Whyte ELyte 150 Works review

by 8

Combined, the good motor, brilliant build kit and great frame of the Whyte ELyte 150 Works makes for a fabulous mountain biking experience. Which it should do. Because it costs ten grand.

  • Brand: Whyte
  • Product: ELyte 150 Works
  • From: Whyte Bikes
  • Price: £9,999
  • SQUIRREL_TEXT_13043532
  • Tested by: Benji for 2.5 weeks

Pros

  • Fabulously handling, slack, low and long-front-centre geometry
  • Really sorted suspension
  • Brilliant wheels and brakes

Cons

  • More dropper travel would be nice
  • Seat angle a bit slack, chainstays a bit short (for an XL)
  • £9,999

This Whyte ELyte 150 Works is an ebike that’s simultaneously middling and massive. Massive in the sense of sizing and price tag. Although five figure bikes are not all that rare these days, doesn’t mean we have to not-moan about it.

This ELyte 150 is middling because it is one of the new breed of mid-power eMTBs that are coming in around the 20kg mark. These lesser wattaged machines are sometimes called ‘SL’ ebikes. These SL eMTBs use motors from TQ, Brose, Mahle and Fazua (which is my personal favourite).

The system used on this Whyte ELyte is the Bosch Performance Line SX (not to be confused with the full-power Bosch Performance Line CX). This motor gives gives out 55Nm of torque and a theoretical peak power of 600 watts. I say theoretical because you’ll have to be burying yourself like Chris Hoy in a velodrome to reach the cadence that unlocks 600 watts. It isn’t a sit-and-lazy-crank-it-out affair.

Powering the motor is an internal battery that isn’t really removable. It’s a charge in-situ job. Which is totally fine. I don’t think there are many people who couldn’t work out a way of recharging the bike in this manner, even if it meant resorting to some extension lead stuff.

The internal battery is 400Wh capacity. This particular top-end Works version of the Whyte ELyte comes with the 250Wh piggyback battery, bringing the total capacity up to 650Wh (yay maths).

It’s worth pointing out – and praising – that you can still fit a proper water bottle in the bike whilst running the piggyback battery. There are two sets of bosses on the down tube. Muchos kudos to Whyte here.

The piggyback battery and cable adds about 1.5kg to bike’s weight (ie. 20.9kg). Stick a full 750ml water bottle on the bike and the weight goes up again (21.7kg maybe). This overall system weight is something I’ll go into more below as, for once, weight really makes a difference to the experience.

Control-wise, there’s a wireless remote adjacent to the lefthand grip (for selecting your assist level) with an LED panel on the top tube (which shows battery info and is also the on/off button). I’d say both the remote and the control panel are good but I still think Specialized’s control/display combo is the class leader here.

In terms of bike stuff (as opposed to ebike stuff), the ELyte is very Whyte. And that’s a good thing. It means the geometry is up for some radical descending, as is the suspension. Despite it being an e-bike, I’d actually say it’s also the nicest looking Whyte bike I’ve seen. There’s a level of consistency to the aesthetic that really ties the room together, if you will.

And let’s all pause for a moment and refelct upon the fact that Whyte have avoided thru-headset cable routing.

The ELyte 150 does not have 150mm of rear travel. It has 142mm of rear travel, delivered by a classic 4-bar yoke array. It’s the 150mm of fork travel that gives the bike its name number. This amount of travel puts the ELyte firmly in the trail bike genre. The geometry however, as touched upon already, is borderline enduro.

I’m going to evauluate the geometry of the bike when it’s in its Low setting (altered via offset bushing in the yoke). Whilst the bike climbs slightly better in High setting, due to an improved seat angle, it significantly reduces its capabilties on the not-climbs.

So, in Low setting this XL model sports a claimed 64° head angle (I measured it as a bit slacker), a 506mm reach, a 152mm head tube length and a BB height of… 334mm. Wow. When they say Low they really mean LOW! It’s helpful that Whyte spec short 155mm cranks from Hope on the Works version (the £7,999 ELyte 150 RSX also gets 155mm cranks but own-brand).

Turning to the back of the bike, whilst the numbers back here aren’t as ultra-progressive as some may want, there’s nothing here that is a significant problem.

