The Whyte 604 Compact is a hardtail mountain bike that belies its reasonable price tag. With modern trail geometry and wide bars it handles better that most bikes in this price point, and is a fun, capable and confidence inspiring ride.
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First things first; this is not a women's specific bike. Whyte don’t make women’s specific bikes, but they do make a compact version of some models designed to suit smaller riders of any gender with shorter reach and lower standover height. This makes them ideal for tall kids, youths, and shorter riders both male and female.
It also doesn't have particularly feminine graphics or colours, especially when compared to some of the women's mountain bikes available at this price point. The turquoise and orange paint job is just the right side of bright and bold without lurching into garish or lurid.
The new 2017 version of the 604 has tweaked geometry based on the Whyte 900 series hardtails. It has a relaxed 68.5 degree head angle which, combined with the wider bars (mentioned below) gives stable handling, particular on descents.
Over the bumps
The 74-degree seat tube gives it a racy and quick feeling on pedally trails, but still feels planted and secure on technical terrain — also thanks in part to the low centre of gravity on the 604 and the volumous-for-their-quoted-width 2.2” WTB Beeline tyres.
The contact patch these tyres provide gives reasonable traction on corners and in wet and slippery conditions, and helps suck up some of the trail lumps and bumps.
Weight-wise, the Whyte clocks in at a decent 13.7kg, which isn’t at all bad for a bike at this price. While fairly antiquated even at the cheaper end of the market these days, the 3x9 Shimano gearing gave a huge range to play with, and was more than adequate for steep climbs. We also found the the Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes provided plenty of stopping power.
The 700mm wide bars were a definite improvement over the narrower bars on some of the other bikes we've tested at this price point, increasing comfort and giving us greater control when cornering and on technical terrain.
In action, the 604 is responsive and quick. We had a lot of fun throwing it about on all manner of trails, with the bike’s predictable grip and performance inspiring confidence on all but the steepest trails.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.