Whyte’s T130 has been a main-stay of BikeRadar’s Trail Bike of the Year testing, even winning back in 2016 — it was a classic 130mm trail bike with bags of fun-loving character, but it’s evolved into a super-modern shaped trail bike with oomph when trails get gnarly.
The Whyte T130C RS is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.
The T130 keeps 130mm of travel out back from thefour-bar linkage’d carbon frame. There’s only an extra 10mm of travel up front in the form of a 140m RockShox Pike RC fork.
It seems that most trail bikes out there are heading for bigger wheels, but Whyte has kept the smaller wheels here on the T130. Fortunately the 2.6in Maxxis tyre combo mounted on to wide RaceFace ARC rims mean there’s plenty of volume and therefore grip on offer, so it didn’t feel like it lost out on top-end speed compared to some of the bigger-wheeled competitors.
RockShox’s Pike is a stellar forkDan Milner
Top end speed comes easily too, as Whyte has some pretty progressive numbers on offer — a 480mm reach (Large) is very long for this type of bike, especially when mated to a slack 65.5-degree head angle which punts the front wheel well out front of the handlebars.
A 330mm bottom bracket keeps weight low in the bike. This means you’re able to trust the bike to remain stable at speed over loose rocks, and weight the front wheel and drop your heels to generate a ton of front end traction for confident, predictable carving through the corners.
The Maxxis Rekon is fast rolling, but has plenty of grippy volume on rocky terrainDan Milner
The 2.6in High Roller II up front has a relatively rounded profile that gives a really nice transfer from central to side knobs as it’s leant over. Unlike some 2.6in tyres it doesn’t come up massive either, and maintains a stable, non-floppy feel when pushed hard in to corners.
Whyte has managed to keep the T130 from feeling like a sled, though, with a 35mm long stem and short 430mm chainstays — it’s happy to snap from corner to corner.
Carbon frames deserve a bit of protection from rock strikesDan Milner
With decent pedalling characteristics and a fast rolling Rekon rear tyre, the Whyte doesn’t feel sluggish as you add pedal power to boost speed once you’ve exited the corner, or need to maintain speed up short, sharp rises in the trail. This is further accentuated by the incredibly quick pick-up on offer from the rear hub’s freehub, and there’s no annoying lag here.
At the back, with only 130mm of travel on offer, Whyte hasn’t given the T130 a sofa-like ride. It isn’t so harsh that it feels rattly over repeated high-frequency hits, but if you’re looking for complete isolation from the trail, the T130 won’t offer that. It’s a bike that communicates clearly what’s happening under the tyres.
The travel is well controlled by the RockShox Deluxe shock however, and there’s enough ramp-up deeper in the stroke to take care of the bigger impacts that almost inevitably come with the trails the Whyte encourages you to ride.
Confident handling means it’s easy to lean the T130 right overDan Milner
Getting back up the hills isn’t too much of a chore either, as the back end is fairly stable under normal pedalling loads. I did flick the compression switch a few times on the Deluxe shock on longer drags to keep the pace up, and I reckon a steeper seat angle than the 75 degrees on offer would improve things even more here too.
For £3,499, the carbon front, alloy rear frame with decent kit represents fairly good value for money, especially as you can get the bike off the high-street. The Pike RC is a very good fork, even if it doesn’t have the fancy RCT3 damper. Out back there’s a Deluxe RT shock that comes with a two-position compression lever.
SRAM Guide RS brakes are well modulatedDan Milner
SRAM also provides the GX Eagle groupset and Guide RS brakes, which get the SwingLink linkage that improves lever feel to the 180/160mm rotors. The RaceFace AR 30 wheels remained solid during testing and have a decent rim width to support the tyres, while Whyte’s finishing kit is all decent stuff.
Finally, a KS Lev Integra finishes the package, though I’ll admit to not being massive fans of the relatively stubby lever that doesn’t quite have enough leverage when cables get stiffer with use.
The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is a common sight on mid-priced trail bikesDan Milner
The T130 has morphed into a super-capable trail bike that rarely feels like it’s being pushed beyond its limits, even if the ride isn’t always as plush as others. In becoming so capable, it might be argued that some of that fun-loving character has been lost though.
It’s strength, however, is its versatility. It’s handy enough up a hill not to be a chore on long rides, while its shape means it’s likely you, rather than the bike, gives up first.
Whyte T130C RS specifications
Whyte has stretched the T130 into one of the longest bikes on test, but it’s no handfulDan Milner
Sizes (*tested): S, M, L*, XL
Frame: UD Carbon Monocoque 130mm 650b
Fork: RockShox Pike RC 140mm
Shock: RockShox Deluxe RT
Crankset: SRAM Descendant
Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle
Shifters: SRAM GX Eagle
Wheelset: RaceFace AR 30
Tyres: Maxxis HighRoller II 650×2.6in, Maxxis Rekon 650×2.6in