Whyte T-130 SR review$2,299.00

A full-on British bulldog brawler, despite cheaper spec

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Whyte's T-130 SR’s has cutting-edge handling, sorted suspension and a cunning cost-effective spec that outweighs the extra mass and kit sacrifices when it comes to flat-out trail blasting.

Whyte T-130 SR frame

The 2019 T-130 is stretched and stiffened but sticks to Whyte’s proven format
The 2019 T-130 is stretched and stiffened but sticks to Whyte’s proven format

The 2019 T-130 is stretched and stiffened but sticks to Whyte’s proven format and practical detailing. Its gear, brake and dropper lines are all internalised and sealed with rubber gaskets.

The single-ring specific ‘SCR’ frame design allows for a broad main pivot, there are ISCG tabs on the bottom bracket and there's room for a full-size bottle. It’s 27.5x2.8in tyre compatible, and gives the full claimed travel (130mm).

The pivot terminals, links and shock yoke are all seriously stout, and the suspension bearings are covered by free lifetime replacement.

Whyte T-130 SR kit

There’s no trace of flex or fumble, even when really pushing your luck, and I regularly kept pace with longer-travel bikes on black-run bombing raids
There’s no trace of flex or fumble, even when really pushing your luck, and I regularly kept pace with longer-travel bikes on black-run bombing raids

The Whyte T-130 SR is competing with direct-sell bikes such as the Radon Slide FE 9.0, YT Industries Jeffsy 29 AL and Canyon Spectral AL 6.0, and on paper there’s a big spec disparity with these bikes, but the UK brand has used all its experience and ingenuity to keep performance close.

The Whyte-branded crankset is solid underfoot and runs on external bearings for extra longevity. Shimano’s SLX gearing is light in feel and reliable, and shifting across the SunRace cassette is okay, if not outstanding.

The TRP Slate brakes are limp on power for four-pots though, and can be variable in feel. While the WTB-rimmed wheels are heavier than the DT hoops on the bikes mentioned above, they come set up tubeless with a dual-compound Maxxis High Roller II/Rekon double act that delivers all the float and flow advantages of 2.6in tyres.

The fat Whyte grips weren’t to everyone’s taste, but the 780mm bar and 35mm stem give the T-130 a real handling advantage, especially when paired with the short 37mm offset of the Fox 34 Performance fork.

Whyte T-130 SR ride impressions

Its handling is a gift when it comes to going hard
Its handling is a gift when it comes to going hard

This ‘Optimised Trail Offset’ gives a super-light, instant-reacting steering feel that makes wheel placement and traction control exceptionally accurate. The 470mm reach on the large and slack 65.5-degree head angle give you more time to react, as well as a more stable footing to handle incoming trouble from.

Add the wide bar and super-short stem, and the T-130 SR has confident swagger for days. While the 1,220mm wheelbase means you sometimes need to take the long way round in tight sections, the OTO set-up stops the Whyte flopping off-line like some slacker-angled bikes can. The 75-degree seat angle keeps you perfectly poised for getting power onto the ground on steep climbs.

Whyte has got the suspension architecture and damper tune spot on to make the most of the handling too. I didn’t have to do anything to the fork and shock, apart from setting the sag.

While it's initially smooth, which helps with slow-speed rock crawling and ragged-edge traction, the mid stroke is much more supportive in standard trim. I never had to reach for the pedal lever on the shock and there’s a better platform to push against.

Whyte was among the first to produce a single-ring specific frame, with significant main-pivot stiffness and tyre space gains
Whyte was among the first to produce a single-ring specific frame, with significant main-pivot stiffness and tyre space gains

Despite its relatively short travel on paper, it handles bigger hits better than some longer travel bikes, so you can plough into trouble without worrying about getting kicked off-line. The fork is sorted too, and the 2.6in Maxxis tyres on wide rims give a huge amount of grip and extra impact protection.

The T-130 SR’s high wheel and overall weight are an issue when it comes to accelerating and prolonged altitude gain. They make the bike harder to chuck around if you haven’t got speed on your side, but also help stick it to the ground.

The stout frame means there’s no trace of flex or fumble, even when you’re really pushing your luck, and I regularly kept pace with 160mm and 170mm-travel bikes on black-run bombing raids.

You’re going to want to at least fit a larger front rotor though, sooner rather than later, because well-modulated speed control is the obvious weak link in an otherwise full-gas package.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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