I don’t usually need an incentive to ride but there has been some extra pressure over the last few days. In no particular order: The weather and trail conditions are awesome (grab it while you can), I have been trying to get a time on the Blue Run (Strava pressure) and I had three new Whyte 29ers to try (T-129, M-109, 929). I’ve successfully managed them all.
Whyte T-129 S £1,999, T-129 £1,749
Friday morning I took the Whyte T-129 up the test it and to try to nail the Blue Run. I’ve been riding the Blue Run in an attempt to go faster but each time that I do my time has not registered on Strava. Guys keep telling me that they are ahead of me and I seem to be unable to improve. Could it be that I’m no better than my run on the 17th August?
The 120mm T-129 seemed the perfect bike to nail that technical trail. What better way to evaluate the bike? I rode it three times using the Reverb post to good effect. The trail is very technical, rooty, off camber and dusty (really slippery) I felt safe and fast. Three downs meant three ups. The T129 is a trail bike but on the climbs you’d never know. In fact you’d not notice anything about the bike. It just works. I always worry if I notice something. What make me notice it? If the bike works you shouldn’t notice anything other than your ability to get the most out of the trail.
At £1,999 this bike is an incredible performer and remarkable value, it even comes with a Reverb seat post! The version that I was riding was a bit bling. It had Whyte’s own carbon wheel set, these are super easy to spin on climbs and really stiff whilst cornering. You may not notice them as stiff but you will notice your extra confidence they give you. The transmission and brakes were 2 x 10 Sram XO. I like the XO transmission and the brakes are OK. The regular spec is 2 x 10 Sram X9/7 with a 38/24 crank – I like that. The forks and shock on this and the standard bike are Rock Shox Reba RLT and Monarch RL. Both are perfect and the Reba has always been a favorite of mine.
Whyte 929 £1,999
Saturday morning I tried the Whyte 929 trail bike. Originally, I couldn’t see the point in this bike as the 29C and 829 were already such good trail bikes. However, I was really surprised. The bike is so light and comfortable (remember the magical bump eating stays of the Whyte 19?) that you’d think that it was a carbon race bike. I rode the same route. On the Blue run I lowered the seat post to mimic the previous days ride and did my best to go as fast as possible. What can I say? Perfect. The suspension T-129 was better handling but the 929 was so well balance that I thought it was nearly as good but I’m used to hard tails and this trail. I’ve hardly ridden suspension bikes since I’ve been on 29ers. The bike is jaw droppingly gorgeous to look at. The spec is 1 x 10 with an e13 32T crank full Shimano including brakes (best you can get!). It even has a Hope rear hub. My only slight negative is the 1 x 10. Sure, it’s cool and your mate’s be impressed but you may loose some Kudos if you have to push up.
Whyte M-109 S £2,999, M109 £1,999
Sunday morning I was up even earlier as I was running a check point for the Southern Sportive. To be honest, after riding the other two bikes all that I wanted to do this morning was to ride my Kenisis FF29 to make a comparison. I spent some time setting up the M-109 and went out early again on the same course as I only had just over and hour. I had no expectation of how it would ride and the XC/Marathon tag doesn’t fire the imagination as much as the gnarly trail image of the T129 and 929. The M-109 was amazing. It was the S version again with Whyte’s XC209 –C carbon wheel set and full Shimano XT including the brakes which have got to be the best brakes that you can buy. When I hit the Blue Run I decided to ride it cross country styley, I left the seat up. Now, I can’t say if I was quicker but I felt much quicker than on the other two bikes. The conditions were the same and I am getting used to the track.
I have finally sorted out my Strava issue. I clipped the Garmin Edge 200 to the handle bars, I usually leave it in my Camelbak shoulder pocket. It works and I’m on the leader board, not very high up but there at last.
Which is best?
So now you’d probably like to know which one was the best. Which would I buy? To start with there are no bad bikes these days. The three bikes are different but the differences are minor and the bikes so capable that you could get anyone. If you were going to be travelling to rougher trails then the T-129 would be the bike to take. It would be awesome on the North Downs and you’d leave the full face helmeted yokels for dust. It would be a Trail centre star but its still light enough for any XC rider. The 929 is the trail bike for weight watcher. Sometimes, for some people, weight is the overriding issue (I can understand that), if it had a 38/24 chainset I’d be very tempted. The M-109, like many other XC bikes is an awesome trail machine too. Remember the 26” Spark and the new 29er, they were both billed as XC race bikes but were fantastic as fast climbing trail bikes. My favourite for now would be the M-109 for the ride but the weight of the 929 would always tempt me. I never once noticed that the M-109 had less travel (only 100mm) although I wasn’t doing any jumps and I am Mr XC.
If you are a newer trail rider or your skill level and experience could do with improving then I’d say that the T-129 would be perfect. If you are less into the “trail” thing and more XC then I recommend the M-109. It’s got to be the perfect South Downs way bike. The 929 is the more specialist machine and if you buy one then the chances are you know exactly what to want. If you don’t need the comfort of suspension the combination of super supple stays, 29” wheels and light weight make the 929 a joy to ride. However, most riders will prefer and appreciate the added comfort and control of a suspension bike.
Whyte 29C, CS & Team
Our demo 29C arrives next week and that could be the perfect compromise for me, you will have your own preferences. Some of our 29C, Whyte 829 and other 29er reviews can be found here. If you want a bit of Whyte 29er action and are on a budget you can get the Whyte 529 for just £799. Low price but still the great Whyte ride.
Fox have finally caught up with Rock Shox (and Manitou) in providing a simple compression adjustment: CTD – Climb, Trail, Descend. This system works really well on fork and shock, however, these Whytes are so well balanced that I never felt the need to adjust either the forks or the rear shocks other than to see what happens so that I could tell you. In fact the Quad-4 suspension design never seems to bob. I just left the shocks on Descend for everything. One of our customers tried the demo bikes several times and despite being over 100kgs he asked us to increase the sag each time. It makes you wonder why Specialized need a brain and Scott need their Twin-loc system.
The Blue Run
This trail is pretty technical. It is challenging as it is slippery with dust and the compressions will bottom out your forks at speed. If you want to try it do it soon as the slippery dust cannot be compared to wet clay and roots. There are wooden ramps to get you over obstacles which may be intimidating if you are not used to them. The trail is within the triangle of bridleways above Styening. Enjoy!