Keeps its cool and has got your back on most UK trails, leaving you free to focus on maximising your fun
Whyte S-150C RS review
British brand Whyte has been at the cutting edge of mountain bike design for the last few seasons. It was one of the first with longer, more stable geometry, 1x specific frames and it also pioneered the steering-stabilising, reduced fork offset trend.
More recently, Whyte has shifted from full aluminium frames to offering smooth, sleek carbon front triangles on the top-end models. This modern attitude seeps into the S-150C RS, which offers the same carbon front/alloy rear frame as the top Works version, with a more competitively priced specification.
It’s essentially a hard-hitting trail/enduro machine where the S stands for the ability to switch between fat 27.5 Plus wheels and tyres, to a sharper, more precise 29er model with ‘normal’ 2.5in tyres, which is how the bike ships.
Being pitched at the trail end of long travel riding (the Whyte G-170 goes full enduro) means the S-150 gets as a weight saving RockShox Pike suspension fork and Deluxe shock. There’s a Charger II damper in the reduced, 42mm offset Pike, but it’s the cheaper ‘RC’ version, with less sophisticated internals and only low-speed damping adjustment. On the trail that translates to less finesse than a top-level Pike or a Lyrik, which would be our first choice on this bike given that it’s only marginally heavier.
The RockShox Deluxe RT shock is driven by Whyte’s signature 4-bar design to deliver 150mm of travel. It has a really smooth action under pedalling and braking, where the bigger volume bigger DebonAir negative spring and sealed bearing in the shock yoke increase sensitivity further, The shock also sports an on/off lever that increases the damping threshold for climbing.
The rear end on the S-150 has tons of clearance and as we mentioned earlier it can handle 27.5 wheels with 2.8in wide tyres. The stock but the 29 x 2.5in Maxxis Wide Trail tyres here a more precise feel and offer a more intuitive ride on most trails.
WTB ST i29 rims spread the reinforced tyre sidewalls wide enough for good stability, but the wheels aren’t the lightest, smoothest or fastest when accelerating or climbing. The lower profile rear Rekon tyre also reaches traction limits quickly in wet conditions, prioritising speedy rolling over braking traction and control.
Whyte’s own brand gear is solid and functional without being overly flashy. Essentials like the short stem and wider handlebar, excellent grips and comfy saddle (that gets out of the way) are locked down, all we had to do was tip the nose of the saddle down a touch to optimise the seated climbing position.
SRAM Guide R disc brakes with 180mm rotors are standard trail bike fare, but way less sensitive and powerful than the Code brakes elsewhere. Full marks though for the 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, the new oversized DUB crank axle is solid under power and the gears shift seamlessly.
Composed and relaxed, the S-150 embodies the old bike test cliché of being ‘confidence inspiring’. The steering feels easy and natural and the riding position keeps your hips and core in the sweet spot through berms, turns and any awkward sections of trail.
The low BB and progressive suspension keeps your feet low, which aids balance leaning and darting through chinks and turns, but there’s enough support and clearance to ensure pedals clattering on every rock and root isn’t the soundtrack to every climb. Geometry wise, the S-150 is relatively slack and long, and the suspension feels controlled, rather than bouncy and poppy. This means the jumpy, flicky and hyper-active riders might find it a bit muted
Despite having 7mm less travel than advertised you can release the brakes and let the Whyte roll on without ever it feeling too flustered at speed. The brand’s signature reduced offset fork adds stability and helps keep a lid on the front tyre tucking in on the steepest rutty turns and chutes. This calmness also compensates for the slightly hesitant action on the mid-tier Pike, which is less inclined to trace every bump and ripple than the pricier, stiffer Lyrik fork on Cube’s Stereo.
The whole Whyte S-150C RS experience exudes calmness and confidence. The damped, stiff chassis, together with the stable and planted steering, allows riders of all levels to push hard and ride faster with plenty of control. It doesn’t hurt either that the low dynamic BB height and long frame offers a planted, attacking foundation for berm-slashing and holding tight lines on off cambers too. The flip side of Whyte’s solidity is that the weight is pushing 15kg. It masks its bulk really well, but sudden accelerations are muted. Also we’d like to a grippy rear tyre fitted as standard.