Bike Test: First shred on the new Whyte T-140CR at Windhill Bike Park! - Pedal Progression
 

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25 November 2021

Bike Test: First shred on the new Whyte T-140CR at Windhill Bike Park!

The good people over at Whyte Bikes have sorted Matt, Ollie, Ollie K and myself with new work bikes – the Whyte T-140CR! Read on to find out my initial thoughts of the new bike.

It’s arrival coincided nicely with my birthday, so it seemed rude not to get out for a big celebratory shred.

I’ve just turned 32 but age is irrelevant when I’m riding; it transports me back in time to a teenage state of mind and I love it. Mountain biking is like the fountain of youth, as long as I ride I’ll never get old (at least for as long as my body holds out!).

I built the bike up in the Pedal Progression HQ a day before. With a solid bunch of mates, we were all set for a big session at Windhill Bike Park. The new trail bike would be getting its debut sends and Windhill is the perfect place to put it to the test. Something tells me that things are going to get wild.

First Impressions

Out the box I’m struck by its bold, burnt orange carbon frame which looks the business with its sleek and sharp angles. It’s colour makes it prime for Autumn, blending in beautifully with the golden leaves. As I place it in the work stand, I’m instantly satisfied by the T140’s feather weight feel. The air shock and carbon frame certainly pay dividends in the jibs department, I’m able to bunnyhop higher and fling it around easier than anything I’ve ridden before. My inner child set free as I charged out the shop door for the first time, pulling wheelies, cutties and endo’s around the carpark with a youthful recklessness. My first impressions tell me this bike will be just as playful as it will be fast. 

With its 140mm travel front and back, adjustable geometry it’s got slack and fun mode or a more upright and efficient option – all bases covered. 27.5 inch wheels and beastly 2.6 inch Minion and Dissector tyres give insane amounts of grip. It feels rapid, rad and responsive! I’m like a kid the night before Christmas, restless and excited to point it down that hill.

Early starts for a big day

Arriving early doors, I meet with 7 good mates for a big day of bikes. The Whyte is spotless and everyone’s quick to gather round to cop a feel of the smooth carbon framework. It had their approval straight away. Everyone agreed on how tidy it looked.

I impatiently get myself onto the start ramp and drop into the first set of rollers and jumps while the gang faff with their bikes. I was eager to get a feel and make any adjustments to the suspension setup if needed. A few clicks of rebound and another bolt check later, it was good to go.

We got ready for the first lap; ‘Bluetopia’, as is tradition for the warm up. I wasn’t the only one with childish energy, everyone was buzzed and raring to go. Despite it being a ‘warm up’ we all dropped in, shot off and went fast into the trail. 

It’s a good feeling riding a trail that you’re so familiar with. Usually if I were on an unfamiliar bike I’d take it steady to settle in and adjust to the new setup… Not on the new Whyte though. It felt like a bike I’d been riding all my life and I had no hesitation hitting the gas. I set the pace of the train and all the boys confirmed I was looking quick. My confidence was there straight away, over the jumps and into the series of wide, arching berms. I willingly committed to the turns by leaning in and pumping through… it felt great! Riding straight into the three jumps at the bottom and floating through them with ease, I was stoked on how well this bike handles in the corners and the air. Compared to my heavy weight alloy Transition Patrol this felt super nimble and effortless to control. 

Empuru

We didn’t mess about with any more ‘warming up’, it was pointless. We were in. We headed straight back to the top as fast as possible and dropped into the red grade free ride line known as Empuru. This is send heaven; a fast flow trail with whoops, big berms and at least 15 tabletops and doubles of varying sizes. The trail was running sweet as the B1ke crew had freshly lipped the jump take off’s and re-sculpted some of the berms. I had no issues getting over every jump nice and clean, first time.  It took me be by surprise when I over shot the step up by several metres, landing almost directly into the berm beyond it… That’s never happened before! The Whyte was a happy chappy through the jumps. I’ve honestly never felt as comfortable riding this trail as I did today.

I’m yet to fully hone my skills in the whips and tricks department. A small tweaky turn-bar is my go to movement in the air and I don’t often feel loose enough to move the bike around beneath me. Luckily a turn-bar is widely regarded as the coolest trick in the world… right? Well anyway, today things were happening much more naturally. Not to say I was suddenly whipping off like Kaos Seagrave at Crankworx but it was noticeably easy to move the bike around in the air. Things were feeling much more fluid than my trademark move, even if only slight. It felt nice. 

Photo: Darren Cordingly @Cordinglydarren

We rode the red trail many more times, dropping in from halfway and going big on the large left hand launchers on the bottom jumps. Party laps and trains for days! It was only 11.30 and the session was getting hot!

On the way back up, most people choose to walk and talk. Another opportunity to test the bike’s capabilities, I’m wasn’t shy to crank it up. Among my friends, I’m known to be the one with iron calves, so I blasted past them and left them to their long pilgrimage back up. Pedalling is always easier than pushing, right? Well it is on the T140 for sure.

Regardless of the sheer magnitude of my quads and calves, this bike climbs beautifully. It’s got a dinner plate 12 speed cassette and decent ratio of gears. It silently glided up the hill, easy and breezy compared to the HGV. The Patrol is decent on the ups too but the weight’s not exactly favourable on the ascents. Gravity is only your friend 50% of the time. Riding upwards, I can imagine how well the Whyte will perform on those longer days in South Wales where the hills are 5 times the size and the climbs go on and on and on and…

Cashing in

After a quick food stop we cracked straight onto ‘Payrise’, the newest trail to be built in the park. It’s a short red run but packs a serious punch in the form of a 3 stage flat drop, into a wide-open chute and sharp left hander. It’s got a ‘rollable’ drop to the left, a long drop in the middle, a kicker step down and a larger gap on the right; most of us opted the middle for the first hit. 

