Progressive frame geometry lets you ride harder. The 905 excels in the widest variety of situations.
MBR Editor’s Choice 2019: Whyte 905 V2, £1,699.99
Isn’t it strange how some bikes gain momentum and never seem to lose it? And we’re not talking about reduced rolling resistance, even though that’s important; we simply mean getting on a roll.
Take the Whyte 905 for example. The original version pretty much defined the modern trail hardtail. Lightweight, low-slung, relatively slack, not as much fork travel as your typical hardcore hardtail, and with just enough resilience in the sculpted alloy tubing to make it a great companion for all-day rides.
It’s been stretched, tweaked and meticulously honed every year since. And even though the latest version with 27.5in wheels, voluminous 2.8in tyres and modern sizing is by far the best to date, it hasn’t strayed too far from the design remit that made the original 905 such a revelation.
With the lowest BB height in test and a plush RockShox Pike fork offering 130mm of travel with plenty of front-end support, the 905 felt every bit as surefooted railed loamy turns as it did bombing steep, rooty chutes. In fact, as the riding got more technical and challenging the 905 really started to excel.
There’s no disputing the extra comfort the the high-volume 2.8in tyres bring to the 905 platform, and even with the shallow tread of the Maxxis Recon rear tyre, it’s ability to rap around slippery roots and rocks, ensures that the Whyte 905 isn’t shot of traction either.
It was the handling of the Whyte 905 V2 that really won us over in our Best of British hardtail test. Ultimately it is a fun, playful bike that will take your riding to the next level.
What’s new for 2020?
Tested just four weeks ago the Whyte 905 V2 is as fresh as they come. And if you’re wondering what the V2 stands for, it’s just Whyte’s way of indicating the latest version of a particular bike. This way, it’s not tied to more traditional production cycles or model years, so as new parts become available it can update the specification and release the bike without having to wait a year to do so.
Whyte 905 V2 review
Whyte has been at the forefront of hardtail development for as long as we can remember. This Whyte 905 V2 looks set to rack up test wins and awards.
Whyte 905 V2 review
Model years can be confusing and often limiting, so Whyte has come up with a neat alternative. Models launched earlier in the season get the V1 tag; then as frames get updated or different parts become available later in the season the V2 version gets rolled out.
Being well into 2019, or early 2020 for other brands, we’re testing the 905 V2. The geometry and sizing remain unchanged between V1 and V2, but Whyte has ditched the InterGrip seat camp in favour of a traditional seat collar. So now ham-fisted riders and mechanics will be less prone to over-tightening the seat clamp which could cause the dropper post to bind. Thankfully, Whyte has retained the rubber boot, and combined with a forward facing slot in the frame, the 905 V2 should be every bit as weather-proof as the outgoing design.
Whyte has also removed the now redundant Crud Catcher mounts under the downtube, because everyone know it’s better to have a mudguard fitted to the fork that bolted to the frame.
And, it’s actually the suspension fork that’s the biggest component changed from V1 to V2. The latest bike sporting a 130mm travel RockShox Pike instead of a Revelation. And it’s the fork, or more specifically the associated steering geometry, that makes this bike really interesting: Whyte opting for a super short 37mm fork offset and stubby 35mm stem to increase steering stability at speed, without the front end feeling floppy or wayward on the climbs.
All in the entry-level RockShox Pike RC Select feels super composed, the Debonair spring and Charger damper working in unison to provide good small bump sensitivity with ample support, while still being able to use the full measure of the 130mm travel on bigger hits.
Having the highest volume tyres in test also helps the Whyte 905 V2 glide across roots and rocks, the softer compound 3C Maxxis High Roller II front tyre giving you the confidence to hit lines that are simply off limits to the other bikes in this test.
We also liked the way the wide 35mm WTB rims give the big 2.8in Maxxis tyres more of a square profile, which in turn allows you to load up the side knobs of the tyres and really rail every turn.
Sure, the tread pattern on the Maxxis Rekon rear tyre is not really a four-season option, at least not in the UK, but it helps keep the tempo up and your legs spinning on flatter sections of trail. As do the 170mm crank arms, an absolute must given the sub 300mm BB height on the 905.
In terms of the drivetrain the SRAM NX Eagle kit on the Whyte 905 V2 is right in line with the Saracen Mantra Elite LSL and Nukepoof Scout 275 Comp, but once again the tighter radius of the gear cable as it exits the chain stay to enter the rear derailleur makes the shifting marginally heavier than on the Nukepoof.
We’re nit picking though, but when the top two bikes are this close in terms of outright performance, it’s the small details that make the difference.
Even with its sculpted tubing profiles, curvy stays and high volume 2.8in tyres, the Whyte 905 can’t quite match the smooth, silent ride quality of the Nukeproof Scout. And on flatter, flowy trails, the Nukeproof has a distinct advantage in terms of comfort and speed.
Get both bikes into steeper more challenging terrain however and the tables are quickly turned. The lower BB height, slacker head angle and that soft compound 2.8in front tyre mean the Whyte 905 never puts a foot wrong even if you regularly do.
In fact, it’s the 905’s ability to rise to every occasion that makes it such a formidable package. It’s still the category leader, but which category is it in? Whyte bills it as Enduro/Trail and given that the 905 has proved time and time again that it’s the ultimate trail hardtail for anyone looking to ride everything fast, we think Whyte pegged it perfectly.
We’ve always been big fans of Whyte’s 900 series hardtails, and the latest 905 V2 is no exception. Yes, brands like Nukeproof are beginning to bridge the gap, but the 905 V2 still manages to inch ahead. And while the advantage of the 2.8in Maxxis tyres, both in terms of traction and control, really can't be underestimated, it actually having the best geometry, sizing and specification that gives the Whyte 905 V2 the edge in this test. For £1,700 there simply is no better hardtail for going fast and having fun on, as Whyte really leaves nothing wanting on the 905 V2.