Whyte Saxon Cross review

Before I start I ought to declare that I am not a “Cross rider”. However, I am a bike rider. Ignore the labels: enduro, road, XC, TT, marathon, tourist… yawn. I ride bikes! They all should do the same thing: they excite, go fast and encourage me to live – be it an off the lip on an XC hard tail or a carve on my road bike. Bikes are for fun.

Whyte Saxon Cross

Real joy floating over these

Whyte seem to have locked in on the fun side. Maybe that’s down to their roots in the windsurfing wave market. Windsurfing in part was responsible for the rapid development of mountain biking in the UK. Whatever the reason Whyte can produce a bike that inspires confidence and releases the fun gene. Their trail bikes are the ones that grab the lime light but compare any of their road/commute machines with other brands and you will see what I mean. They are just fun to ride. What a great way to start a day if you ride to work?

I have just ridden the Saxon Cross. I am still grinning from the experience. I have been late to get on this bike because I miss understood the geometry and some of the early comments by cross racers. The cockpit of the 54cm measures up 10 millimetre longer than my Niner RLT9 53cm but, reading the geometry charts, it’s 29.5mm longer??? Head angles and bars are the same and there is just 10mm difference in the stems. Only goes to show that you can’t buy a bike on numbers alone.

Whyte Saxon Cross

No 29ers! I’m alright then!

The first thing that I noticed was a harsh ride. The previous rider was heavier and a bit road focused. I kept dropping the air pressure and seemed to find 30 rear and 25 front did the trick. This set up assumes reasonable bike handling until it is set up tubeless. With my Niner I was getting pinch punchers every descent until I went tubeless. I have said before that I am not a cross rider but I do like riding off road and I especially like the challenge of combining my road biking with my favourite mountain bike trails. Tyres sorted I could enjoy the ride. I did puncture but with a thorn not a pinch.

The WTB Cross Boss 35mm tyres have all the grip you could need now in May and the

Whyte Saxon Cross

CX1 and good clearance

clearance is fine but there is no way that I could run my WTB Nano 40s in there. I’d prefer a higher volume tyre. My bike has Shimano 105 and Avid BB5 cable disc brakes. The Saxon Cross has Sram CX1 and hydraulic discs which is awesome. The shift is far more positive which I like off road and the brakes work either on the hoods or drops. The cable brakes just don’t work on the hoods, there are a collection of trees in the neighbourhood that bear testimony to that. The Sram gearing has a more practical range than my 46/36 – 12/32. One clever bit of the specification choice is that Whyte have mixed a Shimano 11s 11-42 with the Sram CX1, this saves you money and keeps the rear freehub standard. Nice touch.

Whyte Saxon Cross

Sram CX1, really love these hoods off-road (dislike them on a road bike though)

Overall, the cockpit felt just a bit better on the Whyte and the handling was awesome. The Saxon felt every bit as good as the Niner. Amongst other routes I rode the bike down The Blue Run and on the rooty single track around the top of the Steyning Horseshoe. It did everything that I would want from a cross/gravel bike, it made me ride light and smooth.

The Pros:

Geometry and handling, tubeless ready rims and tyres, value for money (£700 less than the equivalent spec Niner RLT9), Sram CX1, hydraulic discs, standard rear freehub.

The Cons:

Lack of room for a 40mm tyre, but it is a “Cross” bike isn’t it?

The pros win by a mile! I notice that Whyte are now marketing the Saxon Cross  as a “Gravel” bike, oh so many different names. I’ll pass on the feedback to increase the clearance for the “gravel” rider.

Posted in Cyclocross, Gravel bikes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Whyte T-130 and Bike Park Wales – a match made in heaven.

Whyte T-130 RS Bike Park Wales

Ready for its first run – don’t dismiss Sixtapod just because it’s a Blue

I’ve ridden the Whyte T-130 around the Downs but I’ve never ridden it the way it was intended to be so it really just seemed like another, albeit, slack suspension bike. To be fair, its been too wet and muddy.

