The £350 Carrera Subway 2 is one of the UK's favourite budget bikes

But is it popular for good reason? We've called one in to find out

People used to say you’re never further than a few metres away from a rat, but in UK cities at least, you’re probably likely to be closer to one of these. Carrera’s Subway is an astonishingly popular hybrid bike that has been sold exclusively in Halfords for well over a decade already.

Despite its success, it’s fair to say that the little Subway is a somewhat unappreciated bike, and you’ll certainly struggle to find it reviewed on sites such as this one.

Here at BikeRadar we love bikes that get more people riding, and the Subway does exactly that — consider it one of the gateway drugs to this chronically addictive world we are all part of.

The Carrera Subway 2 looks like a brilliant bike for £350, we'll soon let you know if that's the case
The Carrera Subway 2 looks like a brilliant bike for £350, we'll soon let you know if that's the case

The Subway’s simple alloy chassis is certainly more mountain bike than road bike, and its flat handlebars will provide confidence for those who favour safety over outright speed. There’s no suspension to worry about, which at this price-point is only a good thing.

Practical touches include pannier mounts, mudguard mounts and a couple of water bottle bosses. To our surprise this 22in test bike tipped our scales at just 13.68kg, that’s a shade over 30lbs — impressive stuff.

A major spec highlight has to be the Clarks M2 hydraulic disc brakes, which add proven stopping power at a price-point where we’d normally find either dated rim brakes or inferior mechanical discs. 

The Clarks M2 brakes fitted to these bikes are among our favourite budget stoppers
The Clarks M2 brakes fitted to these bikes are among our favourite budget stoppers

The drivetrain blends a Suntour XCM triple chainset with Shimano Altus derailleurs and shifters. That means 27 mountain bike derived gears and a good old square taper bottom bracket.

The 650b wheels feature a reassuringly high spoke count and are wrapped in Kenda K841 tyres, which are optimised for urban environments and boast of puncture protection on their sidewalls. Convenient quick-release axles feature at both ends of the Subway.

Triples still make a lot of sense for those who commute
Triples still make a lot of sense for those who commute

As far as finishing kit is concerned, Carrera does a good job of putting quality alloy parts in place of where you’d have once found cheap and nasty steel bits. In fact, the parts used wouldn't look out of place on a bike costing twice as much.

On paper, at least, this seems like a great bike for the money, and we’ll be using this example over the next few weeks to work out if that’s the case. Stay tuned for a full review.

Branded tyres are great to see at this price, and the 1.95in width should go a long way to cushion the city streets
Branded tyres are great to see at this price, and the 1.95in width should go a long way to cushion the city streets

Oli Woodman

Section Editor, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Current Bikes: Marin Pine Mountain, Pinnacle Dolomite
  • Dream Bike: Honda RN01
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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