UK brand Whyte are well-known for their high quality frames with radical geometry, if you didn't know that already take a look at this one - the Whyte G-160 Works is a real monster.
We absolutely love the way it doesn't aim to please everyone, its purpose is crystal clear, to dominate descents.
The not-so-minor details
Whyte G-160 Works
Thoroughly stable descender.
Finely crafted and finished frame.
What is it, who’s it for?
The G-160 Works is a 13.2kg big-travel enduro bike with seriously aggressive geometry and 160mm of travel. It has the longest top tube measurement of any bike we’ve ever tested here, 636mm long for the medium size frame optimised for use with a super-short 32mm stem. Geometry aside the G-160 is built for speed and steep terrain with a burly parts spec and a single-ring specific frame design.
Take a close look and you’ll certainly be impressed with the quality of the classy finish and the all the pivots and suspension linkages look stout, add in the fact that the suspension bearings are backed by a lifetime warranty, you’ll certainly have confidence in the construction and ability to handle all types of weather.
Well sealed: The cables are internally housed but also sealed to keep out any contaminates like water and mud from entering the frame, as is the seatpost with a rubber seal keeping the muck out. The pivots on the linkage are covered with caps, hidden away from the elements too.
Single ring specific: No double chainrings here, yay! Whyte have forgone the option of multiple chainrings and front derailleurs in favour of a full width main pivot and symmetrical chain stays for a stiffer rear end, and they’s succeeded big time, there’s a real sturdiness with this bike.
Boost: To increase stiffness without packing on the pounds The G-160 uses Boost hub spacing front and rear. The wider hub flanges make for a stiffer wheel and give the frame designers more space to work with when aiming for a short length chain stay.
Four bar suspension: The Quad-4 suspension linkage with its compact linkage drives the rear shock via a direct block-mount, and a pivot on the chain stay gives the rear axle the desired axle path.
Integrated seat post clamp: Fastening the post is Whyte’s neat and tidy ‘Intergrip’ seat post clamp in place of a traditional collar and clamp design. The fastener is rated at 6NM of bolt tension, which wasn’t quite enough to stop ours from twisting between our legs, and tightening any further would squeeze on the RockShox Reverb post and prohibit its movement. The remedy was a dab of friction paste on the post, and all was tight and secure from then on.
Ain’t no camel: We’re not sure what size water bottle could fit in this bike, there’s very little room for one with the rear shock piggyback reservoir taking up a lot of space, we tried a few combinations of small bottles and adjustable cages, no luck. It was Camelbak all the way for us with this one.
The G-160 comes in two models both available here in Australia, the Works and the $6175 G-160 RS. The Works is Whyte’s enduro racing team’s replica spec, with the parts selected straight out of the fashion pages of today’s enduro racing scene.
SRAM: A mixture of XX1 and X01 handles the drivetrain with a 32T direct mount chainring gives a nice low range of gears, and is so damn silent to pedal. Despite the symmetrical chain stay resting quite close to the chain, it’s a silent riding bike with little chain slap noises resonating through the aluminium frame.
The Guide RSC brakes served up loads of power and sharing space on the bars with only a SRAM shifter and Reverb button via MatchMaker clamps, the cockpit is clean and uncluttered.
No guide: With no chain guide fitted as standard, we were a little apprehensive when the trails turned ultra rough, and sure enough we dropped a chain when we really needed it most. While the SRAM single-ring drivetrain is so amazing with chain retention, this is a bike that we really want to push hard, so its definitely a candidate for added security. We’d suggest fitting one, the weight and appearance sacrifice is worth it.
RockShox: A Pike RCT3 fork and Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair rear shock are a perfect match and suited this bike’s appetite for gravity-fed gnar. The fork is super-wide in stance and actually takes a bit getting used to the sight of it, the Boost hub spacing pushes the front hub 10mm wider than a regular setup. This particular Pike is also compatible with the SRAM Torque Cap hub system, while not used with the SRAM Rail 40 wheels, we believe you can retro-fit the Torque Caps to the SRAM hubs, further bolstering the connection between fork and hub.
We installed two Bottomless Tokens into the fork to help the 160mm of travel ride a little higher and feel a little ‘poppier’, but didn’t have any volume spacers on hand for the Monarch, though we’d certainly experiment with them if we had this bike on test for longer to help it match how we setup the fork.
Hope: It’s rare to see Hope components as a stock item on a bike, especially in Australia. The iconic British brand handle the bottom bracket and headset with their stainless steel bearings and high reputation for tight sealing and long-lasting durability. A nice touch indeed!
Maxxis combo: The combination of a meaty High Roller on the front and the low-profile Minion SS out the back is growing in popularity for the racers, the lighter rear tyre loses the tall centre knobs but retains plenty of chunky tread on the side for cornering traction. While we certainly appreciated its fast acceleration we’d be sure to keep a matching High Roller rear tyre on hand to match the front when the trails are steeper and the dirt is softer.
