Whyte Wessex review£2,499.00

Everything you need for UK ‘road’ riding?

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Whyte’s Wessex takes everything its designer has learned about day-in, day-out UK riding over years of elite level racing and training, and leverages it into life with the latest technical tricks.

The Wessex gets aerodynamic profiling including a fork top that blends into the ovalised down tube and webbed head tube. The tapered seat tube is rounded and the A-frame chainstays that sit off it are flattened against the airflow to allow some flex.

Fork legs and chainstays are tapered and end at bolted 12mm thru-axles with slotted guides for easy wheel fitting. There’s room for up to 35mm tyres or 30mm tyres and Whyte’s custom 42mm-wide mudguards (600g).

The seatpost clamp is internal to allow the use of a rubber weather seal and the internal cable routing is carefully sealed and splayed outward to protect paint too.

The cables are routed internally and sealed to protect the frame’s finish
The cables are routed internally and sealed to protect the frame’s finish

Shimano Ultegra gears are cranked round with an RS10 chainset running on user-friendly screw-in bottom bracket bearings. The Shimano Ultegra brakes get the latest Ice-Tech Freeza cooling rotors in a power-boosting 160mm size.

The Wessex has a compact Whyte bar featuring a comfortable flat wing profile with reflective logos on the bar tape, and a skinny shaft 27.2mm seatpost.

Lightweight Easton AR21 rims and the Schwalbe G-One tyres are tubeless ready for extra puncture survival and low pressure comfort.

The combination of tactile and grippy Schwalbe tyres on wide rims and a damped, consistently connected fork and chassis feel makes the Wessex feel really surefooted. Add 160mm rotors front and rear and the Whyte oozes confidence, however treacherous the conditions. This backs up the weather-proofed features, and the fact that with the ’guards wet roads aren’t rinsing straight through your tights, making grim weather as bearable as possible.

Low wheel and overall weights mean the Wessex picks up speed and climbs easily
Low wheel and overall weights mean the Wessex picks up speed and climbs easily

The way the frame soaks up shocks means it can be hammered across rough roads and tracks without punishing you or putting you off your stride.

Also, as long as you check the barrel adjusters are tight after the first couple of rides the ’guards are secure off road. They do buzz off the tyres if you run them too close, so if you’re doing a lot off-piste I’d still remove them. Regular off-road use is officially outside the remit of the Wessex, (Friston and Gisburn are Whyte’s dedicated gravel bikes).

Back on the road where it belongs the smoothly damped frame and grippy tyres have a slightly muted rather than rigidly efficient (Roubaix Elite) or springy (Datum/Paralane) power transfer.

Low wheel and overall weights mean the Wessex picks up speed and climbs easily, and faster tyres make a significant difference to cruising speed.

While it’s not a fully aero bike, the tube profiling will also save a few watts when the wind is against you too and the further/rougher/wetter the ride, the more you’ll appreciate the complete Whyte package.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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