Whyte's 802 frame is based closely on the custom-butted alloy frame of the rest of the unisex 800 family. It’s slightly shorter in reach and the top tube’s been dropped to give it more clearance if you have to hop off suddenly. Crucially though the relaxed steering angle is straight from Whyte’s trail taming recipe.
While the bars on our small sized sample were a female shoulder-friendly 690mm, the short 60mm stem still ensures a keen, quick reacting interest in hitting every line you want and tickling maximum traction out of every situation.
Looking at the bike at a standstill, its barely treaded Maxxis Ikon boots might suggest that slipping and sliding is the order of the day. But the manufacturer's cunning compound means they stay remarkably well hooked up – as long as it’s dry.
A well-balanced setup and Maxxis' surprisingly grippy Ikons mean a catastrophic front-end slide is unlikely
Even with the shortened front end, the tight back end keeps the whole bike balanced so any slides start at the rear where you can surf them controllably rather than losing control (and hope) as the front end shunts out of a corner. Low weight and super rapid rolling speed makes them real ego boosters too, and the whole bike is light enough to literally lift your spirits on steep climbs or competitive rides.
The Shimano transmission never struggles to keep pace with gear change needs as the Whyte accelerates, and the products of the Japanese company are renowned for their durability. Whyte has also added as much weatherproofing as possible to the 802. There are bolted mounts under the down tube for a Crud Catcher to keep your face clean and your eyes open. The seatpost is secured with a neat wedge design that stops water that’s sprayed up from the rear wheel seeping down into the frame over time.
The 802's fork can be accurately tuned to any rider weight
Whyte ticks all the obvious boxes: smaller diameter grips, shorter cranks and a well-shaped woman’s saddle contact point boxes for a female-friendly bike, but what really makes a difference on the 802 is the fork. By using an air, rather than metal or rubber bumper, spring the fork can be accurately tuned to any rider weight. Cue consistent control and comfort in the rough and full travel when you need it in emergencies.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.