Recently one of my readers, Nori, asked me about the Whyte Suffolk 2015 model, so here’s some thoughts having tracked one down locally: at Pedalworks in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
First impressions are that it looks pretty similar to the 2014 model and drink the conversation in the shop this was confirmed. Same aluminium frame and carbon forks together with the matt finish. This is down to personal preference and, to be honest, I’m not wildly keen on it but on the other hand it does have a subtle, understated look.
The drive train is Shimano 105, 11 speed and needs little introduction. I doubt if anyone would ever have any complaints about its performance or efficiency. There’s a black FSA compact chainset (I think) and an external bottom bracket. Wheels, tyres, saddle etc all pretty similar and, to an extent, very customisable upgradeble, should you wish. The tyres are often an easy win in upgrading on all but the most up-market bikes.
The main difference is with the braking system. The 2015 model has hydraulic actuator discs brakes (operated by a conventional cable). Compared to a fully hydraulic system, this will help keep the cost down and to be honest I think this is a realistic choice. You will still get powerful braking with plenty of ‘feel’ with minimum effort; after all the Shimano 105 levers and cables are excellent kit. Arguably there is a little more effort needed to pull the brakes on with cables as opposed to a full hydraulic system. In the real world I wonder if that would ever matter?
Last year’s model still has similar brakes but these, I’m told, are better.
The frame, as mentioned above, is aluminium and seems quite a “tall” bike, given the size and this is helped by the rising handlebar stem. The drop-outs are interesting. Getting the negatives out of the way first, the welding is not very neat or well finished although I’m sure it will be strong and durable. It is made with a ll the appropriate fittings for disc brakes and then there are two threaded eyes. These are for mudguards and a pannier rack.
These little threaded eyes are easily overlooked and yet they will define the whole bike’s purpose far more than those fancy brakes or contemporary paint finish. They will show you that this bike is versatile and practical; it therefore has the flexibility to be used as a commuting bike (as an example) all year round. Now when you go into any decently stocked LBS you’ll see some marvellous road bikes. All very good. But exactly how many could be as adaptable as this? Probably the answer, put kindly, is relatively few.
The price? Well it’s £1199 for the readily available 2015 model and at the time of writing, stocks of the 2014 models might be scarce now. This price is probably very similar to what people were buying the 2014 models for. Generally I think it’s worth always trying to have the latest version when buying something like this – it means spares etc could be available for slightly longer.
It’s a good bike, British firm too (although undoubtedly imported from the Far East) and I think it’s pretty good. Certainly my friend Barry likes his. And to the question of 2014 v 2015? I’d go for the 2015 version and I doubt if there are many 2014 models left now.
Hope that helps Nori.