Whyte S-150C Works - Dirty Dozen - Dirt

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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Whyte S-150C Works – Dirty Dozen

The latest 29" wheel trail bike from this forward thinking UK brand

The S-150C is the latest full suspension, 29″ wheel trail/ENDURO bike in Whyte’s 2018 range. The T-129 was a hit in this year’s Dirt 100, so how does this all-new longer travel machine perform?

Words: Sean White, Ieuan Williams  Images: Ieuan Williams

The Whyte S-150C is a fresh design from Whyte and is a timely addition to this category. Long travel and 29″ wheels on a full suspension platform embracing modern geometry and sizing is very much coming of time. It would be easy to suggest that Whyte are jumping on this bandwagon but the S-150C design is really a natural evolution in a range that has included all three wheel sizes over the years.

When it comes to bike design it really is the frame design which is a key player in performance and it’s here where Whyte really have shone brightly for some time. With design and development here in the UK (and not far from the Dirt HQ), Whyte’s bikes have led the way with progressive geometry and sizing on both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels – they had the only hardtail to feature in the 2015 Dirt 100. Frames designed specifically for single chainring (or 1x) transmissions have been part of moving bike design forward and Whyte were in early on this with their SCR bikes. The Whyte G-160 and T-130 have both won us over in previous years along with the 29″ wheeled T-129. 

The ‘S’ in the S-150 refers to ‘Switch’ and the fact that Whyte has designed this 150mm travel trail bike to run either the stock 29″ wheelset or with a pair of their optional 27+ size wheels with 2.8″ tyres. There is no geometry adjustment to accommodate the slight change in overall diameter of the two wheel/tyres sizes but Whyte feel that both work well and offer a different ride dynamic. Mud clearance is not compromised either, something that was lacking on the shorter travel Whyte T-129 design and an important consideration here in the UK.

We have the top-spec S-150C Factory on test in this twelve bike ‘Dirty dozen’ shoot out. A ‘multi monocoque’ carbon front triangle is paired with aluminium chainstays and seatstays with internal cable/hose routing and 148mm Boost rear dropout spacing. It’s an exceptionally clean design with some neat touches. With a RockShox Pike leading the way (rather than a Lyrik or Fox 36), front travel is 150mm rather than the 160mm that we have on some of the other 11 test bikes. So, with Whyte pitching the S-150 range as ‘Trail Enduro’ and their G-170 bikes as ‘Gravity Enduro’ are they splitting hairs or is this bike more of a true ‘all-rounder’?

WHYTE S-150C FACTORY – SPECIFICATION

FRAME: UD Multi monocoque front triangle, aluminium swingarm

FORK: RockShox Pike RTC3, 150mm travel, 42mm custom offset, Boost

REAR SHOCK: RockShox Deluxe RC3 DebonAir

TRANSMISSION: SRAM XX1 Eagle 1×12

CRANKSET: SRAM XX1 carbon Eagle 34T

BRAKES: SRAM Guide RSC

WHEELSET:  Whyte 30mm carbon rims on Hope Pro4 hubs 28H

TYRES: Maxxis High Roller II 3C TR 2.3″, Crossmark II TR 2.25″

HANDLEBAR: RaceFace SixC carbon 800mm

STEM: Whyte Gravity 40mm (M), 50mm (L,XL)

SADDLE: Whyte Custom Team

SEATPOST: RockShox Reverb Stealth 150/170mm

FRAME SIZES: M, L, XL

PRICE: £5499 (S-150 range starts at £2850)

(Review continues below)


OPINION – IEUAN WILLIAMS

Whyte have really stepped up the game in recent years with the more extensive use of carbon fibre as a frame material and the S-150 is no different, with clean cut lines giving a real edge to the look and feel of quality to the brand.

With the S-150 there is a pairing of RockShox dampers giving 150mm front and rear with the tried and tested Pike fork and Deluxe RT3 shock at the rear. Whyte have also opted for a carbon wheelset to accompany the new chassis; this is a brave move with the balance of stiffness to flex being such an important part of the feel to the ride of the bike. This combination needs to be bang on.

