US bike makers Whistle are an unfamiliar name in the UK, but they’ve now been added to the portfolio of brands sold through Halfords. That means they must compete directly with the Boardman Race, also sold through Halfords. What do Whistle offer to tempt buyers away from the British brand?
Love or hate looks will help and hinder in equal measure. The vivid white and orange finish is anything but subtle. Underneath there’s a triple-butted and hydroformed aluminium frame. Welds are workmanlike, and there are no mounting points for mudguards or a rack.
The big, flared down tube and short chainstays promise a stiff and efficient ride, and the looks aren’t deceptive. Despite the old-fashioned square taper bottom bracket, little energy is lost on the way from the pedals to the back wheel. Relatively heavy wheels take the edge off out-of-the-saddle sprints, but in the same situation there’s no sign of brake rub.
Push hard through a corner and the Modoc’s carbon fork tracks accurately, but throw in a few bumps and the jarring through the bar can dent your appetite for speed.
This stiff, aggressive character feels fun on short rides and smooth roads, but as the hours pass by it can become wearing. This bike adheres closely to the stiff-but-harsh aluminium stereotype. Tackle rough roads at speed and there’s lots of vibration through the bar and even the pedals.
Grab a big handful of brake lever and the Alhonga brakes slow the bike well enough, but they’re not sharp enough when the pads first hit the rims, especially in wet weather.
The Whistle has Sora derailleurs and shifters, with the usual pros and cons: smooth, efficient shifting but awkwardly placed levers. The biggest rear sprocket is a 25-tooth – fine if you’re fit, but other bikes will offer lower bail-out gears.
Shifting from the drops isn’t as easy with Sora as it is with Tiagra
It’s not a bad bike, but it’s up against talented rivals. The price is the real killer. At £769.99 (currently £749.99 online) it’s £100 or so dearer than Boardman’s Race. In our book the Boardman is the better bike, and you won’t even need to go to a different shop.