Whyte E-160 RSX e-MTB review – faster, further, smarter, sleeker

Whyte’s 29er Trail e-MTB gets more travel, a 750Wh battery, and Bosch smarts but has it kept its outstanding handling?

Whyte E-160 RSX
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

BikePerfect Verdict

More range from a bigger, easier to remove battery in a sleeker, stiffer frame with superb suspension and beautifully balanced handling, plus all Bosch’s latest Smarts mean Whyte’s new E-160 is one of the best all-round e-MTBs I’ve ridden. It’s not cheap though.

Pros

  • +

    Superbly poised handling balance

  • +

    Exceptional suspension performance

  • +

    Big 750Wh battery

  • +

    Bosch Smart System tech

  • +

    Excellent aggro spec

  • +

    Fully weatherproofed

Cons

  • -

    Expensive for an alloy-framed bike

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    Kiox 300 head unit is an extra upgrade

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    No mullet version of the RSX

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Whyte’s E-150 has always been one of the best 29er trail E-bikes thanks to its uniquely planted yet playful handling. With the new E-160, the innovative UK brand has managed to keep that pitch-perfect vibe alive while adding a big 750Wh battery and Bosch Smart System tech. 

They’ve used its Enduro winning experience to dial in the suspension superbly too. That means a significant step up in price even without the latest head unit though and it’s the only E-160 that doesn’t have a mullet option as standard.

Despite this, it's one of the best electric mountain bikes, keep reading to find out why.

Whyte E-160 RSX

The E-160 layout is familiar but the mainframe is all new for increased stiffness, and easier, bigger battery management (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design

While it looks similar to the Whyte E-150, the E-160 mainframe is almost entirely new. There’s a larger headtube, a reshaped top tube with a saddle gusset rather than a bracing pipe and the seat post clamp is conventional rather than internal. The downtube is also reshaped to incorporate a sliding battery rail mount that Whyte has co-developed with Bosch for easy tool-free removal of the big 750Wh battery. It also allows another bit of very clever versatility, but we can’t tell you about it until later this July. The motor mount is new too, but still keeps the finned Bosch Performance CX block in the wind for maximum cooling and rotates it upwards as well. This allows Whyte to drop the battery base right down in front of the motor for the lowest center of gravity possible. A move that’s now been copied by several other brands including the Scott Patreon.

Whyte’s signature attention to weatherproofing detail carries on with sealed cable/hose ports on the mainframe, a rubber seal around the seat post clamp and lifetime warrantied bearings throughout. The rubber ‘filler cap’ for the battery charge port is also well protected from filth. The piggyback shock on the RSX spec means you’ll need a compact bottle in a side mount (YT and Canyon both do good ones) to squeeze into the remaining space.

The back end is essentially the same as previous bikes with double-sided Clevis joints on the chainstay and seat stay pivots with a fourth linkage onto the seat tube. Travel is increased to around 153mm from 135mm and the horseshoe shock driver still has a switchable rear eyelet to alter geometry slightly too.

The head angle is actually 0.2 degrees steeper than the E-150 at 64.7 or 65.3 degrees, depending on the chip position, and the seat angle is 0.6 degrees steeper for better pedaling poise. The bottom bracket drops slightly to 333 or 338mm though despite the increased travel. Reach still sits around the 480mm mark according to a rough tape check, creating a balanced but not radical pilot position. Smaller riders or smaller back wheel fans should note that the RSX only currently comes in M, L and XL sizes with no mullet or twin 27.5in wheel options. The cheaper RS and S models have both though, with the S also getting a twin 29er option to match the RSX.

Whyte E-160 RSX

Wireless SRAM GX AXS gears complete the slicker, sleeker looking package (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Specification

While all E-160 bikes get the big 750Wh battery and latest Bosch Smart System electronics, Whyte only fit the digital remote controller, not the matching Kiox 300 head unit. That can be added as an upgrade if you want, which means more of the buttons on the left-hand bar console would be useful. We know some riders prefer riding without a screen though and all data, navigation, motor tuning, and even security features can be controlled and viewed through Bosch’s impressively comprehensive and intuitive Flow smartphone app.

Whyte has loaded the RSX with a full set of my favorite aggro componentry too. The Fox 38 Float Performance Elite fork has high and low-speed compression and damping adjustment plus all the latest chassis tweaks. The Float X damper at the rear has a custom tune honed by Whyte’s head designer Sam Shucksmith, who is also the current UK National Enduro champion and overall UK National Enduro series winner for the past two years. Gears are SRAM GX AXS wireless, brakes are SRAM Code RSC with reach and bite point adjust, and a 220mm rotor on the front. 

Wheels are likely to be Hope Fortus on UK bikes and DT Swiss Hybrid sets on international bikes. The tires are the legendary Maxxis Assegai MaxxGrip in 29 x 2.5in EXO+ spec up front and a DHR 29 x 2.4in in MaxTerra compound and reinforced DD carcass at the rear. The 780mm bar is Race Face Turbine, 35mm stem is Race Face Atlas, and the dropper post is the super reliable Crank Brothers Highball with Fizik Terra Aidon E-bike saddle on top. Grips are another custom design from Sam Shucksmith with soft compound and bulged ends for maximum control. As much as its functionally flawless and metal definitely gives the most durable results, the lack of carbon on frame or spec sheet, or gold anodizing on the suspension does make the £8k price tag look steep though.

