Carrera Virtuoso review

Comfortable and predictable ride

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £329.99 RRP | USD $522.40

Our review

Good geometry and gearing, plus practical touches. A great beginner bike
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UK leisure chain Halfords get a bit of a rough ride from experienced cyclists – justifiably so for their cheap Apollo bikes, but the Carrera range is different. As long as it’s been assembled by a competent mechanic, with a Carrera you can expect a bike that’s as good quality as any name-brand rival – and almost certainly better value.

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  • Frame & fork: Shorter reach adds sportive-style comfort, while the slacker head angle keeps the front wheel away from your feet. Rack and mudguard mounts add versatility (9/10)
  • Handling: Steady and strain-free, which makes it good for recreational or longer rides; ‘predictable’ beats ‘skittishly exciting’ every time on a beginner’s bike (9/10)
  • Equipment: Entry-level road bikes need a compact chainset – and the Carrera gets one. Despite the low price, other components haven’t been sacrificed (8/10)
  • Wheels: Having 36 spokes makes sense for budget wheels, making them stronger for a minor weight penalty. Tyres, as ever, should be an early upgrade option (8/10)

Our Carrera’s 7005 aluminium frame is partnered with a high-tensile steel fork. The down tube has that familiar aero-looking teardrop profile, while the top tube is similar but less stretched. Although vertical stiffness is increased, as is the weld area at the head-tube and bottom bracket, this is mostly a matter of aesthetics.

At the back end the dropouts are cowled, which looks neat and may help prevent them getting bent. At the front, the conventional headset saves weight and arguably offers better reliability than integrated or semi-integrated alternatives.

There are fittings and room for mudguards, and the rear stays have carrier rack mounts as well. There’s only one set of eyelets at the dropouts, though, so both rack and mudguard would have to share these; if this is the case, put the rack legs next to the frame.

Carrera virtuoso: carrera virtuoso
www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk

The front hub to bottom bracket distance is sufficient to prevent toe overlap, but the effective top tube length is fairly short – in part because the Carrera has a slacker (71-degree) head angle.

Gearing sees – at last – a compact double. The 36-tooth inner chainring gives a smaller bottom gear for climbing – 37 inches – and it means you have a spread of lower gears rather than just one or two.

That the front shifts are handled by a cheaper derailleur (A050) is of little consequence, and if the gears go out of adjustment, there are handy inline adjusters to sort them out as you ride.

The Carrera’s wheels are built from unbranded hubs and DBR-1 double wall aluminium rims. Nothing special, yet they’re stronger than many simply because of the spoke count: 36 per wheel.

A good wheelbuilder can build great wheels with fewer spokes than this, but for a given standard of factory-built wheels, more spokes equals more strength and greater reliability. That’s good news for heavier riders or anyone fitting a carrier rack.

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On the road, the short reach of the Carrera makes it feel less like a wannabe race bike and more like a sportive bike. Comfort is good, whether on the tops or on the drops, and the slack head angle means more trail and an accordingly steadier ride.

Put aside your preconceptions: this really feels like it’s been designed with the entry-level rider in mind.: put aside your preconceptions: this really feels like it’s been designed with the entry-level rider in mind.
www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk

Product Specifications

Product

Name Virtuoso (09)
Brand Carrera

Available Colours Black/Blue
Rims DBR-1 alloy
Top Tube (cm) 54
Standover Height (cm) 75
Seat Tube (cm) 44
Chainstays (cm) 41.5
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 26.5
Weight (lb) 24.5
Weight (kg) 11.1
Stem 11cm alloy ahead, 2-bolt 26mm bar clamp, 2-bolt 1 1/8in steerer clamp
Shifters Shimano 2200 STI
Seatpost Kalloy aluminium micro adjust, 27.2mm single bolt steel clamp
Saddle Carrera padded vinyl, steel rails
Rear Tyre Size 700x25C
Available Sizes L M S
Rear Hub Alloy
Rear Derailleur Shimano 2200 long cage
Handlebar Alloy anatomic deep drop, standard diameter, 42cm c-c
Front Tyre Size 700x25C
Front Derailleur Shimano AO50
Frame Material Profiled 7005 aluminium, replaceable gear hanger
Fork Hi-ten steel unicrown with 1 1/8in threadless steerer
Cranks Prowheel Gloria, forged alloy, 170mm arms, square taper, 110bcd, steel rings
Cassette Shimano HG50
Brakes Tektro dual-pivot sidepulls
Bottom Bracket Semi-cartridge, steel, square taper
Wheelbase (cm) 100.5