Update From Bikes Not Bombs

Our Bike Shop is moving out of 18 Bartlett Square.

After more than ten years, our award winning Bike Shop is moving out of 18 Bartlett Square in Jamaica Plain when our lease expires at the end of this year in December. In our recent Letter from the Director we shared our plan to move the Shop into the Brewery building with our Hub at 284 Amory Street providing increased visibility in an established business environment where we plan to build a seamless connection between our Bike Shop and Youth Pathways. By integrating our space, we plan to diversify apprenticeships for teens and increase participation among women, girls, and vulnerable communities in many aspects of our social enterprise beyond mechanics, including retail management, accounting, marketing, and leadership development. We plan to continue providing youth with income, tangible skills, connections to others and a safe space to grow as we recognize our full potential as a Bike Shop and Training Center for Youth, while continuing to feature expert mechanic services, refurbished bicycles, parts and accessories, and increased access to clinics on bicycle safety and mechanics. Please check our Unite Under One Roof FAQs, as we continue to share updates on our plan’s progress.

     Photo by Chris Leong

How You Can Help

Use the bicycle as a vehicle for social change.

It has never been more crucial to take action to stop climate change, and we are proud to be an organization that has been able to put both environmental sustainability and social justice at the forefront of what we do each and every day. Our commitment to keeping thousands of bicycles out of the waste stream by giving these bikes a new life and continued value whether shipped internationally or refurbished locally by our youth and shop staff means that more underserved communities have access to environmentally friendly means of transportation, mutually benefitting both the earth and its inhabitants.


Donate now.

Donating to support our mission is the best way you can ensure that Bikes Not Bombs’ Youth Pathways, International Partnerships and Bike Shop programs continue to grow. If each of the recipients of this e-newsletter donated just $10 today, we would be able to realize the dream of our Hub and Shop integration more fully by next year.


Shop our fall sale.

This weekend, Friday, October 19th 1pm-6:30pm, Saturday, October 20th 9am-4pm, and Sunday, October 21st 12pm-4pm, we will be having a Fall Sale at the Bike Shop.Everything (except service, repairs and labor) will be 15% off. This includes:

  • refurbished and new bikes
  • used and new parts
  • accessories
  • apparel

The more you buy, the less we have to move. Every dollar you spend at the Bike Shop will help ensure our local youth programs and international partnership work continues to thrive. Every time you buy a refurbished bike, you keep a bike out of the waste stream and give it a new life.


Take this short survey about our Bike Shop.

We value your feedback! By taking this short survey about our Bike Shop, you will help us understand what kinds of bikes and gear you’re looking for and how we may improve to serve your needs… and you just might win a BNB T-shirt! Please contact our Director of Learning and Evaluation, René Milet at with any questions regarding this survey.

6 flawed but brilliant mountain bikes

Like a beautiful dive that ends up as a painful-looking belly flop, sometimes something can look like it’s going perfectly and end up being a bit of a nightmare.

It’s the same within the bike industry. Many a brand has managed to snap defeat from the jaws of victory and solidly boot the ball of life into the own-goal of ignominy by trying too hard or failing to cover the basics. Between the staff at BikeRadar, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, we’ve got decades of bike-testing experience under out belts, so we’ve seen more that a few bikes that were a hair’s breadth away from brilliance but managed to screw it up. In no particular order, here are six bikes that did just that.

  • 10 entirely convincing reasons to buy a new bike
  • 8 mountain bike tech fails that their manufacturers wish you’d forget
  • 6 common beginner’s bike maintenance fails

1.  2007-2009 Commencal Meta 5.5

In many ways, the Meta was one of the first truly modern trail bikes. It had 140mm of travel at either end with a smooth and progressive linkage-driven, single-pivot design at the rear, a confidently slack head angle and an infectious character that’d have you hooning it into the most technical and tight trails you could find. While it didn’t fit into any traditional categories, being too hefty for true XC riding and under-suspended for pure gravity work, it found huge favour with riders who enjoyed thrashing the descents and chatting on the climbs – think of it as proto-enduro.


That brings us neatly to the flaw. While the Commencal inspired riders to push ever harder, that took a toll on the aluminium frame and early models were almost legendary for frame failures, with hairline cracks from fatigue being the most common issue. Their owners quite literally loved them to death. Commencal eventually beefed up the bike, which helped contain the problem, but a reputation had been established and stuck until the whole bike was redesigned as the Meta V2.

