Well that went South very quickly. #Whyte901 low cost weight saving tips

Bank Holiday weekend, UK.

I live in a busy part of the world; a known beauty spot. On bank holiday weekends it gets busy, and I normally stop at home, pottering. On Sunday, however, I felt like a few hours on the bike would be in order.

Bad decision. Fine for 2 hours 50 minutes, bad the very last 10. It started well. I realised the hill would be busy, so I simply avoided it and did my favourite route around, through Mogador. It's an odd mix of industrial and country, with the country winning.

M25 graffiti

It goes up under the M25 and into farm land. You could be anywhere. I've shown quite a few people this route, and they are always surprised how nice it all is.

Bee takes flight

I like this image as it has a little bee in it.

M25 surprisingly free of traffic

I only hit the M25 twice, and the rest of the time in countryside. Of course after over two hours solo riding, having met three people, all friendly, off in my own little world, I forgot it was bank holiday. You see I headed back via the cafe on top of Reigate Hill. Yes, I should have known people never stray more than 200m from it, and I should have gone down the chalk path. In a sense everything that followed was boringly predictable.


Reigate Hill attracts dog walkers. They can park, have a coffee and walk their pooch 50m until it does a poo. They put the poo in a bag, and hang it from a tree, and go home. Riding toward the cafe, there was one with three dogs, all running lose, yapping. I gave them a wide berth, 3m or so, rode slowly past and then off. About 40m later one of them caught me up and started snapping at my heel. I left it another 15m or so until it got too close for comfort, and gave it a swift kick. That got a shout from the owner. Not convinced that was my fault.


After my coffee, I rode off down the hill. It wasn't too busy, so I did my sneaky cut through. Group of cyclists ahead, chatting to some walkers. They rode off, and I bumped into the walkers and exchanged a "like the M25!" comment. But the cyclists had kind of stopped. Possibly chatting. I caught, and asked if I could be let by please? The last one, said sure, and moved over, and even the lead guy looked back at me. So I went to pass, no bother, plenty of room.

Except the middle guy clearly did not like that, and moved to my side of the trail, blocking me. Now I'm not a timid rider, so the block did not work. We had a little discussion.

Clearly we were both being knobs, wanting to possess the same bit of trail. We'll never get on, him and I. I suspect the dog incident tainted my view of the world, but he was also an arse. As this is my blog, he's the bigger arse.

So a bizarre end to my ride, one that had initially been quite pleasant. Indeed I'd found a new bit of trail, so it was all going well. I'm not sure that I need to apologise to anybody, and perhaps I'm actually in apology credit. But what I should have done, is stay at home.

The Whyte 901.

This was my bike today, and I can't say it is growing on me. I'm glad I bought a new bike, but think I should have waited until the new Saracen Mantra was out. The Whyte isn't rubbish, yet it is nowhere near as good as the reviews claim. It's not the best hardtail ever, not by a long way.

  • Too heavy at 32lb.
  • Handlebars are stupid wide - with grips on, 840mm.
  • Nowhere to put a rear mudguard.
  • On night rides nowhere to put a rear light. 'V' shaped top tube means a battery is hard to fit. Oh, and the bar width becomes an issue in the dark.
  • Tyres at 2.8" wide are just too much. I actually think this is the issue here - silly wide, heavy tyres and rims. 

I'm not entirely sure the negatives are outweighed by the positives. It can be fast downhill, yet slow pointing up. It's no better really in any department than my 2012 Orange 5. If I was going to recommend a bike, it would be an older, well serviced suspension bike from when they started going 650b and 1x at the factory. Perhaps a 2013/2014 Trek for £1,300 would do it. I think the £1,500 value of the Whyte is fair. Just that the tyres and wheels drag it back a bit.

In future.

Ironically enough at the cafe there were a few free magazines. One article by Ray Mears states how he avoids cafes, and takes a little spirit burner with him for a brew. I own spirit burners, so could easily have avoided the bank holiday people.....

I've removed the wide handlebars, and have fitted a set of Renthals I had lying around. Shaved 6cm width. Nothing I can do about fitting a rear mudguard. Lights I will look at - what do roadies do, as they have swoopy frames. The tyres are an issue though. Ideally narrower rims with 2.5" or 2.6" tyres. That's easily a £600 investment, so it is not going to happen. I've gone tubeless, so have shaved 1lb already. May just look at 2.6" tyres, yet then I'm concerned over rim strength as the WTB ones seem to be made of cheese - perhaps one will fail on me, resolving the issue!

Rather sadly I just checked on my weight savings. Two inner tubes gone; 700g shaved. Lighter bar, saddle and grips; another 200g. I had all these bits in my spares box, so no investment and I've shaved almost 2lb in old weights. Not bad! It now weighs 30.5lb. A new rear tyre may well get it down to 30lb, which is OK for what it is. Any further would mean a lot more money for less return. I'm betting a 2.6" tyre will make quite a difference to the feel of the bike - hopefully a bit more playful in singletrack.