Words: Alan Doyle – Photos: Ian Linton
Can you “British proof” a bike?
If you’ve ever visited one, Whyte dealers sell their bikes on the insistence that they are absolutely weather-proof. Just as well really as the Tweed Valley presented yours truly and tog Ian Linton with probably the heaviest downpour of the season, leaving us with a great opportunity to test this bike on one of its major selling points, exposing it to everything these filthy trails had to offer. Having ridden the bike elsewhere too, I guess it was just good luck that the day we choose to shoot the pictures for this article was particularly dreech.
“Fully integral brake lines and cables together with the intergrip clamp make for a clean look.”
Whyte are very proud of their attention to detail, however its balanced with a type of simplicity that seems to fit the brand and the T130c Works is no exception. It’s a pretty aggressive bike that belies the number 130 as all to often we hear that 140mm is the holy grail for a trail bike, but Whyte skip this magic number in favour of a jump from 130mm to 160mm (G160) in their range leaving no ambiguity between their trail and enduro bikes. Trouble is in the T130c they may have made a 130mm bike that could easily cope with the bigger stuff in the hands of the right rider. It’s no G160, but if you don’t want to go full Enduro, then this is well worth a test ride.
“A mix of rooty trails and generally horrible weather served up the ideal testing ground for the T130c.”
This bold statement is due to a few things like a 67 degree head angle that keeps things slack enough to attack the trail but nimble enough to negotiate the tighter stuff. Combined with the 631mm top tube, 760mm bars and a supplied stem length of 40mm (large) getting over the front tyre is no problem and I felt quite at home within a few corners. The longer cockpit means that front grip is almost effortless and in a neutral “attack” position the bike feels planted with a low centre of gravity due to a combination of the above and a 331mm BB height. Whyte make no apologies for this long, low approach to their bike design and have applied the formula to all of their bikes including the incredibly popular 901, 905 and 909 hardtails. (more on these next year) This also means you have plenty of space for a full sized water bottle too if that’s your thing?
Whyte’s unflinching hardcore ethos means you get things like SCR stays. Its not really that complicated an abbreviation, simply meaning “Single Chain Ring” no option for a front mech means no clutter and no concessions in the shape of the rear end. With these no nonsense chainstays and a 148×12 rear wheel spacing you can really feel the stiffness as soon as the trail gets angry. This also allows for a wider bearing stance and very generous space for wider tyres: no danger of mud & debris collecting behind the sea tube, perhaps only in the most extreme conditions. Whyte were one of the first to produce SCR only bikes with even some of the biggest companies still not committing to this format despite it (1×11) being an standard option on many of their platforms. It hasn’t effected Whyte’s popularity and gives them the freedom to make bikes exactly how they want to.
“A low bottom bracket height makes for great grip, but keep those pedals level in the tight stuff!”
Actually, a good time to mention that one of the things that appears on all Whyte mountain bikes appears on this Whyte Mountain bike: Crud Catcher mounts! As an MTB rider of the early 90’s I just love this and it gives me a fuzzy feeling that someone at Whyte goes way back enough to give a damn enough to include them. All of the above means they have shaver nearly 600g off of the alloy frame weight and increased overall stiffness by over 10%. This is one spritely bike for how planted it feels.
Another quite unique move by Whyte is the Intergrip seat-clamp. No traditional interference fit system here, and neatly protected by a rubber seal to keep out the weather. This is a feature of past Whyte bikes but it’s inclusion on this one makes for a pretty looking seat tower and some damn clean lines. Combined with the fully internal, neatly sealed gear and brake lines, its hard to see what the weather could offer by way of a challenge to this bike working faultlessly.
Just to finish off that chat on the frame platform itself, you’ll be glad to hear that the linkage bearings on the T130c are guaranteed for life, as are all of these bearings on all Whyte suspension bikes.
“Race Face, Fox and Rockshox contribute to a stellar line up in the specification department.”
