Whyte's G-160 that I picked up at the back end of 2017 has to be one of, if not the best mountain bikes I have ever ridden. FACT. I can't recollect a time that I ever felt outgunned on the bike and after taking it down the World Cup track at Fort William I was surprised at how well the G-160 stacked up against my downhill bike.
The only real problem that I had with the G-160 was that it was just so good. I had had the G-160 for quite some time and it was time to update, but I just didn't want to sell it and move on to another bike. The only thing that was really tempting me to sell was the desire for the rapidly trending bigger 29" wheel size. So when Whyte came into the shop last November with a list of the new bikes to be launched my name was against a T-160 right away.
"That'll be with you in December! ..Next year."
..Great. And so the waiting game began.
The most similar model that Whyte have released prior to the T-160 was the S-150. It was one of the first 29" 150mm travel enduro monsters available when 29" wheels really started making the jump from XC bikes, and it also had the ability to take 27.5" plus sized tyres (S stand for switch). The bike also had the longest cockpit Whyte have ever offered. The S-150 was about as heavy hitting as a gravity orientated trail bike came and had been a definite contender as a G-160 replacement. So I was gutted when I heard that they were discontinuing it, but thankfully along came the T-160. As opposed to offering the "Switch"able wheel size ability it is dedicated to a 29" wheel, has an extra 10mm of travel, and curiously a considerably shorter reach making it sway more to the Trail (or T in Whyte terms) as opposed to Gravity (G) side of riding.
Due to the previous two years stock shortages and limited availability, in order to secure a bike, folk are frequently required to preorder the bike they want. During this time we at Billy Bilsland Cycles have pretty much been selling bikes from lists of what we have on backorder. And unfortunately the T-160 I ordered was on one of these lists, resulting in one of my pesky colleagues selling it! However a few months later Whyte got in touch saying that they had another one that had been returned from another retailer due to a paint defect , and fortunately (for me) it was up for grabs! So I was back on for November.
New bike on its way! :D
Out the box the T-160 is ready to party. I went for the RS model, having received the V1 model it came with the Rockshox Lyrik Select+ Fork and Super Deluxe shock. The gearing and brakes is SRAM all round, with CODE R 4pot brakes and GX Eagle gearing. The wheels are also pretty impressive. Using Whyte's own hubs laced into RaceFace Arc-30 rims they come up very light for an OEM wheel. I can't vouch for they're durability due to sticking the DT-Swiss wheels from my hardtail on right away, but I have no doubt they'll hold up better than the WTB rims of recent years.
Along with the wheels there were a few essential pieces of bike bling to be added, in addition to some minor upgrades. Despite having a bike painter on hand, the paint defect was a mere flesh wound that could easily be dressed with a wee fabric plaster – literally. The satin orange had also grown on me and I thought it would go nicely with some camo gear, so DMR Deathgrips, Gusset saddle, Granite tube/tool strap (all in camouflage) went on – and camouflage Whyte decals on order. Mudhugger's essential Shorty mudguard was stuck on up front and to deal with the conditions in Scotland at this time of year some big knobbly tyres in the form of a Schwalbe Magic Mary on the front and a Big Betty on the rear. Let's not go into detail that one is tanwall and the other isn't – it irritates me too. To be honest the Maxxis offering was lacking in general and surprised that something more aggressive wasn't fitted.
In addition to these parts I fitted a wee bar and stem upgrade with Renthal's Fat Bar in gold and their Apex 35 stem to match, taking the bar width up to a beefy 800mm (820 when fitted with Deathgrips!). The Renthal bar and stem upgrade is a go to for mountain bikers and you can see why; the build quality is exceptional, it looks great and is well priced. I'm aware of all the benefits of carbon bars on the mountain bike but I went for the alloy version as I just much prefer metal connecting me to my front wheel.
With having put my stamp on the bike it was time to get out and shred some trails! To christen the bike I decided to tackle the descent of Ben Vorlich just South of Loch Earn with my brother. Which after a long hike-a-bike provided some of the steepest descending I have ever ridden. In hindsight I should have really got the bike properly dialled in on some local trails prior to this ride as the terrain was challenging enough without having to get my head round a new bike. The day was unbelievable, but I'll save that story for later.
Over the festive period I stayed with my parents back in Helensburgh. Which meant I was able to get the bike out on some of my favourite old local trails to give the suspension a good fiddling and get it set up properly. But if I'm honest I'm still fiddling with that. I also didn't have to carry the bike to the top of the hill which allowed me to get a much better idea of how the bike pedalled which, just being a 29er is exceptionally well. It's incredible how the bike makes light work of climbs then just wants to scream down the descents.
The bike now has a number of rides under its belt including an uplift day at Innerleithen and I've have good fun experimenting with Whyte's new Shape It link which is coming fitted to a lot of their full suspension bikes. The link is essentially an offset bushing at the base of the shock that, when rotated 180º, allows you to raise/lower the ride, dropping the bottom bracket and slackening out the fork slightly.
I'm absolutely over the moon with how the new T-160 rides and my only gripe has to be the shortening of the cockpit, going down to 450mm reach on the medium. But I do understand that the super long bikes aren't for everyone and the 450mm is by no means short.
Actually there is one other concern, by no means a bad one – it's just how fast the bike is! It's unreal how quickly the bike picks up pace and hold it through corners and over the rough stuff. There's no doubt it's terrifying climatising to a full suspension 29er. There's no doubt that the extra grip provided by the big wheels is hindered by the fact I'm dragging my brakes a lot more! The bike gets better with every ride though and I'm sure that once the fitness is back up and with a few more rides in, this guy will be my new favourite ever mountain bike and may even see the selling of my downhill bike. I'll make sure to report back later in the year with some of the rides it's taken on, and there'll no doubt a few more upgrades in place too!
Going in to 2022, Whyte has had to follow suit with pretty much every other bike brand, and unfortunately circum to the inevitable price increase. However Whyte have gone about it in the really good way that they have always have, which I feel really shows how they have the customer in mind: They rarely if ever just whack the price up, they always make a point of improving the model if the bike goes up in price and this is what had brought about the v2 not long after the v1 was made available. The new T-160 RS v2 has increased to £4,199.00 but is now coming with Rockshox's Ultimate fork, offering a much better fork suspension set up. It also comes with a way more appropriate set of far more aggressive tyres in the way of the Maxxis Assegai and DHR II. While very nice, the Bike Yoke dropper on the V1 has been sacrificed on the V2 for Whyte's own Drop It post. It is a bit more basic but for me, droppers go up, and they go down, and dearer droppers tend to require more frequent expensive servicing. So the dropper swap out isn't a big issue, and we've had very few issues in the shop with the Drop It post. The V2 basically answers any concerns that I had with the T-160 RS v1. The slightly more affordable T-160 S V2, has received the same tyre treatment along with a swap over to SRAM gears and braking bringing it fairly close to the spec to the V1 RS model but for less of a cost at £3,399.00.
If you're debating as to whether you should go for the T-160, stop debating and get it. It's an awesome all-round trail/gravity shredder that will pushing your limits to the brim.