Whyte Dorset £999

Classy commuter built for bad weather

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Whyte has a great reputation for its no-nonsense approach to mountain bikes, and for the last three years it’s been in the drop bar business too.

  • Highs: Cartridge bearing hubs and other details are tailored for commuting in mixed weather; excellent handling
  • Lows:  The rear brake on our model was somewhat stiff, and the bar might be wider than roadies want
  • Buy If: You want a fast commuter or all-seasons bike with UK-friendly features

The Dorset shares its hydroformed alloy frame with the rest of Whyte’s RD-7 commuter range, sporting a gracefully tapering top tube, fat down tube, internal cabling and a slim 27.2mm seatpost. The seatstays bulge out to give ’cross clearances and you can see daylight through the large cutouts in the industrial looking dropouts, which are threaded for two sets of rack/mudguard bolts. A matching carbon-legged fork has a 1 1/8-1 1/2 in tapered aluminium steerer and mudguard eyelets.

The Dorset's geometry is very much of the road…

Although the front end is higher than that of a race bike, courtesy of the ’cross fork, its geometry is very much of the road, as are the slick 28mm Maxxis tyres. The only striking deviation from this is the wide and flared bar; it offers good low-speed handling and increases confidence on rough ground, but takes away slightly from an otherwise speedy persona.

Regardless, the Dorset is no slouch and it delights on fast, winding roads. Its skinny tyres don't offer much cushioning, yet the frame does a creditable job of absorbing bumps. We’d want something with more width and tread for prolonged off-road jaunts, but canal paths or dry, packed dirt are perfectly manageable with the stock rubber and it leaves lots of room for full mudguards, a commuting essential.

The Dorset comes with Shimano Tiagra 10-speed components, an FSA Omega 50/34 chainset and wide 11-30 cassette. The Promax brakes' performance is about par for mechanical calipers in this bracket: the rear brake feels a little stiff, a downside of the weather-resistant full-length outer, but the power is there when you need it.

Security skewers come as standard – don’t forget the key in case you puncture!

Where the Whyte impresses most is in the details. The Dorset, fairly unusually, features cartridge bearing hubs – a boon to the everyday rider who doesn’t adhere strictly to a regular maintenance schedule – and they’re built into sensible 28/32-spoke wheels with brass nipples that won’t corrode and fail in damp climates. It also comes stock with security skewers instead of quick releases, which ease the terror of locking the bike outside – although woe betide anyone who forgets the key and then punctures out in the sticks.

The attention to detail is evident in the bike’s aesthetics too, with green highlights standing out from the sombre, classy frameset. There’s even a green Union Jack nestled in the seat clamp, which might or might not be some sort of treason…

The Dorset is a fine looking machine that’s perfectly suited to high speed commuting or winter training. It’s intelligently specced and the frameset is good enough to warrant upgrades.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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