It’s a fact, there is simply nothing more rewarding than seeing your kids enjoying the sports that you love. Getting them out in the fresh air and having fun on a bike is the dream for most bike mad parents. We have been testing the Whyte 403 for three months to see if it can handle life with a ten-year-old.
When it comes to bike choices for kids, there are many ways to spend your hard earned money, from mail-order pretend full-suss bikes that appear to be hewn out of lead, to fully specified mini-downhill bikes that need a second mortgage to afford. The thinking parent knows that all is really needed is something robust, light and affordable, offering good brakes and confident handling – what is needed is a nice hardtail. Retailing for £625 the Whyte 403 is the most affordable kids bike in their range, boasting 26-inch wheels and well-chosen components it’s a cool looking machine. Targeted at junior pilots from 125 – 152 cm, it’s a bike we all wish we had owned as a kid. The tough 6061 Hydroformed Aluminium frame features all the features you would expect on a ‘grown up’ bike including internal cable routeing with a BBX port.
A Suntour XCR 100 mm fork provides basic damping at the front, perfect for stunt-riding off kerbs or obstacles at the local trail centre, the air spring is adjustable to keep up with your kid’s rapid growth. The 1 x 8 Shimano ALTUS drivetrain features a 28 T narrow – wide chainring on a 165 mm crank, and 11-40 T cassette, giving enough range for little legs to conquer the mountain, or maybe just the local hill. The REVO grip shift has a light action and is easy for small hands to operate, however, it does mean that the route to ‘grown up’ shifters is a little longer and kids cannot customise their grips. Promax Solve hydraulic disk brakes and short reach levers are easy to modulate and offer more than enough power to haul down even the most determined mini riders. The brakes have proven reliable after 3 months of testing and required minimal fettling.
Often on kids bikes, the specified tyres are about as much use as a rubber hammer, so it’s refreshing to see that Whyte has specified a grippy WTB Bronson 2.1 on the front and fast rolling WTB Ridder 1.95 on the rear, perfect for the local train centre or for patrolling the park. Wide 640 mm bars are ample for little shredders and the 45 mm stem keeps the steering stable and confident. Whyte are fully fledged geometry nerds, and it’s no surprise that the 403 has some good numbers, a 68.5-degree head angle keeps the steering stable at speed and the low BB ensures confident cornering while your child is learning how to navigate turns. Whyte’s attention to detail is possibly best demonstrated by the humble seat clamp, it would have been easy to fit a standard clamp, but no. Whyte’s Get-A-Grip seat clamp features a longer, rounded lever for easy operation by smaller hands, chapeau to the designers.
The Whyte 403 at a glance
Fork: Suntour XCR 100 mm, HYDRO Lock-out, Air Spring with adjustable rebound
Brakes: Promax Solve
Drivetrain: Shimano ALTUS 1 x 8 with 28 T chainring and 11-40 T cassette.
Seatpost: Whyte 20 mm Offset 30.9 mm, 6061 Alloy
Stem: Whyte Custom 45 mm
Handlebar: Whyte 30 mm Riser Bar, 640 mm wide.
Wheels: Whyte Trail 403 rims with Alloy cup and cone hubs.
Tyres: WTB Bronson Race 26 x 2.1 / WTB Riddler 26 x 1.95
Weight: 12.0 kg
Price: £ 625
After 3 months of testing, our 10-year-old stunt pilot loved the Whyte 403. It has proven tough enough to shrug off the knocks and scratches than kids specialise in, and has required minimal attention. The well thought out geometry offers smooth and stable handling, heaps of confidence and can be hustled along rapidly with an experienced test pilot. For cost focused parents, at £625 the 403 is an excellent buy, while it is more expensive, it offers a far superior ride to catalogue bikes while undercutting the best competition without adding too much heft. With Whyte’s strong reputation the 403 should hold it’s price well at resale or be tough enough to pass down through a whole squad of mini-shredders. But be warned, this bike may result in an embarrassing case of ‘when-did-my-kid-get-faster-than-me?’
The excellent Whyte 403 offers a ‘grown up’ ride while serving up lashings of confidence, reliability and above all fun to the most important mini-shredder in your life. While more expensive than the standard ‘catalogue’ bike, seeing your kid grinning from ear to ear as they fall in love with riding is priceless. The Whyte 403 is a great buy.
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Words & Photos: Trev Worsey