Riding the G-160 Works
We’ve been spending plenty of time on 160mm travel bikes lately, the growth in popularity of the enduro race scene has given real momentum to big travel bikes with wide capabilities. All this wave of enduro bikes has breathed new life into suburban downhill tracks all over the place, just without the logistics and hassle of driving back up the hill.
There’s a lot to like about this bike, but the most prominent feature is its frame geometry and how it impacts the ride character on the trail. The G-160 is the new version of last years G-150, for 2016 Whyte went longer in travel and added length to an already stretched out front end. Long bikes run the risk of become too hard to manage at anything but top-speed, but with component manufacturer Easton developing a ridiculously short 32mm stem (used with the oversize 35mm diameter bar) the bike is able to maintain good overall reach length.
What does such a long front end do? Well, with that much bike in front of you there’s stability in spades, get it up to speed and you’ll feel seriously comfortable. With that comfort comes confidence, and then you begin to go faster and faster!
Climbing: The Quad-4 rear suspension is nice and stable under pedalling and with great access to the Monarch’s compression lever the G-160 resists robbing you of pedalling energy well, but holy-moly does it take some focus and patience to climb singletrack on…
Our first ride on this bike began with a climb, and believe us we were not exactly singing the Whyte’s praises along the way up! With so much bike in front of you it takes great care to steer it where you want it to go when spinning up a climb. The short stem reacts quickly to your steering input, almost too quickly at times, we often found ourselves chasing the front wheel with little warning. We ended up experimenting with less sag in the rear shock than at first to help it ride a little hight in the rear, a big help for the climbs.
Get up and out of the saddle and it’ll happily lunge forward with decent efficiency, Whyte have done a good job keeping the handlebars at a manageable height too, so at least you’re not going to loop-out backwards when the inclines are tough.
Put it this way, with such descending prowess, we’d be dreaming not to expect losing a little ground on the climbs. It’s the type of bike that you’re best off sitting down and patiently spinning your way up to the top, or take a fire-road climb option if there is one.
Cornering: Best made at speed, the G-160 loves a fast and open corner and promotes you to push your comfort zone to hit turns harder and faster. Shifting your weight over the front end pushing the big teeth of the High Roller front tyre into the dirt results in oodles of traction and a solid brace for absorbing impacts with your arms.
The 160mm of rear suspension feels very linear, probably a little too much for our liking on the flatter trails, especially after we’d installed two tokens in the forks. It’s a real ground hugger, glued to the dirt with such responsive and supple suspension, not the most spritely at jumping around or last moment line choice changes. Pick your line early on, and hold on tight.
We’ve been talking a lot about the long front end, but the wheelbase overall isn’t excessively long, thanks to a very impressively short rear centre. The chainstays measure 425mm, that’ll please the geometry chart nerds, as well as letting the G-160 turn tighter corners or slide the rear wheel around a bit easier. The low profile tread rear tyre adds to the cornering agility, a little forward weight shift and tap of the rear brake will have the rear end sliding consistently around the outside of the turn nicely.
Descending: Now this is what the G-160 lives for! We got the suspension dialled and we trimmed the bars (sorry, Whyte!) down from a shoulder-straining 800mm to a more agile and tree friendly 760mm, and we really began to relish in this bike’s descending capabilities. Once we accepted our frustrations with its arduous climbing we really enjoyed the feeling of being at the top of a climb, and ready to descend what lay ahead.
Taking hard landings and big impacts on the chin, the uber-plush 160mm of travel didn’t flinch one bit, keeping us pinned and riding fast when gravity was on your side. Under brakes the High Roller front tyre really made sure that you kept your speed under control, but the rear tyre wouldn’t quite bite the same, sliding across the top if the soil with less penetration.
Shove the rear wheel sideways and you’ll feel its solid chassis resound with a positive thud rather than a wobble or shudder that some of the lighter carbon frame bikes can. This bike made us love aluminium again, showing if it’s done well there’s plenty of merit sticking with the classic metal over the flashy carbon.
This segment of the market is so hot right now, and rightly so it’s on fire with so many amazing bikes pushing the boundaries to strike the best balance of descending, climbing, agility, efficiency, durability etc etc…
The Whyte sits right at the top of the enduro pile with its mighty aggressive geometry, close alternatives that we’ve had good experiences with too could be one of these bikes that we’ve previously reviewed on Flow:
While we did have our frustrations with this monster of a bike wrangling it up the singletrack climbs, we absolutely loved the way it shreds the descents. It’s a seriously well-made bike littered with unique features and quality finishing elements, and the British heritage comes through strong.
The Whyte G-160 Works has massive appeal for a rider that knows what they want, can forego all-rounder capabilities and appreciates ultimate build quality.