“ Brand: Carrera / Type: Rear suspension mens' mountain bike / features: Hydraulic disc brakes „
==Carrera, The brand==
The Carrera brand is a Halfords exclusive and therefore is recognised throughout the biking world for quality, reliable, great value bikes. It has 20years of manufacturing experience and this can be seen with the newer bikes especially the more specialised bikes such as the Banshee X and more recently produced in 2009 the Banshee XXX, which is equally as good but slightly more expensive.
My chosen bike is the Carrera Banshee X (2007) because of the exclusivity to the Halfords company there is a certain amount of snobbery within the biking world (which I was unaware when purchasing and therefore did not impact my decision at all), disregarding the bike as a valid option. To those I say I bought it I have ridden it and I praise it.
The bike's most appealing aspect is the quality of the parts relative to the price of £800 pounds (at new - I realise that one can purchase some brilliant bikes; refurbished/ second hand bikes on Ebay - but they come at a risk). I would also like to mention something for those of you who are reading and are unfamiliar with bikes and see the price of £800 as completely absurd thinking that you can purchase an Apollo for an eighth of the price. These bikes are rather specialist as you will see when the spec is discussed in full, this bike along with many other bikes up and above the price of £800 are made to deal with conditions and scenarios far more extreme than one will encounter travelling along a pavement or road. For example this bike can cope with drop offs (a random drop present along a track or trail) of up to 8ft, however there are bikes costing over £2000 which will cope with far more. So bare in mind this is not a bike for those who enjoy the occasional trip, however for those who are entering the world of cross country, downhill, free-riding, jumping or anything of this sort, this bike is a brilliant alternative to more expensive or cheaper products; equilibrium of expense and quality.
==My purchase experience:==
I purchased this bike less than three years ago. Granted at the time I knew very little about bikes so its aesthetics' were the convincer for me, the bikes looks are a major positive. I wanted something which looked 'cool and performed well on the tracks that I wanted to take it on (downhill and 'freeride'). This bike was suggested so like any excited person I snapped up the bike without another moments thought (to save money purchase the bike near the end of the calander year and you will be able to achieve a cheaper price, such as £100, but be aware this is due to the newer model following in January, but a good tip to bare in mind).
Luckily I did not grow to regret this decision. For the first year the bike coped excellently; I used it constantly on jumps, downhill tracks, cross country trails and the bike remained robust and the parts performed without a problem. Many commented on how great the bike looked and I totally agreed with them. It truly was a well oiled machine and only gained the few expected problems such as 2 broken chains and scratches due to certain crashes I encountered but this is perfectly reasonable for a bike which has been put through the works.
Also the bikes capabilities are near limitless, it dealt with everything I threw at it/ threw myself into. But not only this, compared to other more specialised bikes such as permanent downhill bikes or on the other side of the scale cross country bikes this bike is the right weight and spec to deal with each aspect with skill, precision and reliability. It is a perfect compromise for those who want a bike in the middle. One can climb the gruelling hills then enjoy the thundering slopes... it can do it all.
After a major crash I needed to change certain parts such as the wheels and handlebars but afterwards the bike faired well, and continued to perform. Hafords only charged me for the parts and not the labour - so it helps if you try and build a great relationship with one of the workers in bike hut for example purchase each bike through the same person if possible - you will both benefit.
*The carrera Banshee X utilises a full suspension design; this means that there is a rear shock as well as front suspension meaning that the bike can handle larger bumps and very rocky sections.
*The weight: 39lbs, compared to similar bikes of this range it is actually rather light, hence why it can be used for most biking disciplines.
*Scram X5 front and rear shifters and gearing mechanisms, 27 speeds. The 27 gears increase the bikes capability in most genres. For my favoured discipline of downhill the 3 front rings meant that the gears occasionally skip when jumping and a nine speed would probably be more reliable. However for road use and cross country single track the extensive 27 gears means one is well suited for hills and flat sections. The Scram X5's are not brilliantly reliable although they are not that expensive to replace with the better quality X7s roughly around £50-£60, advisable for a extreme rider, on the other hand not a necessity for a less frequent rider.
*Forks (front suspension) Marzochi All Mountain Fours (also known as 'bombers') as the name suggests these forks are ideal for fast riders, they consist of Marzochi's reliable spring system and have 140mm drop out (which means for those who are not accustomed with technical talk the forks can depress 14 cm's). The forks are ideal for general single track however for downhill riding a larger drop out is suggested and one can purchase these forks for a cost of around £300 from Chain Reaction Cycle's (a great website for cheap bike brands). I have not changed my forks because of the price and mine have lasted well. The forks can be adjusted to certain riding disciplines however cannot be locked out - but this cannot be expected from forks costing around £150 new.