I planned a trip to Bike Park Wales as it would be the perfect place to see just what all the fuss was about and whether I could step up to the mark set by Whyte. Every single magazine has put the T-130 way above any other bike in it class. They can’t all be wrong.

To get the most out of the ride I wanted to makes sure that nothing would hold me back and so for the second time in my life I donned body armour and to finish things off I dragged out my old Kona trousers. Back in the day when I was Mr Kona and Whyte was still the “enemy”, we used to push ourselves and our bikes limits and that is when thick baggies came in for protection, the Kona pants were the long version. You can fall of a motocross bike with these on and still get up unscathed.

The 130mm travel is close enough to my style that I can take advantage of it. I have tried DH bikes and can’t ride them as my flat out is so much slower than the designer intended for their DH design to work. I would have thought that of the G-160 but after two days in Wales I think that I’ll try 160mm travel for my next visit. I want more!

Whyte T-130 RS – The detail

Whyte T-130 RS

Perfect balance, perfect proportions. Whyte T-130 RS

It is a beauty with massive standover clearance. The top tube is longish at 611mm for the medium (longer than my Scott Scale but shorter than Whytes 29 XC bikes) and according the Whyte’s recommendation I am on the limit for the medium. The other Whytes hitting even more headlines are the 901/905/909 trail hardtails and these have a massive 26mm longer top tube. Whyte don’t seem to be able to put a foot wrong with their designs but I’m still struggling to get to grips with their sizing. I could be a large T-130 but I am a small Saxon??? The T-130’s low front end is actually great for climbing and is perfect when the seat is lowered and gravity takes over.

See the Whyte T-130 in my short video review.

The shock absorption comes with a Rock Shox Pike 130mm travel and Boost 150mm axle (always best in its class since it appeared) and the rear a Rock Shox Debonair which has gone from being 2nd to Fox to now being rated alongside if not even better. Always run both with at least 30% sag (easy to set up with the sag marked on the shock’s shafts)

The transmission is Shimano 1 x 11 XT which now has the nice positive click that Sram has. I’d probably choose Sram myself so the lower priced standard T-130 would not be much of a down grade. The crank is a Race Face Turbine Clinch which is a nice touch as we know the RF narrow-wide chain ring is super reliable. And the big bonus is that all BB’s in the Whyte line up used standard, cheap and reliable external bearings. Well done boys! Brakes are the new Shimano M8000 XT.

Wheels are Sram Roam which are light, stiff, have great pick up and have stood up to some

Whyte T-130 front

Rock Shox Pike and Sram Roam wheels

really hard impacts but who at Sram thought that straight pull and, can you believe it, bladed!!! spokes were a good idea on an enduro rig? Tyres I never noticed and set with 30 psi they were perfect. Mind you, I’d love to try the Maxxis set up of the T-130 Carbon.

Bars are a massive 760mm and help open up the cockpit. With a 50mm stem the combination that and a 67⁰ head angle make the steering super sure and confidence inspiring. The Whyte saddles are always neutral and will suit most as it’s from the same place as the Charge Spoon and Fabrics. Of course the bike would not be complete without a Rock Shox Reverb, largely redundant in the Welsh gravity Park but handy on the up and downs of the Surrey Hills.

So how does it ride? I don’t know. I don’t feel qualified to judge a bike like this. I am not good enough. All I know is that from the first set of jumps to the first switch back berms of Sixtapod I was at full speed and feeling safe. That can only be down to the superb balance of the Whyte design. I felt that I could get away with anything that the trails threw at me. I did 8 runs at BPW and couldn’t have done another even if they offered me a free uplift for trying so hard. I, the XC hard man, was exhausted. I had ridden every run as if in a sprint competition. I was at my very limit and still around to write this up so I can only say that the bike worked, it didn’t throw me off despite me tempting it. It is inspiring which is exactly what I needed it to be. I wanted to jump and rail some berms and I did so. I also got away with a lot more. At Bike Park Wales and on the Whyte T-130 RS I was able to ride at what I felt was my very limit. I could not believe that I could go so fast. Thanks Whyte, you have just given me a whole new sport. I’ll be back.

