British company Whyte Bikes have launched the Whyte T-130C, a carbon fiber version of its mid-travel, 130mm trail bike - and for the first time, the range will be available in the US. As well as a claimed 580g frame weight reduction and an 11-percent stiffness increase, the new bike also features Boost 148 rear-wheel spacing, as well as the single-chainring specific design from Whyte's previous, aluminum model launched this time last year. Construction
Riders have a choice of two builds with the T-130C, both using the same frame (even the same paint job is the same). The range-topping T-130C Works (£4,599 /$5,499) combines a Fox 34 Kashima fork with a Float DPS Kashima shock, a Shimano XT transmission, a smattering of carbon in the cockpit, and a Race Face Next crankset.
For the more value-minded customer, the more affordable T-130C RS (£3,499 /$4,399) swaps Fox for RockShox dampers and keeps the price down with SRAM Roam 40 wheels, SRAM gearing and Guide RS brakes. Both bikes have a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post.
• Intended use: Trail riding
• Travel: 130mm
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Full carbon fiber main frame, aluminum swingarm
• Single-chainring-specific design
• Boost 148 rear axle
• 67-degree head angle
• T-130C Works (£4,599 /$5,499) - T-130C RS (£3,499 /$4,399)
• Available: UK in December, US in January
• Contact: USA
The Whyte T-130 is a mid-travel 27.5” trail bike and was launched this time last year with three aluminum models. This year the range is joined by two carbon fiber models, featuring a main frame made from unidirectional carbon fiber with internal cable routing, a tapered head tube and a clever, “Intergrip” integrated seat clamp system. Whyte claims the frame is 580g lighter, six-percent stiffer in the head tube, and 11-percent stiffer as a whole.
The T-130 retains the aluminum rear triangle and short suspension linkages of the previous model, and introduces a Boost 148 rear axle. All RockShox-equipped models also get a Pike Boost 110mm front-end as well. The bike is also designed specifically for 1x11 (there’s no way to fit a front mech’ at all) and the wider rear axle has helped to provide more clearance between the tire and frame, a good thing in the muddy UK, where the company’s UK focused designs have seen the popularity of the brand increase over the years. The frame even retains the Crud Catcher mudguard mounts on the down tube and the frame has an external threaded bottom bracket. The new carbon bike features the same Quad 4 suspension design, which comprises a main pivot just above the bottom bracket and a short rocker linkage mounted to the seat tube. The main frame maintains similar lines to the aluminum model, with a sloping top tube for plenty of clearance and space for a water bottle inside the front triangle.
The aluminum Whyte T-130 was well received, a mid-travel bike with the sort of geometry you normally find on a longer travel bike. Whyte’s thinking behind the T-130 is that just because it’s a short travel bike, doesn’t mean it has to have the steep and short geometry numbers you’d expect on a mid-travel bike, and it’s a recipe that many people found provided a very capable trail bike in the aluminum T-130. Whyte actually uses pretty much the same geometry from its old 150 bike in this new T-130. How times have changed.
Whyte has noticed that there’s been a trend to size up in recent years, and its bikes have been stretched out in response. Whyte felt geometry was evolving too much over the past few years to commit to the high expense of opening up a carbon mold, but feels the time is right now to offer a carbon version. The new bike will be offered in just three sizes - medium, large, and X-large - and the seat tube is 25mm shorter on each size as well. A large measures in with a 67-degree seat angle, 73.5-degree seat angle, 631mm top tube, 449mm reach, 420mm chainstays and an 1176.5mm wheelbase.
Five Minutes With the Designer
Pinkbike sat down with Whyte Bikes designer Ian Alexander to find out a bit more about the new T-130C, and where it fits in the market. It’s a mid-travel bike, but you say it isn’t short on capability?
We’re much more interested in nailing a really good trail bike, and to do that we had to design a bike with its capability in mind. Its capability and its limitation, and the design, was the limiting factor of the bike. I think the limiting factor of any bike should always be outside of my control, something like suspension, travel, or ultimate grip from the tires - it should never be the geometry of the bike. You shouldn’t be riding down the trail thinking ‘I could go faster if I had a slacker head angle’ or longer front center, or the bars were wider. Trying to design to the limiting factor, which is not anything to do with the geometry or shape or numbers of the bike.
So to do that the 130 bike has geometry of our previous 150 bike, geometry more akin to a longer travel bike than a 130 bike. And that is very deliberate. We want the limiting factor to be the amount of travel the bike has, not its shape or angles. There’s a trend for sizing up to a larger frame, the new bike takes this into account?
If you put our medium up against everybody else's bikes, our medium would be the length of most people’s size large. Our large is the size of some extra larges from other brands. And so on. And that's partly because we can run the shorter stems available, stem design has come a long way, so you can now have a 32mm stem in the new 35mm diameter size, so why not utilize that and use the shorter stems. So that’s predominantly the thinking behind that, instead of having to size up, which a lot of people do now. So we’ve designed a bike longer in the first place. Sizing has evolved a lot of the years then?
