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Breaking In Whyte’s T-160 RS

Whyte’s G-160 that I picked up at the back end of 2017 has to be one of, if not the best mountain bikes I have ever ridden. FACT. I can’t recollect a time that I ever felt outgunned on the bike and after taking it down the World Cup track at Fort William I was surprised at how well the G-160 stacked up against my downhill bike.

The only real problem that I had with the G-160 was that it was just so good. I had had the G-160 for quite some time and it was time to update, but I just didn’t want to sell it and move on to another bike. The only thing that was really tempting me to sell was the desire for the rapidly trending bigger 29″ wheel size. So when Whyte came into the shop last November with a list of the new bikes to be launched my name was against a T-160 right away.

“That’ll be with you in December!
..Next year.”

..Great. And so the waiting game began.

The beloved G-160 ready for the new owner

The most similar model that Whyte have released prior to the T-160 was the S-150. It was one of the first 29″ 150mm travel enduro monsters available when 29″ wheels really started making the jump from XC bikes, and it also had the ability to take 27.5″ plus sized tyres (S stand for switch). The bike also had the longest cockpit Whyte have ever offered. The S-150 was about as heavy hitting as a gravity orientated trail bike came and had been a definite contender as a G-160 replacement. So I was gutted when I heard that they were discontinuing it, but thankfully along came the T-160. As opposed to offering the “Switch”able wheel size ability it is dedicated to a 29” wheel, has an extra 10mm of travel, and curiously a considerably shorter reach making it sway more to the Trail (or T in Whyte terms) as opposed to Gravity (G) side of riding.

Due to the previous two years stock shortages and limited availability, in order to secure a bike, folk are frequently required to preorder the bike they want. During this time we at Billy Bilsland Cycles have pretty much been selling bikes from lists of what we have on backorder. And unfortunately the T-160 I ordered was on one of these lists, resulting in one of my pesky colleagues selling it! However a few months later Whyte got in touch saying that they had another one that had been returned from another retailer due to a paint defect , and fortunately (for me) it was up for grabs! So I was back on for November.

New bike on its way! 😀

Out the box the T-160 is ready to party. I went for the RS model, having received the V1 model it came with the Rockshox Lyrik Select+ Fork and Super Deluxe shock. The gearing and brakes is SRAM all round, with CODE R 4pot brakes and GX Eagle gearing. The wheels are also pretty impressive. Using Whyte’s own hubs laced into RaceFace Arc-30 rims they come up very light for an OEM wheel. I can’t vouch for they’re durability due to sticking the DT-Swiss wheels from my hardtail on right away, but I have no doubt they’ll hold up better than the WTB rims of recent years.

Along with the wheels there were a few essential pieces of bike bling to be added, in addition to some minor upgrades. Despite having a bike painter on hand, the paint defect was a mere flesh wound that could easily be dressed with a wee fabric plaster – literally. The satin orange had also grown on me and I thought it would go nicely with some camo gear, so DMR Deathgrips, Gusset saddle, Granite tube/tool strap (all in camouflage) went on – and camouflage Whyte decals on order. Mudhugger’s essential Shorty mudguard was stuck on up front and to deal with the conditions in Scotland at this time of year some big knobbly tyres in the form of a Schwalbe Magic Mary on the front and a Big Betty on the rear. Let’s not go into detail that one is tanwall and the other isn’t – it irritates me too. To be honest the Maxxis offering was lacking in general and surprised that something more aggressive wasn’t fitted.

In addition to these parts I fitted a wee bar and stem upgrade with Renthal’s Fat Bar in gold and their Apex 35 stem to match, taking the bar width up to a beefy 800mm (820 when fitted with Deathgrips!). The Renthal bar and stem upgrade is a go to for mountain bikers and you can see why; the build quality is exceptional, it looks great and is well priced. I’m aware of all the benefits of carbon bars on the mountain bike but I went for the alloy version as I just much prefer metal connecting me to my front wheel.

