First Ride and Review: 2019 Whyte S-120

Words by Kathryn Dickinson

on 22/02/2019 10:34:19


Whyte have just dropped their brand new S120 XC range for 2019. Staff rider Luke Turner was lucky enough to test ride one of the bikes and put it to the test against his local trails. The Whyte S-120 builds on the knowledge gained from the award-winning S-150 suspension system and gives it a new platform.

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This review was written by Rutland Cycling employee and MTB rider Luke Turner. Luke's day job is to look after bikes here at Rutland Cycling but at the weekends he loves to cycle both mountain and road bikes.


Many were surprised when Whyte dropped the T-129 from their line-up - the bike that gave them their first bike of the year award, so I was pretty eager to get a ride on the new S-120 when it was announced.

First Impressions

Straight from the off, you can see that this bike has inherited a lot that was learnt from the S-150, from the shorter offset fork to the monocoque carbon frame. The shorter offset fork ensures that the bike is stable at speed, which was the first thing I noticed about this bike - its really fast! Riding through my local singletrack, I could definitely feel a new level of confidence I hadn't felt on many other bikes I've tested, the rear suspension platform definitely pops off every root and bump you hit, making for a super-playful, yet supple ride thanks to the bearings in the rear linkage.


The model I have been testing is the Carbon RS model, which gets you a GX Eagle drivetrain, Fox 34 performance fork and DPS rear shock, Guide RS 4-pot brakes and carbon monocoque front triangle, which offers fantastic value for money at £3499.00. If this price is a little aspirational, they also offer a Carbon R model at £3099.99 which gets you an NX Eagle drivetrain and Rockshox suspension, providing even more value for money. And for those wanting the ultimate XC/Trail bike, they also offer the Works model with Fox Factory suspension and the brand-new Shimano XTR 12-speed drivetrain - A spec to really drool over! There is definitely a bike in the line-up to suit every level of rider.

The First Ride

After a few rides around my local singletrack I had definitely fallen in love with this bike, although the area I live in isn't particularly 'hilly', the bike seemed to storm up everything I could throw at it. The S-120 is definitely most at home on cross-country routes and at trail centres. The short-travel, progressive suspension is super-playful over small bumps and roots and turns your local route into something that you want to ride multiple laps of.


The Bikeyoke Revive dropper is certainly a welcome addition to the C RS model, with its handy 'reset' function, which essentially allows you to restore the hydraulic circuit to get rid of any air that has crept in, making it really user-friendly! Whilst the Revive isn't a cheap post, it adds to the amazing value of the C RS model from Whyte.


To The Trail

Progressing onto a trail centre with the bike, it definitely held it's own, staying nimble and planted where you need the bike to excel on your own abilities, often making me think why I'd ever need more suspension travel. Through rock gardens and off drops, the bike kept begging for more, pushing the boundaries of what you can expect from a cross-country bike. Immediately my times felt a lot faster on the downhills and were definitely much improved on the climbs thanks to the super-stable geometry.


At 6ft, the large size was perfect for me and even though I would normally ride a 650b, I immediately felt at home on the S-120, this was one bike that I definitely did not want to give back at the end of my test - Whyte are definitely in the running for another bike of the year award with this model!

Whether you are after a bike for all day marathon XC events, or for a quick blast around your local trail centre, the new S-120 is definitely the bike to go for and with it's British design, it has been designed from the ground-up for UK riding. It's hard to argue that there is a better all-round bike at this price point. (Apart from maybe the Carbon R model which saves you an extra £400!)

Read more of Luke's blogs >

The Frame and Forks

Frame - Whyte have created their S-120 range from carbon with a uni-directional multi monocoque front triangle for a lighter (650g saving over the alloy equivalent), stiffer ride, and an aluminium rear. Due to the shorter travel, kinematics are key, Whyte have used their latest QUAD suspension architecture. For 2019, Whyte have improved two key elements; the dynamic performance of the leverage ratio and the metric shock technology, giving maximum telescopic stiffness and performance.


