Whyte’s T-160 is the brand’s latest longer-travel trail bike that’s brand new for 2021. The new frame has a low standover height and rejigged suspension with slightly more travel than the older S-150 it replaces. It might sound confusing that this new T-160 now actually has 150mm rear bounce, but it’s because Whyte labels its bikes after fork, not rear travel, so the mid-tier 160mm RockShox Lyrik defines the model name here.
The T-160 RS is specced with some top-performing kit. The RS model is the pricier of two alloy-only versions of the T-160, both running 29in wheels, meaning Whyte (like the rest of the industry) has gone cold on the idea of a bike that can switch between 29in and 27.5+ sized wheels, like the old S-150 did. Recently restructured, the brand has also reduced the number of carbon fibre bikes and no longer offers carbon fibre frames on its longer-travel bikes. Instead, it’s focusing on effective parts packages bolted onto aluminium frames at competitive prices.
Whyte T-160 RS frame and suspension details
The stiff and solid T-160 chassis is all-new, but packed with principles Whyte’s championed for years, such as using true four-bar suspension, progressive geometry, an integrated seat clamp, low bottom bracket and a symmetrical rear triangle.
The BikeYoke Revive dropper can be bled on the move to remove any unwanted squish. The latter maximises space provided by a single front chainring to widen the main pivot’s bearing placement and should provide extra resistance to twisting. This is further amplified by a reinforcing seatstay bridge that longer 440mm chainstays now make room for. All T-160 suspension pivot points are updated over the older model, creating a higher and more progressive leverage ratio, which should provide more suppleness at the start of the stroke and a firmer ramp up compared to the S-150.
The suspension has been tuned to have more anti-squat than the previous S-150 this bike replaces. It has more anti-squat (to counteract suspension compressing under rider weight shifts accelerating), and also a slightly more rearward axle path that should help the rear wheel move up and out of the way of bumps.
Whyte T-160 RS geometry
Now the rest of the industry has caught up with forward-thinking manufacturers such as Whyte and Mondraker – both brands that arguably pioneered the concept – having such long and slack geometry on what’s essentially a trail bike is no longer that unusual. Considering the T-160 bridges the gap between trail and enduro, its geometry is indeed still at the longer, lower, slacker end of things, with chainstays slightly lengthier than some rivals at 440mm, which is also reflected in the wheelbase.
It uses a Horst-link rear chainstay pivot, where the rear axle is behind the pivot. The frame hides a clever geometry adjust feature that uses an easy-to-flip brass insert in the shock extender yoke. Set in the low position, it lowers the BB by around 11mm and slackens the (already relaxed) head angle to 64 degrees.
|Seat angle (degrees)||75.1||74.8||74.6|
|Head angle (degrees)||64.6||65.6||64.6|
|Seat tube (mm)||431.8||457.2||482.6|
|Top tube (mm)||606||640||672|
|Head tube (mm)||110||125||140|
|Bottom bracket height (mm)||342||342||343|
In this setting, you’ll need to be aware of pedal strikes although, while it might not be for everyone, being close to the floor lends a lot of stability and calmness to the handling and also makes the T-160 feel fantastic in the turns.
It’s specced with a mix of SRAM and RockShox products.
Whyte T-160 RS specifications
The current industry situation has caused across-the-board price rises for all brands, so it’s unsurprising the T-160 RS is specced similarly to last year’s carbon-framed S-150 for the same money. That still means a reliable smattering of kit, including SRAM 12-speed GX Eagle with a massive cassette to winch up steep climbs, powerful four-piston SRAM Code R brakes with 200mm rotors and mid-tier RockShox Lyrik Select + RC air-sprung fork and Super Deluxe Select + RT rear shock.
The Super Deluxe air shock has a lock out lever. The own brand grips and bars are also a good shape, plus there’s one of the smoothest-action dropper posts around in the BikeYoke Revive, with 160mm of travel. Maxxis rubber includes a stickier (and wider) 2.5in MaxxTerra High Roller II front and a faster-rolling, longer-lasting, dual-compound 2.4in Dissector on the rear. These are sensible kit choices given the bike’s intended use. Those tyres are seated tubeless on 32-spoke Race Face AR-30 wheels using a cheaper sleeved joint.
The Whyte-branded grips might not be to everyone’s taste, but I liked them. Although the wheels are strong – thanks to offset spokes – they feel a bit heavy going when accelerating and climbing, especially if you’re used to faster and lighter hoops.
Whyte T-160 RS ride impressions
The Whyte T-160 saw local North Yorkshire trails I know like the back of my hand in a mixture of baked dry and greasy conditions. In common with a lot of previous Whytes, this isn’t a bike you end up second guessing, or wanting to fiddle with shock and fork pressures and damping all the time while out riding.
The fork’s 160mm of travel gives the bike its name. It’s easy to adapt too, and there are no nasty surprises or itches to scratch trying to get it to perform better or feel more balanced. Basically, you only need to check tyre pressures, set sag and go – and that’s a definite advantage over more finnicky machines.
Whyte T-160 RS climbing performance
Being the best part of 16kg, the T-160’s pretty chunky for a trail bike and therefore more suited to spinning steadily to the top of steep, demanding tracks on fireroads or tarmac rather than hustling up and along tight singletrack. Its pedalling action feels smooth and controlled, and there’s no excessive suspension movement caused by rider input, making the bike feel very neutral and requiring no compensatory inputs. However, at lower speeds, because the suspension remains impressively active on the gas, I found using the shock’s compression lever to firm the rear end up helped make the bike feel more efficient.
Whyte T-160 RS descending performance
Tipping into a pretty rough track, it’s immediately apparent the T-160’s rear suspension is so fluid and smooth that it’s easy to hammer through anything an enduro bike would. There’s a stable, calm and assured ride, even over really hammered breaking bumps and beaten-up berm entries.
Its composed rear suspension let us push its limits. The ride is so calm and isolated in fact, I feared the T-160 wouldn’t deliver enough pop and support hitting right-angle berms or loading tyres to pre-jump holes or pump jump faces. I needn’t have worried, because lurking in the way-deeper-feeling-than-advertised suspension is a firm progression and enough support to push against.
The T-160 was well behaved on rough terrain. This makes it possible to surge out of pocket berms and pump terrain to accelerate forwards without any mushiness or wallowing. Plus, when you pick up the pace, it feels lively and provides enough feedback to sense the ground properly. Comfy on the hands and feet, the T-160 lets you really glide down rough trials at a fair old clip without feeling overly flustered.
It has long, slack and low geometry. This helps it ride harder than its travel figure suggests. The sense of smoothness and stability buys vital milliseconds to respond to potential dangers and trail obstacles that might catch you out on a more nervy or choppy bike. And if all that sounds a bit boring and ‘plough-like’, think again, as with even quite long 440mm chainstays, having such a low bottom bracket sees Whyte’s rig cut through turns really precisely, and it’s easy to flip from side to side on the trail.
Whyte T-160 RS bottom Line
Whyte’s well-sorted T-160 feels a little more capable and lively than its predecessor at speed, and it’s easy to ride for all levels. It has a very planted and neutral feel for beginners and intermediates too, and is also capable of being lit up by expert riders.
This version is the top-spec bike in the T-160 range. The only real niggles, then, are a sense the T-160 back end is so good it reveals the mid-level Lyrik fork as less accomplished, which turns into a bit of a balancing act between enough fork support and it not feeling rougher than the rear. Also, it’s noticeably heavy and can be slightly lethargic to lug around, which will have an impact on your enjoyment, especially if you’re a high-mileage trail rider rather than a play-in-the-woods type.