Whyte Coniston  £1099.00

7/10

Good quality genuine all-rounder that's easy to ride, pity it's not £100 cheaper...

Weight 11650g   Contact  www.whytebikes.com

by Dave Atkinson   November 12, 2010  

Whyte are new to the urban bikes game so you might expect them to be doing a bit of learning in the first model year of their C7 (multi terrain) and R7 (road) ranges. There's no feeling that the £1,099 Coniston is half cooked though, it's a versatile all-rounder that's fun to ride and up for the dirt as much as the tarmac. The price might put some people off – specifically the hordes of bike-to-work buyers – and it has to be said that for the kind of riding that you'll be doing on a bike like this, the cheaper Caledonian makes more sense in many ways.

Look at the Coniston from the side and imagine in your mind's eye some chunkier tyres, and it'll look a lot like a 29er, because that's more or less what it is, albeit a slimmed down one. The geometry is certainly MTB inspired rather than road-derived, and as with all the C7 bikes you get a suspension fork up front, in this case a 60mm RST Vogue Pro Air unit. The first one had an air leak but Whyte quickly supplied a replacement.

I am not usually a fan of suspension forks on road bikes, but the RST unit is actually pretty good. For a start, you can lock it out when you don't need it, and it hasn't bumped the overall weight of the bike (11.5kg / 25.4lb) up too much. Unlock it and it tracks pretty well and gives useful cushioning on unsurfaced tracks, though you'll find its limits pretty quickly if you try anything too technical. Coupled with the stiff frame and fairly plump WTB All terrain tyres it gives a lively ride when you're on the beaten track.

Get back on the road and lock the fork down and the Coniston is a well behaved hybrid. The position isn't too sporty and the MTB drivetrain (a Deore/SLX/XT mix with a 48/36/26 chainset) gives a wide enough range of gears for anything you might encounter. There's rack and mudguard eyelets if you want to utility up and plenty of scope to change the big 35mm tyres for something a bit more sporty if you're predominantly going to stay on the blacktop.

Assuming you're not packing so much gear that you need low-riders, it would make a very sensible touring platform. Certainly when I loaded it up with a child and seat, the fairly relaxed steering and long wheelbase made for ideal carrying conditions. The flip side of this is that it's not the most inspiring ride on the road; the Coniston is happy to roll along but doesn't jump forward when you add some effort and is not the fastest to turn, although lighter tyres would certainly make a difference.

Given that it's designed to be able to handle on- and off-road duties there's always going to be a trade-off. On balance the Coniston is better on the paths than the highways and for that reason I'd only consider it if you genuinely do want a bike that's capable of doing both. If you're just going to ride on the road then the fork is unnecessary and the position more upright than you need; you should be looking at Whyte's C7 bikes or another road-specific hybrid.

Transmission duties from the Shimano running gear were performed faultlessly throughout the test. Stopping wasn't quite as good: though the Elixir 3 brakes have plenty of bite they start to fade under prolonged heavy use. My favourite test is a 250m, 25% drop into the town centre and it needed both brakes and a fair old heave on the anchors to keep the speed down. I wasn't ever in any danger of not stopping though.

Okay, so to the money. £1,099 is an odd price for a bike like this, nudging as it does over the magical £1k cycle-to-work limit. That's a shame because it's exactly the sort of beast you might want to get for the commute and various other duties. I'm guessing that those dreaded fluctuations in the currency markets have made it necessary, but it probably means that folks looking for a bike-to-work machine from Whyte will look at the £849 Caledonian or £999 Stirling instead. I'm not saying it's poor value at £1,099 because it isn't, it's about on the money. It's just a missed opportunity, and I suspect that while these new bikes from Whyte will be generally well received – I've enjoyed riding this one – the cheaper Caledonian will outsell the Coniston.

Verdict

Good quality genuine all-rounder that's easy to ride, pity it's not £100 cheaper...

road.cc test report

Make and model: Whyte Coniston

Size tested: M

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame 6061 Hydro Formed T6 Aluminium, Custom Drawn, Multi Butted with Custom Whyte Dropouts

Fork RST Vogue Pro Air, 60mm Travel, Hydro Lockout, Rebound Control and Alloy Steerer

Rear Shock N/A

Headset FSA Semi Integrated, 1 1/8" Sealed Cartridge Bearings

Rear Hub SRAM 506 Alloy, Double Sealed Bearing Hub, 32 Hole

Front Hub SRAM 506 Alloy, Double Sealed Bearing Hub, 32 Hole

Spokes DT competition 1.8/1.6/1.8mm, Black Stainless with Brass Nipples

Rims Alex EN-24 700c, 32 Hole with Eyelets

Tyres WTB All Terrain Comp 700 x 35c, Folding with Reflective Sidewall and Puncture Belt

Shift Levers Shimano Deore, 9 Speed

Front Derailleur Shimano Deore, 9 Speed

Rear Derailleur Shimano XT Shadow, 9 Speed

Cassette SRAM PG-950, 11-32, 9 Speed

Chain Shimano HG-53

Crankset Shimano M660 SLX, Hollow Tech II, 48-36-26, 9 Speed

Bottom Bracket Hollow Tech II

Seatpost Whyte 20mm Offset, 30.9mm x 400mm, 2014 Alloy

Saddle Whyte Custom

Bar Whyte High Rise 30mm, 31.8mm, 620mm Wide

Stem Whyte Custom, 70mm S, 80mm M, 90mm L

Grips Whyte Custom Comfort Lock-on

Brakes Front Avid Elixir 3, 160mm Rotor

Brakes Rear Avid Elixir 3, 160mm Rotor

Brake Levers Avid Elixir 3

Pedals VP Full Alloy with Toe Clip

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Road meets Trail - our new All Terrain Series is designed to perform faultlessly whether you choose to take the highway or the scenic route through the woods. It's all about choice.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Very nicely made and finished. Original fork lost air but that's just a manufacturing defect

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

6061 Hydro Formed T6 Aluminium, multi butted frame

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

69° head angle

73.5° seat angle

617mm effective top tube

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Fine, though the M is quite a big bike

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Very comfortable, stable and relaxed

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Generally fine, a bit of flex in the fork

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Nice stiff frame, good power transfer

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

Not a problem

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Fairly slow

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The bike is good in a straight line and stable under load and off road. It's not the most agile though

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

Big tyres and fork make it a very comfy ride

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

Big tyres drag on the tarmac

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
6/10

Wheel/tyre combo is heavy

Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
4/10

Not really a design concern

Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10

super stable

Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
10/10

Can't be faulted

Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10

Long wheelbase and shallow head tube angle help

Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
7/10

Fine but not the most agile

Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10

tracks well

Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

Plenty of gears, just sit back and spin

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

48/36/26 drivetrain is a great compromise for on/off road

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?

Not bad but it's a fairly heavy setup

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

Nice wide bars and controls that come easily to hand

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? I'd probably go for the Caledonian if i wanted an all-purpose bike

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? As above

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

Better off road than on, one to consider if you want a genuine all-rounder

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 190cm  Weight: 96kg

I usually ride: whatever I\\\'m testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with Ultegra 6700

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

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