Best Hardtail of the Year under £750!
Whyte completely redesigned its 600 series hardtails for 2017, so the Whyte 605 gets a slightly toned down version of the aggressive geometry featured on the more expensive 800 and 900 series bikes. Compared to the 905, the size L 605 is a bit tall and upright, but it still features a long top tube and a relatively short stem.
There are also a couple of unique features on the 6061 aluminium frame, like the Get A Grip seat clamp system. This forward facing design keeps mud out of the seat tube and the broad lever makes it easy to loosen the QR. Unfortunately the seat tube wasn’t reamed properly and after one ride the post was already sporting some deep scratches.
Although the RockShox XC30 suspension fork only has 100mm of travel, it has a coil-spring that’s supple and lively. At this price, however, we’d like to see an air-spung fork – to make it easily tuneable to different rider weights – with adjustable damping.
Whyte’s approach to geometry is based around using a short stem, but we reckon it’s missed a trick fitting a handlebar that’s only 700mm wide. Another 40mm would add a bit more control and some much need resilience, as a wider bar would flex more too.
Whyte has saved money with a cheap square-taper crankset and 9-speed gearing, but to be fair, these parts are relatively easy to replace when they wear out. The hubs on the 605 are cheap too, but once they go, the wheels are also toast. The 2.2in WTB BeeLine tyres are fast rolling but we’d like to see a front tyre with a bit more volume and grip.
In terms of geometry, the £750 category is split into two camps, with the Nukeproof and Kona being more contemporary and the Canyon, KTM and Cannondale featuring a more traditional XC profile. With it’s long wheelbase and relatively slack head angle, the Whyte 605 sits somewhere in the middle. It’s not as dynamic as the Nukeproof or Kona but it’s still stable and surefooted when it gets steep. It’s livelier on the singletrack, definitely has more to give in the rear end and is still agile on the climbs.
The Whyte 605 is our Hardtail of the Year in the £750 category, but it isn’t perfect. There are a couple of iffy component choices, like the square-taper crankset, none-branded hubs and summer only WTB tyres, but what stops the 605 getting a perfect 10 is the fact that Whyte’s award-winning 800 and 900 bikes are totally dialled. If Whyte could trickle down the geometry and handling, and fit a proper front tyre and a wider bar, the 605 would be on a completely different level to any other bike in the category.