Whyte S-150 S

Cycling Plus (Malaysia) - - BIKE OF THE YEAR 2018 -

The S-150 is de­signed to use a fork with a re­duced off­set (42mm) – the idea be­ing to calm the steer­ing without dulling the bike’s nim­ble­ness. Work­ing along­side that to boost sta­bil­ity fur­ther are a slack 65.3-de­gree head an­gle, 435mm chain­stays, a long 1,212mm wheel­base and a ground­hug­gingly low 333mm BB – which is why Whyte spec 170mm crank arms, to limit pedal strikes. With those an­gles and a gen­er­ous reach (458.5mm on the medium), the S-150 feels sure­footed and com­mand­ing from the out­set.

While it’s still fun to throw around at slower speeds, it’s when the pace picks up that the ge­om­e­try shines, par­tic­u­larly in high-speed, chat­tery turns, where there’s a calm­ness through the bar that re­ally helps when you’re try­ing to hold a line. It car­ries speed well on flat­ter sec­tions of trail and, pro­vid­ing it’s not too muddy for the shal­low-treaded rear tyre, will claw its way up pretty much any climb you point it at. Here, you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate the wide gear range, cour­tesy of a SRAM GX Ea­gle trans­mis­sion. We killed the rear mech early on but since re­plac­ing it have had no other prob­lems.

Throw the S-150 into some­thing re­ally rough and it doesn’t feel as smooth or for­giv­ing as some of the other big-wheel­ers on test, with a back end that’s not quite as com­posed or sup­port­ive and uses up its travel a lit­tle too ea­gerly at times. Adding a vol­ume spacer to the shock helped with end­stroke pro­gres­sion on big­ger hits.

Be­cause the S-150 is more of a long-travel trail bike than an en­duro racer, Whyte have used a Rock­shox Rev­e­la­tion fork up front in­stead of the burlier but heav­ier Yari. Our orig­i­nal fork felt a lit­tle slow and slug­gish but the re­place­ment worked a lot bet­ter and its sturdy chas­sis helped keep steer­ing pre­cise. The Rev doesn’t deal with suc­ces­sive high-speed hits quite as com­fort­ably as the more ex­pen­sive, Charger Damper-equipped Pike, though, and needs more air in it to keep it propped up on steeper trails, which means a lit­tle more chat­ter through the bar. For­tu­nately, the four-pis­ton SRAM Guide T brakes (a mid-sea­son up­grade from the Level Ts that orig­i­nally came on the S-150) boost power on long de­scents, help­ing to keep your hands that bit fresher.

While the S-150 S isn’t as re­fined as it could be, it’s not afraid of go­ing se­ri­ously fast, though the ride isn’t quite as smooth or com­fort­able as that of some of the other bikes here.

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