The Push to the top of Ben Vorlich

With having put my stamp on the bike it was time to get out and shred some trails! To christen the bike I decided to tackle the descent of Ben Vorlich just South of Loch Earn with my brother. Which after a long hike-a-bike provided some of the steepest descending I have ever ridden. In hindsight I should have really got the bike properly dialled in on some local trails prior to this ride as the terrain was challenging enough without having to get my head round a new bike. The day was unbelievable, but I’ll save that story for later.

Over the festive period I stayed with my parents back in Helensburgh. Which meant I was able to get the bike out on some of my favourite old local trails to give the suspension a good fiddling and get it set up properly. But if I’m honest I’m still fiddling with that. I also didn’t have to carry the bike to the top of the hill which allowed me to get a much better idea of how the bike pedalled which, just being a 29er is exceptionally well. It’s incredible how the bike makes light work of climbs then just wants to scream down the descents.

Some good ol’ festive slop!

The bike now has a number of rides under its belt including an uplift day at Innerleithen and I’ve have good fun experimenting with Whyte’s new Shape It link which is coming fitted to a lot of their full suspension bikes. The link is essentially an offset bushing at the base of the shock that, when rotated 180º, allows you to raise/lower the ride, dropping the bottom bracket and slackening out the fork slightly.

I’m absolutely over the moon with how the new T-160 rides and my only gripe has to be the shortening of the cockpit, going down to 450mm reach on the medium. But I do understand that the super long bikes aren’t for everyone and the 450mm is by no means short.

Actually there is one other concern, by no means a bad one – it’s just how fast the bike is! It’s unreal how quickly the bike picks up pace and hold it through corners and over the rough stuff. There’s no doubt it’s terrifying climatising to a full suspension 29er. There’s no doubt that the extra grip provided by the big wheels is hindered by the fact I’m dragging my brakes a lot more! The bike gets better with every ride though and I’m sure that once the fitness is back up and with a few more rides in, this guy will be my new favourite ever mountain bike and may even see the selling of my downhill bike. I’ll make sure to report back later in the year with some of the rides it’s taken on, and there’ll no doubt a few more upgrades in place too!

Going in to 2022, Whyte has had to follow suit with pretty much every other bike brand, and unfortunately circum to the inevitable price increase. However Whyte have gone about it in the really good way that they have always have, which I feel really shows how they have the customer in mind: They rarely if ever just whack the price up, they always make a point of improving the model if the bike goes up in price and this is what had brought about the v2 not long after the v1 was made available. The new T-160 RS v2 has increased to £4,199.00 but is now coming with Rockshox’s Ultimate fork, offering a much better fork suspension set up. It also comes with a way more appropriate set of far more aggressive tyres in the way of the Maxxis Assegai and DHR II. While very nice, the Bike Yoke dropper on the V1 has been sacrificed on the V2 for Whyte’s own Drop It post. It is a bit more basic but for me, droppers go up, and they go down, and dearer droppers tend to require more frequent expensive servicing. So the dropper swap out isn’t a big issue, and we’ve had very few issues in the shop with the Drop It post. The V2 basically answers any concerns that I had with the T-160 RS v1. The slightly more affordable T-160 S V2, has received the same tyre treatment along with a swap over to SRAM gears and braking bringing it fairly close to the spec to the V1 RS model but for less of a cost at £3,399.00.

If you’re debating as to whether you should go for the T-160, stop debating and get it. It’s an awesome all-round trail/gravity shredder that will pushing your limits to the brim.

Whyte T-160 S V2 – £3,399.00

Whyte T-160 RS V2 – £4,199.00
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Product Reviews Staff Bikes

The Genesis Fugio

It had been 18 months of cycling without drop bars since I sold my beloved Glencoe gravel bike. 18 months of trying to turn a 29er mountain bike into a do-it-all mountain and gravel bike. And after much fiddling about with various wheel and tyre combinations (and even trying to fit a set of drop bars) it didn’t really work out.

