Just in: Carrera Gryphon
Sub-£400 urban workhorse that's well specced for the daily grind
It might not be a part of the cycling spectrum that sets your pulse racing, but flat barred urban hybrid bikes leave bikeshops in their thousands, destined for all sorts of riding. There's plenty of them to choose from, and the fact they're made in large numbers means you get good value for money thanks to economies of scale. The Carrera Gryphon is one such bike, and it's a good example of what you can get for your money these days.
List price for the Gryphon is £369.99, but if you fancy doing your bike shopping this weekend (29/10/2011-31/10/2011) you can have 20% off this bike, meaning you'll pick one up for less than 300 notes. For that you're getting an alloy frame and fork, 16-speed Shimano non-series transmission with an FSA chainset, Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes, semi-deep alloy wheelset and Kenda 28mm tyres. That sounds like an awful lot of bike for the money.
So what's the catch? Well there isn't one really. Halfords have been knocking out good value urban bikes under their Carrera brand for ages and they have more buying power than most; the Subway is a long standing budget favourite and the Gryphon sits above that. The frame is 6061 Aluminium and the welds are chunky and utilitarian rather than artisan, but it's well built and nicely finished in satin gunmetal. The beefy down tube and flattened top tube make it look purposeful and on trend, and the fork is a matching alloy unit.
Shimano's R440 shifters and front mech are a similar level to the 2300 rear mech: below the Sora level but still retaining the look of the more expensive series groupsets. In terms of feel they're a bit more agricultural, but functionally they're absolutely fine. An FSA Tempo compact chainset completes the transmission.
Disc brakes are gaining ground across the board, and they're a common sight on urban bikes such as this. There's no room in the budget for hydraulics but Tektro's Lyra mechanical discs are confident stoppers and fairly easy to set up. As is often the case these days the rear calliper sits inside the stays to make it easier to fit a rack and mudguards; there's holes for both on the dropout and rack bosses on the seatstays. The rotors are attaced to Carrera branded wheels with Formula-esque disc hubs and semi-deep double wall alloy rims. They look sturdy; they're not light. Wheels on bikes at this price never are, though. The 28mm Kenda rubber doesn't help in that regard, but at least it's nice and sturdy.
We'll be piloting the Gryphon through the urban jungle of, erm, Bath over the next few weeks and we'll let you know how we get on.