Whyte E-160 RSX

The suspension kinematics give the bike a positive grippy pedaling characteristic (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

It only takes a few meters and the first turn or rock or root section to make that price seem totally reasonable in terms of ride quality though. Whyte’s unique rolled motor design has always given them an edge when it comes to putting weight as low as possible for a double handling win. The heavy belly gives unshakeable stability for carving or drifting flat-out turns, which contrasts with how easy it is to flick the lighter top of the bike over in the first place. The super-short stem means counter steer flick initiation or tweaking lines for traction halfway through a featherweight finesse move not an awkward heave. 

In other words, even with the bigger battery, the impeccable balance of frame and fork geometry is still as pitch-perfect as ever. That makes the E-160 both massively assured and calmly centered when all hell is breaking loose, but also pop and play agile like a far lighter bike. Most of all it just feels totally natural and vice free at all speeds, with none of the wrestling, wrangling, and high siding threats that a lot of higher center of gravity rigs throw at a rider.

The suspension is nothing short of sensational either. The latest Fox 38 offers a brilliant balance of sensitivity and support from its slurping and squelching VVT damping and it's structurally accurate without battering your palms and arms either. Sam and the Whyte team’s (two of whom are also regional and age group enduro champions) work on the rear end is the real masterpiece though. They've deliberately given the E-160 a positive pedaling kinematic (they actually tested early bikes with ballast, not batteries to dial in the ideal anti-squat) rather than a wallowing setup that needs extra damping support. This means they can use a very light compression tune, keeping the back wheel constantly connected with flawless fluidity. The damping and progression mean some real mid-stroke meat for pushing through corners and pumping back slopes. The extra piggyback damper volume helps the RSX suck up serious cases and slams without flinching however long the descent. 

Whyte E-160 RSX

160mm travel Fox 38 Float Performance Elite fork, MaxxGrip Maxxis Assegai tire and DT Swiss or Hope wheels lead the charge (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

That pedal-biased architecture means it grips and drives extremely well if you’re the kind of masochist or ultra mileage rider who likes to put in a lot of effort on the climbs themselves. The new seat angle means you don’t have to shuffle forward on the saddle as obviously on really steep crawls as before either. What’s perhaps most impressive is that the suspension doesn’t need you to be a demon on the adjuster dials either, it put me in the sweet spot straight away and again it just felt overwhelmingly natural and easy to ride. 

While several big battery bikes I’ve tested recently have also given me a big battering, Whyte has clearly spent a lot of time tuning the stiffness/flex balance of the tube set. There’s certainly no shortage of precision and authority to make the most of the 38 and the sticky front tire, but hands stay fresh on the 31.8mm bars and fat grips all day. It also means the whole bike from tire compound to carcass to suspension and up through the frame to the contact points feels like one, consistently predictable entity, not a mix of different component characters. 

Apart from the lack of head unit, there’s nothing to upgrade on the spec either. From tires to wheels, stem, and even the ‘E-bike specific’ Fizik saddle, the RSX is ready to not just go, but go super hard right from the shop floor. And while that price does seem steep, don’t forget you will be buying a Whyte from a proper dealer not just unpacking a box, which should mean valuable long-term backup in the rare event of a Bosch or other problem.

Verdict

Whyte’s 29er wheeled, hardcore trail e-MTB came into this year still holding its crown as one of the best handling powered bikes around. The new E-160 increases travel, battery size, and sophistication and give more rider room and electronic upgrade potential. It’s got a killer spec and the suspension tune is truly phenomenal however hard you ride. Most of all this beautifully blended package is just super easy, natural, and hugely entertaining to rave around the trails on, for longer than you could before.

That does come at a serious increase in price though and without the wheel options of the cheaper RS and S models, which are definitely well worth a look if the simpler suspension is fine with you.

Tech Specs: Whyte E-160 RSX

  • Discipline: Trail/Enduro
  • Price: $TBC / £7,999 
  • Head angle: 64.7-degree
  • Frame material: Alloy
  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 26.2kg
  • Wheel size: 29in x 2.5in
  • Suspension (front/rear): Fox 38 Float Performance Elite 160mm travel, 44mm offset/ Fox Float X Performance Elite 153mm travel
  • Motor and battery: Bosch Performance CX, 750Wh battery
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle AXS 10–50T 12-speed wireless mech, shifter, and cassette
  • Cranks: Race Face 34T chainset
  • Brakes: SRAM CODE RSC brakes with 220/200mm rotors
  • Cockpit: Race Face Turbine 780 x 31.8mm alloy bar and Atlas 35 x 31.8mm stem
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss HX1700 wheels
  • Tires: Maxxis Assegai MaxxGrip Exo+ WT 29 x 2.5in front and Maxxis DHR MaxxTerra DD WT 29 x 2.4in rear tires
  • Seatpost: Crank Brothers Highline 150mm dropper post
  • Saddle: Fizik Terra Aidon saddle

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg