Wisper (confusingly not spelled like the soft tone of voice or the chocolate bar) is an e-bike brand we’ve had our eye on for a while, and not just because saying the name gives us a bit of a sugar craving. Based in the UK, with its manufacturing taken care of in Portugal, Wisper has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry and believes strongly in offering a range that has something for everyone. Here we’re looking at Wisper’s Wayfarer M9 Crossbar (rated one of our best electric MTBs), an already great bike that can be taken off-road when you add the Mountain Upgrade pack.
Let’s get into it.
- Off-roading in style
- Those who favour minimalism
- Stylish build
- Hardy MTB tyres
- Upgradeable battery
- Bespoke parts
- Quite heavy
- No lights
It says a lot about the versatility of the Wisper M9 that I could imagine using it to get to and from work without worrying about its suitability for some more adrenaline-fuelled weekend adventures, although anyone taking the bike in the stripped-back Mountain configuration won’t get lights, rack or mudguards fitted, so bear that in mind.
I didn’t think it was the easiest bike to get on and off, even with the saddle down, but once I was away it was a smooth ride with a well-balanced torque mid-drive motor and a good bit of kick on the maximum “Turbo” pedal assist level. It’s not a full-sus bike so rough terrain wasn’t dealt with as smoothly as on a more dedicated off-road e-bike, but I was in enough control on a muddy field that I managed to just about dodge an oncoming football.
I also really liked the dark navy paintwork on the model we have in our showroom, which I think looks great with the Schwalbe tyres.
|Max rider weight||135kg|
|Frame||Hand welded, 6061 Alloy T4 and T6 tempered / 48cm|
|Wheels||Kenda 27.5 x 2.2” high puncture resistance|
|Weight||27kg (450Wh) / 29kg (700Wh)|
|Brakes||Wisper Apex Hydraulic disc|
|Range||60 miles (450Wh) / 90 miles (700Wh)|
|Motor||Wisper Super Hi Torque (100Nm) Mid Drive 43.2V 250W Nominal|
|Battery||In frame removable / Standard 450Wh, Long range 700Wh|
|Speed||15.5mph (UK e-bike speed limit)|
|Power modes||4 power modes + throttle walk mode up to 5mph|
|Lights||None on Mountain|
As alluded to, the Wayfarer M9 is available in different configurations. The Mountain (£2,259.00, as reviewed here) is completely stripped back with no lights, rack or mudguards and mountain tyres fitted. The Adventure (same price) has lights, rack and mudguards with the mountain tyres. And with the slightly cheaper £2,125.99 City you get all of the above with standard tyres.
Components and build quality
Given that the Wisper M9 is typically advertised as a city bike, I wondered if the off-road version would actually feel like a mountain bike, or a workhorse masquerading as one. Luckily it was the latter, as those Schwalbe MTB tyres make a big difference to both the look and feel of the bike. They sport double defence puncture protection to give you peace of mind when you switch to some less smooth terrain.
It’s not incredibly heavy but everything feels premium, to the extent that I initially wasn’t too keen on splattering the frame with mud for the sake of this review. Powering the bike is a 250W mid-drive motor which Wisper itself developed, and that’s paired with either a 450Wh battery or a long range 700Wh option, which ups the max range to 90 miles from 60 with the standard cell.
Nine-speed Shimano gears, Suntour shocks and Wisper’s own Apex hydraulic disc brakes complete the setup. You also get a centrally mounted backlit LCD display which shows a lot of information about your current trip, with the remote controls letting you cycle through different data.
I’m always a fan of a removable battery like the one offered here, and I like the little illuminated ring around the power button that shows you the bike is on. Overall it’s hard to find too much to fault about the build of the M9.
Performance and range
Taken in any configuration the Wisper M9 is a beast of an e-bike, but that 100Nm torque motor gets the best workout when you take it to the dirt. At first I couldn’t decide whether I preferred the “Sport” or “Turbo” pedal assists modes - Wisper prefers to name them rather than assign numbers - but tended towards the latter for off-road riding just because it gives you a bit more drive as you pedal.
As with all torque sensors, the bike is much more responsive to your movements which makes the electric assistance feel more natural, rather than coming in sudden bursts of acceleration. You’ve got a rapid fire shifter to take you through the nine available gears, which together with the pedal assist gives you a lot of control over your pace. I was easily able to keep a good lead on other non-electric cyclists on the way to the park for testing with minimal effort on my part, while pulling away at red lights is obviously just much easier with a motor beneath you.
I admittedly wasn’t able to test the longer range of the bigger battery on offer, but 140km does make the M9 more than capable of long weekend rides in the woods. Certainly, I reckon I’d be knackered by the climbs before the bike was. It’s worth bearing in mind that the M9 weighs 27kg with the 450Wh battery, which isn’t exactly light. Jump up to the 7000Wh version and you can add a few kilos to that. I was just about OK carrying the bike down a small flight of stairs without assistance, but it's not a machine you can throw over your shoulder, that’s for sure.
Wisper’s hydraulic brakes felt sharp and responsive to me, even on wet grass.
Comfort and practicality
If there’s one thing I wasn’t totally sold on with the M9, it was the Wisper-designed saddle. Something about its shape or position didn’t feel quite right, but that’s likely just a subjective observation rather than something everyone will notice.
There’s a thumb throttle fitted to the bars which will get you up to 4mph and is handy when you need to walk the bike somewhere. I don’t often use these but I’d rather have them available than not.
Viewed as a mountain bike, the Wisper M9 is always going to compare unfavourably to full-sus bikes as far as comfort is concerned, but I thought the Suntour front suspension did a pretty decent job of absorbing shocks when I was zipping around a field. It’s worth repeating that the M9’s Mountain build doesn’t include lights, which rules out night rides until you have some fitted.