Whyte has just publicly revealed its 2024 bike lineup following a behind-closed-doors event in Bristol (UK) a couple of weeks ago. But along with very impressive full production models of its brand new E-Lyte three-model range of e-MTBs and the RHeO line up of electric urban bikes (bar the RHeO 1 which is purely human powered), there were only four other conventionally powered bikes in production for 2024.
At first I wondered if there was another press event happening that would cover the other model ranges, but after checking with Whyte, a representative confirmed that they have axed every single one of those bikes.
Apart from the new RHeO 1, the remaining conventionally powered bikes are all MTBs; two hardtails – the 529 and 629 – and two full-suspension trail bikes – the T-140 S and T-160 RS. The rest of the existing MTB range, plus the entire gravel, leisure, commuter/city, and junior trail bike ranges have all been culled. That adds up to a massive 32 different models getting the chop – and that's without counting the different wheel-size MTB options.
This is a huge blow for those who've enjoyed pedaling Whyte's regular bikes over the brand's 22 years, and here at Bike Perfect, we're particularly gutted to lose the G-180 enduro bike and the capable 909 X and 905 hardtails.
It's undoubtedly a bold move for Whyte. But given the tough times surrounding the bike industry as a whole at the moment and the massive glut of bikes that brands are struggling to shift, this range simplification could well prove to be very savvy.
That said though, while Whyte has axed all those conventional bikes and streamlined its e-MTB offerings with less model tiers and only one wheel size choice per range (29-inch for everything bar the mullet wheeled E-180), its e-bike range has actually expanded with the new released models. The E-Lyte e-MTB has three tiers (additional lower spec options may be available in the future), while the RHeO electric line-up is already comprehensive with six different options.
So rather than merely simplifying thing as a cost and risk saving measure, does the 2024 announcement reveal Whyte's first steps in following in MTB brands such as Haibike and Rotwild which are now exclusively e-bike only? I put the question to Whyte and this was the response.
"As you have noted, for 2024, we’ve condensed and focused the range with an increased bias toward electric MTBs. According to our internal sales and marketing data, unfortunately, there continues to be a decline in mechanical MTB sales. In contrast, though, eMTB sales have continued to grow since 2019. A recent mid-year Bicycle Association report reflects this trend in the wider industry also.
"We’re not going fully electric, though. Some very popular and key mechanical MTB models are featured in the range, such as the 529 and 629 hardtails, T-140 29 S trail bike, and T-160 RS all-mountain/enduro model."
Whyte was keen to point out that it's offering better value for money on its remaining conventional bikes too.
"Recognizing that there is still demand among both experienced riders and newer riders entering the sport, we’ve worked hard to increase the value of these models. We’ve managed to maintain or even increase spec levels while slashing suggested retail prices by up to £1300. For example, the T-140 29 S retailed at £3,299 in 2023 and is now £1,999 for 2024, while the T-160 RS retailed at £4,199 in 2023 and will retail at SRP £2,999 for 2024."
The fact that post-Covid supply chain issues are no longer in play is a good reason why bikes could (and in most cases should) be cheaper for 2024, though it's of course really good to see that Whyte is cutting prices and boosting spec rather than increasing profits. The price of Whyte's bikes across the board now look extremely competitive. Just compare the E-Lyte 150 Works with the Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL2 S-Works, both of which are capable and lightweight 2024 model year e-MTBs – but admittedly the Kenevo boasts 20mm more travel. While the spec is most definitely comparable, the Specialized bike costs a huge £2,500 more in the UK.
While we're on the subject of Specialized, it seems to be a brand that is doing the opposite of condensing the models and different options it offers, as in certain areas, such as XC, it's currently expanding the number of choices available.
To answer the question posed earlier, are Whyte on the road to full electric? Well, the data quoted by the company would seem to suggest it. The Bicycle Association report mentioned is interesting too, as during the 2024 presentation Whyte staff used the report to compare the German e-MTB market – where 90 percent of all MTBs sold are electric – to things in Britain where that figure is 13 percent. So it looks like Whyte is betting on the UK situation becoming more like the German one over the coming years and it's going to be fascinating to see whether that's proved right or not.