Q: My employer has just launched a Cycle2Work scheme with Halfords, so my choice of commuter bike (for an 18-mile round trip) will be limited to whatever Halfords has to offer. What do you think of the Carrera Subway 8? For the daily commute I'm attracted to the idea of having all the gears and brakes housed within the wheel hub.
A: Halfords can supply a pretty wide range of bikes through its Cycle2Work scheme, so your options may not be as limited as you think. As well as Carrera, it also offers Kona, Boardman and GT at its stores, and presumably these are all available through the salary sacrifice scheme too. Given that your commute is nine miles each way, in the long term I think that the speed and efficiency benefits of a lighter, faster-rolling machine will outweigh the low-maintenance benefits of a hub gear.
The Subway 8, though a good bike, is better suited to shorter journeys in and out of town. If the roads you'll be using are fairly fast and smooth I'd look at 700c options such as the Carrera Gryphon (£359) or the excellent Boardman Urban Comp (£400). If it's a more rural or bumpy journey, an MTB-derived 26-incher like the Kona Smoke (£300) or GT ZUM S2 (£399) would most likely suit you better. It's always best to try before you buy; you should be able to test ride any of these machines at a larger Halfords store, but it's always a good idea to call beforehand.
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