The claimed (I suspect it’s actually not quite) 76.9° seat angle feels a bit ‘treading water’ inefficient when coming from steeper seat angle bikes, but it is easily offset by wanging the saddle forward on its rails. It may not be pretty, but it works.

The 450mm chain stays are fine. Personally I’d like to see a bit more length back there (to improve front-back balance and climbing chops) but at least the stays aren’t actually short-short. I imagine the smaller size frames handle even better than this long-front short-rear XL.

In a similar could-be-better vein, the 470mm seat tube does prevent the use of a longer travel dropper. Does that seat mast really have to be that tall? But, again like the stay length, this issue is not a killer blow. I could live with the 175mm-ish amount of dropper that I can eek out.

Typically, I don’t like to dwell to long on a bike’s build kit as most of the time stuff just works fine thanks. But on the Works version of the ELyte 150 there are a few items that really make the whole thing shine brighter.

Perhaps the first thing you notice when you get on the ELyte 150 Works is the brakes. Hope Tech4 V4s with 200mm rotors at either end. Wow. Totally brilliant. Such power delivered so delicately. Probably still the best disc brake around. Everything is better with great brakes. Handling, comfort, confidence, fatigue.

The next thing you notice is the Fox Factory-level suspension. Initially it feels worrying soft but then you get to the trails and you realise that there’s acres of support there. The traction afforded by this bike is utterly amazing. It’s like Velcro, except that sort of implies slowness and this bike is not slow. And don’t think that the bike is vague or stuck-to-the-floor due the suppleness. It can pop and drift upon request. The shock tune is bang-on.

The third thing you (don’t) notice is the wheelset. The Whyte TeXtreme Carbon Trail rims on Hope Pro 5 hubs accelerate quickly and just offer a really nice ride feel. They aren’t nervous or harsh or deflecty/pingy. I’m not a huge fan of the checkerboard finish or the decals but there’s no denying that they are excellent and really contribute to overall handling and feel of the bike.

Right then. On to the Bosch Performance Line SX motor. How does it ride? All in all, I’d say that the torque numbers do not lie. The 55Nm Bosch SX rides significantly more powerful than the 50Nm Specialized SL2 and (especially) the TQ HPR50 motors. But the 60Nm Fazua Ride60 still comes out top.

I’d also actually say that the way the power is delivered on the Fazua is better executed than on the Bosch SX. YMMV (literally) but I didn’t really gel with the high-cadence-compulsory vibe of the Bosch SX. Now then, this is spoiled brat nitpicking of the highest order but people like to know these things. The Bosch SX is certainly one of the better mid-power/SL motors currently available.

In terms of range, I was pleasantly surprised. With the claimed wattage on offer (and the suspicious eyebrow-raising speccing of a piggyback battery), I partly expected the MPG to be disappointing. But it wasn’t. Even with mud tyres fitted for some (most!) of the test period, it was no problem doing big rides (approaching 1,000m ascending, done entirely on highest assist level) on the Whyte ELyte 150 Works just using the internal 400Wh battery.

Range is where the Bosch SX has the edge over the Fazua Ride60 system. Not only do the piggyback batteries actually exist for the Bosch (the Fazua ones have be ‘on the way’ for months/years) but the fuel efficiency on-trail is noticeably better.

Again, the torque numbers don’t lie. Less torque equals longer battery life. Science yeah! Ebike owners will also confirm that higher cadence pedalling gets more range out of your battery. The Bosch SX kinda forces you to pedal high cadence thus the battery last longer. The Fazua will allow you to be a slow-cranker but it will hammer the battery.

It’s on climbs that mid-power/SL e-MTBs are something of mixed bag. They are clearly faster and less effort to climb on compared to a regular MTB but they don’t really seem to be able to get you up anything that a regular MTB couldn’t get you up. They just do it faster and/or easier.

They are very much not like full-power e-MTBs in this regard. Full-power e-MTBs can ride up and over things that regular bikes simply cannot.

Consequently, mid-powr/SL e-MTBs can feel a bit meh to full-power e-MTB owners. Less capable machines. Full-power e-MTBing is arguably a different sport altogether. It’s not motorsport (nowhere near) but it’s not really mountain biking either.

