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The Whyte Victoria ia a neat and nippy round-town bike with disc brakes for weatherproof stopping. Whyte places the Victoria in its 'Fast Urban' stable and it is certainly very quick on the road.
The notion 'fast urban bike' could cover a multitude of bike styles from a cross-country mountain bike with slick tyres to a touring-style road bike with a slammed stem for a go-faster stance.
Whyte's interpretation is a flat-bar bike with 28mm tyres and disc brakes. It's a kind of flat-bar version of what's currently achingly trendy in the rapidly narrowing space between cyclo-cross bikes and endurance road bikes.
Whyte are known predominantly for their mountain bikes, and their use of mountain bike geometry on the Victoria gives a good semi-upright position suitable for commuting with a good view of the road ahead.
That mountain bike heritage also means a long front end and a short stem which, everything else being equal, makes for more stable handling at speed.
As the Victoria is the women's version of the concept, the reach is a couple of centimetres shorter that the Men's Portobello as women allegedly prefer this arrangement.
The standover height is a tiny bit lower and the Victoria gets a female-friendly saddle. That's where the adaptation for the female form ends, though to be fair to Whyte there's not that much else you can do with a flat-bar bike.
For a bike whose intended environment is the urban jungle with its big-engined predators, powerful, controllable brakes have to be a good idea. As we're talking about a British-designed bike for wet British conditions, that means discs.
At 28mm, the Maxxis Detonator tyres don't offer the devil-may-care rim protection of fat mountain bike rubber, but they're usefully wider than the skinny racing tyres still found on far too many standard road bikes. They roll well, but despite their supposed protection, internet users report high puncture rates, though this wasn't a problem with the test bike.
The clip and strap pedals didn't get a trial. If that's your thing then fine, but the confines of an strap and cage weren't for me. Likewise, I didn't get on with the Whyte women's saddle, but these items are such a personal choice.
At £699 the Victoria falls well within the cycle to work price range, even allowing for accessories. I have no idea why British urban bikes so rarely come with mudguards and a rack, but there are mounts front and rear on the Victoria. Fitting a rack to early disc-brake bikes was a bit painful because the brake calliper was usually in the way. Whyte have tucked the Victoria's rear brake into the space between the stays; problem solved.
The Tektro Auriga WDS, 160mm rotor disc brakes came into their own in wet weather, providing superb, controlled braking, even in an emergency. The advantages of disc brakes on commuting bikes can't be overstated - having brakes work almost as well in the wet as in the dry is a huge safety boost.
The straight bladed 6061 T6 alloy front fork didn't do much to dampen road buzz. I'd have liked the carbon fork specified on the men's equivalent Portobello bike, even for the £50 more it costs.
Especially at speed, I found padded gloves were a must for a comfortable ride as the Whyte own-brand grips were neither particularly comfortable nor ergonomic. The 28 mm commuter tyres might benefit from being changed up to 32mm for a smoother ride.
I really like the look of the Whyte Victoria, from its matt charcoal frame with subtle turquoise highlights to the slight, smooth curve of the top tube. It's a low key but attractive ride and there is little to mark it out as a women's bike apart from the more compact frame.
Standing at 5ft 6in I found the medium frame an excellent fit. I find a fair few chaps are shorter than me, and I'd recommend them trying the Victoria too if the reach on the Portobello is a little lengthy.
The Whyte Victoria is both quick and versatile. Leave it as it comes and it's a light, speedy bike for whizzing through country lanes. Pop on a rack and mudguards and it's a practical weatherproof commuter with the reassurance of powerful hydraulic disc brakes.
Stable but fun ride with a surprising turn of speed
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Make and model: Whyte Victoria
Size tested: xx
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Based on Whyte's high performance mountain bike geometry, the Victoria has a long wheelbase and relaxed head angle for high speed stability, a shorter stem for excellent slow speed manoeuvrability and slightly shorter and lower top tube to fit a woman's physique better. A custom rear dropout allows us to mount the rear hydraulic disc brake caliper inside the rear triangle, clearing the way for any rack or mudguards that may be required. Our shaped, butted and uniquely profiled rear stays give all our fast urban bikes a fantastically responsive and comfortable ride.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Colour: Matt Granite/Aqua
Frame: 6061 Hydro Formed T6 Aluminium, Custom Drawn, Multi Butted with Custom Whyte Dropouts
Fork: Straight Bladed 6061 T6 Alloy Front Fork, Post mount Dropout with Single Eyelets
Rear Shock: N/A
Headset: FSA No. 23 Integrated Road, 1 1/8" Sealed Cartridge Bearings, 41mm Diameter
Rear Hub: Alloy, Cup & Cone, Double Seal, 32 Hole
Front Hub: Alloy, Cup & Cone, Double Seal, 28 Hole
Spokes: WTB 2.0mm, Black Stainless with Brass Nipples
Rims: Alex Black Dragon 24, Deep Section, Disk Specific Road, 32 Hole Rear and 28 Front, Reflective 3M decals
Tyres: Maxxis Detonator, 700 x 28c, Folding Black/Aqua, with Puncture Protection
Shift Levers: Shimano Sora SL-3500, 9 Speed
Front Mech: Shimano Sora FD-R3500, 9 Speed
Rear Mech: Shimano Sora RD-3500, 9 Speed
Cassette: Shimano HG-300, 11-32 9 Speed
Chain: Shimano HG-53, 9 Sped
Crankset: FSA Tempo 50-34, 9 Speed, Compact, 170mm Crank arm length
Bottom Bracket: FSA Square Taper
Seatpost: Whyte 20mm Offset, 27.2mm x 350mm, 6061 Alloy, 2 Bolt Clamp
Saddle: Whyte Custom Women's Fit, Triple Panel Design
Handlebar: Whyte Narrow, 31.8mm, 30mm Rise, 580mm Wide
Stem: Whyte, 70mm XS & S, 80mm M
Grips: Whyte double Density, Lock-on
Front Brakes: Tektro Auriga WDS, Light weight 160mm Rotor
Rear Brakes: Tektro Auriga WDS, Light weight 160mm Rotor
Brake Levers: Tektro Auriga WDS
Pedals: Composite with Alloy Cage and Toe Clip
Remarkably speedy hybrid.
The frame scratched easily.
Par for the course at 10.2kg.
Could be refined.
Well within Cycle to Work parameters.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A stable but fun ride.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 36 Height: 5'7 Weight: size 16
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure