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.

It made it up a few Alps with no complaints

It made it up the famous Alpe d’Huez with no technical problems (some respiratory issues with the rider were revealed)

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.

Replacing the rear cassette

Replacing the rear cassette

Not being too precious about a bike has allowed me to do most modifications, repairs and replacements myself

Not being too precious about the bike has allowed me to do most modifications, repairs and replacements myself

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:

  1. Pedals (road type)
  2. Bottle cages
  3. Rack and panniers
  4. Mudguards
  5. Saddle bag
  6. Mini pump
  7. Lights

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.

The bike in its present state - fully equipped for the daily commute

The bike in its present state – fully equipped for the daily commute

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.

8 thoughts on “Carrera Virtuoso – decent starter bike

  1. AndrewGills says:

    That sounds super cheap to get a bike for 320 pounds. Wow. Entry level road bikes here in Australia are expensive! Though one of the bike shops did just have a super sale on where all carbon bikes were $AU1,000 with Shimano 105 components (they were a cheap brand frame). But usually an entry level aluminium frame bike starts at about $1,500.

    It’s great having a bike that you can experiment with isn’t it. That’s what I’m doing with my mountain bike.

    • bikevcar says:

      Yeah it’s good to have a regular bike to just use and abuse without worrying about mud or salty water on the roads or any chips to the paintwork. I will use this bike until it wears out (if it ever does!)

  2. traumfahrrad says:

    i had a similar experience with an entry level decathlon some years ago. it cost about £200. By the time i’d bought a posh new bike i’d probably spent about 4 times as much money on upkeep and maintenance. i learnt a lot about maintaining a bike.

  3. Haydn says:

    I’ve got a Virtuoso myself (had it about 8 weeks!). My first real road bike so was perfect entry level for me! Now the wet weather is approaching I’m looking at mudguards and wondered which you had used?

  4. Rgh says:

    I did london to Paris on mine… With much expensive company… As an obese 60 year old it was a good ride and the bike and I both coped with all the hills and fast sections… A good bike and great value.

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