The thing is, in my opinion at least, a mid-powr/SL e-MTB is the best off-road bicycle experience that’s ever been invented. They might not be able to execute the daft-steep trials climbs of full-power e-MTBs but they handle far, far better everywhere else.

Basically, a 20kg mountain bike handles beautifully. And there’s the motor there to offset the weight when you need to fight gravity. Getting back on a regular 15-16kg mountain bike feels… sketchy. Frightening at times even. So much less grip and composure. And getting back on a 25kg+ full-powr e-MTB feels… well, it feels amazing but it doesn’t feel like mountain biking.

But what about full-power e-MTBs that weigh 20kg? Is there something to the reduced power/torque of mid-powr/SL e-MTBs that is intrinsic to the experience? Would introducing 85Nm into the 20kg mix foul something up? These are questions for another time.

The Whyte ELyte 150 Works is by happenstance a fascinating piece of the puzzle. In what way? Well, once it was fully laden with the piggyback battery and Fidlock bottle full of Vimto, it did seem to lose a bit of its zing. Which may sound a bit duh obvious.

But I’ve never been a weight weenie. Quite the opposite in fact. But it did make me think that there may be a tipping point (literally) with offroad bicycles (e-flavoured or otherwise). And athough it sounds conveniently ’round number-y’ I’m coming to the opinion that this weight limit is 20kg.

Once you’re into the twenties of kilograms, the experience starts to feel less and less like regular mountain biking. And more and more like a full-power e-bike running in Eco mode. This is a theory reinforced by a sub-20kg Focus Jam2 SL and a 20kg+ Specialized Levo SL2 Alloy I’m testing at the moment also.

Obviously, rider weight/fitness/strength will come into play. Stronger, heavier riders than me may be able to tip into the 20kgs a bit more.

But hey, let’s be honest here. The vast majority of my – and probably the majority of people’s – rides can easily be done with just the internal battery. If the experience gets a little bogged down on the rare occasions when you need to strap on an extra battery and a bottle, that’s not so bad really, is it?

Overall

I’m going to split this summary into two parts: The Bosch SX and The Bike.

The Bosch SX has excellent controls, display and fuel economy – which is especially nice as it means you don’t need the piggyback battery as frequently – but the power delivery was a bit too high-cadence-required for my tastes. It’s a really good system but I’d still give the nod to the Fazua Ride60 way of doing things.

The Bike then. Let’s ignore the E aspect and just treat it as ‘a mountain bike’. How did it handle? It will come as zero surprise that it was excellent. In general I thought the geometry made the Whyte ELyte 150 Works a great all-rounder with a real penchant for steep, technical descending. Just really, really sorted.

Combined, the good motor, brilliant build kit and great frame makes for a fabulous mountain biking experience. Which it should do. Because it costs ten grand. And unfortunately I don’t think you can get the same experience for much less than this astronomical figure. Yet.

Whyte ELyte 150 Works specification

  • Frame // Carbon, 142mm
  • Fork // Fox Float 36 Factory GRIP2, 150mm
  • Shock // Fox Float X Factory, 210x50mm
  • Wheels // Whyte TeXtreme Innegra infused Carbon Trail rims on Hope Pro 5 hubs
  • Front tyre // Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxGrip 29×2.5in
  • Rear tyre // Maxxis Dissector EXO+ TR MaxxTerra 29×2.4in
  • Chainset // Hope E-Bike Cranks, 155mm length, 36T
  • Drivetrain // SRAM XO T-Type AXS, 10-52T
  • Brakes // Hope Tech4 V4, 200/200mm
  • Stem // Whyte Trail 35, 32mm
  • Bars // RaceFace Next R Carbon 35, 800x20mm rise
  • Grips // Whyte Enduro Lock-on
  • Seatpost // Whyte drop.it II Adjust 170-200mm, 30.9mm
  • Saddle // Fizik Terra Aidon
  • Bottom Bracket // Bosch
  • Motor // Bosch Performance Line SX, 55Nm
  • Battery // Bosch 400Wh
  • Size tested // XL
  • Sizes available // S, M, L, XL
  • Weight // 19.4 kg (not including piggyback battery and cable)

Geometry of our size XL

  • Head angle // 64°
  • Effective seat angle // 76.9°
  • Seat tube length // 470mm
  • Head tube length // 152mm
  • Effective top tube // 649mm
  • BB height // 334mm
  • Reach // 506mm
  • Chainstay // 450mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,302mm

Sign up to receive awesome editorial content from Hannah every week.