You may have seen a few articles around the web with different versions of this bike but the bike we tested is the full production Works model (£4500) dripping with top drawer kit. You can see by the photo’s that no expense has been spared and Whyte’s own kit has been kept to a minimum, instead going for hardcore equipment that has been tested to death and known to be reliable. You can read the full kit list on Whyte’s product page here.
Only the saddle, stem, grips and wheels have Whyte’s logo on them. Pretty standard stuff for any bike of this price, but look closely at the wheels; yep, carbon rims. I most likely couldn’t convince anyone that carbon rims are the way forward for them if their mind was already made up, instead I’d just say to go ride them. The reduction in rotating weight just makes the bike so fast and both technical and fire road climbs just get eaten up. The rims are tubeless ready (tape and valves supplied) 28 spokes by 30mm and offer a great footprint for the High Roller/Ardent tyre combo supplied with the bike. The hubs are actually Whyte’s own but are super burly, use fully sealed bearings and a 6 pawl engagement on the rear. You even get a nice, loud Hope style click from the rear when you let off the gas. No big names here, but I really wouldn’t be tempted to worry about these as they seem more than capable and look fantastic.
“The 67 degree head angle makes the bike slack enough to hit hard but precise enough to turn on a dime.”
So how was the ride? Acceleration is savage, the carbon rims & short rear end made it super fast off the line and on flowing trails, its tempting to just not pedal at all, instead just pushing and pulling it around with your weight only. Sure, it may not be as fast sometimes, but it feels so good just floating around on this bike. Hitting the roots was easy too due to the front grip being so easy to hook up and combined with a nice long and low wheelbase the speed you can carry through smaller, less obstructive objects like roots and kickers requires the rider to be pretty alert. I usually ride alloy so I’m always kind of caught out by the speed and compliance of a good carbon bike. In a straight line, the corners just come up so fast!
The tried and tested Whyte Quad Link system performs well too. I’ve ridded a lot of bikes and my problem always seems to be a pedant about rear flex, but only after a few rides did I realise that this had not cropped up at all. Again, SCR, 148 rear spacing and those carbon rims all working together for the desired effect.
“The varied terrain at Scotland’s most popular trail centre was the ideal place to try out this versatile machine.”
I embarrassed to say that I was a little snobbish when I unboxed this bike, thinking about what I could buy from Trek, Giant or Specialized with this kind of money (I’ve worked with most big brands and I’m a little predisposed) but after the experience of actually riding the bike I don’t see why the T130 could not stand next to a Bronson C, Remedy 9.8, Trance Advanced Or Stump jumper FSR and hold it’s head high. Sure, you give up some proprietary technology, but then you don’t pay for it either allowing the T130 to deliver a very high specification list.
I don’t want to drop some cliché and say that this bike is a “do it all” or a “Swiss Army knife” of a bike, but instead I’d say that when you turn up on it and your mates berate your decision of not having enough travel, just offer a wry smile and think of your T130 as a kind of secret weapon that can be deployed at any time on almost any terrain. Then check their embarrassed faces as you wait for them to come down the trail you just smashed.
It’s not like the Alloy T130 wasn’t a kick-ass bike in the first place and naturally this new platform will be compared with similar types of bikes from the big boys. Truth is though, I think the only thing that Whyte has to worry about is that they have set their own standard extremely high.
“Just a child growing older. Our Tog Ian Linton was determined to get in a bar drag before we bailed.”
In a nutshell:
” Don’t be scared of this bike, don’t NOT consider it based on the number 130 and don’t listen to any snash about small companies not being able to compete. This bike has been an eye opener even for an old cynic like me in the context of what can be done with a tenth of the resource of the big boys by sticking to your guns and your principles whilst sticking two fingers up at convention. Whyte are absolutely on the money with the T130 in general, but this version left me with a twinkle in my eye. It’s genuinely one of the best bikes I’ve ridden in a good while”
View the full range of Whyte bikes at their website.