Carrera bikes: which model is right for you?

Carrera have been making value bikes for over 25-years, catering both first time riders to seasoned commuters. But which Carrera is right for you?

Carrera is available exclusively from Halfords in the UK and is not to be confused with Italian Carrera – the Podium brand that Roche and Pantani rode for back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Usually, being an entry-level brand, a Carrera bike is often a first bike for budding cyclists, or a go to brand for cycling commuters who are looking for a bike that won’t break the bank.

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The brand carries options from trail to tarmac, urban to mountain, and even kids bikes, with this buyers guide focusing specifically on Carrera’s road and hybrid (including electric) options.

The Halfords exclusive brand has always been competitively priced, sitting in between Halford’s budget brand Apollo and the performance orientated brand Boardman. Carrera says its aim is to deliver unmatched value, in terms of specification, and last year gave the brand a contemporary visual make over.


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Carrera road bikes

Carrera Vanquish and  Carrera Vanquish Disc

Carrera bikes

The bike designed with the sportive rider in mind, with the aim of delivering a balance between speed and comfort.

Made from triple butted aluminium tubing, in which different tube wall thicknesses are used throughout the frame, thickest around welded joins to give it strength, but thinner in other places to help keep the overall frame weight low.

The forks feature carbon blades on an alloy steerer, which should help reduce road vibrations, giving you a more comfortable ride. The compact FSA Tempo chainset, 50/34, and widely spaced 8-speed Shimano cassette of 11-28T should just be enough to get you up some of the more severe of hills. Finished with Shimano Claris shifters and mech’s helps to ensure that they deliver each gear change as smoothly and as predictably as possible.

There are two models of the Carrera Vanquish, the Vanquish Disc Men’s Road Bike which retails at £425,  and rim brake Vanquish Road Bike for £375, both Tektro brakes, mechanical disc or dual pivot for the rim version.

Carrera Virtuoso Road Bike

Carrera Virtuoso

The Virtuoso Road Bike uses the same platform as the Vanquish model, but with a steel fork.

The Carrera Virtuoso Road Bike carries many of the same attributes and specification as the Vanquish disc, but this time coming with a hi-tensile steel fork. This strong material will give a slightly different ride quality than the carbon bladed option, and a slight weight penalty, but allows the price to be considerably less.

There’s only one bike to choose from and costs £325, with only a 51cm and 54cm frame size options.

Carrera Zelos

Carrera Zelos Road Bike

The entry-level Carrera Zelos.

The men’s and women’s Zelos are both aimed at entry-level road riders, Carrera say the Zelos is equally at home either commuting or leisure riding, with the geometry of the aluminium frame and hi-tensile steel fork designed to deliver comfort for miles.

Both frames come with a 7-speed Shimano Tektro, with the 14-28T cassette teamed with a compact 50/34 chainset, meaning that you should be able ride most of the typical roads around the UK, but the stronger riders may find it quite ‘spinny’ on the flat.

The main differences between the Zelos Mens Road Bike and Zelos Women’s Road Bike versions are the frame sizes, with the men’s available in 51cm and 54cm and the women’s much smaller sizes of 43cm and 46cm. Both cost £275.

Carrera hybrid bikes:

Hybrid bikes from Carrera provide a blend of road and off-road machine making them a versatile option capable of tackling a mixture of surfaces. This is largely thanks to bigger and more robust tyres. Other features include flat bars and an upright riding position akin to that of a mountain bike.

The Carrera hybrid bike range is split in to three families, the multi surface Crossfire, which includes two e-bike models, the performance Subway and urban focused Parva and Axle.

Carrera Crossfire

There are four models in the aluminium Carrera Crossfire range, Crossfire 1, 2 and 3, with women’s specific versions available in the first two and the Crossfire-E, available in both men’s and women’s versions. All of the Crossfire range sport front suspension and a triple chainset, to help you overcome challenging terrains.

The range topping Crossfire 3 (£400) boasts the longest fork travel of 75mm, compared to 63mm of the rest of the range, but the biggest advantage of the top model is the hydraulic disc brakes, which will offer superior stopping power over the mechanical disc brakes of the £320 Crossfire 2 and V-brakes of the £270 Crossfire 1.

The other obvious model differences in the range are the number of gears on offer, with Crossfire 1 providing 21 gears, Crossfire 2 24 gears and Crossfire 3 27.

There are three frame sizes available in the main models, 17/18, 19/20, 21/22 in the men’s and 16, 18, 20 in the women’s.

Carrera Crossfire-E mens Electric Bike

The Carrera Crossfire-E mens Electric Bike has a claimed range of around 60miles.

The Crossfire-E has a similar specification as Crossfire 3, plus the all important 36v 15.5ah Suntour battery. The eight gears and four power mode battery should get you over any hill and has a claimed range of around 60miles for £1,200.

As with all the women’s models, the cranks and stem are shorter and the bike also comes with narrower handlebars and a women’s specific saddle.

Carrera Subway

The Subway it what Carrera refer to as it’s performance hybrid, aimed at both commuting and leisure riding. The two models in the range,  Subway 1 and Subway 2 both come with ridged forks, disc brakes and unusually 27.5” wheels, with a women’s specific version available.

Subway 2 is the higher spec’ed model in the range with hydraulic disc brakes, an aluminium fork to match the frame and costs £350, while the more affordable Subway 1 for £300 uses mechanical disc brakes, steel forks. Both models come with 24 gears on the 27.5” wheel sized bike.

The women’s specific model comes in two frame sizes 16 and 18, while the men’s comes in 16, 18, 20, 22.

Carrera Parva and Axle

Carrera Parva Women's Hybrid Bike

The Carrera Parva Women’s specific version.

Coming with an urban remit, the £330 Parva and Axle are essentially the same bike, the Parva is the summer version and Axle the winter, with only colour schemes denoting the difference this year, although occasionally the spec can change between seasons.

The aluminium frame and high-tensile steel has been designed specifically for roads and light trails. The Shimano drive chain comes with 21 gears and is paired with Tektro V-brake rim brakes. The Women’s specific version has a dropped cross bar, shorter stem and cranks as well as narrower handlebars and a women’s specific saddle.