Superstore retailer Halfords launched on their webshop this morning a budget racer under their Carrera brand offering, as they put it, "unbeatable specification and value at under £1,000."
The new bike which carries the long-running Virago name for the Carrera brand is evidently a bit of a toe-in-the-water for Halfords who hitherto reserved the Boardman brand for the performance benefits of carbon fibre with 'just 50 bikes available pre-Christmas' in four sizes; 52, 56, 58 and 60cm.
Carbon fibre is not unprecedented at the vital £999.99 price point but the trend has been for carbon bikes equipped with the Shimano 105 10-speed drivetrain that the Virago features to drift rewards the £1,100 - £1,200 area as prices have generally increased for the 2012 model year.
There are club specialists such as Ribble and Planet X offering well put-together carbon bikes under the grand but the Halfords presence in the retail parks and the previous success with Boardman at these sorts of prices clearly carries weight which warrants having a good look at the specs.
The monocoque frame appears to tick most of the boxes with a good part-visible-carbon paintjob and de rigeur BB30 bottom bracket to plant the FSA chainset very firmly in relation to the steerey and drivey bits. Apart from the mentioned 105 gears, there are pukka Mavic CXP-22 rims with Conti tyres and a respectable weight of 8.6Kg or just under 19 pounds.