Whyte 19 C

Race rocket with perfect handling

Whyte 19 C

The Whyte 19 C is the carbon-framed, race-inspired hardtail from the Whyte range. Promising to offer race-ready razor responses with a mix of everyday trail riding ability, here we look at the entry-level model, simply named the 19 C. 

Built around a full carbon 'Uni-directional multi-monoque' frame, all 19 C models are built on the same spec frame. There’s no model code to distinguish this entry model and there’s a Race and Works XX model completing the range.

The 19 C is a tasty looking bike, the carbon frame swooping and curving in all the right places, managing to look fast and stylish and never an awkward mess like some over shaped/styled frames can look. Tube profiles flare from triangular to oversized square depending on where the strength, stiffness or weight saving is needed. 

A chunky head tube area with integrated headset and a low stack height keep the front light, tight and stiff. The bottom bracket area is grossly oversized featuring a BB30 standard bottom bracket, the seat tube/top tube junction is suitably reinforced too.

The chain and seat stays aren’t spared from the sculpted treatment either. The seat stays sprout from the seat tube in a wishbone arrangement, flaring out for generous tyre clearance, shooting back in to clear your heels, and finally expanding and widening to meet the axel area. The chain stays follow a similar theme only they feature a more boxy side profile. The drive side chain stay features an alloy chainsuck guard, a nod to practicality and durability. We were a bit disappointed to see Whyte’s 'Getta Grip' seat clamp technology missing here, the 19 C instead getting a more conventional hex bolt seat clamp, presumeably to save weight.

As expected of a contemporary race bike, the frame is designed around a 100mm fork. The 19 C isn’t a total head down racer though featuring a more relaxed 70 degree head angle which is increasingly the norm on these bikes.

Climbing aboard the Whyte it feels roomy but not overly stretched out, a reasonably trail friendly 90mm stem striking a good balance between fit and handling here. Looking down the 19 C looks startlingly tough and chunky with its tube profiles now looking most obvious from the cockpit.

Setting off and the pedalling efficiency of the 19 C is immediately obvious. With full suss race bikes becoming the norm now, it’s refreshing to get back on something so direct and power efficient as the Whyte 19 C. There’s this feeling of directness between the amount of power you put down and the rate at which the bike moves forward; it’s so pure and highly addictive!

a wonderful ride quality akin to that of a high-end carbon road bike...

On non-technical surfaces ranging from tarmac to gravelly fireroads, the 19 C has a wonderful ride quality akin to that of a high-end carbon road bike. There’s an eerie silence to the bike when in motion where even drivetrain noise is absorbed and muffled. It’s wonderfully comfortable on these surfaces and even long fireroad drags are as genuinely pleasant to power up at full tilt, as they are to cruise up gently.

Turn it onto technical terrain and the Whyte continues to reward you for everything you put in, it’s really hard not to attack constantly with every ounce of energy you have. The frame doesn't waste any of your effort and there's no sideways flex. On really challenging uphill sections you’ll be out of the saddle, lifting, hopping and skipping your way over every rock and root like they weren’t even there.

Being out of the saddle is a common theme with the 19 C, it just responds so well to being thrashed in this way, thanks no doubt to its BB30 bottom bracket and that huge reinforced junction area in the frame. Just keep those cranks turning, and your cadence and heart rate as high as you dare, and the Whyte will just keep on delivering the speed and thrills.

The high-pace, infectious character of the Whyte is as much down to it's wonderful handling prowess as it is its stiffness and responsiveness. As mentioned, the Whyte has relatively relaxed geometry for a race bike, and what this translates into is a bike that’s rather unfussy about how you ride it. When you couple this with its love of high speed, you’ve got yourself a bit of a monster! They 19 C is never really phased, regardless of what you’re riding. Even going down some of the more ugly trails in Bristol’s Avon Gorge (locals can guess where we might be talking about), the 19 C remained remarkably composed. It's not just a great trail riding bike 'for a race bike', it's a great trail riding bike full-stop. 

hectic and on the edge at times, yet oddly neutral and flowy...

The 19 C really shines on twisty, rooty, undulating singletrack where you seem to be able to cover ground at a remarkable rate; squeezing pedal turns in where you dare and riding the fork hard, powering up the rises and picking your way through the downs. It’s a bit hectic and on the edge at times, yet oddly neutral and flowy when you need it to be. Despite being ridden with increasing disregard for our (or the bike’s) safety, the 19 C never complained, fidgeted or bit back even once.

It’s a bit of cliché but the Whyte 19 C is a race bike you can use everyday. It will and does win races (it does in the hands of Whyte team rider Billy Whenmen anyway) yet it would be a waste to leave this bike locked up in the garage for race weekends only - although we have no doubt that if you did buy one to save for races only, you’d crack and have it out on weeknight runs in no time.

