The Vulcan is the entry-level hardtail in Halfords’ premium own-brand Carrera range. When we requested it for test it was £250. Now it’s £50 cheaper.
Underneath the topcoat, the frame is superficially identical to that of the top-of- the-range Carrera Fury. It’s a decent, disc-only 7005 aluminium frame reinforced with a head tube gusset, only here the tubing is plain gauge rather than double-butted. Dimensions are typical for an XC hardtail and the cockpit is roomy enough to get the power down.
It translates to a fairly light ‘real bike’ feel on the trail that feels fairly fast. Yet the fork is a disappointment. While it is preload adjustable, even when wound tight it dives and squashes over drop-offs. Over rapid small bumps there’s no subtlety; it just judders. Still, the wide bar helps keep you on track when the going gets really rough.
However, for £250 the level of equipment would be good: at £200 it’s astounding. Instead of the expected 21-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain, maybe with a 48/38/28 crankset, you get 24-speed SRAM SX4 with an off-road ready 42/32/22T crankset. The 8-speed rear end means a Freehub, which builds into a stronger rear wheel than a cheap threaded 7-speed hub because the bearings are closer to the end of the axle.
You also get cable disc brakes; while little more effective than V-brakes, they’d be easy to upgrade to hydraulics. Stem and headset are threadless. And you even get a preload adjustable fork, albeit not a very good one. Still, a sound purchase.