Whyte M-109 S

Fast, fun marathon bike

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Whyte have transferred their thirst for laugh-inducing, playride geometry onto their new 29er lineup, so even their 100mm mile-eater is a blast on techy descents. 

Ride & handling: Inspiringly agile and naturally fast

The overall weight’s high for a race bike, but the lightweight wheels offset a lot of mass during acceleration and direction change. There’s no flex when you stamp the power down, so while it can be left behind on long climbs it holds its own when gaining speed or altitude. Even the low-slung medium gets a generous top tube for plenty of breathing space even with the short stem. 

The Fox shock is perfectly tuned for the new Whyte suspension, with the Trail setting screening out chatter and rubble far better than its efficiently firm pedalling feel suggests it will. That lets you stay on the power hard whatever’s happening under the wheel, and there’s none of the jack up or wheelspin of previous Whyte designs if you wind up the wattage. 

Having the middle setting so sorted means you can use the Climb and Descend settings as intended, and when the Whyte points down and the shock flicks to fully active it revealed its true talents. 

The combination of smooth suspension, an ultra-short back end and long, relatively slack front give it a fantastically agile and fun feel. With the back end tucked in tight, the front lifts easily for drops or hauling round rising hairpins – and you can really ride it dynamically on lipped, hipped, pumping and jumping trails. 

The carbon wheels are impressively tight, boosting the accuracy of the solid frame for a surefooted feel that begs you to abandon the brakes and let it rip at every opportunity. The excellent balance and tight tracking lets you pick fights with roots or off-camber sections in a most un-29er like way, and you can drift the tyres at will. 

Frame & equipment: Stiff frame with excellent suspension

Whyte have made a decision to create a fun bike rather than just a fast one, and while it’s not a light frame it’s trail tough. The hydroformed alloy tubes include a big, sloped top tube and chunky stays ending in deep U-beam dropouts and a 142x12mm axle. The chainstays are super short despite decent tyre space, the bearings are lifetime warrantied and it’s dropper post-ready. 

The Fox CTD shock and fork prove why they’re the benchmark dampers in the rough, and the single-finger XT brakes keep a firm grasp on your speed. It’s the same story with the light but accurate, clutch mech-stabilised shift of the XT transmission. 

The Whyte finishing kit is decent stuff, with a well-swept flat bar keeping hands low over the inevitably tall front end. Remarkably, Whyte have managed to include their own carbon-rimmed wheels in the £3,000 price too, and they’re shod with our favourite fast-rolling Maxxis Ikon tyres.

Whyte’s marathon bike is relatively heavy, but it’s light where it matters. Most importantly it’s more controlled, capable and flat-out fun than much heavier, longer travel bikes. And to top it off, the excellently judged kit list makes it an absolute bargain. 

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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