Photo: Darren Cordingly @Cordinglydarren

 

The rolling speed that you carry into it requires a dab of the brakes on approach. The landing is a hefty 4 metres away but the long chute allows you to go deep if you’ve got the nerve. This feature offers some ample air time and an intense g-out as you land and slam into the berm – a great test of that 140mm travel.

Without a first look, I followed the boys down in the train and one by one we flew off the edge. My front and back suspension completely bottomed out as I hit the landing with an audible clunk in the huge compression. Luckily the responsive rebound was quick on the recovery. Next time I’ll add a few pumps of PSI to firm things up and perhaps add a token to the fork but at this stage in the session I wasn’t going to waste any time for that. Generally the bike was feeling good and I had no desire to fiddle with the settings. We hit it a several more times before heading back up for ‘Ark-At-EE’, the black jump line…

Leveling Up

‘Ark-At-Ee’ is sick. It’s got a bit of everything: Rooty chutes, close knit jumps and features that require precision and commitment, tight and technical berms, finishing with a big blind step down that sends you into a rough and rutted landing strip. I’m wondering if I’ll find the bike’s limits on this track, although my confidence suggests otherwise.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve never hit the ‘big’ side. The lower section splits into two options, the left being the more gnarly way out – a small step down into the moon-booter; a steeply lipped take off that sends you sky high. It’s followed by a small double and then the balls deep step down that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Well today was the day, I was sure of it.

With the way I’d been riding so far and how insanely good the bike felt, I had no doubts.

It’s always satisfying to push myself that little bit further each time I ride, so I can leave with a sense of accomplishment. Equally, I like to keep that feeling well regulated so I don’t get over excited and end up in A&E. I guess that’s my inner 32 year old talking now. So today was the day I’d tick off the lower section of this black trail.

As usual, it took me several dummy runs before I was ready. The moon-booter looked like the steepest and highest jump I would’ve ever hit, although in reality it probably wasn’t. It was in my head, I’d psyched myself out on it before and developed a bit of a mental block; easily done when you over think things. In fairness, it’s still a big jump!

As usual, all the guys offered words of encouragement; “you’ve totally got it man”, “it’s chilled”! 

I knew they’d be right but I still had that fizzy feeling of anticipation racing around my chest. When that comes over me I know I’m about to push myself further and do something scarier than anything I’ve done before, or at least that’s how it feels. On the plus side that feeling has always been right and it’s actually a good indication that I’m serious about it…

I took in some deep breaths, focussed on the trail and went. As soon as I did, I knew it was on. I took a little pinch of brake on the approach to ease my mind but I was still committed. Everything went silent as I rode the carpet covered take off and aimed for the moon. It sent me up and over with little effort while I tweaked the bike around mid flight for good measure. It was a clean jump, landing smooth.

Photo: Darren Cordingly @Cordinglydarren

As always, the surge of adrenaline flooded my body and all the pent up energy came out of me in an ecstatic “YEEYOOO!” (I’m quite a vocal rider at the best of times). The Whyte T-140 was absolutely the right tool for the job. It made it feel easy. I headed back up the trail and the session was back on! The subsequent sends went a bit faster and higher each time. 

The vibes were high even when our energy levels were starting to plateau. Having ticked off the moon booter, the rest of the line was already in the bag. Although I was intrigued to know how the bike would handle a heavy landing on the final step down. It was a similar size to the drop on ‘Payrise’ but on this one you could go even deeper. The impact would be pretty big without considering the ruts, roots and rocks too. 

Having never hit it before, I naturally held back a bit and came up short on the landing with a heavy case. It wasn’t a clean jump by any means but was at least a proper test of the bike’s alloy rear end and the Rockshox Deluxe shock. I smashed into the transition and skitted over the rough stuff to the end without any issue.

This was the Windhill session to top them all – pure hype! Getting such a squad together is rare for us so we were all out for a good time, vibing off the energy all day. It felt like we were all riding at our peak and it’s fair to say on the new bike, I was too. Sessions like this are so rad which gets me more and more stoked for riding and thankful for this awesome sport, this epic lifestyle and having such a sound group of mates to do it with.

It’s the best thing in the world.

The Result

From the very first crank of the pedals I was loving the feel of this bike. Putting it through its paces, it delivered excellent handling and an easy ride on all the trails. The jumps and occasional cases may have punished this mid travel trail bike in its early days but I started as I intend to go on. Now I can be confident that this bike will get me up those steep climbs efficiently and down technical descents with speed, it’ll take on even bigger jumps and absorb the heavy hits too. Equally, i’ll be confident taking it to next seasons enduro’s to put down my best race runs. It’s a bike that will get the best out of me and enable my progression, suiting my style and ambitions down to the ground.

Photo: Darren Cordingly @Cordinglydarren

Cheers to the bike squad. Cheers Pedal Progression and cheers to Whyte for this absolute weapon of a bike.

As a 32 year old teenager with the Whyte T140CR, this could be my best year yet!

Phil Simpson

Written by:

Phil Simpson