Despite all this praise we’ve been heaping on the 19 C, it won’t be for everyone. While the Carbon frame sucks up and diffuses the minor trail buzz with pizzazz, when going gets tougher, the frame is rather less forgiving. If you can keep the bike up to pace and on the boil, it’s not a problem, but try and ride the 19 C a little passively or low tempo and it becomes a little punishing. Try to go for a gentle pootle or find yourself tired towards the ends of long day in the saddle, and the 19 C becomes a little less fun and rewarding to ride.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the 19 C is essentially about covering ground as quickly as possible, and if you want this kind of pace and power, you’ll just have to keep up! It’s just one of those bikes where you either have to remember to bring your 'game', or simply go home.

Some credit for the way the Whyte rides is down to the Rock Shox SID Race fork. The latest generation of race forks are a key part of this new breed of race bikes you can really thrash, and the SIDs are at the top of the pile right now! A comfortably sub 1500g weight, chunky 32mm stanchions and bags of tuneability – the noodly SIDs of old are a far cry from this current generation.

this ‘budget’ build still tips the scales at 23.5lbs...

As you move down the rest of the spec sheet it starts to look a little bit average though, but with the frame alone retailing for £1249 and the SID Race rather than cheaper Team fork being specced, there was never going to be huge room left in the budget when delivering this whole bike for £2399.

The Fulcrum Red Metal 5 wheelset is a touch weighty and is just one area of cost cutting found on the bike. But they never made themselves known and the Whyte smuggles their weight well, impressive considering this ‘budget’ build still tips the scales at 23.5lbs (w/Shimano M520s). Whyte claim their top end XX Works build comes in at 19lb but we reckon 20-21lb weights are achievable without going silly and offending your bank manager too much.

Elsewhere there’s an SLX/XT gearset coupled to an FSA afterburner crankset, Hayes Striker Carbon brakes, and a budget FSA seat post and stem - although the FSA K-Force carbon rider bar and Fizik Tundra saddle are a bonus and are sure to trim a few grams. Tyres are the extremely fast Continental Race Kings and the amount of grip they offer is surprising considering the apparent lack of tred, but they do have their limits in wet conditions. They’re the normal folding versions rather than the superlight Supersonic versions and while the regular Race Kings are far from heavy, there’s plenty of room to lose yet more weight for relatively little cost.

we can’t wait to get our hands on one of the higher specced models...

It’s hard to judge these kinds of 'entry-level' versions of so called 'superbikes' on value because the frame alone is over 50% of the price of the whole bike, and they’re often specced to simply get you on the trail. But while the wheels and groupset might seem a bit tight for £2399 in the grand scheme of things, the Whyte 19 frame is simply exceptional and the impressive overall build weight, despite some of these component compromises, speaks volumes about the potential of the 19 C chassis.

The spec has been chosen sensibly and while they are budget choices they’re clever choices too. We never actually had any kit complaints while riding it and if the 19 C is this good with this spec level, we can’t wait to get our hands on one of the higher specced models! However, in this base spec we reckon you are getting a good taster of what this bike is really all about, and with a few upgrades, you'll unlock more pace and more ear grinning fun. The 19 Race is only a few hundred quid more, but it doesn't really offer much more aside from incremental upgrades across the whole spec; it will enchance but hardly revolutionise the ride. The smart money will be to upgrade this model as kit wears out or even build one up from a frame only. Somer super light wheels would make the biggest difference if you were looking for a quick upgrade.

The Whyte 19 C is a stunning race bike and deserves recognition for that alone - the fact that it's a cracking trail bike too is a real bonus. It’s more than good enough for a privateer racer to turn up on and race straight from the showroom, and in the hands of a relatively fit and talented rider, it’ll make an feisty XC trail weapon for dominating other riders on local club rides. It’s as easy going as it is frantically fast; its handling and trail manners are essentially, for lack of a better word, perfect!

A word on the 19 C for 2011...

There's a few 2010 bikes still available and they are starting to be discounted. The frame is unchanged on the 2011 bikes so you might want to pick a 2010 bargain now if you find one. The main thing about the 2011 19 C is an expansion of the range, the base model is even cheaper but has had some more kit pruning going on, and it's now a four bike range. The Race model has been upgraded and a new S model sits between this and the entry level 19 C. The 19 C bikes will also be moving to SRAM 2x10 drivetrains. Check out more on the 2011 Whyte range here...

Contact: ATB Sales Ltd
Tel: (01424) 753566


Race ready rocket you can ride everyday - one of the finest handling singletrack bikes you'll ever ride.


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