Carrera Virtuoso – decent starter bike
After covering about 8,000 miles on my first road bike, I thought I would try and cobble together a few thoughts on its performance. The deciding factor in choosing this bike was the price – it was less expensive than most other road bikes, and as a newcomer I was unsure how committed to cycling I would end up being. At £320 the bike wasn’t cheap, but it certainly caused less damage financially than most other road bikes on the market.
My experience has been of a sturdy, reliable aluminium frame and steel forks with mostly low-quality components. Over the last two years I have replaced almost every component on the bike except for the brakes, seat post and cranks. The original tyres didn’t last long, the bar tape was paper-thin, the wheels suffered from snapping spokes and grinding bearings, the saddle tore, the cables wore out, the chain stretched, the derailleurs gave up and the rear cassette lost a few too many teeth. That said, the old girl did cover a fair mileage before some of those changes.
For personal sizing reasons I have also replaced the original handlebars & stem – I chose a large frame but at 5’9″ I felt a bit stretched out so changed for a closer and narrower setup.
The following are items I have bought in addition to the bike but would have had to buy with any first bike to be used for year-round commuting:
- Pedals (road type)
- Bottle cages
- Rack and panniers
- Saddle bag
- Mini pump
I’m not sure whether better original components would have lasted significantly longer, however the replacement components I installed all seem to have worn much better (and I did not install any high-end stuff). I have spent more than the cost of the original complete bike in replacing the parts on it, so I now have a reliable bike with decent components but still splashed with the seemingly unfashionable Carerra brand name. Other than those annoying Carerra adverts during last year’s Tour and the questionable colour scheme design on this particular bike I can’t find too much else to complain about.
Last year, having properly fallen victim to the contagious cycling bug I bought a high-end road bike and relegated the Carerra to my commuter / winter bike. The fact that it has lugs for attaching a rack and mudguards is a useful benefit for commuting or touring.
If you want a road bike but aren’t sure how much you will end up using it then the Carrera should be fine. Looking on eBay it has a decent resale value if you do change your mind. And it is often reduced from £500 to £300 by Halfords at different times of the year.
However, if you know you will be doing lots of miles then it could be more cost-effective to buy a slightly more expensive bike with better quality components. Replacing all those components wasn’t cheap.