We’ve certainly evolved. Part of the reason we’ve only gone carbon now, is we’ve been evolving for the last three years. The geometry has moved. This year it has gone longer, and it’s only now we feel we can invest in carbon molds. If you look at some bikes laid down in carbon three years ago, they’re significantly shorter compared to our bikes. Over the last three years our bikes have got longer. We’re happy with the lengths of our mid-travel bikes now that we can cut some molds, and still be ahead of brands bikes. Will designed-in-the-UK bikes work well in the US, now that they’ll be available there soon?
I think a progressive bike that works well in the UK will work will anywhere in the world. I think the direction of travel and design direction in mountains bikes is pretty obvious, I think when you look at things like how far downhill bikes have evolved over the years, I see no reason why that hasn’t applied to enduro, mid-travel and even cross-country bikes. For sure there’s been such a lot of change, enduro racing has come and completely reinvented what a 160mm bike is thanks to that format of competition, and we have responded in the same way, our enduro bike is now very specific to that discipline. The requirements are reflected in that bikes design. With that enduro focus, does that leave mid-travel bikes to have a wider potential audience?
A 160mm bike is a pretty specific product now, and that does leave a gap for a proper good mid-travel bike. One of the T-130C carbon programs first priorities was to make a very capable bike, one that’s not grounded in a cross-country roots, but something that is firmly grounded in trail bikes, and hence its geometry is much more like a 150mm trail bike, than a short-travel cross-country bike. Our priority was to hit a stiffness target: it’s 11-percent stiffer in head tube, overall chassis stiffness is six-percent stiffer, even using the same aluminum rear triangle. Once we hit the stiffness and strength targets, we brought weight into the equation. That was the order. Weight was down the list, the third priority. We ended up being 580g lighter, after all of that engineering. I’m sure we could have been lighter, if we had chased weight, but when you put the capability of a 150mm bike into a 130mm bike, the bike has to be able to cash the cheque (if you like) for the harder riding it’s capable of. We have a 130mm bike with a broad range of capabilities. Have you made any changes to the suspension?
No, we’ve carried over the kinematics. We design a very flexible kinematic, it’s not reliant on a particular shock, or damping tune, it’s very tunable for personal preference. With the compression, we try not to design a bike that’s reliant on low speed compression to pedal, you can pedal the bike without any low speed compression. Just a reliable and very flexible kinematic that is easily tunable.
|It pops and skittles down the trail, it can be easily placed wherever you need it, with a lightness that compels you to keep the speed up and the smiles broad.|
I headed to the Forest of Dean with Whyte Bikes, a hugely popular trail center with a thriving cafe and choice of cross-country and downhill tracks, to put the new bike through its paces. I took out a size large T-130C Works bike with Fox dampers and made the most of some pretty good conditions to see what the new bike can do. And it was immediately obvious the T-130C is an impressively capable bike, just as Whyte had intended it to be. It pops and skittles down the trail, it can be easily placed wherever you need it, with a lightness that compels you to keep the speed up and the smiles broad.
It’s a hard-charging and energetic bike, with precise and very direct handling that helps you whip it from apex to apex. I felt pretty good with the geometry, the 67-degree head angle didn’t feel immediately steep, and the length felt good. The 50mm stem and 760mm bars provided plenty of leverage through the winding singletrack. I was soon at home on the Whyte. It’s light (this build comes in about 28lb, but I didn’t have my scales to verify that) and it provides the acceleration you’d expect to find in a cross-country bike, but it’s balanced and very stable when slamming into rooted corners, in a way that reminds you of a bigger bike.
Out of the saddle and it climbs smartly, making easy progress up the steeper climbs. Seated climbing reveals rear suspension that sits up well in its travel and doesn’t squash down when inching up steeper gradients. The suspension is well-balanced front to back, the rear feels firm and taut, giving back plenty of energy when you pop the bike out of a corner. There’s good support through the travel, and it makes good use of the available travel, certainly doesn’t blow through it too easily or ramp up harshly. It’s easy to tune, but I’d want to spend more time fiddling with it to really find its sweet spot. With little time to dial it in though, the T-130C was adept on the rooted trails around the Forest of Dean.
|The suspension is well-balanced front to back, the rear feels firm and taut, giving back plenty of energy when you pop the bike out of a corner.|
It might only have 130mm of travel, but I didn’t feel like I was coming up shortchanged on some of the faster sections or landings of the various drops and jumps. The Boost rear-end certainly helps here. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to ride the RockShox model with the Boost version of the Pike fork to see how that compares to the Fox 34 on this bike. The stiffness of the carbon frame is present though, in the way the bike responds to your inputs, with no discernable deflection.
What the T130C isn’t going to do is trouble a 160mm-travel bike on the more challenging trails, but for blasting around local trails and bagging trail centers at the weekend, it’s a real blast. And it puts the fun back into mountain biking that some mid-travel bikes can kill with dated geometry. It flatters you and provides enough capability that you can approach the bikes limits, without the fear that you have to push your own limits beyond what you’re comfortable doing.Pinkbike's Take:
|I'll admit my time on the T-130C was limited to a first impression, certainly not a full in-depth review. More time in the saddle and a wider range of trails would be needed to really get under the skin of this new bike, but it's clear that Whyte has built a solidly capable trail bike that isn't stunted by the amount of travel it's packing - and the whole range is packaged with some really smart details. If you want some of the capability of a longer travel (dare I say it enduro) bike but with a light build well suited to cross-country trail rides, the T-130C should be on your shopping list. - David Arthur |