Written by Ian, Edinburgh cyclist and Whyte Clifton test rider
As someone who commutes by bike to work, it was great to be able to borrow a Whyte Clifton e-bike from Edinburgh Bike Coop, especially as I’m increasingly overtaken by e-bikes on my daily commute.
I picked it up at lunchtime and after having a quick tour of the controls by the Bike Coop and being entrusted with the enormous transformer for charging the battery, I was left to my own devices.
What stands out straight away is the weight of the bike. With a published weight of 17kg, this bike is heavy and weighs nearly twice as much as my regular commuter. Carrying it up the stairs from the shop’s basement really hammers this home; immediately I’m thinking, “I hope the battery doesn’t run out on the way home up Kirk Brae.”
But as soon as you start riding it, the first thing that hits you is the acceleration, especially on High power. It’s phenomenal. I was grinning from ear to ear within a matter of seconds. I had a hard time changing up the gears fast enough to keep up with the motor as we accelerated up to the maximum assistance speed of 25kph (~15mph). As soon as you hit 25kph, the motor cuts out and you’re left having to pedal a really heavy bike to get any faster. In reality though, you pretty much ride everywhere at 25kph, although on some of the downhills you easily go faster than that.
Read about the Shimano electric motor system used by Whyte
Cruising up Kirk Brae at 25kph was a new experience for me. As someone that rides it multiple times a week I’ve given up looking where I am on the Strava leaderboard for the climb (somewhere mid-table of the 1300 people that have ridden it), but on the e-bike I broke in to the top ten without breaking a sweat! Sadly, logging e-bike rides on Strava as a ‘normal’ bike ride is a big no-no, so I had to reclassify my ride correctly as an e-bike ride and all my KOMs were lost.
I had the bike for 48 hours and managed to clock up just over 100km. On the second day I went for a much longer commute than normal at 35km (my normal commute is around 15km), and then repeated the journey on the way back. Living outside the bypass and commuting in to central Edinburgh means that my commute is predominantly downhill on the way in and uphill on the way home. But on the Whyte Clifton the uphill return journey was just as easy and I managed to cruise home at an average of just over 25kmh, with legs that felt more like they’d done a normal route of just 15km, not 35km. The motor proved handy when I was chased by a dog near Bonnyrigg, but the mutt couldn’t keep at 25kph for long and I soon left it behind without needing to speed up.
Overall, I was impressed with the bike. The main benefit is felt on the uphills, making them a total breeze. Battery life was impressive with around 70km range on High power (although range is variable depending on how hard you pedal and the type of gradients you’re riding). Charging time seemed to be around 5 hours, although I never totally ran the battery down and tended to keep it topped up.
Although I don’t feel like I need one just yet, I really enjoyed my 48 hours with the Clifton. I really don’t think I’ve ever grinned quite so much whilst riding a bike.