I may not have created the beast I was hoping to with Saracen’s Zenith LSL however I did put together an awesome enduro hardtail. I can’t emphasise enough just how awesome an aggressive geometry 29er hardtail mountain bike really is. With all of the fiddling with wheels that has gone on as well, I now have the bits to run it 29”, mullet style or even full 27.5”. And not to mention all the tyres to add to the mix, I can really have a good mess about with the set up of this bike to tailor it from anything to enduro, to XC, to gravel riding to even seriously aggressive commuting.

The Saracen Zenith set up with 29″ wheels for gravel and XC on the left, and fitted with the mullet set up on the right for enduro trails.

However the one thing that this bike really put into perspective was how much a drop handlebar and being in a good “road position” makes pedalling and maintaining a higher pace just so much easier. Which brings us on to what this blog post is actually about – the genesis Fugio gravel bike.

So earlier this year I finally admitting defeat, and I was resigned to hunting for a new gravel bike – oh woe is me! And it just so happened we had a Genesis Fugio 10 sitting on display in a 52cm, just my size. The Fugio was a bike that I had initially been interested in when I bought the Glencoe many moons ago, and it had been a tough way-up between both bikes with them being so similar. Both built for maximum comfort and versatility, wide flared handlebars, 1x groupset, the ability to run either 650b or 700c wheels courtesy of spacious tyre clearance, and more lugs than you know what to do with. 

The Glencoe won in the end, really due to the fact that it’s a frickin’ good looking bike. It also had a slightly better spec for the money, and just generally carried a bit more of a racey feel with it’s lower front end, shaped tubing and well, italic logos. For me it was a case of rally car vs tractor, and when the brief for the bike was mountain bike with racey CX geometry it had to be the rally car. 

The Glencoe V1 in all it’s handsome glory.

I would like to clarify that tractor is by no means an insult, it just means more relaxed, more upright and leisurely, enjoying the miles and the views as opposed to smashing past them. But also it means more timeless, classic and even industrial, with it’s traditional style steel tubing, which is totally what Genesis are all about. But in the case with the Fugio particularly, rugged, with it’s big chunky 650b tyres. Let’s face it, steel frames and bigger tyres are just way cooler. 

Plus, commuting to work on a tractor could be the most badass thing ever.

I went for the base model of the Fugio 10 as I wanted to do a bit of messing around with the spec, which means I got the aluminium version of the Fugio frame as opposed to the steel frame that comes on the higher models. The 10 does however come with Genesis’ lovely carbon gravel fork which, when combined with the nice wide tyres that the clearance accommodates, has provided ample cushion whilst clattering down rough fireroads. After racking up a number of miles now on the Fugio, comfort has never been an issue. Which leads me to assume the steel counterpart must be mind-bogglingly comfortable.

When it came round to tampering with the spec of the Fugio not all that much was required to tailor it to my fussy requirements. The first thing though was to replace the brakes for Hydraulic versions. Hydraulic brakes are a case of once you’ve tried them, cable brakes become a thing of the past. The difference in power between the two is staggering and it’s a bit disappointing that this particular model doesn’t come with them to be honest.

Cable vs. hydraulic disc brakes.

With brakes changed the other key change I had to make was banging in a set of bombproof wheels consisting of Hope hubs laced into some super tough DT-Swiss XC MTB rims. The wheels that come on the Fugio models as standard are a sound gravel wheel, I just wanted something fancy and the DT-Swiss rims combined with noisy hubs ticked that box nicely. And finally set up tubeless with a set of tyre clearance testing Vittoria Mezcal XC tyres. One thing that I have learnt whilst experimenting with tyres on the Glencoe and Zenith is that cross country race tyres make an incredible gravel tyre.

The super grippy Mezcal tyres built onto DT rims with Hope hubs.

Although I haven’t tinkered with the Fugio all that much, with wheels and brakes it is now officially and adequately pimped (paint job pending). Despite not being an insult, I still feel bad comparing the Fugio to a tractor, it’s definitely not slow and cumbersome. It feels punchy on climbs and in general the acceleration is super snappy and feels like it just wants to let rip. With the wide bars, 650b wheels and big tyres the bike provides excellent handling – stable and planted on rough and sloppy terrain the bike feels lively and nimble giving the urge to hop off of every lip in the terrain. 

