Given Whyte are better known for their mountain bikes, it might not be a surprise to see the Wessex being one of the first true road bikes being offered with a 1x drivetrain.
This makes perfect sense on a four-season bike, simply because it means fewer moving parts to maintain and keep clean, and the SRAM Apex 1 groupset on the Wessex offers a gear range comparable to a standard compact double drivetrain with its combination of a single 44-tooth chainring and a wide-range 10-42 cassette.
Any fears that there would not be enough gears were soon forgotten when riding and we soon adapted to the larger jumps between sprockets, although we found the Apex levers had vague shifting, long throws for each gear change and an annoying habit of changing gear when climbing, due to the shape of the gear lever blade which is easy to knock into a harder gear at the most inopportune moment.
The combination of the Apex levers with the Force brakes was fantastic however, with class-leading power and feel.
The Wessex has impressed us previously for its ability to feel sharp and surefooted on the roughest and narrowest of lanes. This has not been altered by changing the groupset and handling is still superb.
The voluminous 34mm tyres are a major factor in taking the sting out of the ride, but while the tubeless- ready tyres and rims are a great plus, in use the tyres were difficult to live with – a loose bead/rim connection made them difficult to seat and sealant seeped through the sidewalls.
Another plus are the proprietary mudguards fitted to the discreet mounting locations, although they needed regular adjustment to prevent them rubbing.
Standover height for our test rider was limited, despite being right in the middle of the recommended height range for the frame size – check sizing carefully before ordering.
When riding back to back with the lighter Focus and Cube, the Wessex couldn’t match either on the climbs, but the excellent geometry and wide tyres more than made up for it on the downhills.
Whyte Wessex One Specs
- WEIGHT: 9.41 kg (w/ mudguards, size 52cm)
- FRAME: Wessex monocoque carbon, Straight bladed carbon disc fork
- GROUPSET: SRAM Apex 1
- BRAKES: SRAM Force 1 hydraulic
- CHAINSET: SRAM Apex 1,44t
- CASSETTE: SRAM PG1150,10-42t
- BARS: Whyte Road alloy
- STEM: Whyte
- SEATPOST: Whyte
- WHEELS: WTB i23
- TYRES: WTB Exposure, 30mm (measured 34mm)
- Handling – Feels great downhill and through corners.
- Brakes – Force hydraulic brakes delivered plenty of power and lots of modulation.
- Frame clearance – Room for big tyres, even with mudguards.
Not So Good
- Groupset – SRAM Apex 1 shifter a bit clunky.
- Limited standover – Horizontal top tube may mean some choosing a smaller frame.
- Tubeless tyres – Loose fitting with sealant seeping out.
Still the same great bike that we’ve ridden before in a different configuration. Despite a few niggles with some component choices, the Wessex remains a superb frame that handles the worst of British weather and roads with confidence, and is a great choice if you’re set on the idea of a 1x road bike.