Ever since the brand came into being, Whyte bikes have been distinguished by their unique linkage forks. The all-new 46, though, does away with the landing gear front end in the quest for more travel. Whyte buyers, who tend to be fans of the unconventional, need not fear though, for the 46’s fork of choice isn’t exactly a mainstream item…
Whyte is one of only two brands (Santa Cruz is the other) to be offering Paul Turner’s Maverick fork as original equipment. And it’s an impressive bit of kit, offering six inches of super-plush travel, awesome tracking from the oversized baseball-bat uppers, welded brace and 24mm through-axle, a four inch travel lock-down position for steep ups and most amazingly of all the claimed weight is just 3.25lb. Plus 105g for the bolt-on stem.
Out back there’s a new long-travel version of Jon Whyte’s Quad-Link suspension, combined with an updated travel adjust system. It’s essentially the same as the TARA system found on last year’s long travel Marin bikes but without the stops so you can set the travel anywhere between four and six inches. The same system is found on some 2004 Marins. The long-travel Quad has been tweaked slightly for a more linear feel.
Joining the two ends together is a swoopy, semi-monococque frame. At least, we’re calling it a semi-monococque – the top and down “tubes” are formed from sheet and welded, and then welded to conventional headt and seat tubes, so it’s not a full monococque but then it’s not really tubes either. Whatever, it looks pretty tidy.
It’s also amazingly light. Whyte reckons that the 46, fully built up with Hope brakes (with Goodridge hoses – nice touch), XT transmission and Conti 2.3 tyres comes in at under 28lb and it certainly feels like it. Despite all the travel it’s certainly not a freeride bike in the cliff-hucking sense. It’s more of a very long travel XC/enduro bike, being an entirely capable climber but, thanks to travel, big tyres and meaty brakes, very at home at speed on lumpy terrain. First impressions are good, we’ll let you know how it performs as soon as we get a test bike. How much? £2,700, which, while clearly a whole hill of money, is actually not a bad deal at all.
Linkage fans need fear not, though. The original PRST is now up to Mk 4 and available in three spec levels – Deore at £1,850, XT at £2,250 (both with Hope Mini brakes) and all-XTR Superbike at £3,100.
Whyte entry level is the new JW-4, with a simplified fork, Quad-Link rear and X-Fusion shocks both ends. Spec is Alvio/Deore, with Magura Julie brakes and a Truvativ crank. While the profile of the linkage bikes is, to be fair, an acquired taste, the new colours and graphics on the JW actually make it look rather purposeful. The complete bike is £1,295.
More info at www.whytebikes.com.