The Whyte G-170C RS 29 v2 is our Enduro Bike of the Year for 2020. When the dirt had finally settled after mile upon mile of natural trail and high-speed bike park tracks, it was the G-170C that edged it and had to take the top spot.
We were looking for a seriously capable bike that was built to hold it’s own when tackling near full-on downhill tracks, but still remained lively and fun when the going isn’t quite so steep. Even with between 150-170mm of travel, we needed it to handle the climb back up the hill without much fuss or any unnecessary effort. Yes, this is a big ask but that’s what’s expected of the best enduro bikes out there.
We back-to-back tested 10 of the most exciting enduro bikes that ranged from £3700-£4500 on a wide variety of trails, hammering them over rock and root until we had a winner. After testing had finished, it was the Whyte G-170C RS 29er v2 that consistently delivered a confident ride but always managed to keep things fun and lively.
- How we tested Bike of the Year 2020 | The inside story from our test team
- Bike of the Year 2020 winners announced | Cannondale, Propain and Whyte take top prizes
Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 frame and suspension details
Whyte’s enduro bikes have steadily been developing over the years, but, unusually, the geometry has become a little more reserved as things have progressed.
That’s because the G-160, which we last tested in 2017, had a massive (for the time) reach but dinky little chainstays. However, the latest big wheeler, the G-170C RS 29er V2, offers a more centred ride position and boasts even more travel.
The G-170C uses a carbon fibre front triangle and an aluminium alloy rear end. Aesthetically, the G-170C won’t win over everyone due to some of its more unusual lines, but I think the frame shape grows on you.
Looks aside, the rear end uses Whyte’s ‘Single Chain Ring’ concept that’s designed to exclusively use just one ring up front.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 is part of our annual Bike of the Year test and our Enduro Bike of the Year winner.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
Whyte claims this symmetrical, dedicated 1x design boosts stiffness thanks to the broader main pivot placement. While it’s something many brands now do, Whyte was one of the first to commit to single ring drivetrains many years ago.
Along with single rings, Whyte also stands by threaded bottom brackets, which should keep things creak free for longer (than press fit units) and they are generally easier to work on.
Internal routing keeps the tubes clutter free and the rubber grommets that guide hoses and cables into the frame are reassuringly sturdy and steadfast.
There’s ISCG 05 chainguide tabs, should you want to fit a guide for a little extra piece of mind, and room in the front triangle for a bottle. The neatly integrated seat clamp is a nice touch too.
The 165mm of rear wheel travel is delivered via Whyte’s four-bar linkage design and controlled using a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock that bolts directly to a shock yoke at its base.
Whyte has designed the back-end of the G-170C to work with air or coil shocks – which I can confirm it does.
Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 geometry
Whyte only offers the G-170C 29er in two sizes (the 650b version of the G-170 comes in three) and the 29in model is only available in carbon.
Sizing may be a little limiting then, but at least the G-170C 29er sports a reasonably short 432mm seat tube on the medium tested here, and a 457mm number on the size large.
So if you do think you’re between sizes you could potentially size up, though the tall standover height might limit this.
I’m 172cm but have short legs. The 844mm standover on the medium I tested didn’t really worry me, but it’s worth noting that I had no clearance when straddling the top tube. Other testers were more concerned, though.
In terms of sizing, my medium test bike offers up a reach of 449mm – not crazy long, but still roomy enough for this size of bike – and a 435mm chainstay length.
Compared to the G-160 I mentioned earlier, which had a reach of 479mm and a 420mm chainstay, the latest G-170C 29er puts you in a far more centred position between the wheels.
The head angle is a slack 64.5 degrees while the effective 75-degree seat angle isn’t as steep as some of its direct competitors. In a bid to boost corner carving potential, the Whyte’s bottom bracket sits just 339mm off the floor.
Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 geometry (based on size M)
- Seat angle: 75 degrees
- Head angle: 64.5 degrees
- Seat tube length: 43.2cm / 17.01in
- Top tube (effective): 60.4cm / 23.78in
- Chainstay: 43.5cm / 17.13in
- Wheelbase: 1,224mm / 48.19in
- Head tube length: 12cm / 4.72in
- Bottom bracket height: 33.9cm / 13.35in
- Standover: 84.4cm / 33.23in
- Stack: 63.2cm / 24.88in
- Reach: 44.9cm / 17.68in
Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 specifications
While the G-170C RS 29er isn’t cheap, compare it to bikes with a similar intention and you’ll soon see just how dialled the spec actually is.
In fact, it’s solid enough that I’d happily race on it without changing a single component. Well, I might change the grips because I’m not a fan of their shape or feel, but that’s about it.
For starters, the RockShox Lyrik fork that sits up front and delivers 160mm of travel uses the more refined Charger 2.1 RC damper (over the older Charger or Motion Control damper from the same brand and found on a lot of bikes at this price). It uses the shorter offset in a bid to keep the steering nice and calm when things get rowdy.
It also gets SRAM Code R brakes with big 200mm rotors, which offer plenty of power and control when you really need it most.
SRAM also provides the gearing in the shape of GX Eagle 1×12, which is decent enough when you consider the rest of the build kit.
A 160mm travel dropper from Bike Yoke helps to keep your saddle out of the way on the descents and worked without issue throughout months of testing.
