Taken from Dirt issue 144, February 2014
We often get a abuse for featuring bikes in the mag with price tags that are way out of the reach for most people, so we thought we’d have a look at a couple of ‘cheaper’ options.
Whyte 950 vs Boardman FS Pro
The most striking feature of our chosen £1600 bikes is their excellent component packages. Hardware that certainly doesn’t hold these bikes back, offering up a range of riding opportunities that would put a smile on any face.
Both £1600 bikes are designed for general trail riding, the Whyte and Boardman come in at similar weights, geometries and intended use – the biggest difficulty with these bikes is choosing between them. On the one hand you have a definite ‘hardtail rules’ band of faithful followers that certainly generates some mystique to the genus, and on the other a brand known more for road and track rather than the dirty world of mountainbiking but offering a killer front and rear suspension at a tidy price.
It needs to be made clear that the Whyte 905 is an exceptional evolution of hardtail trail geometry, and not a bike of reputation gained through hype. The magic comes via a low bottom bracket and front end with good sizing encouraging charging and delivering excellent stability. Unlike some hardtails it’s designed around a 130mm fork (no more or less) and on smoother trails and berms will match the Boardman. The 905 is most definitely a hardtail trail benchmark.
The Boardman is a surprise package. Out of £1600 bikes , it’s a model that puts itself in the game up against bikes of much higher prices. When you consider that it comes shod with Mavic rims, a RockShox Revelation fork and Monarch RT damper, SRAM X9 gearing and an Elixir 7 brakeset, it begins to ask questions of bikes that are many thousands of pounds more expensive.
The good news about the Boardman is the four bar linkage which is always easy to understand, the bad news is that for a few hundred pounds more there are direct sales 150mm bikes (from the likes of YT Industries, Canyon, etc.) available. But then that applies to the Whyte 905 as well. What you get for the money is an aggro attitude and a bag more grip out the back than the Whyte. When given the option almost everyone in the office would have picked the Boardman over the Whyte.
Still, it’s a tricky decision. If you want the ultimate trail hardtail go for the Whyte 905, just don’t believe all the talk that hardtail bikes make your riding better, because if you’ve been rising full–suspension for a while you’ll have to re–calibrate to a different skill set. There might be less bike maintenance on the hardtail but out of both the £1600 bikes, the Boardman offers less body maintenance as you will find out when swapping from full–suspension back to rigid (rear).
Whyte 905: £1599
Boardman FS PRO: £1600
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