We don’t know what’s the deal with the Lite edition of this Whistler, but it has an unexpectedly competitive price for this market segment. Placed in the Sport category, this is the best equipped Whistler that you can buy, and considering it’s 799 EUR price, it has some extras that cannot go ignored. About it’s track handling, what it has to offer and who it is addressed for, please keep reading.
– aluminium frame hardtail
– 100mm travel fork
– price: 799 EUR
– 29 inch wheels
– for mountain rides or longer less technical marathons
Frame / On the trail
Compared to the previously tested version (Focus Black Forest LTD – that has the same frame, however not available to sell anymore), this version is not only better equipped because of the newer components, but is also significantly cheaper, with around 150 EUR. An amount that is well invested in a better cassette, a set of better brakes or a pair of top tires.
Regarding the bikes geometry, it is not progressive rather classic with a 70 degree headtube and a 74 degree seat tube. This does not mean the bike will not handle itself on the tracks, however when you reach those technical track conditions like steep descents, you will have to rely more on the big wheels than on the headtube angle. The chainstay is pretty long, 454mm, which gives stability but takes away some of the agility.
Body position on climbs is good, but in this chapter, even if you have a 2×10 transmission we have to mention the 36T big cog which has to work with a small chainring of 26T, which gives a 0.72 ratio, significantly higher than a cassette with a 42T big cog (0.61 ratio). Focus did not equip this bike for long and tough marathons, but some not so expensive upgrades will make up for this.
The 115 Nm/degree frame stiffness is good for this market segment and is better than most important competitors. The 2.0 kg frame weight is also not that bad. Regarding technologies used, this are the classic standards: headtube is not tapered, it has internal cable routing and the front derailleur is not direct mount.
This is where things get interesting, especially if we think of the price range. The groupset is mostly Shimano, it has the recently launched MT500 Crankset, Shimano XT rear derailleur, Deore front derailleur, Deore shifters, only the cassette is Sram PG 1020 11-36. Without Shadow Plus technology for the rear derailleur the transmission gets pretty noisy on downhills.
The fork is Rock Shox, XC30 version, with remote lock-out but no rebound adjustment. Standard, it comes with medium coil spring, which works best for most people, however if you are on the lighter side it might not give you the right feedback.
Brakes are entry level, Shimano M-315 that we encountered on many bikes this year, even on more expensive models. They will do great on most flat situations, however on longer descents they might reach their limit.
The wheels are over 5 kg, equipped with Continental Race King 2.2 tires – very fast on flats but trickier to handle on more technical descents, not mentioning wet trails where line choice is extremely important.
Whistler Lite is a good overall offer, considering the more expensive competition that still relies on a 9 gear cassette. The geometry is not progressive, but if you want a solid bike that lets you do some light racing and sometimes takes you on longer mountain rides this is one of the best alternatives on the market.
Total weight: 13.96 kg (30.77 lbs)
Frame weight: 2.080 gr (4.58 lbs)
Wheel Weight *: 5.303 grams (11.69 lbs)
Fork weight: 2.465 grams (4.45 lbs)
Handlebar width: 700 mm
Stem length: 90mm
Crankset weight (+bottom bracket): 832 grams + 88 grams
Rigidity headtube: 115.2 Nm / degree
STW **: 55.3 Nm / degree / kg
* Tire weight with tire, cassette, rotor and quick release
** SWT (Stiffness to weight): the ratio between the stiffness of the frame and its weight