A great gravel route near Adgarten.

Even without the upgrades the Fugio is one rapid bike, and would leave my Zenith in the dust (dust being weather dependent). With some great off road miles under the wheels and the fit tweaked to suit, it’s definitely resembling the rally car. But I prefer the term Pimped Out Tractor. 

The Fugio 10, ready for shredding.

The Fugio for me really highlights what’s so great about gravel bikes and really defines what makes an excellent gravel bike. Maximum versatility. The range of options on gravel bikes is nearly endless. Pretty much anything goes and gravel allows for any wheel size, frame material, tyre width, groupset or brakeset to be fitted to a drop bar bike. And it doesn’t even have to be a drop bar bike. Gravel is a bit like an episode of Wacky Racers and a large part of my enjoyment is seeing all the different creations people come up with – you may remember all of the different versions of the Glencoe we put out through the shop that I had mentioned in the blog post I wrote “A Year With The Glencoe”.

For me the awesomest gravel bikes should have a frame that offers the ability to switch up as many of these options as possible, allowing the rider to really tailor the bike to what they want from it. This is where the Glencoe, Topstone and Fugio absolutely smash it. I find it hard to understand why this bike isn’t one of the most popular bikes within the Genesis gravel range.

For more info on the Topstone, check out Ellie’s blog on her Carbon Topstone here.

While I wasn’t sure about the Fugio at first, after each ride I love the bike more and more, and it could only be made better by opting for one of the steel models. Not only with the steel frame will the ride be much improved but the bike will come with the essential hydraulic disc brakes, a slicker gearing option and a well more bling paint job. 

The Fugio 30, for more info check it out here.

You could argue that Genesis are responsible for the modern gravel bike with the influence that their Croix De Fer has had over the years. A road bike that 13 years ago when it first launched, had the ability to take wide tyres with full length mudguards, and all the lugs needed for commuting and touring. The “Iron Cross” bike for a long time had been THE one bike to do it all. With gravel bikes having gained so much popularity over the past two or three years, the number of options has dramatically increased with the vast majority of bike brands providing a gravel offering. Despite all of the extra competition Genesis are still up at the top making one of the best (and coolest) gravel bikes available. 

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Buyers Guides Product Reviews Staff Bikes

Habit Neo 2 – Four Rides In

Cannondale Habit Neo 2 in Glasgow Green

Working in a bike shop, you have a varied choice when it comes to borrowing a bike for a ride, but I’ve had my eye on the Cannondale Habit Neo 2 since it came into the shop and over the space of a week, I’ve had it out 4 times to put it through its paces.

It’s had a varied few rides, some tarmac, some flowing trails with berms and drops, and some more technical sections with roots and ruts. This bike has not missed a beat.

My first ride on the Habit was at the trails at Cathkin Braes. We were cycling from the shop and I was happy to be able to play with the power modes on a solid surface before hitting the trails. After some initial fiddling around with modes, I found Tour mode to be the best for the cycle from the shop, as it adapts to the surface and riding style, pulling the power back on the flats and still making you work.

The first thing I did when I got on the trails was crank it to turbo – big mistake. Too much power for those tight turns, especially for a newbie like myself. I was overshooting and skidding out of corners so caution is advised with that much power at your fingertips – there’s no real need on the way down.

And breathe… boss man @neil and @steesh taking a breather at Cathkin.

Uphill is a different story however.. I’m very new to trails but having that power behind me for going uphill really made the going easy, and easy is what I am looking for. While the rest of the team were puffing away on steep climbs, I was able to shift down, crank up the power and make it back up to the top easily.

The battery makes the bike heavier than a standard MTB, but it wasn’t a dead weight. I was able to lift over gates fairly easily. This came in handy when I had the bike up at Callendar Estate in Falkirk, on our staff Tuesday ride.

