Still one of the best short-travel rippers on the market
It’s easy to quickly glance at the 2019 Whyte T-130 S and assume it’s the same as last year’s bike, albeit with fatter 2.6in tyres and a 140mm travel fork.
That would be a massive mistake, because this is a completely new frame with new suspension dynamics and revised geometry; geometry that’s designed specifically for forks with ultra-short 37mm fork offset.
Whyte T-130 S review
But before we dive into all of the changes, there are a couple of signature Whyte design features that carry over to its latest 27.5in trail bike platform. Take the symmetrical SCR rear stays and ultra wide main pivot that improve stiffness of the rear end by using space freed up by the now redundant front derailleur.
Then there’s Whyte’s progressive approach to sizing. The size L T-130 boasts a generous 480mm reach measurement, that’s 20mm longer than the equivalent size Canyon Spectral AL, which is actually the second longest bike in the 27.5in category. And Whyte hasn’t ignored shorter riders, expanding the size range down to include an XS option. Whyte had also reduced the stack height of the seat tube to make it easy to up-size. Not that you’ll need to given the length of these bikes.
Last year there was a batch of RockShox Revelation suspension forks that suffered from undersized bushings, resulting in an overly harsh ride. This year, that’s all been sorted and the 140mm Revelation on the Whyte offers ample grip, good compliance and great support.
With the 37mm offset Whyte slackened the head angle on the T-130 to balance the steering response. And even though the fork has 10mm more travel than the rear end, the suspension on the T-130 S is perfectly balanced.
With 25 per cent sag on the RockShox Deluxe RT shock the rear end felt very stable even for out of the saddle pedalling efforts, but you could still use the full 130mm travel on rougher trails, even if you keep both wheels firmly on the ground.
The contact points and fit of the Whyte T-130 are dialled. There is ample padding in the grips and saddle without numbing the ride, and the 35mm stem and 780mm handlebars complement the frame proportions perfectly. Granted, the Guide T brake levers don’t offer the same light action or snappy return of the Guide Rs found elsewhere, but there’s no faulting their stopping power and modulation.
One aspect of the specification that we would change is the rear tyre; the harder compound 60a Maxxis Rekon 2.6in lacking drive on slippery climbs and stepping out to abruptly on wet roots and rocks. In fact, we’d use the 3C High Roller II front tyre on the rear then get a 3C Minion DHF for the front.
Swapping to our control tyres, boosted rear end grip and even though our 2.5/2.4in tyre combo had less volume the softer rubber and deeper tread on the rear meant that the Whyte would stick to off camber lines much easier while providing more drive on the climbs. And boy does this bike climb well. In or out of the saddle the suspension is steadfast.
Changing the tyres also highlighted that the geometry, specifically the BB Height, on the T-130 really is optimised for 2.6in tyres. With a smaller 2.4in tyre on the rear the resulting 320mm BB height was borderline too low, and we started brushing pedals on roots and rocks while climbing. The very same climbs we had ridden on the stock tyres with no issues.
Also, because the Whyte only has 130mm of travel on the rear, the extra cushioning of the fatter 2.6in casings is welcome on rougher trails, as you’ll reach the limits of the available travel before the geometry or sizing hold you back.
That’s simply because the geometry on the Whyte T-130 S is the longest, lowest and slackest in the 27.5in category. In fact, the sizing is so much more progressive than anything else in its class, if you are of average height we’d recommend the size M, especially if you’re upgrading from a bike with old school geometry.
Fast and direct, the latest Whyte T-130 S is an amazing trail bike. It’s packed with cutting-edge tech too, like the super short offset fork and single-ring frame design. Yes, it’s the shortest travel bike here, but the T-130 uses every millimetre of its travel optimally. It never feels overly soft or too active under power, but hammer into a rough section of trail the red o-ring on the shock will indicate full travel, without a hint of a harsh bottom out. Whyte can’t quite compete with Canyon’s keen pricing though, so the T-130 S will have to settle for second place.