Just in: Whyte Dorset
£999 disc-equipped rugged road bike looks ideal for commuting, touring and winter training
Whyte introduced a new range of disc-braked aluminium road bikes to their 2014 range, and this is the mid-level £999 Dorset. With its disc brakes, oversized alloy frame and mounts for rack and mudguards, it looks the ideal commuting bike. It has way more potential though. In a way it's a rugged road bike that looks ideal for winter training, mixed terrain riding or even touring. Versatility is the Dorset’s middle name. Well, you know what I mean.
Disc brakes may be dividing opinion on performance road bikes, but they certainly offer many advantages on workhorse commuter bikes. The extra power and modulation are welcome features, they keep on working in the wet and even if the wheel isn’t perfectly straight.
Whyte have built a smart looking frame constructed from 6061 hydro-formed T6 aluminium, with a custom-drawn and multi-butted tubeset. It’s the same frame used throughout the range. The head tube is tapered (1 1/8in bearing up top, 1 1/2in at the bottom) to stiffen up the front end. A straight blade carbon fork with tapered steerer tube props up the front end.
All cables are routed internally and there are full-length outer cables running through the frame, which should help maintain shift quality. The gear cables are exposed where they pop out of the down tube,however, and does place them in the line of front wheel spray. We'll be keeping an eye on this during testing. There are rubberized grommets at each entry point for extra sealing.
To ensure there is space to easily mount a rear rack, the disc brake has been mounted inboard, sitting neatly inside the dropouts. The frame will take mudguards and Whyte have even designed their own specifically for the bike. They’re available separately and cost £29.99.
You want a bit of comfort on the commute and big volume 28mm Maxxis Detonator tyres provide that. They should also be fast enough for the most rapid commuters with good durability to go the distance. We reckon you could easily fit a set of treaded cyclocross semi-slick tyres if you wanted to take to the canal towpath or bridleways to mix up your commute a little.
With disc brakes fitted to this bike, Whyte have opted for disc-specific Alex Black Dragon 24 semi-deep section rims, laced via 28/32 spokes to Whyte branded hubs with double sealed cartridge bearings. Reflective decals boosting visibility - a nice touch. There’s locking skewers at each end, which should hopefully prove a deterrent to any potential bike thief eyeing up your bike.
It’s a well specified bike for the money, with a Shimano Tiagra groupset and FSA Omega compact chainset. While the top-end model gets hydraulic disc brakes, the Dorset makes do with Pro Max CX mechanical disc brakes, with 160mm rotors on both wheels.
The bike is finished with Whyte branded handlebars - compact so easy to reach - stem, seatpost and saddle. It’s all fine looking stuff, and the saddle looks like being the sort of shape that should prove comfortable. We hope so anyway, and we'll soon find out for sure.
Check them out at www.whytebikes.com