First Ride | 2016 Whyte T130 Carbon RS

October 9th, 2015

By Andrew Dodd in Bikes,Tech

Reduced weight, improved ride attributes

Designed to be a fast hardy trail bike, the T130 Carbon is the latest offering from UK brand Whyte bikes, and it features 130mm of travel front and rear, and rolls on 27.5in wheels.

There are five models of T130 – three alloy, and two carbon.

We previewed the cheaper of the two, the Whyte T130 Carbon RS which retails for £3500 and comes with a SRAM and Rockshox spec.

Whyte T130 Carbon

Just look at the stance of this thing on the trail – it means business. 130mm of travel; 67degree head angle; 1197mm wheelbase on the XL; increased standover height nearer to a size Large for those that want to size up and a roomy 651mm cock pit. Do you really need more travel than 130mm?

With a carbon front triangle and alloy rear end, Whyte designer Ian Alexander has been able to offer the bike with maximum performance at a good price with excellent spec. Both the available specs are no nonsense specs that are perfect for UK shredders.

Whyte T130 Carbon

The T130 Carbon uses the most recent incarnation of the Quad link suspension platform with a top tube mounted shock. The seat mast uses the stunning sealed seat collar design. This thing is designed for UK riding, by a UK rider.

With 130mm of travel and 27.5in wheels, the T130 has more than enough travel for most riders – and despite sounding closer to an XC bike in terms of suspension travel is a complete beast when you push it hard. It’s definitely a secret weapon amongst all the slightly longer travel bikes right now.

These are the main points you need to know about it:

  1. 130mm travel
  2. 27.5in wheels
  3. Uni-directional Multi Monocoque Front Triangle with internal cable routing, Tapered Head Tube and Intergrip integrated seat clamp system with alloy symmetrical SCR rear Triangle
  4. Single chain ring dedicated frame design
  5. Boost 148mm Dropouts
  6. T130C RS complete bike | £3500
  7. T130C Works complete bike | £4500
  8. Comes in Medium, Large and XL
  9. Seat tube is approx 1in shorter per size so the option of sizing up is available.
  10. No frame set will be available. Yet.
  11. The frame (size M) is approx 600grams lighter than the Alloy version, and 11% stiffer
  12. We weighed our size XL pre-production sample at 28.72lbs/13.02kg (with pedals)
Whyte T130 Carbon

Ian Alexander is Whyte Bikes chief designer, and is based in the Cotswold Hills, near Cheltenham. He has a refreshing and methodical approach to design and testing, and has hinted of some very interesting developments to come from the Whyte stable.

The Details

As with all Whyte bikes, the T130 Carbon has been designed for the job at hand. The research and design department are based in the Cotswold Hills and they are more often than not out in the hills on prototype bikes, and spend a lot of time riding different geometry and frame alterations before they get as far as finalising numbers.

The alloy T130 was a fantastic bike, which at first was greeted with mild scepticism from those riding 140+mm travel bikes – but those who have spent time on it will fly the flag. It’s a tight, agile bike with enough travel to give it the grip it needs to be ridden flat out. Or simply to be more comfortable on longer jaunts.

Geometry is far more important than suspension travel. A good bike with minimal suspension will always out-perform a poor bike with loads of travel – and the T130 is a great example of how capable a bike can be with minimal suspension travel.

The T130 Carbon is everything the alloy model was, plus it’s substantially lighter – although that wasn’t the goal. Whyte wanted the bike to perform better – ultimately to be stiffer yet remain resilient.

And they’ve done a pretty damned good job of it.

Whyte T130 Carbon

Rockshox Pike Boost fork up front, Whyte’s famous sealed bearing covers and Crud Catcher mounts as standard all mean function first.

Whyte T130 Carbon

The single ring only design is a nice sign of commitment from Whyte, and we love the captive nuts on the direct brake mount. Fool proof.

Whyte T130 Carbon

No mud clearance worries here thanks to the Boost spacing – certainly leagues better than our usual T129 test bike.

Out on the trail

With a lap round the Red at the Forest of Dean, and a few cheeky off-piste trails in the bag, we can safely say that the T130 Carbon has a great ride.

The wider stance of the Boost front and rear not helps with mud clearance but promises to be stiffer too – our preview ride wasn’t enough to get too in depth, but out on the trail the T130 Carbon had the taught feeling of carbon, but felt snappy and responsive. 67degrees may not sound that slack when it comes to head angles, but it was plenty slack enough – any more and you might be on that turf where you have to out-ride the bikes capabilities to make things feel right.

67 was just fine. And overall geometry felt great too.

Interestingly, another rider commented that the bike looked small. It certainly isn’t a short bike with a 1197mm wheelbase – but the seat tube actually comes up as a 19.5in, rather than a 21in – as you might expect from an XL. And being 6’3″ I had the post hanging out the frame a fair way.

The reason for this was to both accommodate the up-sizing in frames that many riders these days are choosing to do, and to cater for longer travel dropper posts that will be coming to market in the future.

Whyte T130 Carbon

We got a couple of laps in at the FOD on the T130 Carbon. We loved how much it wanted to attack from the very off.  Photo | Russell “I’m not working but give me your camera” Burton

It was a sloppy day at the FOD, and despite initially feeling the Maxxis Ardent tyre up front was a little on the sketchy side, it always offers more grip than you think. The harder you push, the better the grip.

The T130 Carbon felt very balanced front to rear, and there really wasn’t anything that jumped out in favour – or against the bike. It railed turns well, handled the rooty rough stuff a treat and felt nimble on it’s feet – due in part to the light weight and snappy geometry – but also the progressive and minimal suspension travel.

The whole package just feels brilliant.

At this stage, it’s too early to say how good it is – but we managed to convince Whyte to let us keep hold of the T130 Carbon. We’re riding it on our home trails at the moment, and will report back with a full review soon.

Whyte T130 Carbon

Yep, autumnal colours and autumnal conditions. Got to love a bit of mud!

Whyte T130 Carbon

The team behind Whyte bikes (clockwise from top left) Enduro pinner Sam Shucksmith is the latest to join the crew | Ian Alexander – Chief Designer | Andy Jeffries – Product Director

We Say

Considering the whole market has gone bonkers for 160mm travel bikes, the secret weapons for the UK really seem to be the 130mm 27.5in wheeled bikes and slightly shorter travel 29in wheeled bikes. Many riders feel that because the longer travel bikes pedal so well that they need them – but the truth is most riders will have far more fun on a shorter travel bike as they will be able to feel the ride so much more. No one wants to become desensitised.

The Whyte T130 Carbon is a very promising bike, from one of our favourite brands.

Look out for a full review soon on Factory Jackson.


What do you think of the T130 Carbon? 

Do you think bikes with less suspension have more to offer – or do you prefer to soak things up and plough through with six inches of travel?

Let us know in the comments below! 




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