The beauty of having that power on demand is that it gets you up the hill and back to doing the fun stuff more quickly.

The rest of the guys at Callendar Estate, Falkirk, on one of our weekly staff rides.

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The Techy Section

Bike Components:

The components on the Habit Neo 2 are high quality, which is to be expected for a bike of this standard and price range.

The drivetrain is Shimano SLX 12 speed, brakes are Magura hydraulic disc with 220mm rotor on the front and 203mm on the rear. The frame is Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon layup. Rockshox front and rear suspension.

Front Rotor
Rear shock
DMR V8 in Fools Gold
Bling DMR V8 in Fools Gold

@liam-d set it up tubeless and with a lovely set of bling Gold DMR V8’s

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How the E system works:

The Kiox colour display is bright and packed with functionality, with power, cadence, rpm, bpm, avg/max speed, distance, range, calories and route planning capabilities (route planning via the connected phone app).

Power is delivered from the Bosch Performance CX drive unit in 4 modes – Eco, Tour, eMTB and Turbo.

Eco is as you’d think. Fairly restrained with a gentle curve upwards up to a maximum of 40Nm of torque

Tour+ is the new mode which adapts to your riding style, allowing you to forget about switching between modes, whether on flat tarmac or climbing a steep ascent. Tour+ gives you the full 85Nm of torque.

eMTB holds back slightly on power delivery initially then gives you the full guns. Depending on pedal pressure, progressive motor support perfectly to the riding situation. Start-up behaviour is much finer and more sensitive – especially in low gears.  

Turbo is self explanatory – full power delivered as fast as possible. Not advisable on loose surfaces but definitely advisable all the way home after riding 🙂

Shamelessly TURBO all the way home and still with 50% battery.

Summary

This bike is all about one word – fun. Spend a bit of time setting the positions of the shifters, dropper lever and brakes, play about with the modes for a bit then just have at it. I had absolutely no shame having it on Turbo when cycling back from Cathkin to the shop and it was definitely a help at the big hills and for getting away from lights sharply.

On the trails it’s something else entirely, an absolute machine for getting you back up to the top quickly and ready to do the fun stuff again – flinging yourself down a hill at speed 🙂

We have these in various sizes in the shop so give us a shout if you fancy taking one for a spin round the Green.

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Buyers Guides Product Reviews Staff Bikes

Topstone Tales

Gravel is the latest discipline to take the cycling world by storm, so obviously I had to jump on the band wagon…and I have to say I am a total Gravel convert! I’ve had my Topstone for almost a year now, making her the elder sibling of my other much loved Cannondale, Suzy the Supersix. My Topstone and I have been on many adventures over this past year – from local blasts around Whitelee Windfarm to BikePacking extravaganzas in the Scottish Highlands. Stay tuned to find out what makes the Topstone so addictive.

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Why I Chose the Cannondale Supersix Blog

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I have always loved all types of cycling; road, track and mountain. So the thought that Gravel could be the best of all three totally captured my attention. With the speed of a road bike and the playful handling of a track bike, all topped off with the capability of a mountain bike – I just couldn’t resist the temptation.

But why the Topstone in particular? Well first off, the colour…I’m not ashamed to admit that purple has my heart 😉 Aside from the good looks, the Topstone carbon stood out for me as it satisfied my inner nerd. Ground breaking kingpin suspension design and ballis tec carbon frame were features I just had to have in my life. After all I did say I wanted the most versatile, yet fast, bike on the market. I know you might be thinking suspension = slow, however when riding off road grip = fast. Therefore when riding eyeballs out on loose descents, having the piece of mind that your rear wheel is going to track well no matter the terrain (due to the suspension smoothing out the bumps to maintain contact with the ground) you naturally go faster. Also I will mention that Kingpin is only 30mm of travel as opposed to a typical Mountain bike which would have a minimum of 100mm, so don’t worry the Topstone is still a speed machine, not a bouncy slow poke.