2. 2009 Orange ST4

British bike manufacturers Orange were – and still are – well known for their handcrafted single-pivot design with monocoque rear swingarms, but they tried something a bit new with the ST4. Designed to be a lighter, shorter-travel option for anyone that thought the hugely popular Five was a bit too much bike. The ST4 also used a revolutionary – well, by the almost unchanging standards of Orange – rear suspension design. Instead of the big swingarm directly driving the shock, it used a linkage design. That allowed Orange more control of the suspension curve and meant that the ST4 was actually a ridiculously capable and fun bike despite the short travel. 

The ST4 had a back end that was as bendy as a limbo champion

That confident feel meant people rode them hard despite the short travel, which then brought less desirable features to the fore, namely a back end that was as bendy as a limbo champion and nowhere near as tough. Orange ended up ‘detuning’ the bike to try and stop riders pushing their bikes to failure, while the chainstays were swapped out for chunkier rectangular items, which in turn pushed up weight. That meant it struggled to compete with its big brother on weight or ride quality. Combined with the fact traditional Orange buyers wanted a bike that looked like a traditional Orange, it meant the writing was on the wall.

3. 2001-2005 Specialized Big Hit 

4. 2007-2008 Yeti 575

The entire back end worked as a giant leaf spring

5. Empire AP-1

6. 1998-2005 Santa Cruz Bullit

Under braking, the Bullit was a wicked formula for firing your chest at the ground
Did you own any of these? Got any more suggestions for bikes that were brilliant but managed to shoot themselves in foot? Let us know what you think in the comments or head to the BikeRadar Facebook page to share your experiences.

You can

Awesome Paris Bike Lane



There is so much to love here, the short curbs make it highly unlikely people will park there but allow emergency vehicles the ability to hop over them, the parked cars protect from run away vehicles, and the road markings make it clear who the lane is for (if being too narrow for cars didn’t already make them aware of that).  They even lowered the curbs on the bike side a little to allow you to run up onto them to prevent crashing if you were to come into contact with that side.

Thanks John for sending in this picture.


Dear City,

Can we have these!


Boston Cyclists.


Pro bike: Emily Batty’s Trek Cronus CX Ultimate

Emily Batty is best known for her prowess on the mountain bike, though she can also hold her own on the ‘cross course. Her weapon of choice is a Trek Cronus CX Ultimate outfitted with a handful of custom components that better suit the petite Canadian racer.

Trek introduced the Cronus CX Ultimate in 2011. Trek may have been slow in bringing a carbon ’cross rig to market, though it appears the company spent a lot of time sweating the details. The Cronus CX Ultimate features American style geometry with neutral angles and a relatively low bottom bracket. Trek included a number of thoughtful touches, such as a fork-mounted cable stop to mitigate brake shudder, internal cable routing that allows for partial or full-length housing, a wide BB090 bottom bracket shell, hidden fender mounts, bridgeless chain stays and better than average mud clearance.

Vertically challenged riders can have a difficult time finding a cyclocross bike that fits them properly. That is unlikely to be the case with this bike. The 5ft 3in Batty rides a 50cm frame (the smallest of the six frame sizes offered). It has 50.6cm seat tube and an effective top tube that is 50.9cm in length.

The 5ft 3in batty rides a 50cm chronus cx ultimate: the 5ft 3in batty rides a 50cm chronus cx ultimate

Batty’s Bontrager Evoke RXL is slammed as far forward as it can go on the XXX Race Lite seatpost. This is not a matter of trying to shorten the reach; her forward position is optimized for her leg length.

“Because of her shorter femurs she runs a more forward setup. Her setback is only 1cm behind the bottom bracket,” said Trek Factory Racing team mechanic Matt Opperman.?

Batty's forward position compensates for her short femurs: batty's forward position compensates for her short femursBatty’s forward positioning compensates for her short femurs

Batty runs a mostly Shimano 7900 Dura-Ace component group with a Shimano CX70 crankset and front derailleur. The CX70 front derailleur has a 16-tooth chain ring capacity and is optimized for cyclocross gearing. Batty runs a lower-than-average 42/34T chain ring combination. She’s not alone in running smaller chainrings for ’cross; Batty’s teammate Katie Compton runs WickW?rks chain rings in a 44/24T combo on her custom Trek Ion.

