The best geometry and sizing out there
Called the Whyte S-150 S, it has 150mm of travel, Boost spacing and Whyte’s dedicated SCR (Single Chain Ring) frameset design.
During our summing up of the Whyte T-129 in last year’s Trail Bike of the Year test, we predicted the company would launch a longer travel 29er trail bike, well here it is.
Whyte S-150 S (2018) review
The S in the name stands for Switch, which means the bike can also accommodate 27.5in wheels with 2.8in Plus tyres. Whyte even sells these in kit form (Alloy £599, carbon £1,299) with Maxxis tyres, disc rotors, sealant and the workshop tools needed to swap over the cassette.
The two models above get RockShox Pike forks but the Whyte S-150 S comes with a Revelation RC fork, which has rebound adjustment and a compression lockout. It uses the exact same chassis and spring assembly as the Pike so stiffness is the same, but instead of a Charger 2 damper you get a cheaper Motion Control unit with limited adjustment. Out of the box the fork felt incredibly sluggish, which we thought was due to it being new, but after three weeks it didn’t free up, so we sent it back to the RockShox service centre for it to take a look.
New seals and fresh oil, it now feels much more responsive and supple but the basic damper still doesn’t offer the same sort of control as the Charger 2 damper when hitting stuff hard – spiking on high-speed hits, which you can really feel in your arms and wrists.
The wheels on the Whyte S-150 S are the heaviest on test by over 600g, but oddly it’s not the heaviest bike. This tells us two things – the alloy frame is pretty light and you can save a chunk of weight with some sensible upgrading. We’d also splash the cash on a new rear tyre at the same time because the Maxxis Crossmark TR isn’t one for all seasons.
Although the bigger wheels and long/low geometry add stability, we’d like to see a slightly wider handlebars than the 760mm fitted. We’d also go higher rise too, because the Whyte S-150 S has a low-stack head tube.
Whyte is at the cutting edge when it comes to geometry and the S-150 S is much lower to the ground than anything else on test and has the longest reach and slackest head angle by quite some margin. There’s tons of room in the cockpit and you really feel like you’re sitting in the bike rather than being perched on top. It’s also the only bike here where the use of a 150mm dropper post doesn’t impact on the sizing and fit.
To compliment the progressive geometry, the Whyte S-150 S features a fork with a custom fork offset. We don’t have room here to get into a detailed description about steering geometry but essentially the 42mm offset results in a trail measurement that’s 25% more than normal. This makes the steering more stable and it’s less likely to feel all squirrely, especially deeper in the travel. We also found we could run the fork a little softer than normal to increase grip without it getting away from us on the really steep stuff.
An associated benefit of the long trail measurement is that it has a greater restoring force on the steering, so when the front wheel is getting knocked about in tight technical sections you don’t have to fight as hard to get it back on line. Unfortunately, the basic Motion Control damper inside the Revelation can’t quite keep pace with the improvements in the handling. There is light at the end of the tunnel though as you can upgrade the Revelation with the Pike’s Charger 2 damper for around £200. This is definitely worth doing because it really transforms this bike, we know this because we’ve also ridden the top-end S-150 C and it has the Pike as standard.
The Whyte S-150 S has the best geometry and sizing in test, it also feels incredibly balanced and holds a line in a corner truer than any bike here, and the only limiting factor is the lacklustre performance of the RockShox Revelation fork. That’s not really the fault of the fork though, we just think Whyte should have bitten the bullet and fitted the better Pike fork from the outset. This would have pushed the price of the Whyte S-150 S to just over the £3K and it would still have been within the price range of this test.