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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Whyte G Works 160

The full English. Whyte's best enduro 160mm to date

It’s all a bit different at Whyte bikes these days – more colour, less angle, better value. I’d pencilled in the Whyte 905 for the Dirt 100, it is after all one of the finest hardtails you will find. It’s what many people think of as what Whyte do best – making lovely hardtails so that people can go and beat their bodies well and truly. Never quite understood why people choose such a bike, its partly down to the fact there’s a perception that they teach you better skills which they don’t (just different ones) and also that riding a hardtail is more pure – which is bollocks.

“It’s upbeat, well proportioned and well made”

There’s was a feeling that we should be obliged to put a hardtail in. Well enough is enough of that false love, if money is a concern buy yourself a T-130 SX which will offer you a whole world more fun and you’ll not get beaten up in the process.

Its pretty crazy that this bike here though, the 160, is one of the most expensive bike Whyte now produce and that at £3999 you get such gems as Sram XX1 gearing and Guide RSC brakes. It’s a full package and is bolted to one of Whyte’s best looking bikes to date. It’s upbeat, well proportioned and well made. But how does it ride?

Brilliantly well. It’s a long bike in wheelbase, one of the longest size L on the market, and the reach at 495mm is close to the juggernauts being offered by the custom Nicolai frames offered by Mojo. But it’s just right, it’s manoeuvrable on the hoof where the slightly too long bikes become lazy and levered into the ground. The geometry numbers on the G-Works are about as good as it gets. The guys also point out that the head angle will also be never more than 66 degrees, something which company’s such as Canyon should have thought of with their slightly too steep Strive.

Give it space – or not

It’s a bike for charging down hills there is little doubt of that. But there are a few things to bear in mind before you do so. First up is the Monarch Plus air can which will need a look inside before you head off. We found it jam packed with spacers and way too fierce out of the box preferring around three that gives just about the right balance and support in the system. It’s still a robust tune and don’t forget to add a few tokens into the slightly wider Boost fork before cutting loose.

Out the back a Sram Boost rear wheel. This means 24 spokes. Our previous experience on Boost with low spoke count gave us a really surprising positive feedback taking some serious clatter to get the rim out of shape. On the G – Works we’re talking 23mm full tubeless set-up rims but boy do these Sram Rail 40’s flex like no other. Last years 29” offerings on Boost were good for general trail use but we really do wonder about these on this bigger hitting bike. Nevertheless we’ve found the traction quality as the wheel moves in and around roots to be very impressive, fantastic for line holding that’s for sure.


Ian Alexander. Whyte R&D. G-160

Whyte G-160; We had experimented with the 1x idea on a bike we did in 2011 with the Whyte 146. The 1x was a bit cobbled together as the groupset obviously didn’t exist at the time. It did show us where things were heading though. Subsequently someone came to see us with some secret components which gave us a critical insight, but it was like looking 3-4 years in advance of where we were. The decision we had to make was could we design a frameset that really took advantage of getting rid of the front mech, and were there big enough gains to be had from using all the redundant space left by leaving the FD out of the design all together.

We had 2 schemes, one was 1x specific and the other a conventional 2x design and we went off and made frame samples.

When our first sample drivetrain 1×11 components came in we were able to test both concepts back to back. Those 2 prototype frames are still hanging on my office wall, one made with 2x chainstays and High Direct Mount FD and the other frame where we binned the front mech, made the BB pivot 20% wider, remodelled the chainstay for what we thought would be better stiffness and went to a specific Single Chain Ring frameset, or “SCR”. As we got closer and closer to deadline it felt like we were really taking a huge leap of faith, we weren’t sure if at least one of the specs shouldn’t still retain a frame that was 2x compatible not least because a very respected component maker stressed that 2x and 3x were the best choices.

“As we got closer and closer to deadline it felt like we were really taking a huge leap of faith”

All the 3D CAD models and the drawings for both concepts were produced and sat in the files just in case. We talked it around in circles for quite a while in the Whyte development team…  in the final analysis someone asked the question of whether anyone knew anyone who had put a 1×11 transmission on their bike, ridden it for a bit and then made the decision to go back to a 2×10 transmission because they felt it was better than a 1x set-up. As no one in our development team and wider circle of development riders could think of anyone who’d actually done this, we decided to get on with it and to only make the SCR version. It all seems blindingly obvious now with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, but at the time it felt very brave. Even in 2015 walking around EuroBike looking at 2016 models, you can still see a lot of brands with 160mm Enduro bikes with 2×11 groupsets and as a measure of how things have progressed, it is that which now seems like the risky thing to do.


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