Review: 2016 Whyte T-129 RS

Words by Aaron Scott

on 04/03/2016 11:49:00

Whyte 2016 T-129 RS Review

With more awards to its name than any other Whyte bike in the range, you can't say much about the 2016 T-129 RS which hasn't already been said. Key to its success is its innovative geometry and shortest chainstays in the industry, all creating a super agile, fun-riding bike. But instead of us raving on about it just how good this bike, check out the Mountain Biking UK review below. MBUK gave the T-129 RS their "best in test" award earlier this year, when reviewing it for their �29er Trail Bikes� test.

Whyte's designers admit their inventory would be simpler without a 29er in the line-up but they reckon the T-129 is the best bike they've built. We'd actually go further and say the new RS is one of the best bikes anyone has ever built, in price for performance terms.

Flat out fun yet super versatile - the perfect example of how brilliant 29er trail bikes can be. Handling is an outstanding mix of easy 29er speed, enduro swagger and pop and hop agility. Brilliantly judged equipment list includes the latest benchmarking resetting kit from Fox and Shimano.

MBUK, 29er Trail Bikes Test

Take a closer Look at the Whyte T-129 RS

The Frame

While it looks the same, even in colour, the new frame has a one-degree slacker head angle, 25mm longer top tube, 35mm longer front centre and is 8mm closer to the ground. All the T-129 bikes now get the much stiffer, single-ring specific main pivot and chainstay design of last year's Works bike but in the latest extra-wide Boost 148 format. The internally clamped seat tube gets a neat rubber collar and the bearings are lifetime warrantied. Rear space is still limited though, with a maximum 2.2 inch tyre the muddy maximum.

Whyte 2016 T-129 RS Review Frame

The Kit

That means Whyte have sensibly specced 2.0 WTB rubber at the rear, relying on easy tubeless capability to add impact survivability. Hope provide the bombproof Boost 148 compatible rear hub, which carries the wide-range 11-speed cassette for Shimano's brilliant new XT gearing. Brakes are also XT, while Race Face supply the single-ring Turbine cranks and the well-shaped cockpit is Whyte's own. A wipe-clean Whyte saddle tops the RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost to complete an excellent value and usefully light complete bike package.

The Ride

If we had to sum up why the big-wheeled Whyte has been consistently one of our favourite bikes, it's because it always manages to place its wheels perfectly for minimal correction and total confidence. The 2016 geometry gives it even more self-corrective stability at speed and the new pivot architecture makes the back end feel even more tight and agile. While there's some twist in the skinny seatstay terminals and the big wheels inevitably flex more than smaller hoops, the big bar cockpit and Fox 34 fork still transmit feedback as as well.

Crucially for the fun levels of the T-129, you can flick the back end round much more easily. This makes it the only bike on the test that naturally hops, pops and plays with the trail like the smaller-wheeled bike and our test team were foot out and flat out from the start.

The new Fox EVOL shock has a more sensitive start than the 2015 Float but ramps up more through the mid stroke. This gives the excellent traction but also increases support so you can really scythe the super-surefooted geometry through corners. The 'trail' setting moves this noticeable firmness into the start of the stroke for a powerful pedalling feel without kicking about too much and knocking off your rhythm. The RS is very composed deep into the stroke too, making the 120 mm (4.7in) of travel feel like a lot more. The short back end also decreased the effect of the bigger wheels' unsprung mass so it doesn't hang up or get caught on the bounce like longer travel bikes.

This all means that, while the 2015 bikes soon felt short on control when trying to chase 650b wheeled enduro bikes down serious descents, we had to properly smash the new Whyte through boulder runs or send it off 10ft step-downs to find its limit. The shock is really set-up tolerant too, so you'll get a great all-round feel even with a provisional sag setting.The smaller volume rear tyre also feels more stable when you're getting sideway, though you still need to keep pressure relatively high. The new Fox 34 is an excellent ally up front too. The new FIT4 damping is seriously smooth off the top but stays composed and predictable deeper in the stroke, refusing to waste travel or lose the plot however hard you dare to push it into the rocky, rooty, steppy or otherwise high-risk situations.

The way the bigger diameter wheels naturally carry speed better across rough surfaces is obvious compared to 650b bikes too. The rowdy Hope rear hub doesn't spare the feelings of frustrated smaller-wheeled riders when you sit freewheeling behind them as they mash the pedals. The lightest wheel weight on test, impressively low overall weight and purposeful pedalling mean the Whyte wastes no time leaving them for dead when you stop coasting and get on the gas either.

Whyte 2016 T-129 RS Review Ride

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