At 19.7kg, with 600 watts peak power, is the new Bosch SX-equipped Whyte E-Lyte 150 Works the next big thing in e-mtb?
Just as you thought the lightweight mid-power e-bike category couldn’t get more complicated, along comes the Bosch Performance Line SX motor boasting 600 watts peak power and 55Nm torque. All of a sudden we now have high-power, mid-torque, lightweight e-bikes.
And one of the first bikes in this category is the new Whyte E-Lyte 150 Works. It’s a hardcore 29er trail bike, with a full carbon frame that boasts 142mm rear wheel travel. That’s right, it’s called the 150 because it has a 150mm travel Fox 36 Factory fork and it could be one of the best lightweight e-bikes to date.
Hidden inside the sleek carbon frame is a Bosch Compact 400Wh battery and the Works model includes a 250Wh Bosch PowerMore range extender, to bring the total battery capacity up to 650Wh. That puts the range of the E-Lyte well above any full-power e-bike still running a 630Wh battery.
Best of all, Whyte has placed the 1.42kg range extender as low as possible in the frame, which improves the weight distribution and ultimately the handling of the bike. The low-profile lock-in mount is cool too, and much more secure than simply using a bottle cage and a rubber band. And it’s not an either or option when it comes to water or range, as you can still run a bottle on the second set of mounts further up the down tube.
Need to know: Whyte E-Lyte 150 Works £9,999
- Full carbon frame, designed around Bosch Performance Line SX motor
- Bike weight without range extender is 19.72kg
- 250Wh range extender and cable weighs an additional 1.47kg
- Bosch SX motor has 55Nm torque and 600 watts peak power
- Bosch Compact Power Tube 400Wh internal battery, with 250Wh range extender
- Fox Float X shock delivers 142mm travel
- Fox 36 Factory fork has 150mm travel
- SRAM X0 T-Type AXS drivetrain
- Hope Tech 4 V4 brakes with 200mm floating rotors
- Hope Pro 5 hubs and Hope chainset
- Maxxis EXO/EXO+ casing tyre combo
- Available in four frame sizes S to XL
- Two 150 models: Starting with the E-Lyte 150 RSX at £7,999
Geometry and sizing for modern trail riding
The geometry and fit of the Whyte E-Lyte are remarkably close to the 170mm travel full-power Nukeproof Megawatt that I tested a couple of months ago. So even though the Whyte has much less travel, it’s clear from the numbers that it has been designed for hard charging on the toughest terrain.
The difference here is that the Whyte E-Lyte has a flip chip in the shock eyelet for tweaking the geometry. There’s also an aftermarket Shape.it Link for correcting the geometry for an MX wheel format. Which some riders will definitely want to do, as I’ve had the rear tyre buzz my ass on a couple of occasions.
Size wise, Whyte has nailed it, the large E-Lyte frame sporting a 478mm reach. And that’s measured to the top of the headset cover, not the frame, as that’s as low as you can realistically get the stem. The headset cover also has internal cable routing options but these have not been employed on E-Lyte 150 Works.
Future-proofed and waterproofed
The Bosch Smart System Controller that uses LEDs to indicate battery capacity and power levels is embedded in a much bigger housing in the top tube of the E-Lyte frame, which indicates that Bosch has a new top-tube display coming soon and that it will be retrofittable to the E-Lyte. Whyte has also fitted a neat rubber boot over the seat collar to reduce water ingress as the charging port is at the bottom of the seat tube.
If you’re familiar with the Bosch suite of e-bike products then the SX system will be second nature. With four power settings including Tour+ you can toggle between all modes effortlessly with the handlebar mounted bluetooth Mini Remote. It’s all super neat, and while the LED display indicates battery life in 10% increments, it’s a far cry from the Mastermind display and customisable metrics that Specialized is offering on its recently released Turbo Kenevo SL bikes.
Getting the E-Lyte on the scales
Whyte also has the headline grabbing E-Lyte 140 Works, with an impressive claimed weight of 16.4kg, but that’s just an XC build to hit a target weight. You can read more about the E-Lyte 140 and the full range of bikes here. With proper trail/enduro kit, fitting of the geometry and attitude of the E-Lyte 150 chassis, the weight of the E-Lyte 150 Works on our workshop scales was 19.72kg. Add the 250Wh range extender and the system weight is now 21.19kg, albeit with a whopping 650Wh battery capacity.
How does it compare to other lightweight e-bikes?
