Our sister title What Mountain Bike magazine has crowned Whyte's T-130 RS its new Trail Bike of the Year for 2016, calling it a "a new benchmark for flat-out character and full-gas speed in an easy-pedalling mid-travel package".
The team put 25 of the finest machines priced £2,500 to £3,200 through their paces after asking manufacturers to simply send us what they consider their best trail bike – meaning that contenders weren't constrained by wheel size or suspension travel.
Slacker and longer geometry makes for a monstrously capable machine
While our testers have loved the extended top tube length and low/slack geometry of Whyte’s 900 series’ hardtails and its T-129 and G-150 full-suspension bikes, its 2015 T-130 bikes remained relatively short and – if we’re honest – frustratingly conventional. However, Whyte promised something significantly different when it opened the doors on its demo van for a preview last year.
The 2016 T-130 is a whole different beast, with no trace of conventional geometry compromise. The long 631mm top tube that gives it high-speed-confidence contrasts with the ultra-short, single-ring-specific, Boost-148mm-hubbed 420mm chainstays at the rear end.
Whyte has tuned the Monarch DebonAir damper-controlled suspension to feel tight and taut once you push past the sensitive traction-grabbing sag zone. Add a super-low 322mm bottom bracket, and a bit of frame- and wheel-flex to glue down traction and our testers were soon carving corners at phenomenal speed.
It powers hard out of corners or up climbs even with just a ballpark pressure setup too, with only the limited ground clearance occasionally causing the WMB team issues.
The result is a bike that loves to launch or manual off every lip, drift every corner and generally make maximum mischief from every inch of the trail. But it also seems to actively generate speed, and is well capable of leaving other bikes – including longer travel ones – like they’re stood still.
The Pike fork makes a massive difference over similar shaped Sektor forked bikes, and the Shimano XT transmission won't skip a beat. Throughout a drawn-out testing process this ride took all our testers on a crazy dance along the ragged edge of control but always bought them back grinning and begging for another lap.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.