Whyte T-120 review£1,999.00

Rider responsive suspension set-up

BikeRadar score4/5

Whyte’s T120 has had a few structural tweaks and a component overhaul to make it lighter, but its lairy ride character is still intact.

Ride & handling: Surefooted and super confident from the off

Whyte were one of the first companies to go slack and low with their short-travel bikes. The T120 is one of the slacker bikes we've ridden recently, but with the Quad-Link suspension settling easily into its travel, it feels even longer and lower on the trail. The same easy sag and backwards axle path early in the stroke also mean a super smooth action over small stuff. This is enhanced by the supple-feeling WTB tyres, especially if you turn them tubeless. Easy rear-end compression also translates to easy front-end lift, so while the wheel is a long way out in front, the T120 is a breeze to manual and wheelie drop.

The short stem and wide bar put lots of leverage in your hands, while the 15mm Maxle fork and tyre connect to the trail really well. Tubeless-ready WTB Bronson tyres are a great growling, grip-grabbing match for the Whyte’s wild ride. The rotational twist and easy sag of the rear end make ripping the back end sideways through every possible corner a default ‘dirty grin’ setting on every ride too. The way the bike pitches back and forth as you shift body weight completes an incredibly dynamic and communicative ride if that’s what you’re after.

You’re really not going to take to it if you like a more neutral bike character though. The Monarch shock certainly curbs some of the pedalling bob, but it can still bounce if you don’t pedal smoothly or can’t be arsed to ferret around under the big swingarm for the lockout lever. While it gives you lots of traction information, the direct connection between the rear wheel and pedal also means that when the T-120 does spit traction on loose or slippery surfaces, it’s a very sudden, dramatic loss of grip. You’ll have to hit stuff really hard to ramp the suspension to full travel too, although control is still OK when you do.

It’s good and stiff inline, but the rotational twist of the swingarm means you have to wait for it to straighten out from a corner before putting down the power, otherwise it’ll just corkscrew you off-line. Slack angles and easy front wheel lift mean it can misbehave on steeper technical climbs until you adjust to it too. When it comes to blowing up berms and waving your front wheel at everything, we still think it’s well worth working with rather than fighting against.

Frame: Impressive feature list

The tapered head tube mainframe has lost weight thanks to a change to magnesium-enriched M6 alloy. The big single-piece carbon swingarm projecting forward over the twin linkages – with a RockShox Monarch shock sandwiched diagonally between them – stays the same though. Massive mudroom, lifetime warrantied bearings, 142x12mm rear axle and dropper post cable clips complete the impressive feature list.

Equipment: Some welcome new touches

Little has changed in componentry terms, but a longer-lasting steel inner ring on the SRAM 2x10 chainset, a 710mm bar and a neat Fi’zi:k copy seatpost are very welcome. The TCS tyres and rims come with all the bits you need to turn them tubeless too.

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: 45
  • 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 than 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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