This morning’s ride was so good I really don’t know where to begin. It all started when Andy asked me if I could ride the new Whyte 29er CS. The bike arrived Friday and the excitement began to build. On Saturday I already had my route planned and we got to work on prepping the bike. I wanted it to be perfect. I even swapped the pads over from front to rear to get the right balance. I’d be trying to ride as fast as possible and didn’t want the rear brake to be more powerful than the front.
Last thing we weighed it: 23.07 lbs! I’d been visualising each bend throughout the day and seeing the weight nearly pushed me over the edge with anticipation. Needless to say, despite a wonderful meal and several glasses of wine I could hardly sleep. This often happens if I know that I am going on a special ride.
I was planning to ride as much single track as possible at Whiteways as I had ridden there before testing other 29ers. So I took the shortest route possible. Once at Arundel I was on single track for virtually the whole time. I even found a section that I had not ridden before so that I could avoid all fire roads from entering the wood to reaching the summit of the Denture rollercoaster.
As I got into the ride so I got into the bike. The Whyte 29er CS was really well balance and a perfect fit. The more I rode the more my confidence increased. It seemed to go round bends as if on rails. No running out of track as can happen on some 29ers. The more I pushed it the safer I felt, I could kick on the pedals half way through a bend whereas on some bikes I’d brake. Whatever I did the bike seemed get me through. I got to the stage where I’d enter a bend too fast and was confident enough with the bike to tell myself not to panic but just leave it to the bike. How about this for confidence? I started to push the bike to see what would happen if I lost the front wheel. In Patching Wood, usually a quagmire but this year bone dry, the trails were covered with fallen dry husks. I lost the front wheel, instinctively pulled it back, and continued my flat out ride. I can’t remember riding with such confidence on a bike. I know that the conditions were perfect but I’m used to that, this bike took me to another level. I’d specifically ridden the Scott Scale 29er Elite on Thursday to make sure that I was really in tune with these bikes and trail conditions to make the most of this test ride. Well done to ATB R&D.
Here are some details on the bike.
It looks beautiful. The head tube is very short but the tapering means that it feels stiff and precise. The BB is chunky with a BB30 BB which saves weight and is stiff. The seat stays are super slim and the thick chainstays are sculptured for horizontal stiffness and vertical compliance. This combination is probably as comfortable as the Scott Scale 29er Pro. This is what Whyte do really well. The forks are Rock Shox 100mm SID RLT forks and are a long way from the flexi SID I used to race. These have a 15mm Maxle and are really precise, one of the reasons I felt so safe on the fast twisty stuff. Wheels are Easton EA70 XCT Tubeless and despite the size there was no hint of flex whilst pounding out of the saddle. Tyres are supposed to be Conti Race King 2.2 front and rear, This bike had a Race King on the back and an X King on the front. It was great to occasionally feel the rear drift out whilst the front just kept going where I’d aimed it. It is just so much easier to drop the bike down into a corner with a 29er. Transmission is Sram X0 with an FSA SLK 386 carbon crank (39/27). My bike had an 11/32 cassette which was fine for me today but if it gets muddy I’d need the 11/36 which is the production spec. The brakes are Avid Elixir 7 with a 180/160 rotor set up. They work. Finally the finishing kit is really nice. Whyte’s seat post is flexi for comfort and has a very simple and easy to use level adjustment. The saddle is a Fi’zi:k Tundra which I’ve not used before but it was great: racy and firm so not for everyone. After the frame it was the FSA SLK 680mm flat bars that really made this bike look the part. Risers come as standard but I’d go for the flat. At £2599 this is a steal. If that is too much for you there’s always the 29er C at £1999.
This was the first real day of Autumn this year, fresh, even cold in the valleys. It was more beautiful than any day I’ve ridden this year. I wore Endura MT500 bib shorts, MT500 Spray shorts (there was a lot of dew), FS260 Jetstream jersey and base layer. Couldn’t have been more comfortable. This really is my favourite time of year.
Here’s the ride. Despite all the single track climbs my moving averaged was 11.6mph so that is another positive about the bike as I was riding fast but not straining myself. Big Wheels Rule!