Still one of the best short-travel rippers on the market.
Multiple test winner, and our Bike of the Year 2016, the pedigree of the Whyte T-130 S is beyond reproach. With so many accolades it would be understandable if Whyte were to sit back and revel in the limelight as the sales rolled in… It didn’t.
Instead, Whyte went about doing what it does best, it tweaked the T-130 to see if it could make it better still. The first thing that it addressed was tyre clearance. With the super short 421mm chain stay it was always a tight squeeze behind the BB so this area has been opened up to make space for up to a 2.6in tyre. And added bonus being that it’s now much easier to get the rear wheel in and out.
The revised chainstay yoke wasn’t simply about mud clearance though. Whyte also wanted to take advantage of the huge increase in traction and comfort afforded by fatter tyres. As such, the 2017 T-130 S gets a 2.4in WTB Trail Boss rear tyre, which is a much better match for the Vigilante up front than the 2.25in tyre it fitted last year.
To pump up the volume of the tyres further, Whyte has also switched to WTB STs i29 rims, that’s more than a 25 per cent increase over last year. The wheels also come tubeless ready, so there’s no need to buy additional rim strips or valve stems.
A less welcome change, is that the price has gone up £250, and we suspect this is more to do with currency fluctuations than changes to the specification.
When RockShox introduced the Yari, the spindly Revelation on the Whyte T-130 S was instantly upgraded. Boasting the same stiffness as a Pike, the fork was no longer the limiting factor. That’s not to say the inner workings of the RC dampers are the same on both forks thought. More on this later.
Whyte keep travel balanced with 130mm front and rear. The RockShox Monarch RT shock has external rebound adjustment and a two-position compression lever for toggling between Open and Pedal modes. Setup on the Whyte was easy and we never felt the need to reach for the firmer Pedal setting on the shock.
One key change to the T-130 frame that we haven’t mentioned is that Whyte reduced the height of the seat tube. It did this so that it could take advantage of longer dropper posts without having to compromise the fit of the bike. And there’s no better dropper than the 150mm RockShox Reverb on the T-130 S.
Whyte’s generous Reach measurements means it leads it can lead the way in terms of stem length too, the Small and Medium sizes get stubby 40mm stem, whiles the L and XL come with 50mm units. One area where Whyte could improve the T-130 S though, is the handlebar. The 760mm width is fine, but the bar bends back too much and it could do with more rise to help increase the height of the front end. We’d also like fatter grips for more cushioning.
First run down our test track and it was clear that the 2017 Whyte T-130 S had lost none of its magic. Eye wateringly fast and a total riot to ride, we could hit all of our lines with confidence and get creative with new ones too.
With the super short chainstays it’s easy to pop the front end up and slam the rear wheel into tight turns. The flip side is that the T-130 never felt as composed as the Commençal when really trying to push the limits. And with cutting edge geometry on both of these rippers, it’s more about finding your limits, not those of the bike.
As the test progressed, we fitted our 2.3in Maxxis High Roller II control tyres, and it instantly became evident that the RockShox Yari RC gave a harsher ride than the Pike when diving into to rock gardens or slicing across roots. This was enough to clinch it for the Commençal as the bikes are so evenly matched in every other respect.
It’s incredibly difficult for brands that sell bikes through traditional bricks and mortar stores to compete with online retailers. In fact it’s cut throat, so Whyte should be commended for doing such a sterling job with the T-130 S. Even with price increase, it still one of the best short-travel rippers on the market, narrowly missing out to the Commencal by the slimmest of margins. With a RockShox Pike RC fork instead of the Yari RC, the tables could well have been turned. The Whyte T-130 S is still a great package though and if you prefer doing business face to face, it should be your first choice.