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Remembering the stunning Carrera Phibra (not that Carrera), one of the finest Italian bikes of the 2010s

A bike with a pleasing touch of the fantastical about it, the Phibra is hard to come by nowadays, especially so in the UK due to a certain large retailer preventing the Italian Carrera bikes from being sold on these shores

Tonight we're reminiscing about one of my favourite bikes of all time, to look at at least. The not conventionally beautiful, and not available in the UK, Carrera Phibra. 

Carrera Phibra - full bike

The Phibra was for at least a decade 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. 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 ever wanted a Phibra, it was a case of going to Italy to buy one and bringing it back. 

Going to take some pics of the latest Phibra in all its curvy cartoonish glory in Hall A1 (the Italian hall) was always one of those Eurobike rituals for us. 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, and even better the very earliest one of those had a split top tube, like a Corratec mountain bike.

Carrera Phibra - seat tube

I digress... what made the Phibra so aesthetically different was 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'. 

Carrera Phibra downtube

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 (augmented on the Phibra by a compensating bulge on the other side)? Check. Deep section fork? Yep, bung it on. 

Carrera Phibra one.jpg

The idea behind the Phibra design was that the main triangle provided a super-stiff and efficient platform to harness as much of your pedalling input as possible, while the rear added in the comfort. Carrera promised 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.

So, what happened to Carrera? Unfortunately its website appears to be down at the time of writing, but as late as 2022 Carrera was posting on its social media pages promoting framesets and full bikes for sale. The brand is also distributed in the USA by Red Rose Imports, who specialise in distributing "Europe's finest cycling products". 

Red Rose posted on its Facebook page last week that it had a single Phibra Evo frameset left in a red/white/blue colourway, offering special prices for complete bikes with a groupset of your choice. We've asked for more information on the whereabouts of the Carrera website and its continuation of the brand Europe... but for now, you may have to be quick to secure the only Phibra left in Pennsylvania, and budget some extra for shipping if you live outside of the USA! 

road.cc's founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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9 comments

Avatar
ktache | 1 month ago
0 likes

I like the curve of the top tube/seat stays. The aesthetic pleases my eye

Avatar
brooksby replied to ktache | 1 month ago
2 likes

Interesting, isn't it?  To my eyes, those curved tubes are the work of the devil and I much prefer straight tubes.

Avatar
ktache replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
2 likes

Oh, give me skinny straight steel tubes anyday, with exposed headset cups, but if they are going to play with that plastic stuff...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to ktache | 1 month ago
2 likes

Doesn't need plastic for it.  You can have twice the curves and with steel.  Well, four times, it's twin tubes top and bottom I think.

Behold the para-bike (this one from Pashley).

Avatar
marmotte27 | 1 month ago
4 likes

I did not remember it, I had luckily actually never seen it. What an eyesore...

Avatar
Cyclo1964 replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
3 likes

Thank goodness I thought I might have been the only one ! 

Avatar
HLaB replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
2 likes

They're probably nothing like each other when placed side to side but the picture had me thinking about that catalogue Eurobike eyesore!

Avatar
Dnnnnnn replied to HLaB | 1 month ago
2 likes

HLaB wrote:

had me thinking about that catalogue Eurobike eyesore!

Yup, me too! And I think the Eurobike is better looking!

 

Avatar
marmotte27 replied to Dnnnnnn | 1 month ago
1 like
Dnnnnnn wrote:

HLaB wrote:

had me thinking about that catalogue Eurobike eyesore!

Yup, me too! And I think the Eurobike is better looking!

 

Not much though.

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