There are three models in Whyte’s 900 series hardtail line-up and, while the top boy 909 has adjustable dropouts, it basically uses the same aluminium frame as the mid-range 905 and the entry-level 901 featured here.
For 2014, this trail hardtail gets 650b (27in) wheels and the company’s latest ‘trail’ geometry. Whyte decided on this wheel size after back-to-back testing of 26in and 29ers, saying the 650b bikes had a more playful, interactive feel, and were easier to throw around. The in-between wheels also presented fewer challenges when it comes to keeping the chainstays short — Whyte didn’t have to shoehorn a big wheel into the frameset.
The head tube doesn’t need to be as short, so the top and down tubes are fatter and stiffer and the seat tube can be straight, resulting in more saddle height adjustment, which is especially handy on the smaller frame sizes.
Designing the frame around a stubby 60mm stem and wide 750mm bar has facilitated a stretched front end, making the Whyte 901 more stable than the previous 26in bike. It has kept the short chainstay but pushed the fork travel up 10mm to 130mm. With the 650b wheels the bottom bracket also sits well below the axles, so the 901 corners better, too.
The Whyte 901 comes with a mix of SRAM X5 and X7 components, Elixir 3 disc brakes and a SRAM Type 2 ‘clutch’ rear derailleur. Overall, it’s well balanced for a £1,200 hardtail. The only thing I’d probably change is the front tyre, as I’m not convinced the Ardent is the right choice for the majority of UK riding. Other than that, there’s a lot here to recommend. Paul Burwell
We Love: The wide bars and short stem, plus the 650b wheels.
We Hate: Drifty Ardent front tyre.