High end bikes are almost all made from carbon fibre – not just for light weight – but because it gives the designers more flexibility to get exactly the ride characteristics they want. There is no reason why this shouldn’t apply to high-end ebikes too. In this case, it does lend lightness – it was noticeably lighter than the Levo I compared it to – and the handling was tight as a new drum.
This British-built thoroughbred is assembled around a Shimano E8000 motor, 504Wh battery and a Shimano parts set. They all work well together. The motor is grunty if a bit raucous at times, the XT shifter works crisply and accurately even under load and the Deore single-pot brakes are well modulated and powerful. The Shimano display is low profile and easy to read in all lighting. The power levels are changed using two trigger shifters that work well, but take up a fair bit of space on the bars. I did find myself hitting the dropper lever on one occasion.
The suspension set-up is typical of mid-travel eMTBs with a 150mm Roc Shox Yari fork and a Deluxe trunnion mounted out back with Horst linkage and 460mm stays. It lends the bike a nice responsive nature but still stays planted even on the steepest of climbs (because it can climb up anything). The 2.8″ Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres on 27.5″ wheels lend heaps of confidence with nice bitey sidewalls. I suspect they will handle mud and wetness well.
The geometry is very similar to other bikes – I was comparing it to a 2018 Specialized Levo. Compared to that bike it was lighter but felt a bit more ‘old school’ in it’s setup. Quite probably due to the longer stem, which is easily remedied.
Talking about things I’d like to remedy, the Selle Italia saddle is unlovable. It belongs on an XC bike, not a rowdy All Mountain bike. The Lev Integra seatpost worked well although it can’t extend as far as others, so err on the side of a larger rather than smaller frame (it comes in S-XL).
Getting back to the carbon fibre frame, the ride was amazingly accurate. Once I had the suspension setup right for me I was able to fly around corners with confidence and tackle drops and dips. The good balance and lightness allowed me to pop the wheel over obstacles and whip the tail over little jumps. The Shimano motor system is very sensitive to input and in Trail mode gives the rider a lot of control, a bit like the Bosch eMTB mode. It is also adjustable by app. I found myself sometimes putting the motor on ‘BOOST’ uphill which turned otherwise climby stuff into fun stuff, it should say ‘BLAST’ instead because that is what it was.
This isn’t the cheapest of bikes at just under $9k, but for a carbon bike with a great parts set it is about right. Wisper is imported and supported by the people who distribute Smartmotion and Pedego in NZ, so find Wisper in the same places.