The not-so-minor details
Hell of a lot of fun to ride.
Designed and built for experienced riders.
Tidy frame finish details and sturdy construction.
Boutique price tag.
A category more widely suited to 29ers looking for an all-rounder?
Whyte Bikes are a little different; they tend to circle the outside of the main pack waiting for someone to outgrow the norm, someone looking for more. One of our testers nailed it by stating Whyte provide bikes for experienced riders who can appreciate the finer details and get the most out of the progressive designs; that sums them up nicely. We like riding Whytes.
This lesser-known brand from the UK does some very unique things with their bikes, and it seems every time we review one we always want to buy it afterwards. What are they all about? Well, from afar the T-130C RS may just look like any classic dual suspension mountain bike with its four-bar suspension and shock placement, but we encourage you to look a little closer than that, it’s all in the details.
Is T-130C RS a secret code, or does it correlate to something?
We have Whyte’s highly regarded trail bike on review, the T-130C RS, T stands for trail, C is for carbon and 130 denote the amount of suspension travel. RS is the spec level; maybe RS stands for ‘really sweet’.
It uses 27.5” wheels with Boost spacing hubs and is finished with a few very subtle details of quality craftsmanship.
What are all these details we talk about then?
The frame is a real beauty, carbon up front and aluminium out the back with a smart matte black finish and big thick shapes.
Born and bred in the UK, the T-130 is built to sustain wet weather like no bike we’ve seen before. The bike is sealed at each and every angle to prevent any muddy water entering the frame through the seat post and cable ports, and all the pivot bearings are protected by sealed caps too. On top of the sealing on the bearings, they are also backed by a lifetime warranty, that’s confience!
The seatpost fastener is a nice touch, rarely seen too. But make sure you use carbon paste to stop it twisting, it’s not quite as tight as it could be.
Looking at the current trend wouldn’t a 130mm travel bike be best suited to 29” wheels?
Did we just open a can of wheel size worms here? Well, this bike bucks the trend a little in this sense, where the current 100-140mm travel segment of the market is overwhelmingly becoming dominated by 29ers, this one keeps it fun with the smaller 27.5” wheels. Why? The T-130C is here for a good time, not strictly just for a fast lap time. Not saying that it isn’t fast – because it is – we’re saying that while we’d certainly think 130mm travel would be best suited to the fast rolling and confident 29” wheels, the smaller ones give this bike a lot of its flair and lively character.
Smaller things fit into smaller spaces, so it’s no secret that 27.5” wheels have a livelier and precise feel to them, they feel easier to jump and land on smaller transitions, drift sideways. And with stiffer wheels and the axles being lower to the ground a 27.5” bike tends to respond better to throwing down onto the sides of the tyres through a turn. Make sense? We know, the wheel size debate/topic is a headache.
Where do I fit my front derailleur?
Sorry, single-ring drivetrains only here. Should we be sorry, though? Whyte and SRAM are clearly pretty tight as you can see from the amount of SRAM and RockShox spec on the bikes, so they’ve no doubt seen the future and accepted that front derailleurs could well become redundant in mountain biking, indeed from SRAM. Whyte have made the most of this and constructed their frames to fully benefit from restriction-free designs around where the front derailleur would usually take up space.
The main pivot is really, really wide, take a look at how close it comes to the chainring, it goes all the way across and has about one million cartridge bearings inside it to create a super-stiff and torsionally rigid rear end.
Then note how the stays are symmetrical, another area that a single-ring specific bike can have more to work with. The combination of the single-ring specific designs and Boost hub spacing is responsible for allowing the rear end to be shortened up so much; 420mm is an excellent number for a bike like this.
So, how did it ride?
The T-130C is a blast. During our first ride on the fast and rough trails we usually reserve for big-travel all-mountain or enduro bikes, the Whyte got stuck right in, and it was a tonne of fun! We loved its zippy feel through the singletrack and the way it encouraged us to push harder, jump further, pull manuals and horse around like kids to a punk rock soundtrack.
