The Carrera Vanquish doesn't stand out like its cheaper TDF Ltd sibling, which we tested last year, but it's still a very decent machine. It's well specced, but the firm and unforgiving ride might not have universal appeal.
The Vanquish's frame is typical of a £500 bike, with a triangular profile oversize down tube, and round top tube and seat tube. The 7005 aluminium chassis has pretty basic welding, and is paired with a matching straight-bladed alloy fork.
Shimano's nine-speed Sora groupset is an efficient performer, with the same thumbshifting action as the cheaper, eight-speed Shimano 2300. Carrera have used that extra cassette sprocket well, giving the Vanquish a versatile gear range.
FSA’s 50/34-tooth compact chainset is paired with a 12-26t cassette, giving a low enough bottom gear for most situations and a high enough top gear, all without huge jumps. This is an improvement on the Carrera TDF with its odd 52/38t chainset.
The braking, however, is, if anything, slightly inferior; the Tektro calliper setup is better than on some of the sub-£400 bikes we’ve tested, but has solid rubber brake blocks rather than the TDF’s metal cartridges.
Out on the road you quickly notice a few things about the Vanquish. At 10.53kg/23.2lb (without pedals) it carries some extra weight compared to many of its price rivals, but it gets up to speed quickly and there’s perky acceleration when you put the hammer down.
But the Vanquish’s ride won’t appeal to everybody; it’s very much on the firm side, and after a few hours in the saddle you might find yourself wishing for something a bit more forgiving. You can feel every bump through both the aluminium fork and the standard diameter aluminium seatpost.
There's a lot we like about the Vanquish, though. It has good quality kit and wheels, it handles well, makes a very sound entry-level racer, and would be a good choice for the bigger, more powerful rider.
But the frame does lack finesse, it’s not the most comfortable machine out there and even at its currently discounted price of £499.99 it still has some strong opposition.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.