Tonight one of my all time favourite bikes of all time, to look at at least. The not conventionally beautiful, and not available in the UK, Carrera Phibra.
The Phibra has for at least a decade been a stalwart of the Italian brand Carrera’s bike range - the Italian Carrera is not to be confused with the UK version which is one of Halford’s in-house bike brands. Once I knew this stuff I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but… (I think) Halfords own the licence to the Carrera name in the UK for bikes which is why if you want a Phibra you’ll have to go to Italy buy one and bring it back. On its third iteration now It’s certainly a bike that’s stood the test of time.
Going to take some pics of the latest Phibra in Hall A1 (the Italian hall) was always one of those Eurobike rituals, in all its curvy cartoonish glory. I’ve always been a sucker for the all in one top tube wrapping morphing in to the seat stays - the very first version of the Specialized Tarmac did the same, even better the very earliest one of those had a split top tube - like a Corratec mountain bike.
…But I digress, what makes the Phibra so aesthetically different is the combination of that curve with the fat downtube which particularly on earlier versions looked like someone had pumped it up. Over the years that got progressively slimmer and the Phibra’s looks become more conventional – well, for a given value of ‘conventional’.
Those two things weren’t the sum to the Phibra’s aesthetic and technical charms added to that was that all the bike designing stylistic/technical tics of the day got a look in too: integrated seatpost? Check; weirdly flattened seatstays? Check, rear wheel cutout? Check (augmented on the Phibra by a compensating bulge on the other side); deep section fork? Yep, of course bung it on.
The idea behind the Phibra design is that the main triangle provides a super-stiff and efficient platform to harness as much of your pedalling input as possible while the rear adds in the comfort - the Carrera website promises a responsive, comfortable ride and a “stylish bicycle that will not be out performed” well, it would if I was riding it, but that wouldn’t matter because I know it would always put a smile on my face.
Oh, if you wanted to buy one list price currently seems to be €3995 for a frameset or €6995 for a complete bike, at time of writing they seem to be on sale on the Carrera website, so fill yer boots.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.