This article is a transcript of the EMTB Videos review. The video can be found further down in the article.
We were invited to Flytsti – the Norwegian distributor of Whyte bikes, to do a “first ride review” of the E-150 RS. That’s their top of the line 150 mill travel emtb.
A couple of things strike me when looking at the bike. It’s so low. With a 330mm bottom bracket height it really is low. And the way the big 625Wh battery is implemented adds to the impression. The battery is not easily detachable, first you undo one bolt to remove the plastic cover, then there are more bolts underneath to be undone before the battery can be slided down and out. Pretty similar to the Specialized Levo.
There are a few advantages to this solution. There’s only a small hole at the end of the downtube to access the battery, no big hole running under the downtube that will require additional reinforcement to maintain frame stiffness. So it should save some weight and cost. And perhaps most importantly it drops the centre of gravity.
The front of the motor is tilted upwards, making room for the battery in front of it. This makes the bottom of the frame look somewhat chunky. And it is a bit of a compromise. The Bosch Performance CX gen4 motor was designed to sit horizontally. When tilting it, there is an edge that will stick out downwards, eating away a bit of ground clearance. And then there’s the cable routing. The cable for the gear wire sticks out at about the lowest point, leaving it a bit exposed for smashing or snagging.
Being the top of the range model, the E-150 RS is fitted with lot’s of high end kit. Drive train is the Sram X01 eagle, except for the cassette which is an 11-50 teeth NX. I think going with the cheaper cassette is a good thing. Sure, it’s heavier. But it’s all steel so it should be pretty dureable. And when it’s time to replace it, it’s way cheaper buying a 12 speed cassette for the regular spline cassette body.
Brakes are the four pot Sram Code R paired with Guide GE brake levers. Dropper post length will vary between sizes. We rode a size Medium and a Large, both with 150 mill droppers. Tyres are 27.5 x2.5 inches by Maxxis. And finally it’s the suspension. Rockshocx Lyric fork and Deluxe shock, both in the top of the line Select+ version. The bike weight is pretty average. Considering the battery implementation, I was hoping the weight would be a tad lower than the 24.2 kilos claimed by Whyte.
The test loop started out with a bit of mellow pace on flat trails before entering the first climbs. Going up we noticed the short chainstays of just 440 millimetres. It wasn’t really holding us back, but we had to move around over the bike to keep the it planted. We were mostly climbing short but steep sections. The bike was really quick going up and we were working quite a bit pedalling and navigating the bike. We were noticing the low bottom bracket over the rocks and sharp edges. If you’re used to pedalling over rock gardens, you might prefer a taller bottom bracket.
When the climb finished we were facing a steep and rough and twisty descent. We were hitting rock and root-infected turns and drops, following the line choice of our guide almost blindly in the completely unfamiliar terrain. And the bike just ate it all up and kept us upright along roots and over bigger rocks. The long front end and low bottom bracket makes this a great and stable descender that is nimble enough for these tight trails. Riding higher speed descents we get the feeling of sitting in the bike, rather than over. We’re weighing down the rear wheel over chattery trails and just flowing along in comfort. A low bottom bracket is just great I think. And the Double Down casing on the Maxxis high roller rear tyre adds to the composed feeling.
It will also flow on the flat trails, throwing the bike from side to side is easy considering the bike is such a capable descender. But we do have to work the bike a bit, it could stand to lose a couple of kilos to handle this kind of riding more effortlessly. Regardless, speed was good on the flat sections too and we were inspired to work hard to keep the speed, and the fun high.
The e-150 looks like an allround trailbike on paper, with the smaller 27.5 wheels, 150 mill fork and short rear end. And it acts like one too, perhaps held back slightly by the weight. But when descending, the e-150 forgets about all this and behaves like an agressive hard hitting and more gravity oriented bike. Another great thing about the Whyte e-150 rs is the price. 6-299 euros really isn’t bad for the top of the line model with pretty high end kit.