This is where it gets interesting. The Whyte E-Lyte 150 is comparable in weight to the Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 (19.28kg) that I tested, but the Whyte costs less, has way better range, more power and better suspension. Compared to the latest Specialized S-Work Levo SL I also tested, that weighs a scant 17.65kg, the Whyte looks positively portly. And even when we factor in the extra weight of the 400Wh battery Vs Specialized’s weight saving 320Wh unit, the Specialized is still 1.5kg lighter.
Is the Whyte E-Lyte 150 much lighter than a full-power e-bike?
In short, no. For context, let’s compare the E-Lyte to the Canyon Spectral:ON CFR that I tested last year. The Canyon had a 720Wh battery and an 85Nm torque Shimano EP8 motor and weighed only 22.7kg. The Works E-Lyte with the 250Wh range extender supplied with the bike weighs 21.19kg. Not much difference, right? But they do ride differently.
How does it ride?
First things first. If you’re looking at the Bosch SX motor’s vital stats and think that having 600 watts peak power is going to make the Whyte E-Lyte feel like a full-power bike when you stomp on the pedals, you’d better think again.
Yes, it’s poky for a lightweight e-bike, but you’ll never achieve that peak power output unless you are prepared to bury yourself. You also need to keep the cranks spinning and spinning fast, as the peak power at 70rpm is 400 watts, not 600 watts. In fact, the Bosch SX motor really rewards a higher than normal cadence, because it relies on higher rpm to boost power, not torque.
This is most evident when you bomb down a descent and forget to shift up the cassette before spinning the bike around to attack a climb. Initially, I thought the motor had cut out, as it appears to give you virtually no assistance until you shift up the gears and get the pedals spinning. In that respect, the E-Lyte feels really similar to an analogue bike.
It also got me thinking that automatic shifting, like SRAM’s Auto Shift may actually be more useful on a lightweight e-bike than on a full-power bike, as you don’t have the torque to get yourself going when you are in too stiff a gear. Also when you’re in the right gear, there’s still no rallying up the climbs in the same way you can on a full-power, full-torque e-bike.
On more technical climbs it was really noticeable that the rear suspension on the Whyte remained active without ever feeling too soft. The steep 77.3º seat angle and 448mm chainstays help keep your weight forward, and because Whyte hasn’t gone overboard with the anti-squat, the back wheel can still follow the terrain and maintain traction, even with the faster rolling Maxxis Dissector rear tyre.
And it’s not just the lack of pulling power that makes the E-Lyte feel different to a full-power e-bike. The frame proportions are much closer to an analog bike too, so the flex response is also similar. The smaller battery, which sits low in the frame, also impacts load transfer when accelerating and braking, so the handling is different, noticeably more dynamic even though there’s not a missive difference in weight. In fact, having the range extender sitting so low in the frame on the E-Lyte 150 is a real boon for handling.
So far, I’ve only had one ride on Whyte E-Lyte 150 but I came away impressed. The suspension, handling and sizing are all on the money. The rear suspension has good support for pushing into turns and loading the tyres, but you still have access to the full 142mm of travel when needed. No harsh bottom out, just a smooth control landings every time. The range of damping adjustment is good too, so you are less likely to find yourself at the extremes, even if you’re a heavier or lighter rider. Factor in the excellent Hope Tech4 V4 brakes, Pro 5 hubs and Hope chainset and the Works bike has a custom build feel to the specification too.
In terms of noise, the Bosch SX motor is not as quiet as the TQ motor or the Specialized SL 2 and it sounds a bit like a dentist’s drill when you’re in the lower power modes and working harder. It is more powerful than both though. Get the E-Lyte 150 above the 15.5mph assistance limit and you do not hit a wall of resistance in the same way as Bosch’s CX motor. How the efficiency and range stack up against the current lightweight benchmark, the Fazua Ride 60 system on the Pivot Shuttle SL, remains to be seen, but I’ll range-test the Whyte E-Lyte 150 Works as soon as possible and post an update.
Thanks to the Bosch Performance Line SX motor, the new Whyte E-Lyte 150 Works has class leading power and range. But that’s true of any e-bike with the same Bosch system, so what has Whyte brought to the table? As always, it’s ride quality. With finely tuned geometry and suspension, the E-Lyte 150 Works has poise that few lightweight e-bikes can match. The balance between traction, stiffness and the bike’s ability to absorb the harshest impacts makes it fun, fast and capable, in every situation. Yes, at 19.72kg, without the range extender fitted, the Whyte E-Lyte 150 Works is clearly not the lightest e-bike in its class, but it’s also not the most expensive, especially given that the 250Wh range extender is included in the price. So if you ride a lot of trails where you have to pedal above the 15.5mph assistance level of the motor, or you are currently riding an analogue bike and just want some assistance, the Whyte E-Lyte 150 Works should definitely be at the top of your wish list.