Over the next couple of weeks we'll be getting the chance to ride 2012 bikes from Marin and Whyte. We got a sneak preview yesterday courtesy of UK distributors ATB Sales and came away suitably impressed.
Whyte's new mountain bikes look more impressive than ever. The flagship all-black-carbon 146X Trail (that's 146mm of rear suspension travel, and you get another 4mm up front on the fork) will cost you £4,999, and Whyte have made a brave move in packaging it with a 1x10 drivetrain with an E*thirteen chain guide.
Claimed weight is 10.5kg (23.3lb), including a RockShox Reverb dropper seatpost and Maxxis Ardent 2.25in tyres. The rest of the parts specification is top-end, no-expense-spared stuff, including Easton's carbon-rimmed Haven wheels.
The Whyte 146S comes with Easton kit and SRAM X0/X9 gearing for £2,999
There's a 146 Works version too – £3,999 with a SRAM XX drivetrain – or there's a slightly more down-to-earth 146S. Both offer the same carbon monocoque frame as the 146X. The S version will cost you £2,999 with a SRAM X0/X9 drivetrain mix, Easton finishing parts and wheels. Claimed weight is 11.8kg.
New for 2012 are two carbon-framed hardtail big-wheelers, at £1,999 and £2,599, plus the aluminium-framed 829, at £1,899 with a Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain mix. The most distinctive aspect of Whyte's 29ers is the short (but adjustable) chainstay length and fairly relaxed (70°) head angle. First impressions are that this makes for a ride feel that's remarkably stable at the same time as being very nimble on singletrack.
Whyte are offering a quiver of 29ers for 2012, and a full-suspension model is in the pipeline. This is the alloy 829
We couldn't help but notice a new 'entry-level' suspension platform in Marin's range. It's a new version of the long established East Peak, offering 120mm of travel and a Fox Float rear shock for a very reasonable £1,299. Rather than using Marin and Whyte's QUAD Link suspension setup, it uses a rocker link back end. We also took a ride on a prototype 100mm-travel full-suspension bike.
Marin's new East Peak is just £1,299 thanks to use of a rocker link suspension design that's cheaper to manufacture than their usual QUAD Link setup