The ultimate 29er?
Whyte S-150 C Works need to know
- 29er trail bike with 150mm travel
- Custom fork offset restores the true head angle and trail measurements while reducing steering flop
- SCR frame design increased stiffness by completely eliminating the front mech
- Boost dropouts and ample tyre clearance make the S-150 Plus compatible: Whyte even offers aftermarket wheel sets to make swapping easy
- Sizes limited to M, L and XL but the generous proportions means riders of average height will be fine on a size M
- Alloy S-150 S kicks off the range at £2,850
Whyte has never shied away from innovation. From the early days with its PRST linkage fork, to being one of the very first brands to completely abandon the front derailleur, it’s always been at the coalface of development and shows no signs of slowing down in its exploration to extract performance gains.
So what does the new S-150 bring to the table? Whyte has been pushing the boundaries of sizing and geometry for years now, so it should come as no surprise that its new 150mm travel 29er is long, low and slack.
To put that into perspective, the size L has a 474.4mm reach measurement, the BB is ground huggingly low at 335mm, and the head angle is tilted back to 66 degrees… very similar numbers to the new Scott Genius then, but old news for Whyte.
In line with other brands, Whyte is using Boost dropouts and ample tyre clearance to made the S-150 compatible with 29in and 27.5 Plus wheels. In fact, “S” stands for switchable, and Whyte even has after market 27.5 Plus wheelsets with tyres and rotors fittest to make switching easier. It has missed a trick however, by not having a geometry adjust feature like the flip-chip on the new Scott that changes the BB height to compensate for the slight difference in wheel size.
It’s what sets the Whyte S-150 apart that’s more interesting though. While the rest of the bike industry has marched on blindly increasing fork offset with every jump in wheel size, Whyte is one of a handful of brands to stop and ask why. As such, the new the S-150 gets a shorter 42mm offset fork. And while I could quite easily turn this first ride into a mind-numbing dissertation on steering geometry, instead I rode the S-150 with the more common 51mm offset RockShox Pike back-to-back with Whyte’s 42mm offset to see if it offers any real world advantages.
The most apparent benefit of the shorter offset is that the steering feels less floppy at slower speeds, especially when climbing. Which probably has more to do with bringing the centre of mass of the steering assembly closer to the steering axis that any difference the offset makes to the trail measurement.
Point the bike downhill however and the benefits aren’t not so cut and dried. Swapping from the 51mm offset to Whyte’s custom 42mm fork made the bike feel slight smaller forcing me into more hunkered position on the bike, even though the cockpit and frame size remained unchanged.
The trails we were riding at the launch were bone dry and there was plenty of traction to be had, so I can’t comment on how the reduced offset fork handles in the wet. That said, I know from experience that it could be in the wet where the shorter offset has the greatest advantage as it stops the front wheel from tucking under so rapidly in loose, wet turns.
Fork offset is set be the latest topic for debate but it’s not the real story here, because we could absolutely rip on either offset and that simply because the S-150 is such an accomplished bike. It was super easy to get a good ballpark suspension set up and combined with the generous sizing and dialled geometry we were up to speed in the blink of an eye.
Whyte’s Quad 4 suspension brings the poppy playful nature of the T-130 to a longer travel 29er platform and it’s a heady mix of speed, fun and outright rowdyness. The Whyte S-150 C Works feels more solid than the YT Jeffsy and more capable than the Specialized Stumpjumper so it looks set to be the new benchmark 29er trail bike.