A hardtail designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers... and it shows
You won’t find mounts for a rack or a kickstand on the Whyte 429 hardtail. That’s because it’s been designed by mountain bikers, for one thing and one thing only… mountain biking. The result is a bike with performance that makes it a justifiable addition to our best hardtail mountain bikes guide.
Whyte 429 need to know
- Rubber grommets where the cables enter the frame keep water and crud out
- Frame sizes on the 429 are limited to three: M, L and XL
- A Shimano Deore 10sp derailleur is combined with a 11-46t Sunrace cassette
- The 120mm travel RockShox Judy fork is air sprung and has adjustable damping
As such, this entry-level 29er trail hardtail has all the technology pioneered on Whyte’s full suspension bikes. It gets a dedicated single chain ring frame design, so while you will find routing for a dropper post there’s no way to fit a front derailleur. And who needs one anyway, given how good the latest generation of 1x drivetrains are?
Whyte also pioneered shorter offset forks with equally short stems and longer reach measurements to give riders more confidence descending, and the 429 hardtail benefits from the exact same concept. And it’s not just the headline technology that Wytye has got right; the 429 was the only bike in this test where we didn’t have to hack the seat post down just so we could drop the saddle low enough for descending.
That’s not to say that the 429 frame design is perfect though, as there’s limited clearance between the chainstays, even with the slender 2.25in Maxxis Rekon Race rear tyre. The frame would also have a much shorter seat tube and a lower top tube, to go with its more progressive steering geometry.
Leading the charge on the 429 is a 120mm travel RockShox Judy fork. It shares the same chassis as the Judys on the Kona and Specialized, so extending it by an extra 20mm of travel does reduce stiffness slightly. Given the price-point there’s no faulting its performance though. Simply dial in the sag with a shock pump, set the rebound damping to control the return speed of the fork and you’re good to go.
Best of all, RockShox forks are super reliable, so if anything should go wrong getting it fixed will be relatively straightforward.
One component that’s easily missed but has a massive impact on the long-term durability of the 429 is the Whyte 2-piece chainset. All of the other bikes in the shop bought category use older square taper crankarms, which aren’t as strong, stiff or as durable. It’s why Voodoo and Vitus both use a 2-piece configuration. It’s simply better.
What did Whyte sacrifice to fit such a good chainset?
Well, it certainly wasn’t the contact points, as the grips and saddle are both spot on. The 760mmm handlebar has a great profile too and as we mentioned earlier the seat post slides up and down with ease, thanks to the perfect frame finish and top-quality quick release. Even the wheels are half decent, the 25mm wide 29in rims big enough to accommodate the Maxxis tyres.
If we had to guess on the compromise, we’d point to the 10-speed 11-46t Sunrace cassette as it doesn’t offer the same gear range as the Kona or the Specialized. Other than that, the Whyte 426 certainly isn’t wanting for anything. Even the bigger 180mm rear rotor helps add extra stopping power to the Tektro hydraulic brakes, which aren’t as powerful as the Shimano brakes on the Specialized.
With the fast rolling rear tyre and stiffer two-piece chainset, the Whyte 429 feels direct and purposeful when you get on the gas, without offering a white-knuckle ride on all the fun stuff.
It doesn’t feel as balanced as the Kona Mahuna, even when we ran the 120mm RockShox Judy fork a little firmer to maintain the desired dynamic geometry. You can ride it just as hard though, as the elevated front end puts you in a very commanding position. And while the curvy rear stays don’t offer stacks of tyre clearance, their increased length does offer a more forgiving ride. Not as forgiving as a fatter rear tyre though, so ideally the 429 would have both.
Versatile, capable and sleek, the Whyte 429 is no one trick pony. Drop the stem for a more bum-up, head-down riding position and watch the miles disappear beneath your wheels just as effortlessly as you carve flowing singletrack and steeper descents.
- Best hardtail mountain bike: classic trail shredding machines
- Best mountain bike: the ultimate trail, XC and enduro bikes
When it comes to trail hardtails, Whyte pretty much wrote the rule book. But like all great texts there comes a time for a second edition. So as accomplished as the Whyte 429 is, we think it would be even better with a shorter seat tube and more space between the chain stays to comfortably fit a fatter rear tyre. Small revisions then, not a complete rewrite that would fundamentally change the attitude of this otherwise great 29er trail hardtail. It was enough to cause Whyte to narrowly miss out to Kona for the win in this test though.