*Rear shock is an X-Fusion coil offering up to six inches of rear travel, this furthers the functionality of the bike enabling it to ride extreme tracks and jumps. For road and cross country users the rear shock improves the comfort of the ride. The rear shock can be locked out, which is advised when going up hills otherwise you spend half your time bouncing up and down, though this may be rather amusing for passers by it makes accents harder work! I am very fond of the rear shock present on this bike and though not a well know brand it has served me well. For greater travel and reliability it is worth noting that better quality shocks can be bought from the same website previously mention (Chain Reaction Cycles)
*One thing I would like to draw attention to is the frame. The frame is strong robust and reliable, I have had many crashes in my time but never once has my frame been dented, broken or harmed - the explanation for this? Though speculated the frame that is used for this bike is actually the same/ very similar to the Kona Dawg/ Coiler (respectably priced at around £1300!). The frames are both made in the same factory and the difference is the final design and finishing touches so the decals are different however the moulding the material used and the general design are the same - hence why the title claims that this bike is a Kona Dawg in disguise. Importantly this proves that when buying this product one is not paying hundreds of pounds for the brand name or prestige instead you spend your precious money on the parts used - ensuring the bike is one of the best products in the market.
*The wheels, sadly not a great experience: The wheels are Mavic and though highly praised I managed to break mine (Halfords' said this was due to the spokes being too loose something I did not check - so make sure you do this before any ride, a costly mistake if you do not). Not too great as you can imagine it was not a pleasant crash. I replaced them with Halo Tornado's which I managed to pick up for £90 second hand and equivalent wheels can be achieved for this price. The wheels fit well and have caused no problems since. The wheels are quick release instead of bolt through making them cheaper to replace.
*The bike utilise hydraulic disk brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes mean that instead of a wire inside the cable there is a pressurised fluid. This means that when the rider presses the brake lever the fluid is pushed down the cable and closes the clamps around the disks. This mechanism is more sophisticated, consequently it is more efficient, responsive and reliable - so a great aspect of the bike and cannot be faulted. Hydraulic brakes are not featured on the cheaper model the Carrera Banshee. Durability wise, I can only give you my experience; mine are three years old and still working brilliantly and expect very few problems in the future.
The bike comes in two sizes a 17 inch model and a 19 inch model, I am six foot and I purchased the 19 inch model it fits me perfectly, and is not too heavy. For dirt jumpers the 17 inch model may be advised. Also not the seat can be adjusted easily with a 5mm Allen key.
Like I hinted those in the 'serious biking community' mock the competence of Halfords. In fact there servicing plan, joined with Bike Hut (which is additional costing £35 for three years) is excellent and highly recommended. They serviced the bike every few months and each time the bike came back well oiled and returned to the near brand new condition. In fact when my bike chain broke Halfords remained adamant it was their fault and provided me with a new one completely free - not bad customer service if you ask me. They also would consult me about additional upgrades and explain problems that they had faced. So in my opinion no faults and great service so do not be put off, the fact your bike comes from a well known company such as Halfords is an absolute plus which you will reap the benefits later on especially when you hit times of trouble.
Cheaper in price to competitors
Great parts and reliable design
Support from Halfords is consistently good
The parts are relatively cheap to replace and source
The design looks brilliant the decals look stylish and sleek and the black paint work means that any accessories suit the bike. In my opinion the 2007 model has better colour coordination compared to later models - it is an elegant mix of style and aggression
(representing the bike well)
People who are associated with biking may mock the brand, for no apparent reason.
The X5 shifters are not as reliable as the improved X7
Some parts are Halfords own and therefore are not backed by individual manufacturer warranty such as Race Face (these parts include the handle bars, the stem and bottom bracket)
My opinion is summed up through this quote from the Halfords website (though possibly bias) "Whether you're an all day warrior, love to ride the trails or you want to take on an extreme section of single track, the Banshee X will handle it in style" I totally agree a brilliant bike consisting of style, strength and quality - I adore this bike and cannot fault it - it has served me well for three years and hopefully many years to come...
Thank you for reading, I will happily answer any questions
This review is also on my ciao acount: BazzaBoyT