The British bike-builders would like to consider their Whyte Wessex “the optimal road bike for the UK”. You know the score, 11 months of winter, 1 month of summer. If you’re curious to see if the bike also works in the Belgian spring (11-hours of fog, 1-hour rain) and if it could be your next bike, keep reading.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The best road bike for any weather and any season – 10 Endurance Bikes in Review

Whyte Wessex
WHITE Wessex | 8.78 kg | € 2,599

While unboxing the bike we came across the delivery note, and our jaws literally dropped. At first glance, we really seem to get a lot of bike for € 2,599. And it was indeed a lot of bike, as our scales also confirmed later on: with a weight of 8.78 kg in a size 54, the Wessex is the heaviest bike in our test. Considering the price, we still find this more than acceptable. Some clever saving has been made in the specification, the Ultegra-cranks were replaced with the FSA Gossamer Evo, but that’s hardly noticeable on the road. Most of the finishing kit on the Wessex carries the Whyte name and offer comparably good performance when compared to equivalent aluminium components.

Whyte Wessex

The design of the Wessex combines a feeling of understatement and a touch of futurism, executed in a very charming way. With an aerodynamic shape and a discreet matt finish, the bike evokes a classic picture – Prince Harry flying by on the Whyte, wearing leather shoes, on the way to clay-pigeon shooting.

Whyte Wessex

Jokes aside, as soon as you hit disconnected ground, you’ll get the flip-side of the aero-design. The big fork offers very little comfort and passes vibrations onto the stiff aluminium cockpit. From this point, it’s left to the rider to deal with the vibrations. Whyte’s own-brand Wing-bar, with outward bent drops, is a pleasant surprise. The bar’s flare makes sprinting in the drops easy, without the weird feeling of constantly pulling the bars against your forearms–a nice detail!

Whyte Wessex Whyte Wessex
Whyte Wessex
Tuning-Tip: Carbon-Cockpit and seatpost for more comfort.

The construction of the fork still remains a mystery to us, the 30 mm wide Schwalbe S-One tires completely fill the space inside the fork crown, while there’s enough room for three wheels inside the lower portion of the fork. A plus, eyelets attached to the fork allow for mudguard installation – a must in the classic Belgian spring, or British summer in fact.

Whyte Wessex
Helmet POC Octal Raceday | Cap Café du Cycliste Octopus | Glasses Oakley Jawbraker | Neckwarmer Café du Cycliste Loulou | Jersey Café du Cycliste Josette | Gilet Café du Cycliste Lucette | Bibshort Café du Cycliste Jeanne | Socks Café du Cycliste Merino Socks Patterned | Shoes Specialized Audax

The riding behavior of the Wessex is somewhat unbalanced. Due to the aerodynamically shaped tubes, lateral-stiffness of the frame is noticeably limited. Each bike has its own axis and the frame rotates around it. In the case of the Wessex, however, this is too far up and close to the front which just leaves the rider with a very unknown and strange feeling in the bends. This negative tendency is noticeable in fast turns, but as long as the road is straight or just slightly windy, the bike can impress with a solid performance and a pleasant riding position.

The Whyte Wessex in detail

Drivetrain Shimano Ultegra
Wheelset Easton AR-21
Brakes Shimano BR-805
Tires Schwalbe S-One
Weight 8.78 kg
Price € 2,599

Whyte Wessex
A lot of room, only in the wrong place: the massive fork tapers like crazy.
Whyte Wessex
It will make the all-year-round rider very happy – the very British mud guard mounts.
Whyte Wessex
D We like the aerodynamic overall picture.
Whyte Wessex
Safety First: The seatpost bolt is half-heartedly hidden under a rubber cover.
Whyte Wessex
Geometry Whyte Wessex

Conclusion

The Whyte Wessex is a good novice bike with a high quality look. With little modifications, like swapping the cockpit and seat post with more comfortable carbon parts, the potential of the bike is great. Charming, sophisticated and at a fair price, the concept of the Wessex works for us.

Strengths

+ High quality looks
+ Flared handlebars
+ Attractive price

Weaknesses

– Little comfort in the front end
– Frame lacks lateral stiffness


For more info head to: whyte.bike

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The best road bike for any weather and any season – 10 Endurance Bikes in Review

All bikes in test: 3T Exploro Team | BMC Roadmachine 01 | Canyon Endurace CF SLX Disc 8.0Focus Paralane Factory | Ridley X-Trail | ROSE Backroad-4400 | Specialized Roubaix Expert Di2 | Trek Domane SLR 10 RSL | OPEN U.P.P.E.R.


This article belongs to the GRAN FONDO Issue #005. For the full interactive experience we recommend reading it in our magazine app for iPhone & iPad – it’s awesome – and free!

Words: Benjamin Topf, Manuel Buck, Robin Schmitt Photos: Julian Mittelstädt