wet woods or clawing our way round switchbacks and loose cobbled corners at stalling speed, it never strayed wide or flopped over – just dropped perfectly into place. 

The short back end enabled by the switch to a new four-bar-style linkage means the front wheel pops and pivots like a 26er when you need it to. Even testers who hadn’t ridden a 29er before felt instantly at home on technical trails, with no need to remap their riding style or line choices. 

Okay, that’s not strictly true… We did need to adjust to significantly faster speeds every time we jumped from almost any of the other test bikes and onto the Whyte. With the spot-on geometry giving no reason to brake, Maxxis tyres gripping extremely well (despite very shallow fast-rolling tread) and the Reverb dropper post allowing unrestricted weight shifts and pedalling support, the 129 simply flew in every situation.

Whyte t-129 s :
Whyte t-129 s :

Easy roller

The low mass, tubeless-ready wheels light up impressively well under power and, once rolling, the speed sustain of the bigger diameter is excellent, particularly on the rough, rock-studded trails that made up a lot of our riding. 

We never got tired of hustling the Whyte up hill for another shot – or even just for the hell of it – even after four long days of riding. 

The suspension remained trouble-free throughout testing. It’s not as plush or floated as the best Fox dampers on certain other bikes here, but it never undermined the control of the stiff through-axle rear end or noticeably hung up or bounced around, however hard we tried, and however hard we hammered the T-129 S along the trail. 

And as well-balanced as the spec is, the Whyte’s low cost also means easy access to its excellent upgrade potential.

This bike was tested as part of magazine’s What Mountain Bike 2013 Trail Bike of the Year feature – read the full results in issue 147, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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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