At last I got my hands on the new Whyte 829. I was lucky enough to have had a go on a prototype back in May but I couldn’t tell anyone about that. This time I can. I expected to get a medium but a large turned up. Oh well! It looked big but once I started riding I didn’t even notice probably because all but one of the 29ers that I have ridden have been large. I ride so many different bikes so often that I have got used to adapting to whatever I’m riding. I do always spend time on set up. I often meet people who find it difficult to get on with something different, even if is is better. What staggers me is how often the magazines will use a reviewer that finds change difficult and bikes get slagged just because the rider didn’t get on with it or part of it.
This frame was comfortable but it is an early sample and I am not sure if it is the final version. If it isn’t then we are in for a surprise as the production one will have the same tubing as the 19 and the Whyte 19 is as smooth as a Ti frame. It is one of the most comfortable hard tails on the planet. This baby was awesome running across the pine root infested traverse at Whiteways (good place to test a Whyte, eh?). It uses a tapered headtube, has Whyte adjustable dropouts (we set up with the shortest chainsty option and a direct mount front derailleur.The effective top tube of 636mm for a large seems massive but with the high front of a 29er the actual reach (saddle to bar) is the same as my 26″ hardtail (560mm).
Forks are Fox 32 F29 RL Evolution Series, 100mm Travel, XT transmission 3 x 10, SLX shifters, SLX brakes (why would you want anything else? They are as perfect a brake as you can get and only £99 plus rotor each). Wheels are Whyte’s own double sealed cartridge bearing hubs, equivalent to Hope but quieter. The tryes were a revalation, WTB Bronson 2.2, really fast rolling, light and with loads of cornering grip. This grip was so good it really encouraged droping the bars to get some bite on bends and any off camber sections.
The spec, though, doesn’t make a bike, it just helps make it better if the frame is right. What makes a good mountain bike? Good climbing, fast safe descending, quick stable handling, rapid acceleration and comfort. What do you get with a 29er? High speed – up and down, good grip, supreme DH confidence, great climbing and an amazingly smooth ride. The 829 delivered.
I was at Houghton Hill carpark to run a feed stop for the WECC 125 Sportive. I got there early for this ride. The first part was a steady single track climb. The Whyte 829 took off immediately. It is said that the one thing about 29ers is the slow acceleration. To date, on all the bikes that I’ve tried, I have not noticed any inability to get going. I was soon flying up the climb enjoying the speed and comfort of a 29er. I was then into the singletrack of Whiteways. I rode up many of the descents to miss out on the fire roads. Compared with my ride here of two weeks ago on a 26 inch the 829 literally flew up. There was a problem on the return downhill. A nice problem. The 829 was so quick that I was hitting some of the berms way faster than my aging mind could cope with. This is not a negative, on the contrary, it is just what you want out of a bike, it is so much faster than a 26 and in the right hands a rider would be unstoppable on the 829. Once I have my own demo I’ll get used to its speed. This bike is great all rounder, would be perfect race bike and I was left wondering whether it could be one of the best trail bikes ever with a 120mm fork. I have been eagerly awaiting the 829 since May and this taster has confirmed why I want one for myself. At £1899, with its ride, frame and spec it has got to be one of the best bikes that you can get in 2012. They are due in next month.