Check your inbox for our confirmation email and click the link to activate your newsletter.
We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

More Reviews

Abus AirDrop MIPS helmet review

The Abus AirDrop MIPS is a well made and designed helmet that offers great levels of…

Book Review: Potholes and Pavements

Some years ago I met Laura Laker and she seemed to me to be an essentially…

Orbea Laufey H-LTD review

It's just as well the Orbea Laufey H-LTD handles so well because if we turn our…

Schwalbe Tacky Chan review

The Schwalbe Tacky Chan has a surprise up its sleeve: it's less draggy and tiring on…


Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Whyte ELyte 150 Works review
  • b33k34
    Full Member

    Interesting – this bikes on4for the first thats really piqued my interest since getting my Orbea Rise owner of 3 years here. Feel the same on the weight and power thing – heavier full power bikes feel like a different thing.  Whereas the Rise still feels like everything I always loved about mtb but more so. I rarely use the piggy back – it does feel like it subtly makes the bike worse with the extra weight and where it sits but it’s great to have the option for really big days out.

    It’d be really nice to see a ‘lightweight’ slightly more enduro bike on offer but maybe you lose the magic weight by up speccing everything to cope with 160 front and rear – it feels like these bikes have the quality of suspension, but not quite the travel.

    Questions.

    • Range – approaching 1000m doesn’t feel great to me.  I reckon on 1200-1400 from my Rise.  I’d be really disappointed if I was redlining at 1000.
    • You talk about high cadence but what do you mean by that (would be really useful if the manufacturers produced cadence/power  curves like suspension curves so you had an idea how the power was delivered)

     

    julians
    Free Member

    <quote>Youu talk about high cadence but what do you mean by that (would be really useful if the manufacturers produced cadence/power curves like suspension curves so you had an idea how the power was delivered)</quote>

    The bosch sx needs around 100rpm to deliver the full 600 watts

    Ben_Haworth
    Full Member

    @b33k34 – Range: that was 1,000m on full power setting for the whole ride. I’ll add that info to the review.

    comet
    Full Member

    Whilst both are distinctly “aspirational” bikes, I’d be interested to read how this compares to the Pivot Shuttle SL one of the Singletrack contributors (can’t remember who) has on long-term test.

    rickon
    Free Member

    Range – approaching 1000m doesn’t feel great to me.  I reckon on 1200-1400 from my Rise.  I’d be really disappointed if I was redlining at 1000.

    It’s really hard to compare range on eBikes, especially between motor manufacturers. My Rise settings at max are likley different to your Rise settings on max. Which means our range will be different to each other too.

    Benji…. maybe it’s worth quoting not the ‘Max’ or ‘Eco’ mode, but the Torque NM and the Wattage settings for the mode recorded. They can then be compared regardless of brand.

    It’s still a bit of a crap shoot, temperature, body weight, incline etc… all have a huge impact on battery life. It would be great to see a universal measure at some point that’s useful in the real world at comparing battery life. Lumens and hours work perfectly for torches….so….

    gravedigger
    Free Member

    It’d be really nice to see a ‘lightweight’ slightly more enduro bike on offer but maybe you lose the magic weight by up speccing everything to cope with 160 front and rear – it feels like these bikes have the quality of suspension, but not quite the travel.

    I’d hazard a guess that putting a slightly longer fork of anything with dw-link, or maybe split pivot, as rear suspension would get a long way there as anytime you see a review of a dw-link bike there are always comments about the surprisingly effective and stable rear end.

    That basically means a Pivot bike. Salsa use split pivot but don’t have a lightweight yet.

    b33k34
    Full Member

    @rickon +1 on this.  Comparisons are super hard.

    It looks like the new Orbea Rise is just what I’m asking for = 160/150 and unrestricted torque (though still slightly limited power) from the Shimano motor.

    imrobert
    Full Member

    Anyone know if the fork is the e tuned one or standard ?

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.