The E5 was the first bike from the Whyte/Marin stable to sport the Quad II suspension design. It’s a four-bar design where only four bolts hold the one-piece carbon swingarm to the front triangle. These four bolts also secure the shock and this neat bit of patent-protected packaging reduces component parts, weight, and things that can go wrong. One disadvantage of this approach is the shock is very tucked away and it’s quite hard to reach the dials on the Fox RP3 shock. The flipside is that the shock is well protected from debris.
We’re big fans of Easton components and it’s great to see top-end kit on production bikes, but we have some issues with those chosen for the E5. Firstly the oversized Monkey Lite XC handlebar has way too much upsweep and we had to roll it back too far to get a sensible position. We’d have much preferred an Easton bar with the classic 8deg backsweep and 4deg upsweep. Additionally, the EC70 seatpost has too much layback for the relatively slack 70deg seat angle on the E5, so we had to run the Fizik Nisene saddle pushed fully forward to achieve a comfortable pedalling position.
Whyte always make an effort to spec British components and the E5 sports hubs and brakes from Hope.
The RockShox Revelation fork on the E5 XT improved damping performance and steering precision no end over the SC32 Maverick units but the stiffer fork also highlights that the aluminium front end isn’t quite as stiff as the carbon rear.
Climbing traction is excellent on the E5 but it has a slight tendency to wallow in its travel. Compressions that the Stumpjumper doesn’t give a second thought about send the suspension on the E5 deep into its travel, slowing the bike in the process. So while the linear nature of the suspension gives the E5 the illusion of long travel, we’re convinced that the bike would be even faster with a more progressive suspension set-up. This would also make it easier to pump the bike through sections where pedal clearance is limited, as the downward force of your legs wouldn’t be sapped by the supple suspension.
Geometry wise the E5 shares the shortest wheelbase with the Iron Horse so it feels nimble on tighter trails. But it also sports a slacker head angle than the MKIII, so it is noticeably more confident with gravity working in your favour.
There is no doubt that the Whyte E5 XT is a very good bike. It’s stiff, responsive and a lot of fun to ride, but for the E5 to be a great bike, or the ultimate trail bike, Whyte needs to adjust the compression ratio so that the suspension is more progressive in the mid-stroke. Yes we’re being ultra critical, but at this level it’s what makes the difference between a 9 and 10 rating.
MBR RATING: 9/10