A note on Bike Park Wales.

Bike Park Wales Trail heads

Bike Park Wales Trail Heads, this is where the excitment begins

I was lucky enough in the Kona days to go to Vancouver and ride the Northshore (on a bike) and Whistler (on a snowboard). Bike Park Wales is like a UK version of the two combined. I never waited or a lift, the chat with the rest of the riders was a laugh and all the staff made you feel welcome whether it was securing your bike on the trailer, telling you tales about the place or looking up the postcode for accommodation. Book your trip NOW!

Piste map

Piste map

Trail start

Launch pad for some of he trails

DSC_0866

Twin Trails B&B

Just what you need from a trail centre B&B. Well done Twin Trails!

Posted in 27.5ers, 650B, Whyte T-130 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bonking – Get your nutrition right

It’s a strange world that of a cycle shop. You’d think that the number one topic would be kit, well it has an important place as riders either embarking on a lifelong passion for cycling or they discover the way to buy  success or personal gratification. However, Quest Adventure is a little different. A while ago the S.I.S. rep was in and while he expounded the benefits of his latest product I looked up how may SIS gels we sold. It was around 360 for each flavour over a year. He expressed surprise and said that it was an indication of the type of customer we had. They were athletes. They took their sport seriously.

Nutrition for the South Downs Way

This, in that order, plus a salami sandwich and some malt loaf got me through the 160K of the South Downs Way.

Now we often find some of our male customers discussing their weight (or lack of it) and how they are controlling it, or the number of calories in olive oil or how they can consume over 100 grams of protein per day. I say male customers as, to date, none of the 30% of our bike customers who are women have discussed their weight and diet with me – yet.

One such customer has taken his diet way too far and he told us about his 2,000 calories a day and no proteins – nature’s building blocks. He is losing weight, training hard and, as you’d expect is getting slower. So, as our dieter, Simon, drifted back, our conversation turned to food and this tough group of riders began sharing recipes. We don’t discuss hardware, riding: yes, kit: no. It was really windy that day and as Chris and I continued to drive on into the 40mph head wind I boasted of my “fast” rides (fast – not eating before a ride). I also bragged that since October I had had no gels, bars or energy powder in my drinks. I didn’t need them. Or so I thought.

For the last four months I have made a point of trying to ride easier. I was happy to stop and chat and generally cruise. But it is now late February, we’ve done our first race and all my mates have got faster.

I should have spotted the signs: I was so tired after my race, I’ve missed most of the Tuesday Night Thrashes, the previous Sunday’s ride was really tough and I got dropped on Tuesday. I have slowed down! I need to get some power back.

Back to that Sunday, I felt fine in the queue to do the Denture at Whyteways. Believe it or not there were three groups of four riders there at 8:30 am in the cold and wet. I took a gel. Why I wondered. We blasted through the forest and down the singletrack of Houghton Hill when it happened. I couldn’t overtake with wind behind, I began to struggle. I started losing control on the mud. My hands felt numb. My feet got cold. My arms hurt so much I could hardly hold on. I was in pain. As for my legs: agony with every pedal stroke. I was bonking and bonking bad.

A week later was different, pasta the night before, banana and toast for breakfast, energy drink in my pack and two gels during the ride. I did not bonk but I did suffer. They say no pain no gain so judging by Sinday’s effort I should have gained a lot. We’ll see.

You are what you eat so think about your daily diet (but be reasonable) and plan you nutrition on your rides.

Here are the rides: Bonking Bad – Whiteways and back, and The South Downs Rough Ride (30 mins off my PB!). Both good rides, the later is great if you are training for tough road rides too.

 

Posted in Dieting, Nutrition, South Downs Way | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Who are Whyte Bikes?

