★★★★★ 5/5 - “Big-hitting Enduro bike in a UK-friendly trail package that really could be all the bike you will ever need”
Rutland’s bike category manager and Enduro racer Alex takes his new 2015 Whyte T-129 Works SCR for a spin in the Peaks, and finds a candidate for his new favourite bike.
What made the Whyte T129 Works SCR stand out for you?
For the past couple of years, Whyte has been making some top quality full suspension bikes that for many UK trail riders, tick all the right boxes. Solid kit choices, decent geometry that lends itself to having fun rather than the usual racy affair associated with many short travel bikes, and a price point that makes direct sales look decidedly pricey. I hoped the T-129 would fit in nicely as an in-between bike that was happy to mix it up in some of the bigger terrain we have in the UK, but also not so much of a blunt tool that bigger bikes can often be accused of and dull down the more humdrum world of a local woods ride.
BikeRadar reviewed the T-129 Works SCR and also gave it ★★★★★ 5/5 - “the T-129 is surefooted, very capable and a hell of a lot more fun than a 120mm 29er really should be. We love it”
What’s new on the T-129 for 2015?
For 2015, Whyte has introduced SCR framesets in a couple of platforms, quite simply SCR stands for Single Chainring, leaving the door open for the Whyte designers to optimise the bike without having to consider the usual limitations associated with a front derailleur.
On the T-129 SCR, this means we get a stiffer rear end from the symmetrical stays – this was possibly the only possible negative on last year’s Trail Bike of the Year. Combine this with the 120mm Rock Shox Pike and it’s as if the T-129 has spent the last year in the gym getting ready to dive into the en-vogue world of Enduro.
Oh, and Whyte have finally introduced a new XL size for 2015 – perfect for my 6ft 4in frame.
How did the T-129 ride?
I took the chance during a few days off over the Christmas break to get acquainted with my new bike. First off was my annual Christmas Day ride – usually this is a local ride from home so that I can get back in time for the family dinner, but with the weather looking to turn nasty from Boxing Day onwards, I seized the opportunity and loaded the car up and headed to the Peak District. Christmas Day is usually a quiet time on the trails, but not today as I passed numerous people heading up onto Baslow Edge and out towards Curbar.
On the climbs
The first 10 minutes is pretty much straight up on a long drag of a climb, starting out on a surfaced track before getting into a looser rocky surface as you approach the summit. Weighing in at just over 29 pounds (13.49kg) for a XL sized bike, the T-129 hid its weight quite well, seemingly happy to be slotted into climb mode on the Fox shock and winched up the hill. A 30 tooth front ring on the X1 setup means that you would be hard pushed to find a hill that the gearing could not cope with and those with a strong pair of legs may find a 32 tooth front ring a better fit, especially if normal riding misses any Alpine style climbs.
Rock n rolling
The next section of trail is a slow and technical rocky traverse along the edge of the rocks looking out over the Peaks. The relatively low bottom bracket means that you have to be mindful of clearance as you try and perform your best Chris Akrigg impression over the gritstone rocks. That said, the same could be said of any downhill-inspired trail bike and it’s a compromise I’m certainly willing to make, knowing what that low COG means for the downs.
Another advantage bike manufactures can tap into, now that the supply of drivetrains not requiring a front derailleur is more plentiful, is being able to make the chainstays nice and short. What that means for the rider is a bike that is easy to pop up at the front and loft over obstacles or to pump through more flowing terrain. The T-129 does this job perfectly and makes light work of the numerous rock drops that Baslow throws at it.
Big terrain? No problem
The trail starts to open up and with it the speed increases. It’s the first time I’ve ridden a Pike with such short travel and it is immediately obvious how much more confidence can be taken from the 35mm stanchions over the normal 32mm ones usually found on forks of this nature. The bike tracks so well you really do start to forget you only have 120mm of travel on your side. This is clear to see on a section of trail that I very rarely manage to clean on the first attempt. A blind roll in that is impossible to spot a landing on before you leap so confidence that your bike can take a few hits is key here. The T-129 handles it with ease and the short travel means that the changes in geometry as each end of the bike compresses are less apparent than they are on, say, a 160mm bike. A small point, but a few fluffed lines mean that despite the trail’s best intentions, you stay feet up and rolling forward. Having spent the last couple of years riding a longer travel bike, this is really quite impressive. What the bike loses out in the bottomless travel stakes, it makes up for in a snappier feel that is easier to manhandle around on slower technical sections.
