The new Carerra Impel range from Halfords launches on Monday September 27 and looks like a winner. Judging by the incredibly enthusiastic reaction to the Pure Electric Pure Flux One, the single-speed version may prove to be the most popular, but there's something for everyone within the three models available.
Electric bikes have become extremely popular recently. There are some superb premium options out there but it seems that what everyone is really looking for is a cheap ebike – but not so cheap that you worry it'll disintegrate and catch fire as you're pootling along. Recently I've looked at the Pure Flux One and Xiaomi Mi Smart Folding Electric Bike and they are both niffy offerings around the £1,000 mark. Now Halfords, Britain's most beloved purveyor of things that go on roads, has not one but three cheap electric bikes hot to trot.
Carerra is one of several Halfords in-house brands but somewhat less well known than Boardman. Well, certainly less well known to me; I’d never heard of it before yesterday. There have been Carerra ebikes before but Impel seems to be the first one where the battery is hidden in the frame rather than being mounted to it. The range comprises a Pure Flux-style e-bike with just one gear, or the same thing but with nine gears. Topping the range is a 3rd offering, which has 10 gears, a bigger battery and better brakes.
The great news is that the Carerra range offers a wider range of features than Pure Electric's excellent entry-level ebike, for not a lot more money. Whether that extra money is worth it remains to be seen – I'll 'hopefully' be adding review samples to the absolute mound of ebikes currently taking up all the space in my hallway and spare room. But there's no doubt there'll be a lot of interest in these bikes, particularly the very cheap single speed. Halfords calls the range a 'T-E-riffic trio', which is really very clever of them, and 'state of the art'.
Let's have a look at what you get for your not-very-much money. You can also look at the range and pre-order on Halfords' website.
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Carrera Impel im-1 is available from September 27 and features no gears – or just one gear, strictly speaking; otherwise the wheel wouldn't go around. It's the closest to the Pure Flux One then. Styling is nowhere near as cool, but I should think a more standard, less stripped-down and, hipster-ish look is probably appealing to a lot of people. Squares.
The big news here is that the bike costs just £1,099. That's £100 more than the Pure Flux One but for your extra outlay you get the following features that the Pure bike doesn't have:
• A longer maximum range – 50 miles rather than 25. The actual distance will vary depending on which of the three assistance levels you use most, but it's more than the Pure bike.
• Built-in lights, front and rear.
• Lifetime guarantee on frame and rigid fork – Pure Electric only offers three years
• A 'walk mode'. This applies a small amount of power when you are wheeling the bike along on foot. It's not essential for most people but it is nice to have, and it's definitely handy if you have any kind of mobility issues yourself.
• Bluetooth – means you can connect to the Hyena app and see your riding stats.
Whether the Halfords Carerra Impel im-1 is worth £100 more than the Pure Flux One largely boils down to whether you want a longer range and built-in lights. I'd question the usefulness of the former – it only takes '5-7 hours' to recharge this bike's 376Wh battery and I can't envision anyone riding anywhere near 50 miles on it in one go. However, with the winter nights drawing in, the lights are a very handy addition, assuming they are any good – wait for the T3 review on that point.
Only one gear and three levels of electrical assistance means this bike will be incredibly simple to ride and leaves less to potentially go wrong, just like the Pure Flux One. The Carerra is not as good as Pure Electric's bike in these ways, though:
• Chain rather than carbon belt drive. Not the end of the world, but the grease-free, near-silent belt on the Pure bike is a very handy addition.
• Heavier weight. The Pure Flux One is 17kg. This Carerra is 19.18kg, which is enough to push it into the realm of hefty.
• More boring styling. Halfords says, 'This new e-bike range is more sleek and stylish than any other e-bike that has come before,' but this is a LIE. It certainly isn't a bad looking bike, but it is a little dull compared to the Pure Flux One and a fair number of other ebikes that I've tried. Admittedly, a more conservative look is probably not going to bother Halfords' target market much.
• Not actually available yet. You can buy the Pure Flux One immediately but you will have to wait until September 27 for this one.
Both bikes have mechanical disk brakes and flat handlebars and the Carrera should be similarly great to ride in urban conditions.
Another thing that both bikes share is a two-year warranty on the motor and battery, but some may be swayed by the fact there are considerably more branches of Halfords than there are Pure Electric shops, making servicing – free or otherwise – easier when and if it's required. Halfords also offers a lifetime of free safety checks on all the bikes it sells.
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There are two other ebikes in the Carerra range. Naturally enough they are called the Carerra Impel im-2 and im-3. Carrera Impel im-2 is also out September 27, while Carrera Impel im-3 is held back until October 11. They appear to be the exact same bikes in most respects but with the following differences:
• Carrera Impel im-2 has 9-speed gearing and is slightly heavier at 19.56kg.
• Carrera Impel im-3 has 10-speed gearing, hydraulic disk brakes and a longer range of up to 75 miles, thanks to a bigger, 496Wh battery. Presumably it will be a fair bit heavier again, but no weight has been confirmed yet. It's not yet on Halfords's site so I've no link to share with you here. Soz.
Given that electric bikes are limited to 15.5mph and most people can't be bothered to make them go much faster than that, the im-3's hydraulic brakes might not be an essential upgrade. I also question the usefulness of a 75-mile range, for most. people.
This leads me to think that the im-2 hits the real sweet spot here. The lower end of the 9-gear range makes hills even easier than they usually are on ebikes. The upper gears mean you probably will be able to get above the requisite 15.5mph, although on a bike weighing nearly 20 kilos, this will not be without a certain amount of effort. This could be a plus if you are looking to get a workout from your ebike, however. The price is still pretty attractive at £1,299 especially with the option of using the Cycle to Work scheme or taking advantage of Halfords' Klarna credit.
Halfords Carerra Impel ebike range: price and availability
The Carerras appear to be UK-only, so apologies to our overseas readers.
Carerra Impel im-1 costs £1,099 and is available exclusively at Halfords from September 27.
Carerra Impel im-2 costs £1,299 and is available exclusively at Halfords from September 27.
Carerra Impel im-3 costs £1,499 and is available exclusively at Halfords from October 11.
If you are interested, that is the equivalent of $1,500, $1,800 and $2077 respectively in the USA. Inn Australia you would theoretically be looking at AU$2,060, AU$2,400 or AU$2,800. Cheap, then.