Batty spins a 42/34t chainring combo: batty spins a 42/34t chainring comboBatty’s cyclocross bikes are equipped with 42/43T chain rings

Batty named her two Cronus CX Ultimate race bikes “Randy’s Miracle 1 and 2″ in honor of friend Rich Weis’ seven-year-old son, Randy, who is undergoing treatment for spinal cancer that almost left him paralyzed. Interested parties can learn more about Randy’s story and offer their support by visiting

Complete Bike Specifications

  • Frame: Trek Cronus CX Ultimate, 50cm
  • Fork: Trek Cronus CX, carbon legs, aluminum steerer, 1.125in to 1.5in tapered
  • Headset: Cane Creek 40 Series integrated
  • Stem: Bontrager RXL, 100mm -7?
  • Handlebar: Bontrager Race Lite, 40cm
  • Front brake: TRP Revo X carbon
  • Rear brake: TRP Revo X carbon
  • Shift/Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace 7900
  • Front derailleur: Shimano CX70 braze-on
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace 7900
  • Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace 7900
  • Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace 7900
  • Crankset: Shimano CX70, 170mm crankarms
  • Chainrings: Sugino 42T, Shimano 34T
  • Bottom bracket: Enduro press-fit for Trek BB90
  • Pedals: CrankBrothers Eggbeater 11
  • Wheelset: Bontrager Aeolus 3 D3, tubular
  • Front tire: Clement PDX tubular, 33mm
  • Rear tire: Clement PDX tubular, 33mm
  • Saddle: Bontrager Evoke RXL, carbon rails
  • Seatpost: Bontrager XXX Race Lite

Critical Measurements

  • Rider’s height: 1.59m (5ft 3in)
  • Rider’s weight: 48kg (106lb)
  • Saddle height: 64cm
  • Saddle setback: 1cm
  • Seat tube length, c-t: 51cm
  • Seat tube length, c-c: 46cm
  • Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: 45cm
  • Saddle-to-bar drop: 3cm
  • Head tube length: 105mm
  • Top tube length (horizontal): 509mm
  • Total bicycle weight: 7kg (15.5lb)

Best winter gloves for mountain biking and commuting

Once the temperature drops, riding-specific winter gloves are essential for keeping warm and in control on your bike. A decent pair will offer windproofing and, in some cases, waterproofing, although it’s important that any fleeciness doesn’t get too in the way of dexterity.?

No matter how warm your hands are, you’ll need to keep freezing wind and rain away from your wrists, too, so your gloves should have a cuff long enough to tuck under your jacket sleeves.?Towelled nose wipes and gel padding will also come in handy when your nose is running or you’re tackling technical trails.

Here’s our pick of six pairs of gloves for mountain bikers and commuters. Many will also be suitable for spring and autumn riding.

Best for multi-season

Giro Blaze 2

?34.99 / US$40


Giro blaze 2 winter gloves:

Weight 48g ??Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL ??Colour Black

Although targeted at the 10?C and above temp range, these are still winter gloves according to Giro. We wore them in conditions from a dry five degrees to a balmy 20?C, and came to really rate them as a superb multi-season glove.?

Thin palms allow excellent touch on the bars, and enough dexterity that we rarely needed to take them off for anything – bonus. The windproof and lightly padded back keeps chills off, while the lack of membrane or insulation on the palm contribute to that excellent feel – plus breathability that means they never feel sweaty.

From: Giro?/ Madison (UK)

Best for all-round use

Dakine Blockade

?44.99 / US$44.99

4: 4

Dakine blockade winter gloves: dakine blockade winter gloves

Weight 70g Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL ??Colour Black

We wore these through most of last winter, through some atrocious weather. The Windstopper back combines with light fleece insulation and thin palms to make for a warm yet highly breathable and dexterous glove –?a rare combination.?

There is a bit of wear showing at the heel of the hand, where the stitched-in palm protection ends and the soft fleece begins, but they’ve otherwise survived a long season of gritty and wet use intact. The stretchy neoprene-like cuff is topped by a Velcro fastener, which was rarely needed once set in position.

From: Dakine / Surf Sales (UK)

Best for mild days

Gore Alp-X SO Light

?44.99 / US$65.95

3.5: 3.5

Gore alp-x so light winter gloves: gore alp-x so light winter gloves

Weight 60g ??Sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL ??Colours Black, red?

These uninsulated gloves barely scrape into the winter category – it’s the Windstopper layer that does it, extending their use into mild winter rides. The windproofing shrugs off chilly downhills and the thin, stretchy fabric makes for excellent feel. For bar-squeezing/pulling/shoving tech trails they’re excellent; for exposed straightline pedalfests they’re inevitably less so.?

A neat cuff, perfectly positioned nosewipe and effective gel padding on the heel all contribute to a glove that works very well for most of the year.?

From: Gore Bike Wear?

