Whyte T-140 RS 2023 review – impeccably balanced trail bike that's an instant favorite

Have Whyte hit the perfect ride vibe sweet spot with their new mid-travel 29er trail bike?

Whyte T-140 RS
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

BikePerfect Verdict

It's heavy and has some spec annoyances, but superb suspension and spot on geometry make Whyte’s new mid-travel 29er an instant trail rallying favorite

Pros

  • +

    Brilliantly tuned suspension

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    Awesome dynamic balance

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    Fox Performance Elite dampers

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    Fully weatherproof

  • +

    Top tire spec

Cons

  • -

    Heavy

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    NX rear cassette and splined freehub

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    No XS or S sizes in 29er

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    Lacks internal storage

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Despite being one of the first brands to crack the category a decade ago, Whyte have been missing a mid-travel trail 29er from their range for a long time. However, their new T-140 has been definitely worth the wait (and the weight) for anyone after one of the best trail mountain bikes available with an impeccably balanced, blended and sorted ride vibe. 

Whyte T-140 RS frame

It may be a familiar layout but the new T-140 frame is almost entirely new. No internal storage or small size options though. (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design

The T-140 definitely looks similar to previous Whyte models but losing the reinforcing strut ahead of the extended seat tube gives it a much sleeker look and a lower standover height. That also means a conventional seat collar rather than an internal wedge like previous bikes. The collar and internal cable routing are all tightly rubber sealed and the belly and chain stays are rubber armored too.

The main frame tube set is all-new with the relatively slim downtube getting a subtle reinforcing ledge just along the top of the Whyte logo. The seat tube is curved to keep the rear wheel tucked in for a 436mm chain stay length. The super wide main pivot makes maximum use of the single chainring specific space that Whyte pioneered way back when. Chunky rear stays with double sided pivots are shared with the Whyte T-160 enduro bike but the pocketed dropouts are new. The yoked, two-position shock and short seatstay-mounted suspension linkage setup is typical Whyte and the bearings are covered with a lifetime warranty. There’s no internal storage but tube volume means it wouldn’t be much use anyway and there's plenty of space for a big bottle and strap on spares.

Geometry is combative but not crazy with a 64.7 or 65.3-degree head angle and 333 or 338mm BB height according to my tape depending where I set the shock. Reach on our large sample was 480mm with a seat angle of 76 degrees. 

Whyte T-140 fork

The latest Fox 34 is the best by far and a great match for the rest of the bike (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Specifications

Whyte are rolling out three bikes on the T-140 platform – the R, the SRAM AXS equipped RSX and the RS reviewed here. A Fox 34 fork and Float DPS rear shock in Performance Elite spec are the headliners on the RS, but triple compound Maxxis DHF EXO 2.5in front and Dissector EXO+ 2.4in carcass rear tires give masses of grip and control. The Bike Yoke Divine dropper post is an ‘if you know, you know’ reliability win. While the 31.8mm diameter bar and stem, plus fat Whyte molded end grips take the sting out of the steering end of things and are spot on for the geometry with a width of 780mm, and a 35mm stem length.

Otherwise it’s mid-level SRAM with a GX analogue gear set and X1 alloy crank which is fine. Whyte have sneaked a cheaper, much heavier NX spec cassette on though which is a double wound as that also means an old school splined freehub that you can’t just stick a lighter cassette onto later. The wheels are relatively heavy thanks to sturdy hubs and equally stout plain gauge DT Swiss spokes.

That brings the Whyte in at a hefty 15.3kg (without pedals), which is 400g heavier than Trek’s 140/130mm travel Fuel EX, only 100g lighter than the steel framed 150/140mm travel Cotic Jeht and just a few 100g lighter (mostly due to shock and fork) than Whyte’s own 160/150mm travel T-160.

Whyte T-140 cassette

The heavy SRAM NX cassette and splined freehub are a blot on the otherwise GX build (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

Whyte have done a very good job of hiding the weight dynamically though, in fact they’ve done an exceptional job with the ride dynamic altogether. Acceleration can be a chore and legs and lungs will inevitably burn sooner for less speed compared to lighter bikes on smoother/steeper climbs, but overall the Whyte feels surprisingly agile and lively.

Some of that comes from a pitch perfect suspension balance that Whyte’s head designer spent “a pandemic’s worth of work on” trying ten different tunes before settling on the sweet spot for the Float DPS inline shock. Fully open it’s exceptionally fluid for rolling up and over stutter roots and rocks on climbs and will swallow serious slaps without choking or blowing through on faster descents. In the mid setting it’s a noticeably more positive footing when you press the pedals hard and a great platform for really pushing the side knobs and handling to the edge through high G turns.

Whyte T-140 shock

A "pandemic's worth" of test riding ten different potential tunes show's in the superb suspension balance of the T-140. The shock yoke hides the geometry adjust too (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

This balanced fluidity is flawless matched by the chassis and 34 fork though. I initially thought a stiffer 36 might be a better match for a bike that liked pushing so hard. However, the more nuanced ride of the 34 syncs brilliantly with the feel of the tire carcass, mainframe and even the slimmer bar and stem. The curated compliance means superb adhesion across the sketchiest root and rock mess, where stiffer bikes skipped and slid off line. Braking and drive traction is exceptional to the point where I was picking the Whyte as an advantage on technical climbs compared to a Canyon Spectral 125, I was back to back testing it with, despite a 1.2kg weight penalty.

The handling is set up to make the most of the grip too, turning in instantly through the short stem to I was regularly mowing apexes I expected to go wide on at first on. While I’ve struggled with the mid-turn lunge from the Maxxis Dissector on some bikes, the Whyte loved the ‘shoved from behind’ commitment to even deeper, more daring lean angles and it definitely adds speed compared to DHR/DHF siblings too. The steepest seat angle Whyte have ever used also sorts out climbing poise without shuffling around in the saddle.

Verdict

In fact that’s the takeaway from the whole test that I should have led with straight away. With just a basic sag and damper setup Whyte’s T-140 felt like my all time favorite bike straight away. It’s not the fastest on big, straight, slap trails and I’d love to try a lighter version (just swapping to lighter wheels for some of the testing made a big difference). The cheap, heavy cassette spec is definitely deserving of some time on the ‘naughty step’ too and there are no smaller 29er options either.

The way the frame, suspension and geometry all blend together is truly outstanding though, creating a gloriously alive and addictive overachiever that immediately overrides ‘sensible’ stat or spec comparisons on the trail. 

Tech Specs: Whyte T-140 RS

  • Price: TBC
  • Discipline: Trail/Enduro
  • Head angle: 64.6 – 65.3
  • Frame material: Alloy
  • Size: M, L (tested) XL
  • Weight: 15.3kg (large)
  • Wheel size: 29x2.5in
  • Suspension (front/rear): Fox Float 34 Performance Elite GRIP2 140mm travel, 44mm offset/ Fox Float DPS Performance Elite 140mm travel
  • Components: SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed shifter, rear mech and chain, SRAM X1 170mm chainset, SRAM NX PG1230 SRAM 11-50T cassette. SRAM G2 R brakes with 180mm rotors. Maxxis DHF MaxxTerra Exo WT 29 x 2.5in front and Maxxis Dissector MaxxTerra EXO+ rear tires on Race Face AR30 rims, DT Swiss Champion plain gauge spokes and double sealed Boost hubs. Whyte 780 x 31.8mm alloy bar and 35 x 31.8mm stem, Whyte Enduro grips, Bike Yoke Divine 160mm dropper post, Whyte custom saddle.

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg