Whyte’s UK designers have never been afraid to go out on a design or dynamic geometry limb to push the limits of what their bikes are comfortable doing, and the T-130 S is no exception.
The G-150 enduro bike rocked borderline downhill race angles years before they became fashionable and the 900 family trail hardtails are nothing short of fantastic, slack angled, singletrack swaggering freaks.
Frame and equipment: impressive overall spec
The 6061 T6 aluminium frame is fitted with a 130mm travel RockShox Revelation RL up front, and a Monarch DebonAir RT3 shock out back. Typically for Whyte there is tons of mudroom despite the compact back end and the linkage bearings are lifetime warrantied.
Overall spec is really impressive for the price – Avid DB5 brakes handle stopping duties, while a SRAM X5/X9 transmission takes care of going. The finishing kit is mostly from Whyte's own stockpile. The sealed Intergrip clamp design for the Reverb Stealth internal routed dropper post is particularly neat.
The tubeless-ready WTB tyres and rims were top performers. The Beeline on the rear is fast-rolling and the Trail Boss front tyre does as its name suggests – together they make a secure but speedy, knobbly front, semi-slick rear combo.
Ride and handling: feels natural from the off
The T-130 S is a well-balanced bike that feels friendly straight away. The broad bars and short stem connect to a fork that’s slack enough for easy stability at speed but doesn’t wander drunkenly on slow speed climbs.
A curved seat tube tucks the back wheel in tighter than some hardtails and once the seat is at pedalling height the back slope of the upper section compensates for what looks like a relatively short top tube on paper.
Weight this far back makes it a natural hop and pop machine that loves lifting its front wheel to clear trouble completely or just skim over it rather than slam into it. The extra volume Monarch DebonAir shock gives three open, pedal, lock options through the toggle switch.
The shorter stroke is also easier to find a sweet spot with than the longer travel G-150 bikes, so you’ll be riding rather than fettling sooner. It’s a totally neutral suspension character that leaves you free to concentrate on where you’re putting your wheels or what happens next rather than worrying about pedalling or braking effect.
The SRAM 2 x 10 gearing was a bonus when trying to winch as far up Helvellyn as possible and it’ll suit spin rather than stomp fans but it does come at a cost. For a start it adds weight to a bike that’s already on the lardy side for a trail all-rounder and not any lighter than Whyte’s full-on G-150 S Enduro racing radical. The bottom bracket and chainstay area is also 20 percent less stiff than the wider pivot setup and symmetrical chainstays of Whyte’s single ring specific SCR frames.
Unfortunately that softness is noticeable through every turn or torquey pedal stomp, with the T-130 feeling consistently duller and less dynamic than the Mega TR when we started pushing hard or just pushing our luck.
As much as the geometry is fine we can’t help wishing that Whyte had aligned the character more with its superb trail hardtails to create a truly great bike rather than just a good one.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.