The best hardtail we’ve ridden
Whyte has been at the forefront of hardtail development for as long as we can remember – its original 900 series bikes racking up multiple test wins and a string of awards.
In recent years however, the class leading Whyte 905 lost some ground to bikes like the Orange Crush and Ragley Blue Pig. It’s time to wipe the slate clean however, as Whyte releases a brand new version of the 905.
Even if we ignore the increased traction, comfort and control of the chunky 2.8in tyres, the sizing on the Whyte is the most progressive here. Like the other hardtails in this test the 905 comes in four frame sizes, but Whyte’s size medium almost has measure of the size L Nukeproof and Orange, so there’s no need to upsize.
Traditionally, Whyte would have had the lightest bike in this test, but the extra girth of the fatter rims and tyres see the weight creep up slightly, making it the second lightest on test; 0.3kg heavier than the Nukeproof.
By moving to Plus size tyres, Whyte has increased the suspension component of the wheels on the 905, but it’s kept suspension fork travel fixed at 130mm. That’s not to say that Whyte hasn’t been tinkering with the RockShox Revelation RC though. In fact, the fork on the 905 get a slightly shorter offset, just like on Whyte’s full suspension bikes.
Without getting lost in the weeds of steering geometry, the basic idea is that by reducing the fork offset you increase trail, so you get the same stabilising effect as slackening the head angle without having to chopper the fork out further. Given that the Whyte also has the least fork travel, the dynamic steering geometry is by far the most progressive. More importantly, it was also the easiest bike to achieve a really good set up with the new Revelation RC.
Whyte has gone all in with SRAM Level brakes and a 1×11 GX drivetrain. But because the cassette uses a standard freehub, not the more compact SRAM XD driver body, the smallest cog is an 11t so the gear range is almost identical to the Shimano equipped bikes.
All of the bikes in this test are running short 170mm crankarms, but the Whyte’s low BB height make it the only one to warrant the additional pedal clearance.
Details like the fatter grips and comfortable saddle are also on point, as is the 150mm dropper post. If we’re being really picky, however, we’d like a slightly wider bar with more rise, because you can’t use the last 5mm of the grips and we had to run the 40mm stem at maximum height. The easy fix would be for Whyte to fit the higher/wider bar that comes standard on the XL option.
Testing bikes is a tricky business. You have to factor in changes in trail conditions, mood, the influence of rider fatigue, and the fact that the human body is so good at adapting that you get used to any bike in a very short space of time.
But not matter where, when or how we tested the three bikes in this test the Whyte 905 always managed to enthuses us to ride harder and take more chances. In the process it opened up new lines and opportunities that were invisible or out of reach on the other bikes.
And we don’t think this is entirely down to the Plus size tyres, even thought there’s no denying that the bigger tyres give the bike more pop, making it less effort to skip over a root or clear a set of doubles. The fatter tyres are faster too, as all of those little bumps in the trail are seamlessly absorbed by the tyres rather than chipping away at your speed.
With the slackest dynamic steering geometry, lowest BB height and the best sizing, Whyte has the all of the fundamentals in place for a great hardtail. The Plus size tyres simply take it to the next level.
Whyte has never been afraid to follow the path less travelled. And while it’s not the first brand to go down the Plus size hardtail route, it’s one of the only bands to implement the more extreme geometry that make hardcore hardtails so much fun to ride. The combination of the chunky 2.8in Maxxis tyres, custom offset RockShox Revelation fork and dialled geometry made the new 905 an instant hit. Whyte claims that this is the best 905 it’s ever built and we wholeheartedly agree. It also the best hardtail we’ve ridden period and easily deserving of a perfect 10 rating.