UK bike retailers Halfords have put themselves firmly back into the public consciousness in recent times with the runaway success of the ubiquitous Boardman Bikes. And they’re hoping that success rubs off on their in-house Carrera brand, with a wholesale update of the entire range.
Almost a year ago today they brought in bike designer Justin Stevenson, a UK industry veteran of 15 years with stints at Raleigh, Dawes and Saracen, to revamp the range. Launched in the 1970s, the brand, which currently represents around nine percent of Halfords' nearly 1 million per annum bike sales, is respected for producing quality mountain, road and hybrid bikes at reasonable prices (£300-£800), and in that respect there's no change for 2011. What they say has changed is a higher spec of bike for your money.
There are significant updates to the Fury hardtail and Banshee full-suspension mountain bikes, which both cost £599.99. These will move to SRAM X5 2x10 gearing come September 2011. We've already previewed the Kraken which has been selling strongly according to Halfords product manager Ed Hurrell.
The road range will continue to include the Carrera TdF Limited Edition. As the name suggests, it was to be a limited edition model in 2010 but it's proven so popular that it's been kept on. The price has dropped too, from £449.99 to £299.99.
The Virtuoso at £399.99 comes with an aluminium frame, 16-speed Shimano Sora gearing and Tektro brakes, and should be a winner with its blue/white colours. At the top sits the Vanquish at £549.99 with an aluminium frame, carbon fibre fork, 18-speed Shimano Tiagra/Sora gears and Shimano WHR500 wheels.
Hurrell told us there's a sub-£1K full-carbon road bike on the way too, but this won't be available until early next year. Once that's established, Carrera's discontinued time trial bike may make a reappearance.
The hybrid range has been given a lift too. Hurrell admitted that Carrera had been "behind the curve" in the past few years when it came to hybrids. Now that's changed, with the new Gryphon (£369.99) leading the charge. It features an alloy frame and forks, Shimano 16-speed gears, Tektro Lyra disc brakes and Kenda 700x28c tyres.
The Crossfire, which comes in three versions (£299.99-£429.99), is a hybrid that will cover both commuting and light off-road riding. The Suntour suspension fork offers 75mm of travel in order to handle small bumps but can be locked out for road riding. Gearing is SRAM 24-speed to help get up steeper climbs.
Finally there's the Carrera Subway, the no-nonsense city cruiser that retails for £299.99. There's no suspension fork on the Subway but it does have 24 gears, fat 26x1.95in Kenda tyres, Tektro IO disc brakes and an aluminium frame.