The early days in UK mountain biking

Back in the day when men were men and sheep were nervous (Mint Sauce) there were less brands and the boys to shake things up were Kona (me – JP) and Marin. Those were the days! What made these two unique was the fact that the UK distributors really pushed those iconic brands before they even got established over the pond. Both brands and their early key dealers all hailed from the windsurfing market.

In the mid nineties Marin (ATB Sales) solicited the help of a suspension designer at Benetton Formula One, Mr John Whyte, to produce a suspension bike to meet the needs of the 90s and, boy, did meet those needs!

Whyte PRST-1

Whyte PRST-1

Marin dominated the full suspension scene back then and ATB Sales could see that their designs were worth protecting. They created Whyte Bikes and produced the PRST-1. This bike may have pushed suspension design to the limit but it was about as enduring as the Sinclair C-5. Meanwhile Marin full suspension bikes carved a niche into British full suspension bike history. During this period Whyte developed a new product that was to have an even greater and longer lasting impression on the UK mountain bike scene. At the turn of the century I remember discussing this new phenomena with mountain biking guru Steve Worland. He saw the future.

Whyte 19 Ti

Whyte 19 Ti 2009

It was the Whyte 19, a trail hard tail that was light and had a 130mm travel fork. It shook up the XC dominated racing world of British mountain biking. 15 years later the world’s bike designers still haven’t cottoned on. Whyte is unique in offering what can only be described as the ultimate hard tail trail bikes with the 901, 905 and 909. The only brands to come close to copying the Whyte design are a collection of small British manufacturers. In 2016 Whyte remains supreme in this all important sector.

Through this bike they established what was to become the benchmark of any modern

Whyte 909

Whyte 909 – that is the way mountain bikes should look

Whyte design, a slack head angle and sublime handling, even extending to their road machines.

Sadly, John’s wife passed away and he left the industry. By then the original premise for the Marin/Whyte suspension design was losing its appeal as other more active designs began to gain favour. The fear of suspended bikes had all but disappeared.

We are the Whyte bikes experts!

At that time we opened up and although we were great friends with Whyte (ATB Sales) we were also huge critics. We were a dissenting voice during their metamorphosis from a rather dated and stayed cross country brand into, probably, the best all-round trail range in the UK. At that time we couldn’t figure out why you’d want to design a bike like the Whyte E-120 or Marin Mount Vision when you had bikes like the Whyte 19 and Marin Rocky Ridge in the same line up. Now even their XC race hard tails handle as well as some other trail only bikes.

Along the way we were lucky enough to have many preproduction prototypes to test; adding our feedback to the great work that the design team were producing. Design and innovation never stops but in the last couple of years Whyte, although a small fish in a big pond, have now established themselves as a performance oriented brand dominating the reviews in the British press.  Brave enough to go where others do not dare.

Their innovation and design expertise is incorporated in their leisure and urban bikes. Jump on any of the these machines and you will immediately notice the stable and confidence inspiring feel that has filtered down from the more high profile Whyte mountain bikes.

Whyte T-130 RS

Whyte T-130 RS demo waiting for you to call

Ask us about Whyte bikes and you’ll notice an air of confidence and enthusiasm that comes from knowing the brand so well. We have shared some of their growing pains but are now enjoying their success as much as they are. The Whyte design team clearly has an unbridled passion for trail riding and that means that their designs will be more than cutting edge and always a few steps ahead of any of the bigger mass market players.

If you want to know more or want to ride a Whyte to see just how good they are, give is a call, e-mail or visit Quest Adventure, we are the Whyte Experts

 

Posted in Whyte 19C, Whyte 909, Whyte T-130 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Whyte T-130 RS guest review

Whyte T-130 RS - Surrey Hills

Whyte T-130 RS – Surrey Hills

We lent Tania our demo Whyte T-130 RS as her Titus El Guapo is positively hanging. She usually rides the Surrey Hills, Leith, Pitch etc and isn’t afraid to get some good air. Watch out guys she’ll roast a lot of you so called Enduro Boys.

Let’s see how Whyte’s 130mm travel 27.5 stacked up against the 152mm Titus.