The soundtrack to my riding last year was a warbling that could only be likened to a distressed turkey, yes the Avid Trail brakes were great in the dry but any amount of moisture on the trails and they started to make their presence known. Disconcerting to say the least and plain embarrassing in company. This year Avid or Sram as they are now branded have really stepped up their game, meaning that the Sram Guide RS brakes fitted to the Whyte really do well at making a case for an alternative brake to Shimano. They lack the progressive feel of Avids of old, but to me that just makes for a sharper brake that requires less effort if not a little more subtlety in its use.
Highrolling finishing kit
The next hour or so was spent plodding across the moors, trying to make my ride into a loop requiring the least amount of roadwork. Not the most exciting of terrain but a good time to get to grips with the rest of the bike. A long front centre means that getting the contact points dialled in is key otherwise you feel like you are riding a bike that’s a size too big. With a 40mm stem and 750mm bars it certainly feels different to many other XC styled bikes. However coming off a bigger bike and it feels very familiar and easy to adapt to. A magnesium railed Fizik Gobi is not my usual saddle choice but it’s a welcome highlight whereas many manufacturers resort to an own branded saddle. Maxxis Crossmark and Highroller 2 tyres are fine until the ground gets particularly boggy, at which point you do look for a little more confidence out back. Altogether a well thought out package that for many people would represent a bike fitted with a wish list of parts usually found on a custom build.
2015 Whyte T-129 Works SCR: Verdict
With the ride nearing an end, I am very impressed with the T-129 and am looking forward to spending some more time on it over the coming weeks. It’s hard to put this bike into a category or compare it against other bikes. The Kona Process 111 (also another bike we sell) is probably this bike’s closest rival, offering a similar riding experience from an even shorter travel platform. While those people looking for a burly big mountain bike may want to look elsewhere, the Whyte T-129 Works SCR captures the spirit of the new breed of big-hitting Enduro bikes but puts it into a UK-friendly trail package that really could be all the bike you will ever need.
2015 Whyte T-129 Works SCR: Technical Specifications
- Colour: Matt Apple/Black & Teal
- Frame: 6061 T6 SCR Aluminium Front Triangle with Tapered Head Tube and Intergrip seat clamp, alloy symmetrical SCS rear Triangle
- Fork: RockShox Pike 29", RC, 120mm Travel, Fast Black coating, Tapered steerer and 15mm Maxle
- Rear Shock: Fox Float Factory Kashima Coating with Boost Valve, Rebound Adjustment and CTD Adjust
- Headset: FSA No. 57E Orbit ZS, 1.5" Cartridge Sealed Lower Bearing and 1 1/8" Upper Bearing
- Rear Hub: SRAM Roam 4O, 12 x 142mm
- Front Hub: SRAM Roam 4O, 15 x 100mm
- Spokes: SRAM Roam 40, StSt Butted
- Rims: SRAM Roam 40, 21mm wide 29", Full UST Rims
- Tyres: Maxxis High-Roller II TR 29 X 2.3" EXO Sidewall protection, Folding Front, Maxxis Crossmark TR 29 X 2.1" EXO Sidewall protection, Folding Rear
- Shift Levers: SRAM X-1, MMX Matchmaker, 11 Speed
- Rear Mech: SRAM X-1, 11 Speed Alloy
- Cassette: SRAM XG-1180 10-42, 11 Speed
- Chain: SRAM PCX1, 11 Speed
- Crankset: SRAM X1-1400 GXP, 32, 11 Speed Alloy
- Bottom Bracket: SRAM GXP Team 73mm
- Seatpost: RockShox Reverb 125 Stealth, MMX MatchMaker, 30.9 X 380mm
- Saddle: Whyte Custom dual density, triple panel design
- Handlebar: Whyte Custom Alloy, 15mm Rise, 750mm Wide
- Stem: Whyte Gravity Stem, 40mm M, L, XL
- Grips: Whyte Lock-on
- Front Brakes: SRAM Guide RS, 4 Pots, 180mm Rotor, Internal Routing
- Rear Brakes: SRAM Guide RS, 4 Pots, 160mm Rotor, Internal Routing
- Brake Levers: SRAM Guide RS, MMX Matchmaker