Whyte’s 130mm travel trail bikes progresses geometry and sizing once again
Whyte T-130C is still a really capable trail bike and can be ridden harder than the original, but has fun-loving personality has been traded for raw speed?
Whyte T-130C R need to know
- Whyte’s 130mm travel trail bikes progresses geometry and sizing once again
- Fork travel increases to 140mm, with short 38mm offsets on all models
- 27.5in wheels and high-volume 2.6in Maxxis tyres come as standard
- Whyte add a small size to extend the range
Take a cursory glance at the latest T-130C R and it would be easy to assume that it’s business as usual for Whyte’s popular trail bike – even if the price has actually come down by £200. After all, it’s still got 130mm travel and it is still rolling on 27.5in wheels.
Start peeling back the layers of the carbon front end though, and it quickly becomes apparent that this is a new bike and a completely different animal.
Not only has Whyte made it longer, the reach measurement on the size L growing by 13mm, it’s also added a size small, which, given Whyte’s generous frame proportions, is probably equivalent to most brands’ size medium.
The geometry has progressed too, Whyte upping fork travel by 10mm to 140mm, while making the head angle on the latest version 1.5° slacker.
And it’s the head angle change that I found most surprising. And not because the new bike is super slack or anything, it’s just that Whyte also reduced the fork offset at the same time and both changes increase the trail measurement making it a really big change.
And the reason for the shift in steering geometry? When Whyte was developing the new T-130 platform and testing different offset forks, it liked the affect the short 37mm offset had on steering and cornering, but the bike didn’t feels as stable as before, hence the slacker head angle.
At the same time it also increased the chain stay length from 420mm to 435mm, to help maintain a balanced ride with the longer front end.
And if that’s enough geometry tech to make your head spin, the takeaway is pretty straightforward: you can’t simply bolt a shorter offset fork to a frame and assume it’s going to be instantly better.
Whyte also found that stem length made a big difference with the shorter offset forks. The outcome of that experiment being, that the stem needs to be shorter than the fork offset. Hence the 35mm stem on the new T-130. The short stems are also why the frame need to be longer.
Now, if this all tweaking sounds a bit like Whyte is chasing its geometry tail, I’m with you all the way. But if you want to make a good bike a little bit better these are the lengths you need to go to.
And Whyte didn’t stop there. Depending on the frame size the bike comes with different width handlebars. So the size S bike gets a 760mm bar, while the M, L and XL all come with 780mm bars. Whyte even goes to the trouble of fitting higher rise bars to the L and XL, just so you don’t have to jack the stem up as far. Talk about dotting “I”s and crossing “T”s.
The final change to the new T-130 is the increased tyre sizes. Out go the 2.3/2.25in tyres, in comes 2.6in rubber front and rear. The Maxxis High Roller II/Rekon combo offering a good balance between cornering traction and rolling speed. With all of the changes, the weight of the new T-130C R has crept up and it’s actually heavier than aluminium Whyte T-130 S that we tested back in 2017.
Also I didn’t instantly gel with it in the same way that I did the original. Maybe there are just more bikes that share similar numbers and ride characteristics, so the latest version of the T-130 doesn’t feel quite as standout.
Also I’m not totally sold on the super short fork offsets because there’s so much more to it that simply increasing the trail numbers. So even though the Whyte T-130C R has geometry and sizing that’s similar to the modern enduro bikes, it didn’t have me brimming with confidence.
This is not to say that it would run rings around most of its rivals, but in all of the tweaking a little of the T-130’s sparkle has been lost.