Best for value

Endura Strike

?29.99 / US$49.99

3.5: 3.5

Endura strike winter gloves: endura strike winter gloves

Weight 116g ??Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL ??Colour Black

It’s no surprise that the Strike is up to the majority of British winter riding – they originated in Scotland. We found them ideal for anything down to freezing, and their waterproofing shrugs off rain and sleet with ease.?

Snugging them under a waterproof jacket reveals cuffs are that are disappointingly short, and when the wind is whistling that’s an unwelcome gap. The upside of the short cuff is an easy and light feel on the bike, and the benefit is such we were happy to err on the short side most of the time, and we like their confident bar feel a lot.?

From: Endura

Best for cold and wet conditions

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Softshell

?59.99 / US$75

3: 3

Pearl izumi p.r.o. winter gloves: pearl izumi p.r.o. winter gloves

Weight 166g ??Sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL ??Colour Black

With long cuffs, thick insulation and waterproof fabric, these are aimed at the worst of winter – days down near freezing with rain and surface water to contend with. Neat enough to snug under a sleeve easily, they can be battened down to fully protect you, though you have to take them off for fiddly stuff – inevitable with such a warm glove, but a downer when you puncture.?

Also, the Primaloft insulation and waterproof liner’s free to slide against the outer, reducing feel and grip, but for the protection it’s tolerable.?

From: Pearl Izumi / Madison (UK)

Best for waterproofing

Altura Progel Waterproof

?34.99 / US$67.40

3: 3

Altura progel waterproof winter gloves: altura progel waterproof winter gloves

A budget waterproof glove along the same lines as the Endura Strike, Altura approaches the British winter in much the same way – heavy waterproofing and light insulation. This is the perfect combination, and with a longer cuff they keep things nice and warm?in poor weather.?

We do find them slightly less touchy feely thanks to a slightly baggy outer glove getting in the way of fingertips, but the nosewipe is well placed and they rarely get too sweaty inside as the insulation is pitched at just?the right level.?

From: Altura / Zyro (UK)

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

3rd Annual Illumination Ride

From the email:

The third annual Illuminations Bike Tour will be held on December 15, a joint production of the Somerville Bicycle Committee and Somerville Arts Council. Please join us. Details are below and attached.

The guided group ride will be shorter this year so folks can spend more time looking at the lights and stay warmer. For those who would like to tour the longer route from last year, maps will be available. Those touring the longer route may continue after the short guided tour concludes, may meet with others at the suggested times below or tour the route on your own schedule with friends.

Please join us and happy winter solstice,
~ Brian Postlewaite

(for the Somerville BIcycle Committee)

Illuminations by Bike
December 15, 2012

Guided Short Route
Meet Location: Somerville High School Main Entrance
Meet Time: 5:50pm
Departure: 6:00pm
Duration: 45 minutes, or less
Required: warm clothes & bike lights
Recommended: holiday lights, costumes & good cheer
Suggested: Donate $5 to the Somerville Arts Council
Afterwards: Hot drinks & treats at City Hall

Unguided Long Route
Maps: available at city hall, donation recommended.
Suggested Meet Times: 7:15pm & 8:30pm

Ellsworth Evolve – First ride review

We’ve always placed Ellsworth’s four-bar linkage bikes among the very best-performing out?there, but the first incarnation (last year) was an acquired taste. We didn’t dislike it, but we never felt totally at ease with it either.?

The main reason was that the steering became too twitchy when the ground went down and the fork went beyond half travel. We eventually plugged in a 120mm fork instead of the recommended 100mm one, simply?to ease the head angle.

We’re pleased to find the new version has a degree knocked off the?head as standard, plus a stiffer back end too. The Kashima-coated Fox RP23 shock noticeably boosts back end fluidity on the smaller bumps, and with the smoothing effect of the big wheels, it all conspires to make the Evolve one of the very best 100mm travel rigs we’ve ridden.

Ride & handling: Light, lively and fast but not the most rigid

We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again – the angle of attack of bigger wheels gives them a noticeably smoother roll than smaller wheels, which means they demand less travel.

Not surprisingly, the feel of the Evolve is longer-legged than normal; we’d say it likes the same sort of touch once smacking through the rocks as a 120-130mm 26er.

Ellsworth’s trademark ICT (Instant Centre Tracking) four-bar suspension linkage makes great use of that long-rocker leverage, combining with Fox’s slippery Kashima-coated shock barrel to create a ride that’s plush – for a short travel bike – but free from squat or bob under heavy braking?or hard pedalling.

