The invention of reliable dropper seatposts has changed the way we ride – no longer do we find ourselves clumsily wrestling a quick release with frozen fingers at the top of a descent to drop our saddles out of harm’s way, a simple push of a button or lever is all that’s required.
With their widespread acceptance, it became clear to us that the days of the humble quick release (or even the seatpost collar) were numbered, so for 2015 we are integrating Intergrip, our new internal seat post clamping system into our T-129, T-130 and G-160 frames. Not only does it look neater, but with no split in the tube to allow for clamping, tolerances can be much tighter and water kept out of the frame for longer, no matter how nasty the conditions.
When Whyte first designed the T129 series, we had to come up with some innovative solutions to allow us to create a bike with short chainstays, 29in wheels, two chainrings and 120mm of suspension travel. The result was groundbreaking in 2012, and the T129 remains a benchmark for 29er trail bikes. But, for all that, we couldn’t help thinking that given the growing acceptance of single-ring set-ups, there was potential to make it even better.
For 2015 Whyte is creating special Works SCR (Single Chain Ring) models within the T129, T-130 and G-150 ranges. By limiting these bikes to a single ring system, we have been able to broaden the main pivot, increasing stiffness and bearing life, and it has meant we can use symmetrical chainstays (SCS), another Whyte innovation that further increases stiffness and better resists the twisting loads that occur under pedalling. On the trail that translates to improved cornering confidence, better suspension performance, greater accuracy and less maintenance.
All the SCR bikes use SRAM’s 11-speed drivetrains which pair a single ring with a wide ratio 10-42 cassette, or Shimano's new Deore XT 1x11 system, utilizing their 11-42 cassette. In our experience over two years of testing, this set-up provides a sufficiently broad range of gears for experienced riders to comfortably climb most hills in the UK, and the performance advantages – lighter weight and the ability to create a SCR frame – are unarguable. When we released the original T-129 we helped shape the market, creating the shortest chainstays of any production full-suspension 29er; with the launch of our SCR/SCS frames, we’re taking things to the next level, all over again.
Both materials have their own unique properties, and used correctly can create bikes that have lasting character. Through the combination of engineering know-how, great design and the use of the best grades of carbon fibre and aluminium available, we are able to create everything from the super-stiff structures required for a full-suspension bike, to lively yet comfortable hardtail frames.
Our selection of premium 6061 grade aluminium is perhaps the ultimate refinement of this frame material. The aluminium we use has been specially developed to allow for hydro-forming (where hot oil is pumped through the tube at pressure to fine-tune its profile) and welding, and our tubes are custom drawn to our specifications. That translates into thinner tube butting profiles over the entire length of the tube, and means that for the same strength, stiffness and fatigue characteristics we can engineer a lighter chassis.
Whyte hydro-formed aluminium frame designs concentrate on creating the most efficient shapes for the chassis, whilst retaining an elegant overall design profile. Take our seatstays and chainstays for example: they’re internally butted to reduce weight and have extensive shaping and tapering to increase strength and stiffness, whilst generating tyre and mud clearance where it’s needed, and offering tangible comfort benefits in use. Very few brands are able to engineer that level of detail and maintain durability: we’re proud to be one of the few who go the extra mile.
The performance of any carbon fiber component relies on three things: the quality of the raw material, the integrity of the design, and the precision of the assembly. That’s why at Whyte we take complete control of the design process then work closely with some of the world’s best carbon manufacturers to bring those designs to life.
Our R&D address might be in the Cotswolds, but our real test facilities are city streets and mountain trails all over the world. We work out multi piece carbon lay ups through riding countless laps of Welsh trail centres but have them verified by our race team as far away as the dry riverbeds of Botswana.
Our geometry is fractionally exact because we know it makes us faster and gives us more control, not because we’ve taken an average of what others have done. We are so confident of our suspension bearings, because we grind them through the same grit and grime you have to for thousands of hours a year. A CAD machine might make the final rendering, but that big lever on our unique seat clamp is there because we got sick of trying to shut a normal one with frozen fingers.
We know the addition of Crud Catcher mounts to our mountain bike frames is a significant one for all of us, because it means our eyes sting less after our lunchtime ride and our tea isn’t washing grit off our teeth. We could go on, but you get the idea. Whyte are genuinely a small group of dedicated UK riders, determined to produce the best bikes we can and not afraid to break some rules and set some benchmarks along the way.