For the price of the Carrera (and it's currently heavily reduced from the RRP) you could buy a decent TV, but try riding to work on a 40in Samsung… Compared with most of the bikes we test it’s a bit of a heavyweight at 11.36kg (25lb) – the Carrera, not the Samsung – and our initial thoughts were that it might be a bit of a beast to ride, but it wasn’t.
On miles of rural and urban routes, the Carrera was glitch-free and very pleasant to ride. We’re not sure that the aero profile down tube on the 6061 aluminium frame contributes much to speed or performance, but on a more practical note there’s clearance and eyelets both for mudguards and for a rear rack.
It takes a while to spin the bike up to pace – the combined wheel weight of 3.81kg contributes to that – but it has pleasingly neutral handling, which is ideal for a bike at this price. It’s not a bike you can throw into corners with abandon either, but it should prove as tough as old boots.
Its 36-spoke wheels are solid, dependable and should soak up a lot of punishment, and if the bike does need tweaking there’s a free service from high street giant Halfords after six weeks. When you get to some more serious slopes then you do start to notice the weight it carries and long climbs are undeniably an effort.
This isn’t helped by it being slightly overgeared; the 12-26T cassette is a good choice, but a compact chainset would have given lower gears than the 52/38T standard double fitted, which would be more useful for most day-to-day riding conditions.
It descends pretty well and braking was good – helped by the fact that it has calliper brakes with metal cartridges rather than the solid rubber brake blocks found on some other bikes at this price, allowing softer and grippier rubber to be used.
It’s easy to get obsessively hung up about bike weight, and the bare facts show that the TDF is 4.5kg heavier than an actual Tour de France bike, but then it is a twentieth of the price. Overall, it's a very sound, tough and practical first road bike at a great price, although a compact 50/34 chainset would give more suitable gearing for a range of conditions.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.