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Whyte Cornwall review

Whyte Cornwall review
14 Apr 2015
Verdict:

Matching versatility with low weight, the carbon Whyte Cornwall is a class all rounder.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,799
For 
Well thought out, versatile
Against 
Not the most spritely ride, Bit heavy

Whyte is a British brand that has been doing things differently for the last decade and the Cornwall is no exception. Having entered the bike world’s public consciousness via mountain biking, it has established a reputation for forward-thinking, futureproof bikes that reflect the direction riders are heading before the riders themselves realise it. With a lead designer who spent a number of seasons racing at an elite level on the road in France, that Whyte should choose to start producing drop-bar bikes is no surprise; given the MTB pedigree, that those road bikes should break established moulds is even less of a surprise.

The Cornwall sits at the top of Whyte’s 2015 commuter/road range, and while there are some concessions to commuting we’re more inclined to see it as an all-round road bike, ready for anything from winter miles to summer smiles. In fact, we reviewed the Cornwall’s £1,199 sibling, the Suffolk, back in issue two’s winter bike grouptest. On the face of it, that is a very similar bike to this, except it’s aluminium and uses a Shimano groupset paired with TRP Hy/Rd brakes. Our only real criticism of the Suffolk was that as a versatile aluminium bike, it was a bit on the porky side at 9.97kg. Well, having had a carbon fibre facelift, the Cornwall’s weight is a little more favourable at 8.88kg – much of which will have come out of the frame, but some will also have come from the groupset, SRAM’s excellent hydraulic Rival (presented here in a 10-speed variant, using SB700 shifters rather than the official 11-speed Rival).

Wheels

Whyte Cornwall fork

The wheels use offset rims – asymmetric in profile – which allows for the tension on both sides of the wheels to be more even, something that should boost longevity. It also means the spokes are the same length each side – handy if you snap one. The wheels are supplied with 25mm tyres but there is clearance for far bigger treads – even with mudguards fitted (these are specially designed by Whyte, attach to the fork and seatstays and cost a reasonable £30). On top of making it harder to steel your wheels, the supplied security skewers have the added bonus of better resisting the forces exerted by disc brakes than normal quick releases.

Components

Whyte Cornwall components

Whyte has specced the Cornwall with an FSA chainset and matching bottom bracket. What’s interesting about this set-up is that it uses a standard threaded bottom bracket shell – creak-free, reliable and easy to replace – but still manages to use an oversized 30mm aluminium crank axle. What’s more, the chainline on the Gossamer Pro Compact is 47.5mm, rather than the 43.5mm that is more typical of road chainsets. This reflects the spreading of the rear stays from 130mm to 135mm to cater for the addition of a disc brake calliper. This will keep the chain more securely in place, especially in situations like going into a corner on a fast downhill, and backpedalling half a revolution to line your feet up for the turn. With the chainline sorted, the chance of the chain falling off is greatly reduced. That’s the kind of problem solving and forward thinking we like to see.

Groupset

Whyte Cornwall disc brake

We’re big fans of SRAM’s third-tier groupset, and the hydraulic version is especially covetable. The hoods are not to everyone’s decorative taste, but they’re hardly folderol, housing the hydraulic reservoirs necessary for the brakes to function, and while they’re undoubtedly tall, the perquisite is unparalleled security of grip on the hoods. On descents where you’d instinctively reach for the drops, you find yourself casually resting on the hoods, confident that your hand won’t shift, and you have ample power available to brake when necessary.

The ride

On the road, a long wheelbase, low bottom bracket and relatively slack head angle make for a confident, if not especially lively ride, but that’s no bad thing – there’s a lot to be said for predictability when you’re riding new roads or you’re getting tired at the end of a long day out.

The measurements confirm that our test bike is a 54, but visually, it looks bigger – that long wheelbase and the less sloping than usual top tube creating an optical illusion of a bigger bike. Get riding and the impression of size remains – the bars, for instance, may be 42cm across the hoods, but at the bottom of the drops, they’ve flared to 46.5cm. The reality is, this feels great – a really comfortable position to ride in or descend.

The Cornwall isn’t the most urgent road bike we’ve ridden, but the weight loss over the Suffolk does make a noticeable difference and the spec is very good for the price. With the simple addition of £30 mudguards, we’d happily ride it as it is for everyday use, then swap in lighter wheels for sportive duties and hey presto, you’ve got one bike for all eventualities.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed
Top Tube (TT) 553mm
Seat Tube (ST) 540mm
Down Tube (DT)
Fork Length (FL)
Head Tube (HT) 155mm
Head Angle (HA) 72
Seat Angle (SA) 72.5
Wheelbase (WB) 1011mm
BB height (BB) 279mm

Spec

Whyte Cornwall
Frame Uni-directional multi monocoque carbon
Groupset SRAM Rival/SB700 10-speed
Brakes SRAM SB700, hydraulic
Chainset FSA Gossamer Pro, 50/34
Cassette SRAM PG-1030, 11-28
Bars Whyte compact wing
Stem Whyte -6
Seatpost Whyte, 27.2mm
Wheels Whyte alloy hubs, Whyte disc rims, security skewers
Tyres Maxxis Detonator, 25c
Saddle Whyte
Contact whyte.bike

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