The kashima rp23 shock soaks up small bumps beautifully:

The Kashima RP23 shock soaks up small bumps beautifully

The back is impressively fluid over the smallest bumps, and there’s never a feel of power loss through the pedals. Square edges are absorbed at speed without any sense you’re at the end of the travel, although you find you’re using maximum travel from time to time.

The geometry is still steep – a?71.5-degree head and 74-degree seat angle – despite this year’s extra degree off the front, but the inherent stability of big wheels means it’s not nearly as twitchy as a similarly steep 26er.?

Combined with the extra stabilisation of the long wheelbase, plus the easier roll and extra traction of the big tyres, the Evolve is lively to the point of inspiring without losing any confidence at speed.?

With the steep seat angle, in-line post and subsequently forward ride position, the silky-plush back end adds the sort of confidence that really gives?your speed a boost, especially on?the sort of rocky drop-ins that jangled our nerves on last year’s bike.

So, is there a downside? Well, that depends on what sort of rider you are. As with most Ellsworths, the quest for low weight results in less rigidity compared to heavier frames, and those who like to throw caution to the wind will notice the flex from time to time. It’s a bike that responds better to finesse than fighting talk.

The Evolve looks and feels like a harder-hitting bike than its 100mm of travel suggests, and it shrugs off trail abuse better than almost any other short travel bike we’ve tested, only occasionally letting you know its limits on really big hits. It’s a breath of fresh air on climbs – both short grunter sprints and longer hauls –?and can roll with the best of them on the sort of high consequence, high speed singletrack most riders would choose a longer travel bike for.

Frame & equipment: Customisation options mean it’s over to you

Importers Haven Distribution offer various builds on all Ellsworths, with masses of custom colours for frames, swingarms, rocker-arms and bolt kits. Meanwhile, retailers Freeborn Cycles are offering reduced prices on frames and a selection of free extras, such as Cane Creek Angleset headsets,?Burgtec offset shock bushings and a Fox shock volume-tuning kit.?

We opted for a frame alone and built it up using our own blend of relatively light but hard-hitting components, and ended up with a sub-26lb bike that felt fast and lively despite a remarkably relaxed cruising aura – it’s happy on everything from trail centres to the big rocky drops of the Peak District, by way of fast, groomed woodland singletrack.

Our build kit isn’t excessively light or excessively costly; it would be easy?to dip under 25lb if you threw more cash at it. For the record, we chose SRAM’s 2×10 X0/X9 drivetrain mix, X0 brakes and the superb new Pacenti TL28 rims on Hope Evo hubs.

Not everyone likes the look of Ellsworths: most cross-country riders think even this short-travel Evolve looks more like a downhill bike. But the aesthetics reflect sound design reasoning. The distinctive long, low top tube offers masses of standover and gives you a nicely stretched posture that allows a short stem for light steering.

The length of that beautifully sculpted rocker-arm is a crucial part of how just 100mm of travel can be so bottomless over the roughest terrain, while it also allows superb climbing stability. A short, tapered head tube and the semi-integrated?headset also allow for a low handlebar position, if that’s what you prefer.

It avoids the lanky looks of many 29ers as well as creating very direct steering; a sensation boosted by the tight-tracking stability of the 100mm RockShox Reba fork with its 20mm screw-through axle.

Elsewhere you find far more mudroom than on older Ellsworths, tidy cable routing, a wrap-around quick-release (QR) seat collar and a lovely chunky head badge. There’s only one set of bottle cage bosses though, and they’re under the down tube – better get yourself a hydration pack.

The best-designed 29ers (and this is one of them) prove that 100mm of travel is enough for the vast majority of terrain. It almost goes without saying that the Evolve is expensive already, but for those who don’t care about such trifling matters, there’s a retro-fit carbon seatstay option too. If you need to ask how how much, you probably can’t afford them…

Select a carbon seatstay to match the rocker bridge, if you can afford it…:

Select a carbon seatstay to match the rocker bridge, if you can afford it?

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Whyte 829 29er – First ride review

Next year is undoubtedly the 29er bandwagon year, with bigger wheels present in pretty much every manufacturer’s line-up. Typically UK brand Whyte has produced its own trail tangent approach with the all-new 829.

High weight means it needs some muscle to get it moving but in true hardcore hardtail fashion this is a bike that works best with gravity at its back not in its face. Once you get it up to speed and start working the front end hard, the Whyte is a proper rough-smoothing, high-traction singletrack steamroller. While it’ll boost confidence and control for novices and less aggressive riders, it really comes alive when you start to work with it rather than just sit on it. That makes it a great choice for those who want extra grip and control without the complexity of suspension.