“So my current bike is on borrowed time, we’ve had some good times together but the time has come to explore a new replacement.  For those that know me at Quest Adventure, they reckoned I should take out the Whyte T-130RS for a spin, so today I took it to my favourite trails in the Surrey Hills to see how it performs.

“I’m 5’10” so the medium bike for me felt perfect. Initially the bike felt a little low at the front, but I’m guessing that will just be down to the fact I’m used to 160mm fork.  The ride started with a climb to the top of Holmbury Hill via the offroad route to the top of ‘Barry Knows Best’.  This bike climbs beautifully, I had doubts about riding with a one by eleven but people have been trying to convince me it’s the way forward and today may have just shown me the reason why. So climbing wise I cannot fault it, regardless of how steep it became, even Gasson’s Farm climb was well within its limits gearing wise.   The next trail

Tania Whyte T-130 airtime

Tania Whyte T-130 mid flight, only a small one!

put it through sweeping berms where this bike feels very solid, stable and extremely capable and where I think I realised the benefit of the 650b wheel size.  Having now established how reliable the bike felt, ‘Crackpipe’ was next on the list.  Basically the steeper the trails, with loose rocky switchbacks put in for good measure, were no problem whatsoever for the T130, it handled all of these with ease.   After taking it down the rocky descent of ‘I should Coco’ you realise how the shock and Pikes provide the bike with a very positive controlled ride, and that leaves you with a big grin on your face at the bottom.

“After warming up and getting used to the Whyte we headed over to Pitch for a few runs down ‘Proper Bo’ and the ‘T-Trails’ just to see how it compares on the little drops and jumps, again this bike behaves beautifully, solid and reliable, it certainly ticks all the boxes for an awesome trail bike, if any of you out there are looking for a new bike to try, I can definitely recommend heading over to Quest Adventure and booking this bike out for a demo, a sure fire way to put a massive grin on your face, happy riding.”

I think that she liked it. We have a demo Whyte T-130 SX in extra small too if you are not as tall as Tania. In fact I think that more women have used our T-130 demos than men so far!

Posted in 27.5ers, 650B, Singletrack, Whyte T-130, Winter rides | Tagged , | Leave a comment

It is about the bike – Wilier Cento 1 SR review

It’s not about the bike is an expression that we all know and use. It helps justify keeping the old crock going and saves some cash. Of course a certain cyclist put the expression on the map and we all know it wasn’t the Trek and Bontrager combo that scored there. Despite being a retailer I have always been an advocate of training, effort and ability over spending. However, sometimes I have to admit that it is about the bike.

Tricolore top tube

Tricolore top tube

I have ridden about 400km on the  Wilier Cento Uno SR and it makes me go faster. I’m not trying to go quicker, I’m actually making an effort to chill for winter. But whatever I do the bike just goes. I only have Strava and my mates as measures but the bike is flying. All I do is hang on, hope and, of course, pedal. The bike does the rest. It is about this bike.

The new Wilier Cento Uno SR is much like the old one but five years younger. There was a time when five years in cycling would not have meant that much but its light years now. The technology is improving nearly as fast as the prices are dropping.

So what makes the Wilier Cento 1 SR so fast?

It is light at 7kg but lots of bikes are light. It uses Campagnolo Record transmission and brakes but that means nothing for speed as all bikes today have perfect shifting. It has incredible wheels Campagnolo Shamal Mille, basically a Fulcrum Racing Zero (used to be £1025 then £925, then £799 and our set now £599… prices just keep falling!). The wheels are light, have ceramic, roll forever bearings and are stiff enough to translate pedal power into speed. But these alone won’t make it that fast. So that leaves the frame. It is light and stiff, really stiff. Every ounce of effort goes though the frame into powering you forward.

