Today I took out our Whyte 829 demo. I was keen to try this as we had tested both the medium and the large preproduction test bikes. These were the bikes that the magazines had had for their recent reviews. The mags liked them but we don’t know how much they actually rode them. A photo shoot might look cool but it is not necessarily a proper test of a bike. Jimbo and I both found both bikes hard work on the corners and we both either ran out of bend or lost the front wheel which is never fun when riding fast.
I must admit to being a bit nervous of this bike because of the samples I’d tried. I decided to ride exactly the same route as I did last week on the Whyte 29 CS. I wanted lots of single track with tight bends and nothing too steep up or down so that I could really concentrate on the turning capability of the bike. Believe it or not the conditions were even better than last week: drier and warmer (Crazy! It’s 23rd October). The bike was going really well and I felt pretty good too. I was putting in a bit more effort than last week. It was great to ride the single track with each bend fresh in my mind from the previous ride and the confidence that I’d got from the Whyte 29 CS was really helping me through the twists and turns of Whiteways. I specifically wanted to see how the bike handled compared with the 29 CS. The production 829 is much more fun than the preproduction versions.
The 829 shares the same geometry as the 29 CS on paper but they do ride differently. They use different forks and so what I should have done was to measure the axle to crown of both forks (Rock Shox and Fox). The 29 CS is a racing thorough bred where as the 829 feels more of a do it all trail bike, perhaps because it was heavier and had fast but free-ridy WTB Bronson tyres. Describing them this way really is splitting hairs and the chances are you won’t even notice the difference but there is a slightly bigger turning circle with the 829. I ended up having an awesome ride and can thoroughly recommend the 829. It is a lot heavier than the 29 CS but it is £700 less and has an amazing spec for the money (Fox and XT with SLX brakes). The SLX brakes are the best brakes that I have ever used. Just imagine what XT or XTR must be like. All you need is the lightest touch of one finger to control the bike even at full tilt.
29ers are a bit like your original 26” hard tail which did everything. It was your race bike, trail bike even DH bike. However, a 26er wasn’t great at everything so that is why we have countless different versions of from suspension to short travel to long travel to trail bike to DH machine. You never know which to buy or ride and often end up needing several of them. Well, one great thing about the 29er, for now, is that you have less choice. Whilst it won’t do everything a 29er will do so many things so well that for now we can just enjoy the simplicity of just one bike to do everything. The 29CS is designed with racing in mind and the 829, although it is more or less the same, feels more trail oriented. I know they only have 100mm travel but I guarantee that you’ll descend quicker and feel safer on a 29er than any long travel 26” bike.
Read my original review if you want to know the full spec but there is one thing worth mentioning. The bike comes with a sliding drop out. This is for anyone who wants to run 1 x 10 or single speed and like this you can slide the wheel forward for a shorter chainstay. You can’t do this with a front derailleur in place. Shimano front derailleurs are designed for top or bottom pull, we ground off the arm for bottom pull so the mech looks really neat and gives more mud clearance. I really like the Bronson tyres but in these conditions I’d rather be running Maxxis Ikons or any other race tyre. Because of the extra contact area I reckon you can get away with less tread on a 29er than a 26″.
Click here for Whyte 829 original review, Whyte 29 CS review and other 29er reviews.
Here is the ride, if you follow it the first bit is a bit roadie (nothing wrong with that) but from Arundel on it is more or less 100% singletrack. I was faster than last week with 11.7mph moving average.