Whyte M109C Team review

Efficient doesn’t have to be dull

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
£3,999.00 RRP

Our review

A serious singletrack fun machine with map-crossing efficiency and durability at a bargain price
Skip to view product specifications

When Whyte revealed the carbon M109C at its 2014 launch, few were surprised. The M109 and M109S frames are great shapes, excellent prices and ride really well, but their use of alloy makes them seem lardy against the carbon competition.

Advertisement

The new carbon mainframe of the M109C saves a serious 800g of mass over the alloy bikes, and the £1,000 price increase includes Whyte going up a whole level of Shimano, Fox and FSA finishing kit too.

Frame and equipment: shop bike at an online price

While the best part of £4,000 (AU$7,500) can’t be called cheap, the the new M109C Team is outstanding value. You can get a similar level of component quality by buying through an online seller, but with a Whyte you still get all the setup, servicing and other customer benefits of a proper bike shop. Not that you’re likely to need help in a hurry, because the Whyte is designed to be impressively UK-proof.

The mix of carbon front end and alloy rear brings the M109C in close to 25lb
The mix of carbon front end and alloy rear brings the m109c in close to 25lb :
Russell Burton / Future Publishing

The suspension bearings are lifetime warrantied (so they’ll be replaced free if they do wear out) and there’s tons of mudroom around the tyres. Staying with the alloy rear end of the 109 and 109S bikes offers extra accident durability too – most of the carbon fractures we see are back-end breakages. According to Whyte, the weight loss that could be achieved with a carbon rear end was nowhere near as cost effective as the front either.

The Shimano XTR gears and XT chain are the longest-lasting conventional transmission components you could hope for, and while triple chainrings add weight they spread wear over more gears. We’ve had no longevity issues with long-term sets of the Whyte-branded wheels we’ve been using all year in all weathers.

1392915942402-1uc6vlv2pwvux-1000-100-e85c280
xxxxx:

The only other obvious cost-cutting exercise besides that metal rear is that Whyte only offers this carbon-fronted frame in medium and large sizes – the all-alloy M109 and M109S bikes come in small and XL options too. It’s worth noting that while the dimensions are a direct copy of the proven alloy frames, the carbon somehow feels smaller in practice. As you can demo one via your local Whyte dealer, that’s an easy issue to solve.

RIde and handling: way more than a marathon steed

As soon as you get the M109C onto the trails it’s obvious that its dimensions and weight distribution play a big part in its character. Specifically, they’re the main aspect that makes Whyte’s ‘marathon bike’ tag something of an undersell.

As the name suggests, a lot of marathon bikes are designed for the pursuit of speed, and nothing else – and for gear churning, leg burning, face gurning uphill fire road speed at that. That generally leaves bikes like these as head-down, arse-up suffer-fest machines that prioritise lifting your heart rate over lifting the front wheel.

In contrast, the Whyte’s obviously light-feeling and light-steering front end is a real treat for those who like to play with the trail, not just plough along it. Even with flat bars, the front pops up without hesitation for drops, ditches… or just manualling through sections for the hell of it.

Whyte’s designed the M109C Team to tackle long but high-speed rides
Whyte’s designed the m109c team to tackle long but high-speed rides:
Russell Burton / Future Publishing

The relaxed (for a racer) 69.5-degree steering angle means the front wheel holds sketchy lines and steep or rough control much better than most in its category. The short stem and hint of self-straightening slackness, plus the superlative levels of control from the single-digit XTR brakes, make it much easier to snatch that control back if you do lose it.

Switching to a Maxxis Beaver or similar tyre up front for winter is definitely wise, but it’s a tribute to how well sorted the Whyte is that you can get away with a surprising amount on the practically bald Ikon rubber.

The Ikon tyre is adequate, but we'd recommend a change to a Maxxis Beaver or similar for winter riding
xxxxx:
Russell Burton / Future Publishing

As you might expect from the low slung and lightweight mainframe, there’s a noticeable amount of twist in the front end in high-grip, hard-turning situations. The Whyte carbon rims and supple Fox fork mean it rarely becomes unmanageable or breaks free completely, and it’s no more twangy than most of its weight and purpose peers.

The low bottom bracket and the tendency for the short rear end to slide out before the front end further encourages a real seat-of-the-pants attitude to riding – again, it’s offering a lot more than much of the competition. Switch the shock to ‘descend’ mode and the rear takes surprisingly big debris and some decent drops in its stride. Fitting a dropper seatpost opens up its latent lightweight trail bike potential.

Alongside a naturally effervescent and rudely entertaining nature on technical trails, the carbon Whyte can hang with the pack in classic cross-country pain- cave situations just fine too. At close to 25lb with light wheels it picks up speed easily, and the Ikon tyres don’t drag it down.

The Fox Float Factory CTD shock offers up 100mm of travel
The fox float factory ctd shock offers up 100mm of travel:
Russell Burton / Future Publishing

The Fox shock is best switched to the middle ‘trail’ setting to keep power delivery bob-free, but there’s no sense you’re wasting wattage if you stand up and kick hard. A full range of fine compression damping control on the fork means you can set up a very balanced (or peculiarly individual) response front to rear.

Once you’ve found the pressure sweet spot it sucks an impressive amount of traction and speed sustain from rough rock and boulder-studded moorland trails. This is exactly the sort of terrain that kicks all the momentum out of less compliant bikes (and hardtails) in metres, and we relished the arrival of rougher sections on fast-paced group rides.

The same confidence and surefooted smoothness pays big crash-saving dividends on those final sections of a long epic when you’re dog-tired and your reflexes are trailing behind you as well.

Advertisement

The M109C may also surprise you with how often you end up gladly dropping into that granny ring – just because it’s a bike that encourages you to stretch your wild ride horizons as far as you can go.

Product Specifications

Product

Name M109C Team (14)
Brand Whyte

Available Sizes M L
Shifters Shimano XTR SGS+ (R), DMD (F), XT 11-36T
Rear Wheel Whyte XC-209-C Team rims, 142x12mm rear hub
Front Wheel Whyte XC-209-C Team rims, 15mm front hub
Wheelbase (in) 43.7
Top Tube (in) 23.6
Seat Tube (in) 17.5
Chainstays (in) 17
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 13.2
Wheelset Whyte XC-209-C Team rims, 15mm front hub, 142x12mm rear hub
Seat Angle 74
Brakes Shimano XTR Trail, Ice Tech 180/160mm rotors
Rear Tyre Size 29x2.2
Rear Tyre Maxxis Ikon, 29x2.2in
Rear Shock Fox Float Factory CTD Adjust, 100mm
Head Angle 69.5
Front Tyre Size 29x2.2
Front Tyre Maxxis Ikon, 29x2.2in
Frame Material Carbon mainframe, alloy rear stays
Fork Fox Float 32 Factory FIT CTD Adjust, 100mm
Cranks Shimano XT, 40/30/22T
Frame size tested M