Wilier Cento Uno SR

Wilier Cento Uno SR

The acceleration is blisteringly quick. You do feel rough roads. The combination of this frame with its parts in a racy yet confidence inspiring geometry makes this bike an absolute racing thoroughbred. I could ride 160k on it and intend to do 9 x 160k days next summer but it is a long way from being a “modern sportive” bike. There are some wonderfully comfortable bikes around these days but there is a reason why the pro peloton doesn’t ride them. While I am fit enough to ride a pros bike I will. It is just too much fun to give up just yet.

Read my first impression here:  Wilier Cento Uno the need for speed.

It is about the bike….. all you have to do – is pedal!

A note on pricing

The new Wilier Cento 1 is better than the Petacchi replica that we have here yet the retail price is nearly half that of the 2012 beauty. Prices for bikes and cycle equipment have never been so low. Deflation is out of hand. The only saving grace for the industry is that riders expectations are going up faster than prices are coming down. There was a time when you lowered your seat post to descend; now, riders can’t even hit the Downs without a £300 dropper! Customers asking for an entry level road bike mean carbon! Pretty soon entry level will have Di2! You guys are just so lucky. Spend and enjoy!

 

Posted in Road rides, Uncategorized, Wilier Cento Uno | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sorting my own bike fit never stops

I have some new bikes and it is surprising how it has affected my set up. Just over a year ago I felt that I needed to go smaller to go faster. I had been

Whyte 29 Team about to go down

Whyte 29C Team

riding a Whyte 29C medium which is billed as an XC machine but devours the meanest of tracks like a trail bike. However, the super long top tube was perhaps not suited to my physic. I have long legs and a short body which the marketers would have you believe is 100% feminine – that’s me! I did ride the South Downs Way twice without any aches or pains so the Whyte 29C did work but I was after more.

 

I tested the shorter medium Scott Scale 29er and found it better, maybe I should have stuck with Whyte and ridden a small as the

Scott Scale 900 SL

Scott Scale 900 SL

dimensions of the two (small Whyte and medium Scott) are so close but I got the Scott. I did OK in the Gorrick Series and for you 27.5 advocates I never felt that the 29in wheels slowed me down on the tight and twisty race course.

Previously, I had decided to change the way I climbed on the road. I had always tried too hard; trying to rip the hoods off. The new approach was to sit up, grab the top of the bars, relax, breath deep and get into a climbing rhythm. With the shorter mountain bike I soon found myself doing a similar thing – hands shoulder width apart, forearms floppy and a relaxed grip. I seemed to be going as quick but with noticeably less effort. Result.

Top of the Wiston Bostal

Niner RLT9

I then got a Niner RLT9. After a little investigation and a test I opted for a 53cm and, as the late and great Jenn Hill once said to me, you can never get a cross bike too short. I rode it as it came, short stem and high too, I had no intention of making it anything like my road bikes. I had no idea what I was doing but riding with a group of lifelong cross riders (and racers) they thought that I had got it right.

Next to arrive was a new Wilier Cento Uno SR. This bike is more or less identical to the old one but I had opted for some

Tricolore top tube

Wilier Cento Uno SR

changes, a narrower and shorter reach handlebar. So with my road bike measurements noted down to the last millimetre it should have been an easy set up but the new bike had a shorter head tube and I miss calculated the difference between the old bars and the new shorter ones. By luck Wilier supplied a longer stem than requested which means than the new set up is perfect and has exactly the same reach as the original.

The reason for summarising the fit and changes that I have made to my bikes is to emphasise the importance of a bike fit and that it changes over time, as fitness goes up or down and as usage differs. Just as no two riders are ever the same so too are your bikes. They will be different. They need different set ups and different riding techniques.

I made changes following my bike fit as part of my training for the Apex Performance Bike Fit machine and since then continue to make adjustments to either my position, riding technique or equipment to keep me going well; hence the new bars on the Cento. Some of my changes are to improve comfort ( comfortable doesn’t mean slower) but most are to improve performance. What do you need? Have you even thought about it?

Posted in 29ers, Bike fitting, Scott Scale 29ers, South Downs Way, Whyte 29C, Wilier Cento Uno | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment