Pros; Groupset, hydraulic disc brakes, comfortable frame, well-priced
Cons; Slow on the climbs (read on for a full description), no mudguard mounts. Handlebars
I’ve been testing the Whyte Stowe for 3 weeks now and its been used almost daily. At first, I started to use it for my commutes, then as transport to watch the WRC over several day an then as a road bike for training. Rides have been anything from 10 minutes to over 2 hours.
The bike weighs under 21lbs when it’s kitted out with 2 cages and 105 pedals, slightly on the heavier side for a carbon bike but the bike initially felt good. It picked up speed well and the ride felt stable (helped by the long 54cm top-tube on a small sized frame). The first night of the test was raining, so I was grateful for the disc brakes on the damp roads and in the traffic.
I used the bike for some short commutes and I enjoyed riding it. It took me a while to get used to the double-tap Sram gears but after over a decade of Shimano, this was always going to be the case. My first ride over an hour left me puzzled. The frame was quite odd, not stiff enough to be a race frame (Whyte class it as Road Race) and not comfortable enough to rival the likes of a Cannondale Synapse or Scott Solace. I concluded that I must be a fast pace winter trainer, until it was pointed out that it could not take mudguards.
Hmmm, putting that to one side, I continued to use the Stowe and enjoyed riding it. For people looking for a reasonably fast bike for rides of a couple of hours, then it’s one worth considering, although I would change the tyres to something a little nicer. In the third week of testing, I took it out on a freezing cold morning and went into a short, steep climb. the power just faded away. It did this on all the steep climbs that day ,just when you popped out of the saddle to put some of the power down, it just faded away. Not great.
This ride took me to the Wirral Way, a muddy gravel road that follows an old railway line, so flat and straight. What a machine! It flew along the gravel road and just for fun, I went out of my way to ride several more sections of mud/gravel. It was awesome, just enough flex to cope with the bumps without loss of power. Whyte have ended up making a gravel racer and what a gravel racer it is. With 28mm tyres on, this would easily hold it owns along gravel/dirt roads.
– – – –
Overall, if I wanted a bike that I could take out and go for a blast of a couple of hours, I would buy one. If I wanted to ride rough, gravel roads, it would be first on the list but if it was for a hilly sportive, I’d leave it at home. It just cant cope with climbing out of the saddle (saying that, if you sit and spin, you may like it). I was swap the handlebars though, the bars were too wide on the tops for my tiny hands :-). If you want a fast pace winter training bike with discs, then I would look at the Whyte Cornwall, it carbon and £200 cheaper, but it can take full mudguards.
I’m back in work tomorrow and it will be the only bike I will consider to ride in with, the paint work on the bike is lovely, it has a nice, classy finish to it