Whyte 2012: First look - Bike Magic

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Whyte 2012: First look

2012 is going to be a big year for Whyte. It’s been a decade since the brand first arrived on the UK mountain bike scene and the bikes just keep on getting better, as we found out when we headed to the company’s launch at Cannock Chase this week.

We got the chance to get up and close to the new bikes, as well as taking a couple for a thorough ride on the fantastic trails around the Chase. Here’s an overview of what’s new for 2012.

Whyte 146 X

The company’s flagship all-mountain 146 X is a killer package for the rider who wants a 150mm bike to cover trails at astonishing speed, whether it’s scrabbling up steep climbs or descending at breakneck speed.

For £4,999 the new X is seriously loaded with top-end kit, with a parts package that means it weighs in at 24lb (that’s as light as many race hardtails!). It’s right on trend with a 1×10 drivetrain, using an E-13 XCX chain guide and Shimano’s new XTR rear mech, RockShox Reverb dropper post and Easton Haven Carbon wheels to keep the weight down.

Fox supply slippery Kashima coated 32 Float 150 RCL FIT forks with a QR15 axle and Float RP23 XV 2 Sleeve shock. Whyte have chosen a Press Fit BB30 bottom bracket and Shimano E-Thru 142mm rear axle to ensure maximum stiffness, but the clever modular dropouts let you run whatever axle system you prefer.

Elsewhere there’s Maxxis Ardent and Crossmark UST tyres, Easton 740mm handlebars and matching stem, with Avid Elixir XX World Cup brakes and a Shimano XTR rear shifter. The bike is finished in a stunning stealth matt black finish which with the matching components lets the Kashima coated suspension really ping; it’s a bike that looks like it means business.

On paper the 146 X looks fantastic value for money, and for a 150mm trail bike to weigh less than 24lbs, could this be the ultimate UK trail bike?

The three bike range starts at £2,999 with the 146 S, which uses exactly the same frame as the X but trims the componentry package to meet the lower price point, and the 146 Works costs £3,999.

Whyte steps into 29er market with three models

For 2012 Whyte is stepping into the 29er arena with three models, the aluminium 829 costing£1899 and two carbon fibre offerings, the £1,999 29er C and £2,599 29er CS.

The three bikes are designed with Whyte’s own take on 29er geometry, with a slacker headangle, 69 degrees, and shorter chainstays, 425mm, than most 29ers.

Keeping the wheels close together, and the wheelbase short, is a concern when designing 29er frames so Whyte have pushed the rear wheel as close to the bottom bracket as possible, with a dramatically curved seat tube and direct mount front mech, rather than a band-on, allowing for increased tyre clearance with the short chainstays. The actual chainstay length has a 20mm range of adjustment with Whyte’s unique modular dropout system.

The 809 uses a 6061 triple butted hydroformed frame in two sizes, 18.5in and 20.5in, built up with a Shimano XT/SLx groupset and Fox 32 F29 RL 100mm fork with 15mm bolt-thru axle. The wheels use Whyte branded hubs with the company’s new XC-202 rims, with 32 spokes in the rear wheel and 28 up front. The bike we rode had an as yet unbranded Whyte flat bar measuring 710mm.

Both the 29er C and 29er CS use a brand new carbon fibre frame (which is also available with 26in wheels). It’s a sleek looking frame, one of the best looking 29er hardtails we’ve seen in fact, with a continuous curve stretching from the tapered head tube to the skinny dropouts, emphasised by the tasteful decals.

There’s been a real effort to boost the stiffness of the frame. The downtube is massive, something that is helped by the fitment of a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket. Equally chunky are the chainstays which should ensure impressive acceleration and rapid response out of the corners. Comfort has also been considered, the seat stays are incredibly skinny waif-like affairs, with a wishbone design and slender top tube.

Whyte T-120

The T-120 continues unchanged from 2011, when it was first introduced, with a  rear shock upgrade with improved compression damping circuit and a larger air can reducing ramp-up in the latter stages of the travle

The 120mm bike features an updated aluminium front triangle  and a carbon swingarm with Whyte’s Quad Link II suspension platform, with features like a tapered head tube, 142mm Maxle dropouts and a 68 degree head angle.

Whyte hardtail range expands

Whyte’s range of aluminium hardtails has proved so popular that they’ve added two new models to the line-up. Prices now start at just £699 for the 801, which with the new paintjob and decal package looks every bit as good as the models higher up the range.

Whyte adds cyclo-cross offerings

Another big new development for a company that looks to have been busy over the past year, is the introduction of a cyclo-cross range.

As with the 29ers, Whyte have really thought carefully about the geometry. The result is that the angles are a little slacker than typical road bike-based ‘crossers, so should suit those coming from a mountain bike background or people who want a ‘cross bike, but don’t want to race around a muddy field for an hour on it. They had events like the 3 Peaks and the growing popularity of cyclo-cross sportives in mind when they designed it.

They’ve got versatility, should you want to use one for commuting or lightweight touring, but they’re equally race-ready with the top-end Saxon Cross ready to hit the race track right from the shop floor. Prices start at £799 for the Kings Cross, and each model uses the same 6061 aluminium frame and straight bladed fork, aluminium on the Kings Cross and carbon on the Charing Cross and Saxon Cross. They’re all fitted with cable disc brakes.

First rides on these new bikes next week…


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