Equipment Mountain Biking

The 130mm downhill rig; Whyte T-130 C-RS

Whyte are a UK bicycle brand creating some of the most capable and award winning mountain bikes on the market. One of these is the T130, a short-ish travel full suspension trail bike

 If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you live in the UK and unless you’re back door is Fort William, you probably don’t ‘need’ a big rig, but probably do want a bike with bang up-to-date geometry, capable of taking on anything that the UK can through at it but without losing the requirements to climb. That, was my request when Rutland Cycling asked me what I wanted.  The answer then materialised as the T130, in theory the ultimate mix. But was it. 

What model did I ride?

 Luckily in its favour I received the top of the range T130 C-RS derivative, equipped with a full carbon frame, 650b wheels, 140mm travel up front, 130mm at the rear, running 2.6in Maxxis tyres and the humongous Scram Eagle drive train. Putting equipment to one side, I plumped for a size large, which felt low, long and slack, and together with the fatter tyres, created a solid foundation.

What you need to know?

 Whyte was one of the first bike brands to embrace the benefits of designing for 1x drivetrains, with its latest incarnation featuring SRAM’s huge Eagle GX 12 speed drivetrain, giving you a massive 500% range alongside a strong frame. Its geometry was also redesigned for this latest model around a shorter 37mm offset fork, giving you greater grip and confidence on the steeps. After all, it’s the geometry which made the T130 and its siblings so famed for their high performance. And on that note, this is far from the traditional cramped XC whippet. Instead you’ve got 467mm worth of reach on a size large. So definitely worth demoing this if you’ve got a comparably short back vs legs. This is bang up to date geometry right here.

How did it ride though?

 Interesting – for a 130mm carbon trail bike, it’s not exactly what you think, or what I thought. Pre swinging a leg over, I was picturing fast rolling, nimble and playful. In reality its character was more akin to a short travel downhill rig. When climbing you could feel the weight, of the not so light bike as well as the higher rolling resistance of the 2.6in wide aggressive Maxxis rubber. To be honest, it felt anything but light and efficient, even with the suspension locked out. To my surprise however, the T130 C-RS impressed most when the going got tough.

 My first proper ride on the T130 was at the Forrest of Dean, racing an Enduro. Here the trails were steep and so muddy, you could barely stand. However the T130 surprised me with the confidence inspiring low centre of gravity, comparably high levels of grip and general sure-footed character – it wants to be ridden hard, forget it’s got less than 150mm. This aggressive character was confirmed further after two laps round the rough trails at Coed Y Brenin. Here with the rock lined trails and big drops, I wasn’t sure the T130 could talk the talk. However again, to my surprise, no matter how rough it got, or how large the drops or jumps got, the T130 not only kept up, but raised its game. Is that all you’ve got?!

 In fact it handled descents and technical terrain so well, I completely forgave it on the uphill’s. Now my T130 rides have turned into outright downhill blasts! And once you got used to its slightly sluggish behaviour up hill, there was very little to dislike about the bike. It certainly got plenty of attention at every trail head with its bright yellow colour scheme…

So would I buy one?

 Well that is a tough question. It’s certainly opened my eyes up to the shocking capability a short travel trail bike could have, and will certainly make me think in getting anything over 130mm again. It’s also underlined my appreciation for the big rubber – you can lean this thing over harder than most bikes running on 2.4in or less, with the added grip levels not only adding to the fun, but catching you if you push that bit too hard. The Whyte geometry also is bang on and clearly demonstrate the know-how of the brand and supports a aggressive riding style.

 Would I buy this actual bike though? I’m not sure I would. It’s not as playful as my previous long termer, the Specalized Stump Jumper; its more a bulldozer like, and though the paint job is great, with it being matt not gloss, means it attracts dirt quickly and looks older much quicker, if you’re not regularly cleaning and polishing.

So the Whyte T-130 C-RS? Close, but no cigar.