We have received many comments from readers for not publishing reviews for Btwin bikes. We contacted the rep at Decathlon who immediately sent us four bikes representing different segments of the market and price. Now we finally had athechance to take Btwin bikes to the test camp on island of Brac in Croatia. In this first review, we take a look at the Btwin Rockrider 560, and pose the question: what’s the secret to offering so much bike at such a small cost?
If I had to sum up the essence of the Rockrider 560 in just one sentence, it would go as follows: If you are planning to buy your first MTB, and your budget can stretch up to HUF 250,000, go to a Decathlon store, and just buy it! Oh, it cost only 189,000? Well, even more so…
Some might say that cheap is “cheap” for a reason. It’s “just” a Btwin, not an established “big” brand. So I rode the bike, and rode it a lot, and now all I can say: the competition has to get its act together, if they want to sell bikes from 2018 on! Yes, the market is in transformation. The classic manufacturer-wholesale-retail model is finding itself in a difficult situation, since everyone wants to make a profit on each level. One less level in the supply chain, the cheaper the bike will be. If the retail store is actually the manufactures of the bike, then the costumer is likely to be saving a huge amount on those profit margins!
The price category in which the Rockrider 560 is positioned is very cost-sensitive. This is not the range where 10% price difference has little effect on the number of bikes sold. If someone has 6000 Euros for a bike, 7000 will probably not be out of reach either, but €700 instead of 600 might not be feasible for most. Not to mention the fact that this price category is mostly unchartered territory by the established brands with multi-level B2B distribution, likewise very few B2C (business to customer) and Internet outlets (i.e. no physical stores) have significant number of models to offer in this range. If we take a close look at the domestic competitors of the Rockrider 560, we’ll find that HUF 189,000 gets only very basic equipment in form of an bare-bones entry-level bike. In case you’re looking for a bike of the same quality and level of equipment as our test model, you have to look at spending the minimum of HUF 250,000 in the retail store, a little less on the Internet, but then finding the right type of bike and size, moreover trying it out poses serious issues.
I say all the above with hundreds of test rides behind me, having ridden most of the bikes available on the domestic market. So I have a wide basis for comparison, and I say the Rockrider 560 is a pretty true bargain for the asking price. Moreover it’s perfectly suitable for serious “athletic” mountain biking, obviously taking into account the limitations of the low-mid range components. But this bike is not about racing, it’s more for weekend excursions, summer bike touring , short-course MTB marathon events where these limitations might not actually manifest. The 2×10 shifting system, the quality Rock Shox suspension fork, the spot-on frame geometry, the 28 spoked lightweight wheel set, the trendy design, and not the least the great price is more than enough to make this bike a “best buy” in the category.
“Unfortunately” for its competition, it’s not only the equipment that is good, but also the most important factor: the ride itself! The 6061 aluminum CGF PRO frame weight a mere 1600 grams in size M, which is outstanding for the category, and maybe even a level or two above. The competition typically offers aluminum frames around 2kg in weight, since it costs less to make a safe frame with enough stability using more material. Advanced tech does cost more! The low weight of the frame is evident when looking at the weight of the complete bike: the 12.95 kg is about 500-1000 grams lighter than most its competitors.
When the Rockrider 560 is taken out on trails, everyone noticed how much better the Rock Shox XC30 suspension fork performed compared to those found on bikes under HUF 200,000. The movement is very nice, smooth and it has a proper damping system as well. The rocky terrain found on the island of Brac is beyond the intended use for this bike, but the Rockrider 560 was not embarrassed by the conditions. The only thing I didn’t like was the the grip-shift-like fork lockout, which could be difficult to operate when wearing gloves. If this was my bike, I would simply replace it with an ordinary lever. The frame geometry is apt for sporty trail riding, it can be controlled with confidence, even at high speed. The bike was a joy to ride.
I did not find major deficiencies regarding the equipment. It has a complete 2×10-speed SRAM X5 transmission system, and fortunately the French brand chose not to substitute crank set from a cheaper alternative. The braking is handled by a Tektro hydraulic unit, which is not on the same level we are accustomed from Shimano, but it has enough power and its pressure point does not change during the ride. The 27.5″ “Aero Trail Pro wheels are noticeably lightweight, and the top-quality Hutchinson Cobra tires mounted on them are specifically designed for traction and good cornering.
The design of a bike is much a matter of personal taste. It can be argued about till the to cows come home, and for me the look of the back triangle is not a winner by any means. I think this square shape is no longer trendy or aesthetically pleasing. But the rest of the frame is quite delightful, especially since the French designers payed so much attention to small but important details. For example, the red color not only characterizes the frame, but also reappears on the brakes, the saddle, the handlebar, the saddle, and on the rather nice stem as well. On the other handm a wider handlebar would surely be a welcome addition, it would fit today’s trends better, and since the bike can actually be ridden in tough conditions, the rider could take advantage of a more stable handling. And although the bike came fully assembled, there were a few minor bugs. The hydraulic brake line on the left side of the fork was routed externally, which could make it vulnerable in case of a fall. Moreover the saddle was not set up horizontally and the transmission system had to be fine-tuned during the first ride. These were small things to correct, but for a novice cyclists, it could pose major headaches.
All in all, the Rockrider 560 is a well-equipped hardtail MTB at an “atomic” price, representing superb value for the money. You even get a lifetime warranty for the frame — although most people tend to change their entry level bike in a few years time. The Btwin brand from the sporting specialist Decathlon has matured greatly in recent years, and it’s clearly ready to nettle the established bike brands. The Rockrider 560 is a fine example of this trend.
You can find the tested bike here:
English site for the bike: