Competitively priced, reliable and offers a ride quality that few of its rivals can match
Building on the success of their E-150, Whyte have just launched the new Whyte E-160, and it’s even more capable. Bosch Gen 4 motor and Fox 38 fork lead the charge.
Whyte E-160 need to know
- 6061 hydroformed alloy frame designed around the Gen 4 Bosch Performance Line CX motor with updated software to deliver 85Nm of torque
- Housed inside the downtube the 625Wh PowerTube offers plenty of juice
- The addition of the new Fox 38 fork increase travel to 160mm while adding stiffness and strength
- Rear travel upped from 150mm to 155mm with increased progression
Whyte took everyone by surprise when it launched the Whyte E-150 RS. Not only was it Whyte’s first foray into pedal-assist bikes, it was one of the first brands to market with the eagerly awaited gen 4 Bosch Performance Line CX motor. Now, less than 12 months later, Whyte has upped the ante once again.
As the name suggests, the new E-160 RS gets more suspension muscle. It’s not a category changing increase, but with fork travel going from 150mm to 160mm, and the rear end increasing from 150mm to 155mm, it’s even more capable than the E-150. Whyte also increased the progression of the suspension linkage too, just to help resist bottom out on bigger hits and offer a little more support when climbing.
The fundamental layout of the bike remains unchanged, but the recent software update from Bosch increases torque from 75 Nm to 85 Nm. The end result being that the E-160 has a little more grunt, something heavier riders will really appreciate. Another subtle change to the software that makes a massive difference on technical climbs, is that the overrun of the motor has been increased, making it easier to get up and over big rocks or fallen trees by giving you a helpful push even when you’ve stopped pedalling.
There have been subtle tweaks to the frame geometry too. The chainstay length has grown by a couple of millimetres to better balance handling, and the BB height elevated by 10mm for improved pedal clearance with the extra travel. Whyte is also going to release an aftermarket shock extender that offers two additional geometry settings, which will allow riders to tune the geo and BB height to match their preferred riding style and terrain. Best of all, the new Shape.It link will also fit the older E-150. In fact, bar the slightly longer rear end and extra rear wheel travel, all of the recent developments are backwards compatible with the original E-150.
Whyte has also moved the needle ever so slightly with the specification. The front tyre switches from a Maxxis Minion DHF to a Maxxis Assegai, while the rear changes from a Maxxis High Roller II to a more meaty Maxxis Minion DHR II to add traction. Wheel strength is boosted thanks to the e-bike specific WTB rims, and stopping power has been increased too with the SRAM Code R front brake now sporting a massive 220mm rotor – the brake upgrade only possible thanks to the burly Fox 38 fork. And given that the complete build weights 25.14kg (55.42lb) – up 370g over the E-150 – the bigger fork definitely makes the front end feel more solid. Looks are important too, and there’s no denying that the pumped-up fork really matches the proportions of the oversized down tube that houses the 625Wh battery. One final change to the specification that may seem odd on an e-bike is the addition of the 10-52t Eagle cassette, with its expanded gear range. Given the gradients you can tackle on the E-160, the lower gears are definitely welcome though, as the motor responds better to higher pedal cadences. Also, if you run out of power and need to get the bike home under your own steam, that 52t cog will certainly keep huffing and puffing to a minimum.
How does it ride?
With the introduction of the new E-160 Whyte has moved things forward once again. But even with the increased travel, torque and BB height, one thing remains unchanged – the handling of the E-160 RS really defies its weight. By clocking the motor and placing the battery in front, rather than on top of it, Whyte had been able to simultaneously lower and centre the weight of the battery in the bike.
That’s just one piece of ride quality puzzle though, and it’s what Whyte does with its suspension – specifically the shock tune – that really amplifies the ride of the E-160. Conventional wisdom sees most brands increase shock damping on e-bikes for increased stability. But e-bikes are inherently more stable due to the increased weight of the frame relative to the suspension components and rider. E-bikes also pedal better thanks to the smooth power delivery from the motor rounding out even the squarest of pedallers, so there’s less need for pedal platforms or high anti-squat numbers to counteract the rider mashing on the cranks.
The result of this two pronged approach to design is that the E-160 rides lighter, is more dynamic and the suspension is way more effective at ironing out bumps. Combine this with Whyte’s progressive approach to geometry and sizing, and you have a bike that’s incredibly fast, fun and capable. Factor in the reliability of the gen 4 Bosch motor and Whtye has all the bases covered. Well, almost. Bosch dropped the ball with the ergonomics of the Purion remote/display. Given the choice, we’d much rather have a separate remote like the one Specialized uses on the Turbo Levo or the compact E-6000 control switch from the Shimano STEPS system. It’s definitely not a deal breaker though, and thanks to Bosch’s e-MTB mode, that automatically selects the appropriate power setting for you, you can turn the bike on and never touch the display again for the entire duration of your ride. Which begs the question, why is it there at all, if you only use it for checking battery life? One other consideration is how you’re going to charge the bike. The Bosch battery is removable, but we wouldn’t go as far as to say it just pops out, so it’s a pain to bring the battery indoors for a top-up. If you have a power point in your shed or keep your bike in the garage, then it is green lights all the way, as Whyte has a bike that’s competitively priced, reliable and, above all else, offers a ride quality that few of its rivals can match.