Meet the new­est mem­ber of our long term fleet – Whyte’s M109C with our own frame­set build-up

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - TEST Mike Ble­witt PHO­TOS Tim Bard­s­ley-Smith

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.

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