Whyte Saxon Cross Team cyclocross bike review

Value-packed CX bike with mountain bike-like geometry (and abilities)

Cross Gravel
Whyte Bikes is a new brand in the U.S. with a consumer direct model.

Whyte Bikes is a new brand in the U.S. with a consumer direct model (click to enlarge).

Lowdown: Whyte Saxon Cross Team

Thanks to the advent of disc brakes and tubeless tires, cyclocross bikes are now more capable and comfortable than ever before. This added capability and comfort has also given rise to a new genre of cycling – gravel grinding. While a gravel-specific bike shares almost the same geometry as an “American-style” cyclocross race bike – lower bottom bracket and a slightly slacker head tube angle – gravel bikes differ in that they offer more clearance for tires as wide as 40mm.

But U.K.-based Whyte Bikes has a different idea of what an ideal cyclocross/gravel grinder bike should be, as demonstrated by the Saxon Cross Team. Although Whyte is a household name across the pond, they’ve been a virtual unknown in the U.S. until last fall when they officially launched their consumer-direct sales model. Featuring a slack 70-degree head tube angle, longer top tube, low bottom bracket height and super short chainstays, the Saxon Cross Team shares more geometry measurements in common with a hardtail mountain bike than a cyclocross bike. Although the numbers look appealing for trail duty, let’s see if the numbers actually translate on the trail.

Stat Box
Frame: 6061 Triple Butted Aluminum Bars: 440mm FSA Gossamer compact
Fork: Straight blade carbon, 100x15mm thru-axle Stem/Seatpost: Whyte 90mm alloy / 30.9mm alloy
Sizes: 52, 54, 56, 58cm Wheels: Easton ARC 24mm UST, Whyte alloy hubs
Headtube angle: 70 degrees Tires: Maxis Mud Wrestler 33mm
Wheelbase: 1055mm (56cm) Axle spacing: 100x15mm front/135mm QR rear
Chainstay length: 415mm Weight: 19 pounds
Drivetrain: SRAM Force 1x (38t/10-42) Price: $2099 (now on sale for $1,679)
Cranks: SRAM Force carbon Rating: 4 Stars 4 out of 5 stars
Brakes: SRAM Force hydraulic, rotors 160mm f/r

Pluses
Minuses
  • Stability at speed
  • Thru-axle removable sleeve can be lost
  • Capable descender
  • Heavy
  • Ample tire clearance
  • No rear thru-axle
  • Dropper post compatible, internal cable routing
  • SRAM Double Tap not ideal for trail duty
  • 24mm rims enhance traction and durability
  • Rounded top tube not ideal for shouldering
  • Good parts spec for price
  • Narrow tires
  • Clever top tube-integrated seatpost clamp
  • Seatpost angle adjustment not intuitive
  • Drop bars provide ideal body position for trail riding
  • 1x drivetrain gear range narrow
  • Rack mounts
  • Great value
  • Cyclocross looks with mountain bike capability

Review: Whyte Saxon Cross Team

There is one thing you can definitively say about the 6061 Hydroformed T6 Aluminum Whyte Saxon Cross Team: It’s different from any other cyclocross bike I’ve ridden. But unlike the Whyte PRST-1 mountain bike of 15 years ago that looked completely wrong, the Saxon Cross Team looks completely right. Slack head tube, long top tube, low bottom bracket, short stem, shallow drops, routing for a dropper post, huge tire clearance; the Saxon Cross Team is a cyclocross bike on steroids. Forget gravel grinding, the Saxon Cross Team is made for yet an even newer drop-bar phenomenon called Grinduro; where gravel grinding meets enduro.

Slack head tube, shallow drops, short chainstays, dropper post routing and low bottom bracket make the Saxon Cross Team a trail slayer.

Slack head tube, shallow drops, short chainstays, dropper post routing and low bottom bracket make the Saxon Cross Team a trail slayer (click to enlarge).

One of the most attractive aspects of Whyte is their increasingly popular consumer-direct sales model, providing buyers with a solid value. The Saxon Cross Team retails for $2,099, but at the time of publishing, the bike was on sale for $1,679. It’s an especially good deal when you consider the bike comes with full SRAM Force 1×11 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, including carbon fiber cranks and levers.

The Saxon Cross Team weighs in at 19 lbs without pedals.

The Saxon Cross Team weighs a somewhat portly 19 pounds without pedals (click to enlarge).

Whyte is able to pull off such a great value thanks to combining its consumer-direct model with house brand components including saddle, seatpost, stem and hubs. But what really helps the Saxon Cross Team shine are the 44cm FSA Gossamer shallow drop bars for a nice, semi-upright body position when in the drops, and the 24mm internal width Easton ARC rims that are actually marketed as 29er mountain bike rims. The Easton ARC hoops provide a wider tire profile for better traction and lower tire pressure without rolling the bead under heavy cornering.

Shallow FSA Gossamer drop bars provide a semi-upright position good for trail riding.

Shallow FSA Gossamer drop bars provide a semi-upright position good for trail riding (click to enlarge).

Ride Impressions

As soon as I swung a leg over the Saxon Cross Team, the slack head tube, long top tube and short stem immediately made this bike feel unlike any other cyclocross bike I have ridden. Make no mistake; this is not the bike you buy if you’re looking for a light and quick scalpel for traditional cyclocross racing. The slack front end of the Saxon Cross Team is better suited for aggressive trail riding and long days in the saddle on dirt. But just because it has a slack front end, don’t assume this bike is a slow turner; it most definitely can snap around a turn thanks to short 415mm chainstays.

The author riding Clear Creek Trail near Carson City, NV. Photo by Rick Gunn –  soulcycler.com

The author riding Clear Creek Trail near Carson City, NV (click to enlarge). Photo by Rick Gunn –
soulcycler.com

I took the Saxon Cross Team on a number of trail rides, including a ride up Peavine Mountain near Reno that is generally too rocky and loose for most cyclocross bikes. On steep uphill sections, the slack front end definitely required a little more weight shift to keep the front wheel from coming off the ground, but once pointed downhill, the bike was entirely comfortable carving singletrack normally reserved for mountain bikes.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Saxon Cross Team review »
About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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