Whyte Portobello £699

Asphalt all-rounder

BikeRadar score 4/5

The people behind UK mountain bike brand Whyte have never been afraid to think a little differently, and this stylish street urchin is an instantly likeable artful dodger.

The matt black frame with neat, machined details mixed with white pinstriping and white rims certainly looks cool enough for the coffee shop run, and removable security skewers mean you don’t have to dismantle it or double lock both wheels if there’s a queue.

Unlike a lot of urban bikes, though, the ride’s the real appeal. Despite hydraulic disc brakes and other practical touches like solid bar end caps for protection against wall scrapes or accidental drops, our 56cm test model still weighs in under 24lb – 23.63lb (10.72kg) to be exact. It’s light enough to race mopeds at the traffic lights or to take out on longer weekend rides.

The FSA compact chainset means you’re not short of gears for climbs or wind assisted sections, and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes mean consistent and controllable braking in all weathers – essential on a bike that naturally encourages you to take on the traffic rather than cower at the kerb.

Curved, hydroformed T6 alloy tubes, a skinny seatpost and 28mm tyres also take the sting out of any potholes or tarmac acne you can’t avoid, though the chunky 6061 alloy fork (more expensive versions get carbon legs) needs more careful navigating to keep your teeth intact.

Where the Whyte really stands out is the mountain bike influenced handling. If you’re used to a conventional road bike, the slack 69.5-degree head angle feels raked out and retro at first, but put some more weight into the low rise bar and start swinging it low though corners and this is one sweet chariot.

The short, 8cm stem keeps it quick-witted enough for mid corner corrections or debris dodging, and the more upright position means it’s easier to spot trouble early anyway. Wheels are deep-section Alex Races with disc hubs.

As well as inspiring confidence on the descents, the stable handling and disc brakes potentially make it a useful contemporary styled touring/cargo bike – an idea backed up by the rear rack, front low rider, twin bottle cage and full mudguard fixing point bosses.

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