I really wanted to ride my road bike today but we had another demo bike that would have been rude not to try. It was a Whyte 19C – their carbon racing hard tail. I’d also been given some new tyres to test. We started early and I soon discovered that the bike had not been set up for me. Tyres like rock, suspension way too hard, saddle too low. I was riding this because Darren had prepared it for his ride and then forgotten to take it home. Doh! Once I’d stopped a couple of times to get it set up I could relax into the ride.
This was a race bred thoroughbred but with my legs and the seemingly limitless mud the ride went at a crawl. I don’t know what I did to the Garmin but it didn’t record past the end of the drive. Maybe the ride was too slow to register. I am starting to get a bit pee’d of with the wet and slippery conditions.
There’s not much to report about the bike or the tyres as the mud was the most notable thing about the ride. However, two things did were worth recording. First on my favourite jump I got massive air (massive to me). Previously I’d been trying other jumps with a 29lb free ride bike, take the skills acquired and a 23lbs lightweight jobby and, wow! The next thing really did surprise me. Out the saddle this bike is a missile. I know that when mountain biking there is not much riding out the saddle and with mud it is nigh on impossible but there are still lots of firm sections. I’ve never known a bike like it. I am running regularly and on the road I’ll often stay out the saddle for the whole climb so I am relatively well trained for climbing out of the saddle so I went for it. The Whyte 19C is amazing. I am not sure why, the cockpit felt really short (the stem is only 70mm) but according to the website the top tube is a long 600mm certainly the incredibly stiff BB must have made a difference. Once I’d found this out I had to keep putting in short sharp blasts. I’ve got to try this in the dry! It makes a change to find something that is so different to anything I’ve tried before.
It’s a carbon hard tail with Whyte’s typical attention to rear end design and so it is very comfortable, not as good as the Scott Scale 29er but still soft enough for a long ride and it’ll out accelerate the Scott anywhere. It also has a fairly slack head angle and short stem and this gets you out of trouble when on sketchy, slippery, slimy and rooty descents (sums up all descents round here right now). The design team reckon that there is no point busting a gut to get to the top of a race climb to then have to take it easy going down, Most Euro brand’s race bikes have twitchy front ends. Scary round here!
The tyres were Continental Mountain King 2s 2.2 (latest version). They are like a knobbier version of the Rocket Ron and were superb on chalk and firmer sections. The rubber is soft but they are not extreme mud tyre like the Maxxis Medusa and in the severe soft stuff they sucked, literally, so on some climbs I virtually stopped, however, that can be said of most tyres in the worse of the mud round here. I’ll report on these tyres when the trails start to improve.