Has a British design company produced the ultimate full suspension mountain bike for British riders?
Whyte bikes were originally designed by Jon Whyte, the ex-Formula One designer. While he may have recently retired, the British bike company (and sister to Marin) is carrying on his tradition of matching design innovation to uniquely British conditions with the E-120.
Fast and tough
It’s a superbly light, full carbon, state-of-the-art, full suspension trail tamer that you can take just about anywhere – from British long-distance trails to trail centres, to the Alps, to Jon Whyte's new home on the gnarly North Shore of British Columbia, Canada.
It can go up, down and sideways. The light weight doesn't drag on the climbs or straights, while the supple suspension and chuckability means the bike eats technical trail features.
The Whyte is no American show pony that minces at the first sign of mud either. It's designed from the ground up to deal with uniquely British riding – we keep going in the mud, when other countries switch to skiing and boarding.
The Quad Link suspension keeps the shock to a minimum, there's masses of room around tyres to clear mud and the components chosen for the range match the bike by being practical, tough but simultaneously pimpily light.
What credit crunch?
The obvious downside of the E-120 is the price, particularly if you're looking at the jaw droppingly expensive , carbon-everywhere Superbike (only 25 will be available for 2009).
That clocks in at a mere £5500, but the rest of the range measures up well against similarly high-end offerings. These are bikes for those with a lot of money, a lot of muddy miles to do (the suspension works brilliantly for enduro racing) or for those who really want the absolute best trail bike around.
Even on the bottom-of-the-range XT model, you've got Fox QR15 forks for bolt-through stiffer front suspension, full XT wheels and gears, including the rock-dodging Shadow rear derailleur, and Avid Elixir high-end hydraulic disc brakes.
And the frame, constant throughout, is a work of design art, as well as being possibly the most capably all-round (and thrilling) set-up for UK riding and beyond.
Whyte Bikes E-120 review
A state of the art, full suspension trail tamer that loves British mud too