Cheltenham has much in the way of agreeable Regency architecture, but of more interest to BM is the presence of Whyte’s R&D workshop. When we visited recently they were still settling in, having moved from a pig shed in the Cotswolds just a couple of weeks earlier. After a bit of a rummage around at the selection of dusty prototypes from years gone by, and admiring the vintage machine tools, it was down to business and a good look at what the premium UK brand has coming up for 2009.
The 19 hardtail range has been rationalised a bit for 2009. The aluminium/carbon Race model has gone, replaced by an all-new, full-carbon frame. All the knowledge that came out of the development of the E-120 has been applied to the new hardtail frame. The move to magic blanketry has lopped 450g (an entire pound) from the old aluminium frame, with the carbon chassis coming in at 1,150g.
A co-moulded aluminium sleeve is found in the bottom bracket, which is designed for the BB30 oversized axle system with push-in bearings – a press-fit adaptor will be available to run a conventional BB. There’ll be two full-bike options. Top of the line is the £3,499 19 Team, with an FSA K-Force Light hollow carbon crankset and XTR everywhere else (including the wheels). RockShox SID World Cup forks appear up front. All-up weight is claimed to be 20lb.
For somewhat less money, the 10 Race uses the same frame with a SID Race fork, XT transmission and Hayes Stroker Carbon brakes. The Race has a claimed weight of 22lb and will cost £2,199. You’ll also be able to get a frameset at £1,150 including headset and seat clamp.
19 Trail Titanium
The 19 Team and Race are very much race-oriented bikes. For those after something a little more trail-friendly Whyte has an all-new titanium offering. The geometry is designed around 120mm forks. At the back end the swinging adjustable dropouts of the original 19 are still there, offering chain-tensioning for singlespeed use or just chainstay length/BB height tweaking. Swoopy seatstays mimic the shape of the aluminium frame, while the bottom bracket uses the same BB30 setup as the carbon frame.
It’s built by Litespeed from certified US 3Al/2.5V titanium tubing. Choose from a complete bike at £2,999 (Fox F120RL QR15, X.9/X.0, Avid Elixir carbon) or a frame only at £1,499. There’s still an all-aluminium 19 Trail, with revised geometry and a new AN6 tubeset. The complete bike has a Fox F120RL fork with QR15 dropouts, a transmission that mixes XT cranks with SRAM X.9 and X.0 shifters and derailleurs, Avid Elixir Carbon brakes and a Hope/DT/Mavic wheel package for £1,999. The entry-level Whyte remains the 905, which shares the Trail geometry but uses 6061-T6 tubing and does without the adjustable dropouts. A full bike with Reba SL Maxle Light forks and a Shimano SLX/XT mix comes in at £1,499.
No substantial changes to the E-120 for 2009, which is fine by us ‘cos it’s stonkingly good as it is. There are now four models, though, all specced in a more overtly “trail bike” fashion with QR15 or Maxle Light front through-axles across the range. Pictured is the E-120 XT, with a Fox F120RL QR15 fork and otherwise eponymous spec at £2,999. Next up is the Trail, four hundred notes more with a 120mm Reba Race Maxle Light fork, XT/X.0 transmission, Hope hubs and Elixir Carbon brakes. A quid under four grand gets you the Team, which packs a Fox F120RLC QR15 up front, XTR transmission and wheels and brakes from Hope.
Or if you’ve really got an urgent need to blow a whole wad of cash on a bike, there’s the E-120 Superbike. It’s carbon fibre overload on this one, with a DT Swiss XMC130 QR15 fork and XR Carbon rear shock, a DT Swiss wheel package including XCR330 carbon rims, Formula R1 Carbon brakes and Easton seatpost and bars. An XTR transmission finishes things off. Claimed weight for the full bike is 23.5lb – one can be yours for (sit down now) £5,499. You can also opt for a frameset with a Fox RP23 shock for £1,499.
The new bikes aren’t there at the time of writing, but keep an eye on www.whytebikes.com for further details and dealers.