Whyte have been carving their own path with mountain bikers in the UK for a few years now and the last year has seen the British brand extend its reach to other markets including the US and Australia. The UK-inspired design of the Whyte range appears to be translating well into other markets with the new S150 being one of the hottest bikes on show at the California season opener in Sea Otter earlier this year.
With 2018 bikes starting to filter out into the market I had the chance to take the top of the range Works version of the S150 for a spin last month. Very rarely do things align as well as they did here, with me taking custody of the bike the day before a work-related meeting required me to be in Edinburgh - which just so happens to be very close to some of the best trails in the UK over at Glentress and Innerliethen.
Whyte pitch this bike as a trail bike which can step up to the enduro mantle if required. The G160, which is soon to be replaced by the G170, is the bike for those who want the biggest hitting bike Whyte can offer. First impressions are positive - the bike is built up in such a way that it almost resembles a custom build, with contact points and tyres all up to the task, with the often-seen mothballing of original kit in favour of aftermarket parts to get the desired setup no longer a requirement. A carbon front end mated to an alloy rear with beefed up pivots and linkages make for a very purposeful bike and with the bright neon yellow of the Works version, this is a bike will take some beating in the aesthetics department.
New, New, New
New Pike, new Reverb remote, new Whyte carbon rims. The S150 has lots of 'new' on it and one of the advantages of Whyte becoming a bigger player in the global market is that they are now able to leverage custom product from some of their key suppliers. A reduced offset fork from Rock Shox is the highlight tech development and according to Ian Alexander, Head Designer at Whyte, this is the key to the super stable handling.
With Innerliethen offering some of the steepest tracks in the country it gave a me chance to see if the concept follows through and delivers the goods out on the trail.
Stable, Solid, Speed
Stable, solid, speed. These could all be what the S stands for in S150 as it really inspires confidence when the going gets rough. Being from the slightly less hilly Midlands, a 5 or 6 minute descent in Scotland can sometimes beat me up. The Whyte S150 gives you the confidence to hold off the brakes for longer, letting the front end do its job and keep you moving forwards even when it gets really rough. The S actually stands for Switch and this represents the bike's ability to swap out the 29 inch wheels for a plus set of 27 inch wheels giving you the ability to tailor the ride experience.
At just a shade under 30 pounds, the S150 in XL sits in the middle ground of trail bikes in terms of weight, but this did not even register on some of the long Scottish climbs. An Eagle drivetrain mated to a 34t ring gives you everything you need to tackle even some of the longest climbs out there.
Having spent a lot of time on various trail/enduro 29ers I would happily recommend the S150 to someone who is after a bike that can blur the lines of what multiple bikes would be needed for.