  • S-120 CR, RockShox Revelation RC 29". Perfect for those demanding trails and enduro rides.
  • S-120 CRS, Fox Float Performance SC. Built for riders who want a fork that can do it all, lightweight for climbing yet strong enough to tackle any terrain.
  • S-120 C Works, Fox Float Factory SC. For top of the range forks, giving you the best performance when riding.


The Groupset

On the CR comes SRAM NX Eagle, a good gearing for both beginners to intermediate/advanced riders. With a 12 speed cassette you have a good range of gears to tackle the climbs. Moving up to the CRS we have SRAM Eagle GX providing a upgrade on the CR. Finally on the C Works we have Shimano XTR, Shimano's top of the range MTB groupset.


The Wheels

All bikes in the range come with 29" wheels. On the CR you have WTB ST i29 TCS 2.0 System rims, the CRS comes with RaceFace AR-27 rims and the C Works the Whyte 26mm Carbon Hookless wheels. All wheels come with Maxxis Forecaster tyres, the CR has a Maxxis Crossmark on the front, great tyres for keeping you wheel side down, even on the slippiest of climbs!


The Brakes

On the S-120 CR we have SRAM Guide T, a solid set of brakes with a lightweight Guide four-piston calliper for sharp, responsive braking. On the CRS we move up to SRAM Guide RS, coming in at a slightly higher RRP, the RS comes with the same four-piston calliper and the innovative SwingLink lever technology giving you a more positive pad contact and increased breaking power. The C Works, Shimano XTR for optimal braking performance.


The Range

Whyte S120 C Works 2019 Carbon Full Suspension Mountain Bike

Whyte S120 C Works 2019 Carbon Full Suspension Mountain Bike

The S-120 geometry was design to have a short 44mm offset fork and this combined with the all new Fox 34 SC gives amazing handling. This fork was designed to be the ultimate Trail 120mm 29er fork.

  • Frame - Carbon, Uni-directional Multi Monocoque Front Triangle with Internal Cable Routing
  • Fork - Fox Float Factory SC 34
  • Shock - Fox Float DPS
  • Drivetrain - Fox Float Factory SC 34
  • Brakes - Shimano XTR BR-9120, 4 Pot with metal pads and cooling fins, 180mm Rotor
Whyte S120 C RS 2019 Carbon Full Suspension Mountain Bike

Whyte S120 C RS 2019 Carbon Full Suspension Mountain Bike

Whyte's brand-new S-120 frame takes everything learnt from developing the multi-award-winning S-150 suspension system and applies it to this immensely capable new 120mm platform.

  • Frame - Carbon, Uni-directional Multi Monocoque Front Triangle with Internal Cable Routing
  • Fork - Fox Float Performance SC 34, Step Cast, 29"
  • Shock - Fox Float DPS, Performance, Black Coating, Rebound Adjustment and 3pos Adjust Evol LV
  • Drivetrain - Fox Float Performance SC 34, Step Cast, 29"
  • Brakes - SRAM Guide RS, 4 Pot, S/M/L 160mm, XL 180mm Rotor, Internal Routing
Whyte S120 C R 2019 Full Suspension Mountain Bike Zinc

Whyte S120 C R 2019 Full Suspension Mountain Bike

The S-120 is a perfect replacement for the iconic T129, which gave Whyte its 1st Bike Of The Year award. Designed to be an all-round XC/Trail bike from epic marathons to a flat our blast down your local single track, this bike will allow you to do it all.

  • Frame - Carbon, Uni-directional Multi Monocoque Front Triangle with Internal Cable Routing
  • Fork - RockShox Revelation RC 29", 120mm Travel
  • Shock - RockShox Deluxe RT, DebonAir
  • Drivetrain - SRAM NX Eagle
  • Brakes - SRAM Guide T
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