The sizing really is so up to date – hacking the Size L model with a great cockpit feel and plenty of room for riders up and around the six foot mark. This is helped by the reach numbers of 474.4mm and a low bottom bracket at 335mm with the stock 29” wheels fitted. There is a great feel to the dynamic size of the bike when being ridden, where on many bikes good numbers do not always add up to a good ride feel. The numbers seem to make sense here.

Ride wise the Whyte S-150 does need riding hard to get the full potential from it. At times when just riding at a gentle pace the bike does not seem to offer much of a playful feel, with a fairly bland chassis characteristic. This could be due to the immense stiffness to the components and frame construction.

This then leads onto the rides fatigue. Where the track gets fast with more high frequency bumps, the longevity of hands and arms is reduced, so high factors of fatigue are felt due to a very rigid set up. It would be good to revisit this bike with a different front wheel with a lower spoke count or tension to see if it makes a difference.

The Whyte also have addressed the fork offset on the 29” bike, taking the benchmark standard 51mm that would normally be found on the Pike fork to a 42mm shorter set up. This brings the wheel back to a more true head angle when looking at the axle centre. This gives the Whyte a far more nimble feel when getting into the tight steep terrain.

All in all the Whyte S-150 is a great looking design with a super competitive price for a carbon enduro bike that can be used with either 27.5+ or 29” wheels. Having ridden the bike with both wheel options there are two totally different feelings – one of playfulness and ease and the other more race mode, direct and stiff. Possibly too stiff for me and as said previously it would be nice to swap out some parts to see if this changes the bike for the better though.

OPINION – SEAN WHITE

From the start of this dirty dozen shoot-out I had a feeling that the Whyte would be high on my list, one the bikes that would suit my style of riding the most. The fact that the S-150 can be run with either the stock 29” wheels or the high volume 27+ size also makes it very comparable to the long term Specialized Stumpjumper 6Fattie that I’ve been running.

As a trail rider who’s been on 29” wheels for many years I think I’ve got a good idea of what I like from a bike and it’s easy to have an opinion just by looking at the geometry and sizing charts. So, with a custom 42mm offset, 35mm carbon rims and sizing that’s up to date on this ‘all-new’ frame design, how did I get on?

First up let’s talk sizing – at 6’2” I’m at the top end of Whyte’s suggested sizing for our ‘large’ test bike. It feels a great place to be though, especially matched to the wide 800mm bar and the stock 50mm stem. I didn’t get that nagging feeling that I needed to upsize, although it would be good to see how the XL fits. On the trail this meant a balanced and neutral feel whether climbing, attacking tight singletrack or diving into steep descents. The 120mm head tube length kept the bars at a good height (but maybe a touch low for some) and the 457mm (18”) seat tube meant the saddle was tucked low when needed. Whyte have really nailed the details here.

There’s a really purpose to the visuals of the S-150 frame and this is reflected in the bike’s dynamics. I found the steering manners to be direct yet light. There was less of a need to bully the bike to keep it on the right line and as I spent more hours on the S-150 I grew to love the way it handled. The front end grip in all situations was excellent and this would be taken up a notch further with the 27+ wheel package fitted.

In terms of ride quality and comfort, I felt that although the Whyte has a shade less travel than some bikes on test it sat mid pack – not quite as forgiving as the Trek Slash but less tiring than the Intense Carbine. Of course, the ability to switch in 27+ wheels (Whyte offer a package as an option) moves this bike into another league when it come to comfort and smoothness on beaten up trail centre tracks, as well as aiding traction on climbs.

The component spec is hard to fault. This is our first experience of Whyte’s new carbon rims but all the other hardware choices are Dirt favourites. Hope hubs, Guide RSC brakes, RockShox Pike RCT3 fork and SRAM’s benchmark 1×12 drivetrain all hit the spot for me. For the price the S-150C Factory is a very complete package.

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