In a way, it feels like Whyte has taken the confidence traits from a big travel bike and crammed it into a lighter and more engaging one. The position that the cockpit puts you in feels very ready for hard hits, and steep stuff, but you don’t get that feeling of isolation from that comes with loads of suspension.
130mm of travel is neither short or long, does it even know?
The 130mm of travel does feel short for how much confidence the bike has, for sure. We’d often be reminded of just that when we’re riding full-steam at a rocky chute and the limits of the suspension amount are discovered with a clenching of every muscle in the body as the impacts find the last portion of 130mm.
So could it be too big, or too small?
If you think it’s too big or you’re not especially fussed about how playful it is, check out the T-129, the 120mm travel 29er that will please those who prefer to stay closer to the ground and wind the big wheels up to speed. We’ve had great experiences on one, read an older review here. The new version looks mighty fine too.
And if you’re worried the T-130RC might be too small for the big stuff, you won’t possibly feel that way on the G-160. Whyte’s big travel enduro race bike is still the longest, slackest most badass 160mm travel bike we’ve ridden, it’s an absolute monster, check out our review of it here.
What is it that makes it so zippy then?
It’s a combination of many things that have been tweaked for this current 2017 model, in our minds what makes the T-130RS feel the way it does comes down to part frame geometry and part spec.
Amongst its peers the T-130C frame is long in its reach paired with a short stem and high stack height, and rear centre is very short with a chainstay length of only 420mm. Mix the very modern and progressive geometry numbers with a meaty/less-meaty tyre combination and a sturdy set of wide rims, and you’ve got a bike that doesn’t mind the odd ‘Scandinavian Flick’ into a corner or roosting loamy turns with the foot out, flat out.
Head angle is at 66 degrees, very slack for a bike in this category, but with a short stem, the steering is still very responsive despite the raked-out front end.
A nice mix of parts.
We won’t tell you what is specced on the bike, hit up the Whyte site for the full breakdown, but here are some pretty pictures of the parts we like best.
Suggestions or spec changes?
Hmmm, tough question. The team at Whyte HQ are clearly in touch with their customers as the spec is mint. The rims are wide (yay yay!).
We did find the brakes a little under-gunned on the long descents, perhaps trying metal sintered pads, and larger rotors would lift the power on long descents. And if you’re after a little more braking control try a meatier tyre on the rear, or if you’re mad for drifting through turns leave it as it is.
It can’t surely but just us, but we found the rear brake a bit of a drag to adjust correctly and stop brake rub. Fitting a larger rotor with the cup/moon washers would certainly give more scope to adjusting drag-free. And our RockShox Reverb post was super slow to rebound back up, a quick bleed of the hydraulic line should fix that, but it still annoyed us on the trail.
While we loved the concept of the sealed rubber grommet cable posts, they are carried over from the aluminium frame version and didn’t match well to the thicker carbon walled frame, so they kept falling out. We were well-assured that a revised rubber grommet system is coming very soon, but it’s still a shame that a finishing touch that they pride themselves on – for a good reason – is yet to be complete.
Who’d want one?
This question is easy, someone who wants to blast trails, drift turns, jump gaps, pull wheelies and hammer singletrack!
If your trails are not especially rocky and rough, but they are fast this is your type of thing. Or if you’ve got a few years of riding experience behind you and find the new trend of 140-160mm travel bikes a little too easy to ride and numbing, then the zippy and capable T-130 will have you feeling the rush of speed while feeling the terrain and trails below.
27.5” fans are going to appreciate this too; we know you’re out there. 29” wheels are pretty big!
That’s it then?
Enough from us, yes we did rate this bike alot like we said earlier Whyte design bikes for experienced riders and their boutique nature and relatively small size allows them to push the envelope a little regarding frame geometry and can ignore the masses and bigger market trends.
The T-130RS is a unique bike that serves a real purpose, we loved our time on it and wished we could have kept it.
Try one out, pull a wheelie, nose it into a transition and you’ll see what we mean.