The term ‘hybrid’ can mean many things in the cycling world. It can take in anything from a super-heavyweight, bike-shaped object bought from your local supermarket to more modest, reasonably specced machines from your local bike shop and even a very well considered machine such as Whyte’s Stirling, which is probably why Whyte prefer to use the term ‘fast urban’ rather than hybrid. Fast urban certainly sums it up nicely.
It has higher-spec kit than some cheaper urban options, most notably in the shape of a carbon fork, Avid’s excellent hydraulic disc brakes and 2x10-speed SRAM Via gearing. The hydroformed 6061 aluminium frame is pretty similar to what you’d get on a £1,000 road bike, and very well finished too, but the geometry is different.
It’s based around mountain bike geometry, with a relaxed head angle and a very long wheelbase: 107cm on our medium model, about 5cm longer than on a similar size road bike. The result is a very stable ride when you get up to speed, and thanks to the reasonable overall weight that’s quite easy to do.
The stability is balanced by a shorter stem, which offers the sort of nifty handling you need in city traffic. The Stirling also has a relatively narrow handlebar – 58cm – with Ergon’s excellent rubber grips.
The Whyte has more versatility than some urban bikes designed for faster, flatter riding. It’s no slouch when required, but it has a fairly high number of gears and if steep climbs are part of your daily grind, the 32x32 (small chainring/large sprocket) bottom gear offers a real bailout option, while the 48x11 top gear is higher than 52x12, let alone a compact’s usual 50x12 – so you’re not going to run out of top end choices.
Nominally a city bike, the Stirling is actually light and comfortable enough, and has the versatility, to be pressed into longer rides too. It has a full complement of rack and mudguard fittings, and it’ll do sterling service whatever you use it for.
We even fitted it with mini tri-bars for some fast fitness riding and it performed perfectly. In spite of its stealth looks – or possibly because of them – this is one that thieves might have their eye on, so if you do leave it locked up, make sure you’ve got decent security.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.