72 LONG TERM WHYTE
Meet the newest member of our long term fleet – Whyte’s M109C with our own frameset build-up
Whyte are a British brand, and we featured them in issue 140, detailing their devotion to developing unique bikes that adhere to quality design and ride characteristics. More of a modern design style British brand, as opposed to frame lugs and moustaches.
That’s not to say Whyte ignore history – the M109 C is a continuation of their Quad Link suspension platform, providing 100mm of travel. Billed as a marathon or endurance ride for long days in the saddle, we think it has great trail potential for a marathon friendly design. Although you can buy a whole bike, we chose a frameset for this build. Which meant we got to have a good play with the frame before building it up.
It’s not overly light at 2.6kg for the frame and rear shock (including 142mm axle and seat clamp), but the quality of the carbon construction and welds on the alloy rear triangle are very tidy. The frame is super smooth inside and out, and allows for either internal cable and brake hose routing for a clean look, or external for easy maintenance and a quieter ride. With a threaded alloy BB shell, a side slotted and sealed seat tube, and replaceable threads for the rear disc caliper and a lifetime guarantee on the bearings, this bike is designed to be a keeper.
The M109 C has clean lines, thanks to the use of carbon. The squared downtube is very wide and the top tube allows a ton of standover height – alas there is only room for one bidon cage. The tapered headtube is quite short, and the top tube very long for the size – marry that with very short chainstays (thanks in part to the use of alloy and a BSA BB shell) and this frame should be steady, yet fast to accelerate and climb.
Given the handling traits of the Whyte, we built it with versatile parts – Shimano XT was the obvious choice. While a stock M109 C comes with a triple for greater range, a 26/38 double seems appropriate for Australian riding. The XT gearing has always proven to be faultless and easy to maintain, and the Shadow Plus rear mech keeps the back end quieter – and allows for a potential 1x10 set-up. Shimano XT brakes are found on just about any bike where the rider is after the most consistent braking, so it was an easy choice here – we upgraded the rotors to the new XTR finned models.
Attaching iSpec XT shifters to the levers keeps the FRM cockpit very clean. The carbon ‘bars are 710mm wide, and have an offset clamp – so if you want to go even lower, you can flip the ‘bars. Given the height of the frame, it wasn’t required here, but it brings in another option for 29ers and shorter riders. The FRM Scandium stem is super light, and far shorter than what I would normally run. But that’s part of the geometry of the
Given the handling traits of the Whyte, we built it with versatile parts – Shimano XT was the obvious choice
Whyte, matching a long top tube with a short stem. On the bike the shorter length kept steering quick for a 69.5 head angle. We matched an FRM Scandium post to the ‘bars and stem. It’s light, adjustable and looks good.
There are no shortage of great suspension forks available, and this was a great chance to try the X-Fusion forks. To match the capable frame, we opted for the Trace RL2, which has 34mm legs. With adjustable rebound, lockout and an air spring, so far it’s done everything we have expected, with great precision. Wheels are the no nonsense Shimano MT66. They are known to be trouble free, if not a little heavy. So far they spin smoothly, came ready to go tubeless (and inflated easily) and are very good value. Since fitting them, we haven’t thought about them. The Bontrager XR2 Team Issue TLR 29x2.2 tyres were fitted due to their more open tread pattern and good bag size. They roll ok, and hold air well, but after pushing the bike a little harder we may put something with a little more tread or bag size on in the future. These are a great loose condition tyre for XC and general use though.
On the trails a few things became apparent. The bike was faster than I expected: I just didn’t think it would be as close in speed to my marathonfocused FS bike, given the different geometry. But the input from acceleration, and changes in direction was super quick – it was a blast in tight trails.
The other factor was the rear shock: it took a few stops to get the pressure right. The CTD adjustments give good range, but it could benefit from a remote lockout to get the most out of it.
At first I found the bike descended better than it climbed, but that changed in use and once I’d set the shock up properly. I’m also just between frame sizes – I could ride the larger frame and still be ok with the handlebar height – probably even more comfortable. This isn’t the sort of bike you just whack a longer stem onto for fit and make do. You’re missing out on what they have designed if you do.
What we have created though is a fast, big-wheeled trailbike. I would have no qualms taking this bike to a singletrack-heavy marathon, or for a big day out in remote areas. But then, I’m just as comfortable on it down steeper sections of trails on the Northern Beaches.
We have some changes in mind to really see how versatile this bike is.