So here I am looking for a replacement for my crashed Klein, and the hardtail full-carbon beauty that is the Whyte 19 Race appears in the office.
Outside my budget already, and a rider like me is hardly going to push it to its limit just yet, but maybe I can sneak it out while Dave Arthur is still recovering from hammering it at Mountain Mayhem.
The frame alone costs as much as my Klein did, and when DA says it climbs like rocket but he’s too old for a bike this stiff, I fear the worst.
But I fell in love on our first ride in the Surrey Hills. It feels faster than the Klein, really floaty up hills. And because it accelerates so well, you can push out of scrapes even when you’re in the wrong gear. On rooty climbs you feel it’s always worth pedalling to get over bits you might otherwise have balked at because the effort will translate directly into movement.
In other words it makes you put in more effort because you know it rewards it. You don’t just sit on it and ride the same as before. Which is nice. Normally, I’m pretty sure I’m rarely in the big ring on the flat, but I noticed it all the time on this.
It was also assured, chuckable, but not twitchy as I feared a race bike like this would be.
And the details. No flex at all in the frame (though at 10st I am not Chris Hoy), which makes your feet feel like they’re pedalling the wheel directly. The 100mm RockShox SID Races felt smooth and nicely balanced with the bike – at least on that first twisty rooty woodland ride.
The full Shimano XT setup was problem-free, though it didn’t blow me away with quite as much smoothness as I’d hoped – but early days in my exploration.
Early (and dry) days too, but the Continental Race King 2.0in tyres seemed nice and predictable. The way tyres affect the character of a bike is one thing I want to experiment with – I’d be interested in your advice – can they make or break a bike?
So the 19 Race was brisk and direct but I wanted to stay on it – not at all the uncomfortable race-bike means to an end that I thought it might be. Can’t wait to get on an all-dayer – and something rockier - and see if I feel the same way.
Over the next few months I’ll be coming out of the MTB dark ages by trying out some of the bikes that come through the BM office, before I choose a new one. I think I want a racey hardtail to replace my dead Klein, but who knows. I’d love your help in choosing…