I remember the moment my Topstone finally (damn COVID delays) arrived in the shop well. Sheer excitement! So much so that I threw her together and started planning the first ride for the very next day. I was so focused on getting out and riding that I neglected setting the bike up tubeless…we will come back to that later. Naturally I chose Aberfoyle for the maiden voyage of my new steed – as it’s hyped up to be some of the best gravel riding in the country. It’s safe to say I was not disappointed. I took inspiration from the Duke’s Weekender and set off for a 30 mile Gravelfoyle adventure incorporating some fine viaducts in the process. It was a blissful day and of course it wasn’t long before I got carried away…back to the lack of tubeless set up I mentioned earlier…I was pushing the boundaries of the Topstone’s off-road capabilities on singletrack trails around Loch Ard when I struck a hidden tree route with some force…BANG rear flat. To my surprise the WTB wheels that come stock were unaffected by the impact but of course those pesky innertubes inevitably popped. So long story short if you’re ever swithering to go tubeless, the answer is yes.

After this incident I set my bike up tubeless…and may have also bought some saucy new wheels as well. I know, a bit outrages to get an upgrade after one ride,but it’s dangerous working in a toy shop…especially when you’re a tech nerd like me. I topped off my Gravel beast with a set of DT Swiss CRC1400 carbon wheels and haven’t had a problem since.

One of my favourite things about the Topstone is how easy it is to go for a ride, because you can literally ride it anywhere. I stay in East Kilbride so my local gravel escape is Whitelee Windfarm which is where I ride the Topstone most as I can simply ride from my front door and be done in a couple of hours while riding some premium gravel sectors (and sometimes MTB singletrack) in the process.

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My favourite route around Whitelee

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In more recent times I have taken my Topstone a bit further afield into the Scottish Highlands for a bit of BikePacking. Inspired by Lachlan Morton’s GBDURO epic, I thought I’d try a BikePacking adventure of my own. However on a not quite so extreme level…I started my route at Kinloch Laggan and finished at Corrour Station House for some venison casserole and a pint before a WildCamp at Loch Ossian, then back to Kinloch Laggan the following day. Aside from making my position too aggressive to successfully fit a handlebar bag to an XS frame…I had a blast! and the Topstone was perfect, almost made me forget I was fully laden.

So long story short Gravel totally lives up to the hype and the Topstone is one of the best tools for it. In my opinion the Topstone Carbon really is the fastest and most versatile bike on the market. From local bimbles, weekend adventures and BikePacking extravaganzas the Topstone will leave you with a huge smile ear to ear, what more could you want from a bike.

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Shop Cannondale Topstone

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Check out some of Ellie’s Topstone Tales on her YouTube Channel

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Buyers Guides Staff Bikes

Why I Chose The Cannondale SuperSix.

Buying a new bike can be daunting, spending months researching models and brands making sure everything is perfect. Endless lists of pros and cons and scrolling through forums to find exactly what you want in a bicycle. That’s why I decided to write this blog, as someone who is fortunate enough to work in a bike shop which means I can access pretty much all the brands in the industry, I wanted to showcase why the SuperSix from Cannondale stood out for me.

Firstly, being a female cyclist its often very hard to find a brand which takes women’s cycling seriously and in turn offers a high end women’s option(s) so initially that’s why Cannondale caught my eye. They are also one of the few brands who have female brand ambassadors as opposed to solely male riders. As well as being female, I am also only 5ft so this also makes buying bikes hard, for both vertically challenged men and women. However Cannondale offer their SuperSix Evo right down to a 44cm frame (I ride the 48cm) making the bike super accessible to all riders.

In the past I have only ever ridden aero road bikes as my heart lies in racing and riding flat out. However when Cannondale released their new rendition of the Supersix in 2020 marketing it as the perfect all rounder with new truncated aerofoil tubes, the bike was instantly on my radar. I’ve never been much of a mountain goat, so the idea of having the best of aero and lightweight interested me. After the SuperSix won ‘Bike Of the Year’ for 2020 I knew it was a force to be reckoned with.

