As EWS stages grow more technical, race focussed bikes are getting longer-legged. 170 mm is the new 160 mm and the latest batch of long-travel big-hitters are just as happy attaching a number board as throwing down in the bike parks. We test the Whyte G-170 RS, their mid-range, mid-priced charger.
Whyte have some great bikes in their current portfolio, but until now, we have not tested their big-hitting G-170. Showing the progress of the sport, we have seen the G-150 grow first to a G-160 and now we have the G-170, 170 mm of potent suspension. Whyte have always maintained a strong performance focus, working closely with their race team to tweak and refine their geometry ethos. The G-170 is targeted firmly at gravity focussed riders and racers, with a no-nonsense build kit and ability to fit either an air-shock or coil. The £3799 G-170 RS is the thinking racers build, forgoing the carbon wheels and XO1 drivetrain of the significantly more expensive Works model, but investing where the money has the biggest impact on performance – the suspension.
The Whyte G-170 RS in detail
Fork RockShox Lyrik RC, 27.5″ 170 mm
Rear shock RockShox Deluxe RT3 170 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide R 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle, 12 Speed
Crankset SRAM Descendent Carbon Eagle GXP 32T
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 150 mm
Stem Whyte Gravity 40 mm
Handlebar Whyte Custom Alloy 6061, 15mm Rise 780 mm
Tires Maxxis High Roller II TR 2.4″/Maxxis Minion SS 2.3″
Wheelset WTB STs i29
Geometry of the Whyte G-170 RS
With a 65° head angle, the G-170 is on point for a hard-hitting enduro bike. The G-170 RS is available in two sizes only, medium and large and both have a 330 mm bb height which is ground skimmingly low. The 628 mm and 637 mm stacks are relatively tall for a 27.5”, putting the rider in a powerful, upright position, great for steeper trails. The 75° seat tube and 458 mm or 479 mm reach provide a spacious seated position – though not as extreme as previous Whyte bikes like the G-160. 430 mm chainstays are similar to many big-hit bikes in this travel range, favouring pop and ‘chuckability’ rather than plough-the-road stability. The G-170 is quite a tall bike, the top tube cuts under the rider with a standover height of 849 mm, but this does open up space for a bigger coil shock and a water bottle, and the actual seat mast is low – even our hobbit proportioned testers could get full travel from the dropper post.
Specification of the Whyte G-170 RS
Specification wise, as a ‘race at weekends, shred with mates in the week’ bike there is little we would change on the Whyte G-170 RS. The RockShox suspension performs faultlessly and the confident Lyrik RC and Deluxe RT3 make a great match to the frame, no fuss, just business. The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is a real treat at this price point, performing well with a huge range. We have had a great experience running WTB ST i29 rims on previous test bikes, the 29 mm inner width holds a tyre well and has proven up to some tough love. The 780 mm 6061 Whyte bar is comfortable with a nice sweep and proved its strength as we buried it into a tree trunk, twice. Only the SRAM Guide R brakes reign in the fun, they are fine trail brakes and do perform very well, but even with the 200 / 180 mm rotors, they feel at the edge of their limit, and sometimes over when at speed. The SRAM Code R would be a better match for the bike.
Riding the Whyte G-170 RS
Riding the Whyte G-170 RS, it does not take long to work out that this is a gravity focussed bike, climbing with the steady pace that indicates it will not disappoint on the way down. A bike like this is never going to be dynamite uphill, but with the large range of the GX Eagle drivetrain the G-170 hauls up steep gradients comfortably. Long hills are relaxed affairs, the comfortable cockpit gives good breathing room and the Quad 4 suspension is very stable around the SAG point with little influence from the pedals, the adjustable platform on the Deluxe RC3 is not needed at all.
Rolling into the descent, the suspension tune feels sporty, like race car suspension, there’s no wallow or vagueness, instead it’s firm and progressive in that way that you know it will sing at speed, and boy can it scream! With the throttle wide open the Whyte G-170 RS feels powerful, stiff and supportive; holding a line with unruffled composure. The RockShox suspension is well suited to the bike, silently offering up huge levels of grip and support through rock gardens and chunder. The G-170 simply demolishes the straights between the corners, thumping through whatever gets in the way. It’s not bad in the turns either, the short chainstays mean you have to work more over the front of the bike and drive it hard but it will dance if the rider is suitably athletic. The tallish standover and ‘true’ sizing will suit taller riders most, while the low BB makes it easy to angulate through the turns. While the Minion SS is a very specific tyre, it’s well chosen for a ‘race’ focussed bike, what it lacks in straight line braking traction it makes up for in fierce rolling speed, and once laid on its side, grips like wolverine on velcro.
You can tell the Whyte G-170 RS is designed in the UK, there’s enough clearance to squeeze a London bus between the tyre and chainstays.
But what about the Whyte S-150?
This review left us somewhat at a dilemma, as the G-170 has a stablemate, the S-150, and what a bike it is! The S-150 is Whyte’s do-anything, kick-ass 150 mm 29er, and it punches way above its paygrade. Trading a little in travel for the confidence of bigger wheels, the S-150 is so good that it will happily go toe-to-toe with the big G-170 on most trails, while also being more fun on day-to-day riding. If you’re looking for an all rounder with enough potency to enter the odd race, the S-150 is the better, more versatile bike. However, if you find yourself more on full-bore DH trails, EWS races or bike parks, the G-170 has the extra muscle to push the limit.
One for racers and white-knuckle descenders, the Whyte G-170 RS is a potent race-weapon, and the ‘hardcore’ choice in the range. Aside from a brake upgrade, there is nothing that we would change for a season in between the tapes. Ride it slowly or on mellow terrain and it will be underwhelming, but if you have the skills to unleash the beast, the G-170 delivers a firm uppercut of fun.
More information on the Whyte website
Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.
Words & Photos: