It’s certainly a nice-looking machine. The bow-legged fork blends smoothly into the tapered head-tube, with plenty of room for the 42mm-wide mudguard, which is fixed to the wide fork crown.
An internal seatpost clamp creates a clean-looking top tube and gets a rubber cover to seal it from the weather. Seemingly de rigueur slim, dropped seatstays, deep boxy chainstays and a seat-tube shape that follows the rear mudguard’s curve the closer it gets to the bottom bracket, plus well-sealed internal cable routing ports, show that both practical and aesthetic needs have been considered.
The fit is quite conventional, although you’ll probably need to drop down from your usual size — my 54cm test bike fitted much like a 56cm machine from other brands.
Hydraulic Shimano discs provide ample stopping powerDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
Whyte has been sensible with the component spec, by going for quality on the most important parts, and choosing cheaper items elsewhere, which all helps bring the Wessex in for a tempting price.
Shimano’s new Ultegra levers and hydraulic disc brakes continue to impress, with superbly shaped hoods, great ergonomics and a very positive feel. The 105 front derailleur shifts crisply across the non-series R510 chainset. The alloy bar, stem and seatpost are all Whyte’s own and do a decent job.
It has great front-end rigidity and undeniably efficient power transfer from those girder-like chainstays. The handlebar’s grippy, leathery tape and flared drops provide excellent purchase and the generously padded Whyte saddle is pretty comfortable, but not that wide at 130mm.
Rain protection from the long Whyte mudguards is great. They manage to keep most spray away from the drivetrain and my feet, although there’s a bit of toe overlap at the front.
The 21mm internal width of Easton’s AR-21 rims ably supports the Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres and allows them to inflate to a width of 31mm. With 70psi inside them, they deal with surface imperfections well and even on wet, slimy roads, give great confidence and assured control.
Wide Schwalbe tyres sit on Easton rims that deal with rough roads wellDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
Fast flatland speeds are easily maintained, but things get harder than you’d expect when the road tilts upwards.
The effort it takes to get up climbs or deal with the resistance of headwind or false flats is seemingly multiplied, though it’s hard to be sure why. The rear Whyte-branded hub doesn’t spin that freely, and perhaps the grip that’s so welcome on sketchy roads adds drag, but on each ride, in all conditions, the feeling persisted.
Even so, the Wessex delivers a pleasant ride — it’s assured and generally comfortable on rough roads, and will cope with most hard-packed trails to expand your route potential. For reliable all-season rides with brilliant weather protection, the Wessex has plenty to recommend it.
The Wessex delivers a pleasant ride — it’s assured and generally very comfortable on rough roadsRobert Smith / Immediate Media