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Carrera's Gryphon is the kind of bike that sells in big numbers in the UK, and for good reason. It's a well-balanced urban machine that's sensibly built and very well specced for the price. £370 isn't pocket money but it's very affordable. This bike would cost you around £20 a month on a Cycle to Work scheme and it's built to last, so if you're looking for an urban workhorse it's definitely one to consider.
Halfords sell a lot of bikes so they have buying power, and the fact that Carrera is their own brand saves them some margin. That's reflected in the spec of the Gryphon, which is definitely a step above most of the competing bikes at this price. You get an alloy frame and fork, Shimano 16-speed drivetrain with decent thumbshifters and an FSA crankset, Tektro Lyra disc brakes, well-built wheels and solid finishing kit. That's a spec you'd expect to cost probably a hundred quid more than the asking price of the Gryphon. So what's the catch?
Well, there isn't one. Not that I've found, anyway. This Carrera is a likeable bike. Okay it's not super quick but it's well put together and the ride is stable and fairly comfortable. For the money, it's a very good machine. I get the feeling I'll be saying "for the money" a lot...
First impressions are of a bike that's slap bang in the middle of the hybrid spectrum. Less hunkered down than a Specialized Sirrus or a Boardman, not quite as upright as a Trek FX, this is a bike that's most at home hopping from the house to the office or running errands around town, but it's not so heavy or sluggish that it can't handle a longer excursion.
Pulling away for the first time, the weight in the wheels is noticeable: bikes at this kind of price don't tend to skimp on the metal or rubber there. The upside is that the Gryphon's wheels are sturdy and well built, and the Kenda tyres are grippy and big enough to add some comfort to the ride.
The 16-speed transmission features a Shimano 2300 rear mech and RD440 shifters, along with an FSA Tempo chainset. That's all dependable stuff, and the performance of the drivetrain was pretty much faultless throughout. The shifters have a heavier and slightly more vague feel than the more expensive units but they're much better than you normally get at this price.
The Gryphon has ideas slightly quicker than its station in speccing an 11-25 cassette though; I'd rather have a long cage mech and a bigger spread of gears to get those heavy wheels turning on the steep slopes of Bath. Assuming you live somewhere topographically challenged, or you fit yourself a rack and tolug the shopping home on this bike, you'll probably be wanting them too.
Tektro's Lyra mechanical discs take care of stopping. For the money they are excellent spec. Okay, they're a bit of a faff to set up and they need dialling in every once in a while, but they do offer dependable all-weather stopping with minimal fuss. You need to haul on them hard to stop yourself in a hurry though, so they're not the best option if you lack an iron grip.
The Gryphon is at its best when it's hacking through town or along the towpath. It's not the quickest bike or the most agile, but it's plenty capable of dealing with urban conditions and the tyre and wheel combo is quite happy to venture onto unsurfaced stuff. After 10 miles or so you'll start wishing the wheels were a bit lighter, and after 20 it'll start to feel less like fun and more like a chore, but it's not really a bike designed for long distances. If your commute is a handful of miles and you'd like to give it a go on a bike, you could spend a lot more than this and get a bike that's only marginally better... or maybe one that's not as good.
It's not perfect, of course, but you wouldn't expect a £370 bike to be. The grips might as well be made of marble for all the cushioning they provide, and coupled with an all alloy front end and cockpit, you're relying on the tyres to take the sting out of the road. Those grips would be my first upgrade, followed by some lighter rubber to speed things up a bit. Once I'd worn through the first cassette I'd look at getting a wider range of gears on board too. But that's all pretty minor stuff. For the money the Gryphon is a pretty sorted urban bike. You could get a helmet, mudguards, a rack, lights and some waterproofs and still have change from £500. If you're ditching the car for the commute, it wouldn't take you long to claw that back in saved fuel costs.
Very well specced for the money, with a decent ride to boot; a good budget urban machine.
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Make and model: Carrera Gryphon
Size tested: L
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Brake Type: Mechanical Disc
Chainset: FSA Tempo compact chainset
Exact Frame Size: 21"
Frame: Lightweight 6061 aluminium
Frame Material: Aluminium
Frame Size: 21-22
Front Brake: Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brake
Front Mech: Shimano FD-R440
Gear Shifters: Shimano SL-R440 trigger shifters
Handle Bars: Alloy oversize flat bars (31.8mm diameter)
Headset: Semi integrated
Hubs: Alloy with QR
Number of Gears: 16
Pedals: Wellgo Alloy pedals with toe clips
Rear Brake: Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brake
Rear Mech: Shimano RD-2300
Rims: Double wall alloy rims
Tyre size: 28c
Tyres: Kenda tyres
Wheel size: 700c
Forks: Alloy straight blade forks
Frame Colour: Satin Gunmetal
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
They say: "Designed to bring high performance and lightweight cycling to a practical design the Carrera Gryphon Hybrid Bike combines a lightweight aluminium frame and alloy forks with a fantastic spec. Equipped with Shimano 16-speed gearing and an FSA compact chainset you can achieve responsive and smooth gear changes while Tektro Lyra lightweight mechanical disc brakes offer a reliable braking performance on a bike that is fast and lightweight and offers great performance throughout."
We say: fair enough
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Welds are workmanlike rather than pretty but the finish is good
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Mid position for town riding, not too upright and not too sporty
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Pretty good all-rounder; the heavy wheels and tyres take the edge off the speed and agility.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It's plenty stiff enough for the task at hand
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Not a problem
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's not the most flickable bike through town but it's plenty capable of both town and longer distance riding
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Saddle is surprisingly good, grips are bad
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, it's a very competent town bike
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes as a workhorse
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.