After doing a bit of digging I found that the new SuperSix truncated aerofoil tube shapes have reduced drag by 21% compared to its predecessor. I also found another study showing that the Supersix came out on top in a windtunnel Yaw angle test covering 95% of riding conditions at 30mph against the top competitors lightweight models from brands such as Specialized and Cervelo. I’ll link the full article below if you really want to nerd out.

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Another deciding factor for me, as silly as it might seem, was the colourway. I already had another bike from Cannondale, the women’s Topstone Carbon 2 which I love! Both of which are in Cannondale’s stunning Lavender colourway, which is like a pearl purple. So it would have been rude not to get bikes that complimented each other.

I also love to make my bikes different from the stock model and the Cannondale came in at a price that let me do that. Unfortunately you cannot buy the SuperSix as frame only, however you can sell the stock components to fund different ones, which is what I did. Originally the bike came with a Shimano 105 hydraulic disc groupset, Cannondale One crankset and Cannondale RD 2.0 wheelset, I had other ideas. The wheels were changed out for Enve Composites Foundation 45mm carbon deeps (a nod to my aero obsession) the tyres changed to Vittoria Corsa Control Tubeless Ready in 28mm. I also upgraded to a Sram Red AXS electronic groupset (including cranks) and finished the build off with an Deda Zero handlebar and stem combo.

My new SuperSix (nicknamed Suzy) turned out to be pretty much my dream build which I am super proud of. I’ve only managed to get out on her for a few rides so stay tuned to see my next write up in the coming months after I’ve had a bit more time in the saddle, where I will go into a bit more detail on how she rides.

Thanks for reading, Ellie 🙂

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Check out the range of Cannondale Supersix’s on our website.

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Check out the video below of Ellie’s new SuperSix being built up and some more information on the components.

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Product Reviews Staff Bikes

A Year With The Whyte Glencoe

It’s been just over a year since I buckled to the temptations of Whyte’s mould breaking Glencoe. And what a smashing year it has been, churning out miles over all sorts of ground.

I’ve always been a mountain biker through and through but the idea of having a road bike had always appealed to me. The convenience of being able to jump on the bike right outside your front door and get the legs spinning for a wee workout straight away is something that isn’t quite so possible with the mountain bike – you usually require a thirty minute (plus) drive before getting to your destination. I was also using my beloved Whyte 905 to commute to the shop each day which was putting unnecessary wear on the components. Great fun to commute on, but putting your weekend toy through the everyday Glasgow brutality that destroys commuters is a painful one.

So I was essentially looking for a do-it-all hack that I could pay minimal attention to, to keep it working while the bike was still saucy enough for me to enjoy the odd recreational road ride. The Glencoe was one of the earlier 650b adventure road bikes and came out offering astounding bang-for-buck; tubeless wheels, 1x Apex groupset, bolt-thru axles and TRP HYRD disc brakes. And not to mention the frame features; nice geometry with a long top tube length and short steerer tube, wide tyre clearance with room for mudguards too, and a comfy low bb height that helps you feel in, as opposed to on the bike. Oh, and the tan wall tyres look the berries, actually, wait a minute – the whole bike looks nothing other than awesome (largest deciding factor obviously).

Therefore the Glencoe was a no brainer. And it wasn’t much time of riding to and from work till I was riding it at the weekends, getting out the night lights and racking up miles after work, letting the mountain bikes gather dust (wit?!). Within a month there was a few hundred miles of all sorts of terrain under the tyres and all largely done on cycle paths, landcover tracks and dirt paths. It had become infectious exploring new routes, seeing where I would end up and setting new post-work challenges to complete on the bike. It’s so incredibly capable, it just makes you want to go exploring.

Now the Glencoe is obviously no lightweight racer. But for what it lacks in weight saving, makes up for with spades of fun and comfort. Long rides are a doddle with the comfort turned up 11, you won’t set any records but the bike is by no means slow. The slick tyres roll surprisingly quickly at lower pressures, and having the wider tyre allows you to corner quicker or perhaps go through the mud and cut the corner altogether. However the tyres can be quite slidey when run at higher pressures, perhaps the marginally grippier WTB Byway tyre would have been a better option. The low pressures are definitely required – I tried running the WTB Horizon tyres between 20 and 30PSI and settled for 25 in the front and just shy of 30 in the rear. So tubeless is a must in order to avoid being susceptible to punctures. If the tyres were over 30PSI I felt the ride became harsh quite quickly and felt a bit like a marble on a glass table. And below 20, well, I’d be putting the rim through the tyre on every pothole!

The tyres were tricky to get set up tubeless but once the tyres were seated and set up, few issues followed. In the past year I’ve had only two puncture issues on the Glencoe. Both of which required a single dismount between them, and the pump stayed firmly in the bag the whole time. The first required getting off the bike to pull out a pretty descent sized nail, leaving a hole that sealed shortly after pulling it out and spinning the wheel a few times. The second, was a case of keep pedalling until the spinning/hissing noise stopped. And it did, allowing me to do the last two thirds of a 60mile ride with out getting off of the bike *smug face*. Who knows how many times the tubeless sealant has worked it’s magic and I’ve been none the wiser though.

One of the greatest aspects of the Glencoe is it’s versatility. In the shop we’ve put out 700c variations with the Mavic Allroad wheelset, kitted out loads with full length mudguards and/or pannier racks, narrowed the bars, upraded the brakes to full hydraulic, added bike packing frame bags, fitted knobbly MTB tyres, and even added dropper posts! And for me this is where a lot of the fun with the bike lies (in the shop we even toyed with the idea of creating the TT Glencoe!).

Therefore I’ve made a good (and bad) few changes to the bike over the past year. The first change was giving the bike a bit more a road racer/CX fit, so saddle in the air, longer stem and slammed. I never really got on with the super-wide 50cm bars – as opposed to increasing manoeuvrability and stability I felt the bar was cumbersome and prevented me tucking in and sprinting. So I replaced them with a set of 3T 42cm aerobars which definitely provided the aggressive road fit I was looking for, while also offering an incredible aero advantage (Dougie, you’re mad). The handlebar is a bit of fun really, no need to ask why it’s on, just accept it and chuckle. Also the saddle is tartan patterned, chosen with no regards to its fit or comfort aspects, merely because it’s tartan.

Later on, the aim was to make it more mountain bikey from the ground up, essentially producing a mountain bike with a road racer cockpit. So off came the handsome tan wall tyres for a pair of Maxxis Crossmark II XC MTB tyres, despite all the nobbles the tyres are rapid!! While offering loads more grip when traction is in less supply. Tyre clearance with these tyres on is next to nothing so personally wouldn’t recommend (why are you doing it then you madman?!) but the skinnier knobbly WTB Resolute tyres fit no issues, you get to keep the tan walls and a mudguards fits too!The most recent change to the bike was fitting on the largest disc rotor size available – 203mm disc brake rotors! (Yep, you’ve lost your marbles Dougie). Now I love tinkering and this “upgrade” was more to see if it was possible – could 203mm rotors be fitted to a road bike? The answer is that, with a considerable amount of faff, a replacement post mount calliper and a rucksack full of disc brake adapters the Glencoe makes it possible. Solely due to the fact that Whyte opted for 160mm rotors instead of the standard road sized 140mm, I imagine because the grippier tyre is able to hold the ground better under bigger braking forces. In the shop we don’t recommend this change at all for a number of reasons but I decided to go for because, well, it looks frickin’ great.

Most of the changes I’ve made have really been about testing the bike’s capabilities as opposed to enhancing the performance. The bike works so well as standard that it really doesn’t need any changes, as I said I’m just a tinkerer! I’ve had so much fun with and on this bike I can’t recommend it enough. Off the bat it is a bike that is ready to play and explore. Whether commuting, bike packing, touring, road riding, adventure roading, cycle-crossing, trail riding or even mountain biking the Glencoe will have a good crack at them all and leave you with a big grin on your face!