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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

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!