You may already have seen sneak-preview images of Whyte’s new eMTBs – floating impossibly high through huge jumps. It’s clear Whyte are pitching their bikes at enthusiasts, so how does the new Whyte E-150 RS stack up against the competition?
We’ve known that Whyte has been working on an eMTB for some time, we saw prototypes and were expecting a launch a few years ago, but unusually they went quiet. Now we can see why – they were waiting for the new Bosch Performance Line CX 2020 motor. British brand Whyte has always championed no-nonsense handling, placing a huge focus on handling and a low centre of gravity – which was not possible with the previous generation of motors. When presented with plans for the embargoed Bosch 2020 motor they knew they could build the bike that they envisage, the new E-150 and E-180 was born.
What’s unique about the new Whyte E-150?
Looking at the design of the Whyte E-150 and E-180 the 625 Wh, the battery sits low down in the frame, right next to the bottom bracket, instead of the conventional ‘on top of the motor’ position, resulting in a far lower overall centre of gravity. The 625Wh PowerTube battery loads through an opening at the bottom of the downtube. Having the battery slide in from the bottom means that no longitudinal cuts were needed on the downtube, increasing structural and torsional stiffness and allowing Whyte to use lighter 2.7 mm thick 6061 aluminium, saving weight. This brings the bike weight in at competitive 23.8 kg in the size medium we tested – even with a DoubleDown tire with heavy-duty sidewall on the rear! The new E-150 and E-180 platforms have one of the lowest motor and battery integration we have seen on the current range of Bosch 2020 bikes, but how does that influence the handling?
The geometry of the E-150 RS
The geometry of the Whyte E-150 screams trail fun, nothing too extreme or conservative. A 65-degree head angle is the go-to value now for eMTBs that will stray on to steep and technical terrain, and the 440 mm chainstays indicate – on paper at least – a balanced nature. The seat tube angle of the Whyte E-150 is around 75 degrees, not bad, but we are starting to see a shifting trend towards 76 – 77-degree seat tube angles, a lesson learnt from the observed increased efficiency of their enduro bike brothers. With an eMTB motor assisting, this is less of an issue, but we still preferred to run the saddle further forward on its rails.
|Seat tube||368 mm||406 mm||432 mm||457 mm||483 mm|
|Head tube||112 mm||116 mm||130 mm||142 mm||155 mm|
|Chainstay||440 mm||440 mm||440 mm||440 mm||440 mm|
|BB Height||330 mm||330 mm||330 mm||330 mm||330 mm|
|Reach||410 mm||435 mm||455 mm||480 mm||505 mm|
Suspension of the Whyte E-150 RS
The Whyte E-150 RS uses Whytes QUAD 4 suspension system, which has been evolving for many years now with their non-motorised bikes. The QUAD 4 system is characterised by a falling anti-squat, proving good pedal efficiency around the sag point, but reducing further into the travel to decouple the chain forces from the suspension. This gives a free feeling suspension deep into the travel with minimal pedal kickback. Importantly, over the last few years, the QUAD 4 leverage rate has grown more progressive, ramping up near the end of travel to provide support and stop a hard bottoming out. The system has been well proven on the G-170 and S-150 enduro bikes, and according to the engineers has not changed significantly when applied to the E- series bikes.
Specification of the Whyte E-150 RS
The E-150 S will retail at € 6,299 and comes with an impressive build kit. The suspension is effortlessly handled by a RockShox Lyrik Select + RC 27.5” 150 mm fork, with the superb Charger 2 damper it is arguably the best fork on the market. The rear shock is a RockShox Deluxe Select + RT, controlling the rear 150 mm of travel. An eMTB can be made or broken on the strength – literally – of its wheels. As such, Whyte has specced their bike sensibly with heavy-duty WTB KOM Trail rims with a 30 mm internal diameter. More importantly, Whyte has included proper, trail-ready tires. Where many brands fit lighter tires to look better on the scales, Whyte has fitted our favourite Maxxis Minion DHF WT 2.5 EXO + fronts and a High Roller II 2.5 with DoubleDown casing on the rear for maximum fun and minimal punctures.
Fork RockShox Lyrik Select + RC 27.5” 150 mm
Rear shock RockShox Deluxe Select + RT 150 mm
Motor/Battery Bosch Performance CX 2020 625 Wh
Drivetrain SRAM Eagle X01 1×12
Brakes SRAM Code R 200/200 mm
Seatpost Crank Brothers HighLine 125/150/175 mm
Wheels WTB KOM Trail i30
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF WT 2.5 EXO + / High Roller II 2.5 DD
Weight 23.8 kg
Price € 6,299
A full SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain gives a great range from its 12 gears, and 165 mm cranks ensure you can keep spinning over rough ground. SRAM Code R brakes are basic but effective, especially when paired with 200mm / 200mm rotors front and back. A Crank Brothers High-Line 3 post is fitted with different drops over the size range, 125 mm for the XS/S, 150 mm for the M/L and 175 mm on the XL. The cockpit is all Whyte branded but up to the task with a 35 x 780 mm bar and stubby 35 x 35 mm stem.
Models in the Whyte E-150 and E-180 Range
Whyte are offering two versions of their new eMTB, a 150 mm travel E-150 targeted at trail riders and a 180 mm travel E-180 for those who prefer to ride bike parks and big terrain. There will be two models of E-150 and one E-180.
Whyte E-150 S € 5,699
The most affordable eMTB from Whyte comes fitted with a RockShox Yari RC fork and RockShox Select + RT shock. The S spec has WTB KOM Trail i30 wheels and WTB Vigilante 27.5 x 2.5 tires with the Tough/High compound, Enduro casing. A full SRAM GX 11-speed drivetrain and SRAM Code R brakes look after propulsion and deceleration. Whyte uses their own brand Drop.it dropper post and cockpit.
Whyte E-150 RS € 6,299
The RS spec would be our pick from the 150 mm travel bikes, the increased premium is worth it for the fork alone, the superb RockShox Lyrik Select + with Charger 2 damper. You also get a SRAM Eagle 12 speed drivetrain and better Maxxis tires.
Whyte E-180 RS € 6,999
For hellmen and those who live near a bike park, the big-hitting 180 mm enduro focussed E-180 will be very interesting. With a Fox Performance Elite 180 mm travel fork and Fox Float DHX-2 coil shock it’s a lot of bike. A SRAM Eagle drivetrain is a nice inclusion, as is the excellent SRAM Code RSC brakes which are class-leading. A full RaceFace cockpit and Crank Brothers High-Line dropper post complete the picture. A big bike for big days.
Riding the new E-150 RS first review
We managed to get our hands on the first Whyte E-150 RS to hit the UK, and as a disclaimer, it was a sample bike with some slight imperfections that would be ironed out in the production run. At 1.8 m our tester was between the M and L sizes of the E-150 RS, and chose to ride the size medium due to availability. After the test period, we were happy with the sizing and would probably stick to the generous medium-sized bike and benefit from the increased playfulness.
Unbalanced, clumsy and top-heavy; three words you would never use to describe the new Whyte E-150
We thrashed the Whyte for a number of weeks on our home trails in Scotland to get a good feel for it – everything from long tours to full-bore DH runs. We were impressed indeed. Due to the frame size we chose, the climbing position is compact but comfortable. As with most eMTBs we would have liked to see another degree on the seat tube angle to put us into a more efficient climbing position and to place more weight over the front wheel for added steering control, instead, we chose to run the saddle forward on its rails. The heart of the bike is the new Bosch Performance Line CX 2020 motor which is a far more refined option than the old CX. The new E-MTB mode especially is a revelation, switching seamlessly between Tour and Turbo modes and matching pedal pressure beautifully – compared to the shunty original CX motor it is outstanding. The motor is still a little noisy though and the hum sits in contrast to the very natural pedalling feel. The smoother power delivery of the new motor also allows you to power up climbs, great for carving turns uphill. The display of the Whyte E-150 is the Bosch Purion, the minimalist’s choice – the other being the bulkier Kiox.
We found the motor and its E-MTB mode is perfect for clawing up technical climbs, matched by the E-150’s capable geometry and shorter 165 mm crank arms.
Whyte has always prioritised handling and that’s exactly the property that shines with the E-150 RS. The steering is light and responsive, perhaps in part due to the longer offset fork, giving the E-150 a deft nimbleness through the turns, supported by the very low centre of gravity. While not portly, it hides its weight exceedingly well in the corners, snapping between lines easily and popping over roots, without the locked-down feeling to which some eMTBs are prone. We found we could carry outrageous speed on both tight tracks and wide-open DH runs. The suspension tune contributes to the fun too, progressive and packing lots of support when you push into it. When the handling and suspension are combined, the result is a very lively and sporty ride feel, free from any laziness or understeer. Beginners will find this a real confidence boost, feeling low and integrated into the bike, while experts will enjoy throwing the bike hard into turns knowing that there will be no toppling feeling.
The low centre of gravity means that the Whyte E-150 feels at home when leant over hard into a turn. The balance of the bike is sublime.
A longer test would be needed to comment more on reliability and build quality, but even on the pre-production bike everything looks exceedingly well worked out. We did experience a little battery knock when really pushing hard on DH tracks, but that is something we would have to retest on the production bikes. Looking at the specification, it’s clear that Whyte was intent on delivering a bike that was ready to hit hard trails straight out of the box, excellent tires, good brakes and potent suspension. We are really pleased to see the fitment of a heavy-duty Maxxis DoubleDown rear tire, as it’s high time brands stopped fitting light tires to eMTBs to keep the weight down. Overall the Whyte E-150 RS is a superb entry into the market for Whyte, and a great example of how to integrate a Bosch CX 2020 motor and 625 Wh battery.
The Whyte eMTB range is available now through their dealer network.
If you are in the market for a new Bosch CX 2020 bike and are looking for an agile and capable eMTB that rewards good skills while riding fast on the trail, then the new Whyte E-150 RS ticks all the boxes. The clever motor and 625 Wh battery integration results in a lively and punchy ride – perfect for an active rider who wants maximum range but doesn’t want to compromise on handling.
- Lively and engaging handling
- Low centre of gravity
- Great specification for the money
- Impressive range from the 625Wh battery
- Bosch CX 2020 still noisier than the competition
- Purion display starting to show its age
For more information head to www.whyte.bike
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Words: Trev Worsey Photos: Finlay Anderson