Ride & handling: A fun and dynamic bike to ride

Grunting the bike out of corners or up climbs the combination of bigger wheel inertia and overall weight is noticeable, but then if you want a racer, get the carbon bike. The curved seat tube also puts the saddle right back towards the rear axle, so if you stay seated you have to adjust to a definite rearward pivot bias similar to a slacked out suspension bike. Once you’ve got used to the weight placement the short stem and tight back end lets you haul the front end round typically 29er-defeating, upward switchbacks with relative ease.

Each successive cleaned corner builds momentum and as soon as you get a chance to drive a few good pedal strokes through things really pick up. The big supple WTB tyres will start to plane over small rocks and roots that can choke the momentum of smaller wheels and leave conventional hardtails rattling in their wake. This was particularly obvious on the rootier sections of Cannock Chase or where wear and tear had exposed the bigger bedrocks on the trail. The triple chainset and massive rear cog mean you’ll never be overgeared and the traction levels are fantastic on even the roughest surfaces.

Once you’re rolling or no longer fighting gravity, the 829 takes the ball and runs with it too. The backward weight distribution means the front end pops up and over obstacles easily and despite the long front it manuals a lot easier than most 29ers, so ditches and drops are no problem. The long, low front and quality fork keep it lined up and predictable when lighter, racier bikes often start to lose the plot.

While the fork is taut and short rather than bump hungry when the hits get bigger, it feels more capable than most 100mm 29ers when things start getting bullish. It’s definitely better when ridden offensively rather than defensively. Pushing your weight over the front end in a full-on ‘bulldog’ stance stops the slightly distant front wheel’s understandable habit of sliding out when pushed too hard. As soon as we drove our weight through the flat bars and down into the big front tyre contact patch we were blowing up big dust clouds round Cannock’s loamy berms as the WTB Bronson tyres ripped and roared their way in and out of traction. Short stem and tight back end make it easy to surf any back wheel drift with flair, making it a fun and dynamic bike to ride, rather than just a ‘roll around’ cross-country bike like most 29ers.

Frame: 6061 hydroformed T6 aluminium

The first big difference is that Whyte has only gone for bigger wheels on the larger 18.5in and 20in frame sizes in its hardtail range, keeping smaller wheels for smaller riders. The 69-degree head angle is also relatively slack to give a long front centre, while a generous top tube offsets the short-reach cockpit. The curved seat tube and super wide chainstays yoke keep the back end as short as possible with Whyte’s swinging drop-out system letting you change effective chainstay length up to 20mm.

This not only lets you run a singlespeed set-up without a tensioner, but also get the 829 back end within 8mm of the shortest Whyte 901 26in hardtail setting for fast summer handling and then open it out for more mud room in winter. Continuous outer cable routing and Crud Catcher mounts also provide filthy weather protection.

Equipment: Well-specced

In another increasingly common move, Whyte has moved to own branded wheelsets for 2012. Freehub/bearing longevity is obviously an unknown, but initial build quality is good with a 28-spoke front, 32 rear set-up to shave weight. Fox’s 15QR axle F29 fork is a benchmark all-round control unit with travel limited to 100mm for a low front end. A full 3×10 version of the new XT transmission includes a wall climbing 36-tooth big sprocket at the back, while SLX brakes should provide ample stopping power. The big WTB Bronson tyres are good all-rounders too.

The 700mm flat bar and 70mm stem are Whyte’s own, as is the Fizik-esque seat post highlight. Whyte tells us that the 1650g (3.63lb) frame weight is the same as the 26in-wheeled 19 alloy hardtail, but overall weight is definitely high, with a 1.1kg plus (2.5lb) penalty over similar priced/travel 2011 29ers we’ve tested. With the lower specced but 1080g (2.38lb) (claimed) carbon frameset equipped Whyte 20-C only costing £100 more that’s the obvious choice for big wheeled weight watchers. Wheel ambivalent bargain hunters should also check out the 26in-wheeled Whyte 810, which comes in at £400 cheaper despite a directly comparable spec level and a claimed 10.98kg (24.2lb) weight. 

Whyte’s designers have done a great job making a fun trail rather than race hardtail with the benefits of smoother rolling 29er wheels. Having loved the more radical prototype bike, we wish they’d stuck with its even more capable hardcore ride. Especially when you’re paying a big weight penalty compared to similar but lighter bikes from their own range and other brands.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike