Friend of the co-op, Alistair Justice, loves his Whyte Friston (see the bike here). He was kind enough to leave a review:
Why Choose a Gravel Bike?
I came to biking later in life (after only ever having an old Grifter gathering dust in garages from the age of 7 until 21!) and started out on cheaper ‘mountain’ bikes, before moving onto the Revolution Triad 2.0 trail bike. I upgraded this with Specialized Nimbus Armadillo Refect 26″ tyres gave me a bike that I felt covered almost all angles, apart from trying to keep up with anybody else I was cycling with! When work took me abroad I purchased a second-hand road bike and found that, for the kind of riding I enjoyed, I liked the set-up, except when wanting to go anywhere away from tarmac! It was about this time that I first read about Gravel Bikes and I knew I had found my kind of two-wheeled transport…
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Why the Friston?
As I slowly worked on my better-half to allow me to purchase yet another bike, I began investigating the different options including Genesis, Specialized, NS RAG+, Cannondale CAADX etc, before a friend suggested looking at the Whyte range of offerings. After further research I also narrowed my thoughts down to having a 1x drive train. Armed with these ideas I found myself torn between the Friston and its more hi-spec brother, the Gisburn, before deciding that, for me, the Friston was the best fit. The pre-2019 bright orange paint scheme also helped seal the deal in my head! After booking an appointment and taking a 2019 bike (in the new green paint job) around the block a couple of times as Easter 2019 I was hooked, and bought the bike there and then.
Ride and Handling
I found the ride and handling a little strange at first – the handle bars are wider than a road bikes which initially feels odd, especially on the drops. Also, having the wider wheels with drop handle bars took a bit of getting used to. Once accustomed to these differences, I found that the bike cruises comfortably on the road – maybe not as fast as a road bike, but much quicker than my old hybrid – and with the wider handlebars helping with control, surefooted on looser surfaces. After quickly getting used to the ‘one click along for up and two for down’ the SRAM 1x gearing has worked a treat; I find that I have not really need to use the lowest gears unless the terrain gets really steep, and I can keep up with all but the quickest road bikes during social rides. This said, if I have had to change gears while under load, the gears can be a little clunky. I had the tyres set-up as tubeless, and they seem to be able to take a lot of punishment, even while traveling fairly quickly along trails consisting of loose stones. The saddle has been comfortable on all of my trips so far, but I have yet to see how it fairs above 100k. Finally, the brakes are very effective and need to be applied gently to avoid locking up.
Comfortable, smooth on road and capable on tracks, wider handlebars help with accurate steering, 1x gearing, light-weight for its perceived size, great looking bike
Things I Need to Work on
Presently I am still in the process of learning the limits of the bike, but so far, the only things that have caused any issues have been my own ineptitude! Over this summer I am hoping to spend a little more time on tracks and trails to see how capable this bike truly is. In the longer term, if I decide to take part in any longer races/ sportive events, I might invest in a second set of wheels with more road orientated tyres (slightly narrower and with less tread), but this is just a personal observation rather than a criticism.