Another highlight worth mentioning is tyre choice.
No, the Maxxis Minnion DHF/Aggressor combo isn’t the best for sloppy, off-piste conditions, but the grip is consistent and predictable on just about every other surface, including rocks and roots.
It’s a real plus that Whyte has chosen the tough DoubleDown casing at the rear and the slightly lighter (but still pretty tough) EXO+ casing up front. The tyres come set up tubeless as standard, which is a real bonus.
Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 ride impressions
I rode this bike on a mix of forested off-piste, natural steep and rooty trails, fast, rocky bikepark tracks and Spanish boulder fields to get the best feel for it.
This variation in terrain allowed me to get a feel for how the G-170C 29er handled the sort of very broad spectrum of terrain you’re likely to encounter in a typical enduro race.
I’ve also spent a year on this bike’s predecessor which uses the same frame and a very similar (but not identical) build kit.
Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 climbing performance
As with many bikes of this nature, their main focus is generally on how well they handle when descending. But enduro bikes still need to winch their way back up the hill.
On the climbs, the G-170C 29er offers a roomy enough seated position thanks to its 604mm effective top tube and the back end of the bike remains relatively calm while spinning in the easier gears.
High-torque, slow speed efforts on steeper pitches will make the shock compress and back end hunker down, so I found it easier to flick the shock’s low speed compression lever to fully firm things up and save on energy.
Compared to the likes of a GeoMetron G16 or Starling Twist, which boast super-steep 77 degrees effective seat tube angles, the Whyte does feel like it would benefit from being a touch steeper.
Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 descending performance
Get on the gas with the G-170C 29er pointed down the hill and this thing flies. While it doesn’t feel like it’ll smooth the terrain out quite as well as Specialized’s latest Enduro, it still manages to exude confidence no matter what lies in its path.
Yes, there’s a touch more feedback through the back end than there is on the Enduro, but the G-170C still manages to exude a level of composure that’s seriously hard to come by.
Where the G-170C 29er has the edge over its rivals, though, is that while it manages to remain surefooted and stable in really ugly terrain, it retains a lively, agile feel that makes it a serious amount of fun to ride on just about any trail.
That’s partly down to how the back end of the bike dishes out the 165mm of travel in such a measured and controlled manner.
There’s a supple initial touch to the first part of the travel that no doubt helps with keeping the rear tyre glued to the trail, but get into the mid-stroke of the shock and there’s a decent level of support to let you really load the bike and pump it through undulating sections of trail, generating speed that the G-170C is reluctant to give up easily.
There’s then enough progression at the end of the stroke to comfortably handle seriously hefty hits. I only ever really felt the bike heavily bottom out when tackling a lengthy rock gap on a rather chunky section of trail.
Even then it wasn’t particularly harsh. If that happens more regularly, there’s still the option of adding more volume spacers to the Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock and increasing progressivity.
Suspension balance front to rear is great too and coupled with the G-170C 29er’s great proportions, helps to make it an easy bike to just jump on and ride fast from the get-go. There’s nothing quirky or weird and setup is properly pain free and straightforward, which is another big bonus.
When tackling roughed up, rutted tracks with awkward root spreads, I was consistently impressed by the Lyrik fork that sits up front.
It’ll sink into its travel easily enough and manages to balance support and comfort really well, even on repeated chunky hits.
Paired with the predictable Maxxis rubber up front, and the low 339mm bottom bracket height, confidence through the turns was at an all-time high in nearly every situation.
It helps that, even with all that travel, the G-170C 29er retains an urgency to its handling and is eager to accelerate out of turns, feeling agile enough to pop and boost from line to line without too much rider effort.
That means it doesn’t feel sluggish or unwieldy even on mellower trails, further underlining its solid, all-round credentials.
The solid, well-shaped own brand bar and stumpy stem boost steering confidence while the Code R brakes offer smooth, well-controlled power no matter how damp the conditions.
On the whole, the G-170C 29er is an incredibly capable bike with a solid spec at a great price. It really is a tough one to beat.
Whyte G-170C RS 29er V2 bottom line
Whyte’s G-170C RS 29er manages to keep things lively and fun but deliver a hellishly fast ride if you’re willing to push it.
The RS version tested here offers a great spec for the money and with some seriously well thought out component choices.
In the hills, it’s confident handling, urgency and balance really do help set it apart from the competition.
|Weight||15.24kg (M) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||M, L|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM GX Eagle 1x12|
|Tyres||Maxxis Minion DHF EXO+ 3C MaxxTerra 29x2.5in WT (fr) and Maxxis Aggressor DD 29x2.5in WT (r)|
|Shifter||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Seatpost||Bike Yoke Divine, 160mm|
|Rear shock||RockShox Super Deluxe Select+|
|Headset||FSA No.2 Orbit|
|Bottom bracket||SRAM DUB|
|Handlebar||Whyte alloy, 780mm|
|Frame||Carbon front triangle, aluminium alloy rear, 165mm travel|
|Fork||RockShox Lyrik Select+, 160mm travel|
|Cassette||SRAM XG-1275 10-50T|
|Brakes||SRAM Code R, 200mm rotors|
|Wheels||Race Face AR-30 rims on Alloy hubs|