Whyte T-130 S

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WO R D S : SE­BAS­TIAN JAYNE IM­AGES: DO­MINIC HOOK

Whyte is Bri­tish. Their bikes are devel­oped in Bri­tain and their de­vel­op­ers ride to work. I went to Eng­land this year for a bit of time, it rained con­stantly, well it felt like that any­way. An­other con­stant was their trails, which all seemed to have a mil­lion rocks and steep, rough and tech­ni­cal des­cents. I’m sure I am ex­ag­ger­at­ing, but to de­velop a bike that can han­dle even a quar­ter of these con­di­tions on a daily ba­sis means it will prob­a­bly be up to scratch to han­dle just about any other trail net­work in the world.

Most of Whyte’s bikes fea­ture slack an­gles to get the front wheel well out in front for bet­ter trail feel, along­side this they like drop­ping the bot­tom bracket height for a low cen­tre of grav­ity and have short back ends to cre­ate a play­ful ride. The T-130s ticks all of these boxes mak­ing it a quin­tes­sen­tial Whyte of­fer­ing. We have tested two T-130 mod­els in the past, and this one is the lat­est up­date. How will those char­ac­ter­is­tics play out in the rugged Aus­tralian bush? I guess it’s time to go test­ing!

INI­TIAL IM­PRES­SION

The T-130s is Whyte’s longer travel trail bike, with the S-120s be­ing the shorter travel xc/trail op­tion with 29” wheels. As its name sug­gest it is a 130mm travel frame with a 140mm fork on 27.5” wheels. Trail bikes can be quite a wide cat­e­gory with each rider want­ing some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent for where they live. Some want a more re­laxed but ca­pa­ble bike on which they can do XC loops, that would be the S-120s, while oth­ers pre­fer a bike that can pedal well but han­dle a wide range of des­cents, hope­fully that will be the T-130s.

Help­ing the T-130s in its dreams of be­ing a trail bike that can de­scend ca­pa­bly is Whyte’s sig­na­ture ge­om­e­try. The 65.5 de­gree head an­gle is very slack for a trail bike and places the front wheel quite far out in front of the bike. Whyte hopes this will re­sult in the steer­ing ‘self-cor­rect’ while rid­ing. The head an­gle has been paired with a com­par­a­tively long reach cre­ated by a long top tube and short stem to cre­ate snappy han­dling but enough sta­bil­ity at speed. Help­ing sta­bil­ity is the rea­son­ably long wheel­base es­pe­cially for a 27.5” bike. All these ‘long’ num­bers are off­set in the right place with nice and short chain­stays at 430mm. Go­ing over the num­bers gives us a glimpse at how the Whyte has been put to­gether with each part look­ing to com­ple­ment each other.

The T-130s is the top alu­minium model of two with the other three new mod­els in the T-130 range get­ting a car­bon frame. The T-130s comes with a Rock­Shox Rev­e­la­tion RC fork paired with

the Deluxe RT shock which makes a great pack­age as does the SRAM GX Ea­gle 12-speed group set. The SRAM Guide brakes with 180mm ro­tors on the medium and larger sizes is a good touch to be able to han­dle the des­cents that Whyte hope you will be tack­ling. There are ISCG mounts on the frame if you want to add a chain guide but no guide is pro­vided.

One area where Whyte ex­cel, which stems from the harsh cli­mate of Bri­tain, is their weath­er­proof­ing and small de­tails on their bikes that aim to make things eas­ier for the rider. Their bear­ings are weath­er­proof, their clamps such as their seat posts are weath­er­proof, and their in­ter­nal rout­ing is sealed with a spe­cial rout­ing sys­tem to make in­stal­la­tion easy and keep things tick­ing over smoothly and qui­etly.

Spec-wise, the T-130s sits at the more ag­gres­sive end of the trail bike spec­trum and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how many trails the T-130s can han­dle com­fort­ably. The ge­om­e­try shows a bike that should be ca­pa­ble on steep des­cents but may find trou­ble on flat­ter ter­rain. I do like how Whyte of­fer two dif­fer­ent mod­els of ‘trail’ bikes, so riders can tai­lor to their in­di­vid­ual needs.

ON THE TRAIL

My test rides on the T-130s were very de­scent ori­en­tated with a shut­tle day on Bright’s Mys­tic Moun­tain en­duro tracks and trail rides on climb­ing and de­scend­ing trails. Rid­ing to the trails was pleas­ant enough with the T-130s plac­ing you in a com­fort­able po­si­tion, which was helped largely by the cock­pit that felt roomy thanks to the long reach. The Maxxis High Roller II on the front rum­bled along a bit but paired with the faster rolling Rekon on the rear made the com­mute man­age­able, which is what I pre­fer from a tyre set up. The High Roller would come into its own soon enough.

The first test on one ride was a flow trail with good gra­di­ent, big berms and small jumps. The big­gest point to stand out was the sta­bil­ity of the T-130s at speed. The long wheel­base and slack head an­gle cou­pled with a low bot­tom bracket meant you were sucked into berms and spat out the other end very com­fort­ably. The next big­gest point was the great agility of the T-130s, helped along by the 27.5” wheels. Be­ing long and stable is good but if it’s to the detri­ment of agility you will start feel­ing it on tighter trails or when you need to start flick­ing the bike around.

The next trail was the climb back up, which

“AS LONG AS THERE WAS ENOUGH GRA­DI­ENT TO MAKE USE OF THE SLACK­NESS, THE T - 130S WAS AMAZ­ING TO RIDE. I COULD FLICK IT AROUND COR­NERS AND OVER TRAIL FUR­NI­TURE WHILE STILL BE­ING ABLE TO OPEN IT UP ON STRAIGHTS AND FEEL STABLE ENOUGH TO PUNCH THROUGH ROUGH SEC­TIONS.

for a de­scend­ing ori­ented trail bike is iron­i­cally where riders will spend most of their time. The long reach meant the com­fort felt ear­lier on the flat trans­ferred to the climb­ing. Though the slack head an­gle did re­mind you this bike prefers to be pointed down. It was a bit of a strug­gle to keep the front wheel track­ing straight es­pe­cially on up­hill cor­ners or steep sec­tions, which is a com­mon com­plaint with slacker bikes. A good point was the ef­fi­ciency of the sus­pen­sion. There is a firm mode on the Rock­Shox Deluxe RT though I rarely thought to use it and pre­ferred it open as the sus­pen­sion bob wasn’t no­tice­able.

Back in its nat­u­ral ter­rain and point­ing down, the T-130s showed its true colours. The next trail was fast and rough with flat rough cor­ners. The T-130s ripped down the rough straights with the slack­ness putting you in a great po­si­tion to at­tack. The slack­ness put the front wheel at a great an­gle and helped the Rev­e­la­tion forks’ 140mm of travel soak up any bump and made me for­get I was only on 27.5” wheels. It re­ally did give you a lot of con­fi­dence to push the speed higher. On the cor­ners the steer­ing did suf­fer a bit es­pe­cially when the gra­di­ent re­lented and it be­came flat­ter. The steer­ing felt a bit way­ward and was a bit of a strug­gle to keep the front track­ing where I wanted. There was a large dif­fer­ence be­tween flat and steeper cor­ners though, as the T-130s re­ally did rip steep cor­ners with the agility and sta­bil­ity shown on the flow trail.

A tighter trail came up next and the T-130s sur­prised me again be­ing both ag­ile and stable on tight sec­tions. As long as there was enough gra­di­ent to make use of the slack­ness, the T-130s was amaz­ing to ride. I could flick it around cor­ners and over trail fur­ni­ture while still be­ing able to open it up on straights and feel stable enough to punch through rough sec­tions. I think this is the big­gest point about the T-130s, it is ag­ile and stable as long as there is gra­di­ent, as in a proper de­scent, to make use of its best at­tributes.

O U R TA K E

When peo­ple think of trails and trail bikes there can be a large dis­crep­ancy be­tween thoughts, usu­ally de­pend­ing on what each per­son’s lo­cal trails are. Some peo­ple only have XC trails with some tricky A-lines and call that a trail ride. Oth­ers have shut­tle days and call climb and de­scent re­peats as their trail rides. The T-130s would lean heav­ily on the lat­ter as on pa­per it’s a down­hill ori­ented trail bike and test­ing showed this is where its strengths lie. It ab­so­lutely rips with equal doses of agility and sta­bil­ity, not an easy com­bi­na­tion to put to­gether, and while it’s not a climb­ing beast and not the best for a long trail ride on XC trails, when it does come into its own on a de­scent it shows its strength. It’s not iso­lated to chill des­cents but can han­dle a wide range of de­scend­ing trails. From XC des­cents, flow trails to en­duro trails, the T-130s is can han­dle them all with fun and flair while still will­ing to climb back up. If that sounds like your trail ride, the T-130s could be for you.

SE­BAS­TIAN JAYNERID­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Over 7 years rac­ing na­tional and in­ter­na­tional XCO GEN­ER­ALLY RIDES: Norco Re­volver FS 29 HEIGHT: 175cm WEIGHT: 65kg BIKE TEST TRACK: Bright, Yackan­dan­dah, Beech­worth

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