Focus is a pioneer in the electric bike market. Aware that e-bikes are pricey, it has produced the relatively more affordable Whistler2 6.9 in two models: a standard 6.9 at £1,549 or this EQP model with a dynamo hub, front/rear lights and full mudguards all for only an extra £80.
The 6.9 uses a Bafang rear hub motor combined into the Groove Go system. This integrates the battery into the frame’s down-tube. The charge point is by the bottom bracket and it takes around four hours to reach full charge. Then it’s a case of pressing the on button mounted into the top tube; no head unit or settings to navigate.
You can adjust the level using the ‘set’ button below the on button. Turn it on and four LED lights light up blue to show you’re at full charge. Press the set button and the lights turn green. You can cycle from one light (minimal assist) up to four (full 250w assistance).
The 6.9 is a heavy machine at 23.2kg, so the first assistance level doesn’t do anything. On level two things start to work for you and three feels like you’re cheating.
On one of my test loops there is a gravel climb that averages over 11 per cent for just over 900 metres. The Whistler on full power zipped up like Marco Pantani.
The overall ride is a pleasant one. Those 29in wheels means it rolls beautifully. I took it on singletrack mountain-bike trails where the big wheels, 100mm travel Suntour Fork and big-block treaded Schwalbe Smart Sam tyres came into their own.
But that’s where things get confusing: a wide-barred 29er with full mudguards and a dynamo light setup is commuter gold. It’s just neutered on the road by big heavy tyres that squish and squirm on tarmac, and a bouncy 100mm travel fork. If it’s an e-mountain bike you want, would you opt for guards and lights?
I’d love to see a stripped-down Whistler2 with a lighter carbon or alloy fork and a set of slicks.
I mixed road, towpath, gravel and bike trails when testing the Whistler, and the 6.9 did around 35 miles on a charge with the bike’s longest run being 36.74 miles with 1,325.5ft of elevation gain and an average speed of 15.9mph.
Overall, the 6.9 is a fun bike to ride. The ride position is excellent and it handles like one half its weight.
With lighter tyres and ditching the fork you’d shave weight and end up with a superior rough-stuff assisted commuter that’d be a match for e-bikes twice the price.
|Price||AUD $2799.00GBP £1629.00|
|Cranks||Samox AF38, 34T|
|Fork||SR Suntour XCM RL (100mm travel)|
|Motor||Bafang Groove Next 250w motor rear hub|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Altus M2000 9-speed|
|Shifter||Shimano Deore M600|
|Tyres||Schwalbe Smart Sam 2.1|
|Wheels||Rodi Viper 21|