Reviewed by Louise Totton
One of the best memories I have of Christmas growing up was finding a shiny, new bike with a massive bow wrapped around the handlebars, in front of the fireplace. A bike for Christmas almost seemed to be a rite of passage, and I only ever received one brand new bike in my life – the others were all hand-me-downs from various neighbours and family members, so getting a brand new one was really special. It’s no different with my own kids either; neither of them have ever had a new bike before, but they’ve both had a big growth spurt recently, and with no neighbours ready to grow out of theirs, the time was right, at the ages of 10 and 7, for their first new bikes.
Now, one thing that I do remember from my new bike was my dad recounting the tale to anyone who would listen just what a feat of engineering he had accomplished in building the thing – it apparently came in several thousand parts and it was a wonder that he had ever assembled it! I was hoping that we wouldn’t be in the same situation, as I’m not the handiest person in the world, and having to be able to assemble two of them with a pair of very excited kids watching on didn’t exactly appeal to me, especially as they both had their heart set on mountain bikes!
I have always known Decathlon for top quality and really well priced sporting equipment and accessories, so it didn’t really come as a big surprise to me that they have a fantastic range of bikes on their website this year, ideal for Christmas presents. Their own range of bikes is called B’Twin, and they have options ranging from 10” balance bikes for kids aged 2-4, all the way up to 24” mountain bikes for adults and teenagers. The range includes kids’ versions of city bikes with dynamo powered LED lights, mountain bikes, BMX-style bikes and hybrid bikes as well as balance bikes and trikes for younger children.
My two were both adamant that they wanted mountain bikes – we live somewhere with lots of hills and off-road terrain, and I knew they would find geared bikes really useful, so that’s where we started our search. The Decathlon website was a great starting point and their bikes are filterable by type and size, as well as having a height range and suggested age on each listing. After much searching and debate, we opted for the B’Twin Rockrider 500 ST 24” Blue for my 10-year-old and the B’Twin Rockrider 500 ST 20” Blue for my 7-year-old.
The 24” Rockrider, being mostly black with electric blue highlights, appealed to my eldest because she thought it looked really cool and quite grown up (it does!), and of course it had the gears that she was so desperate for. You get an awful lot of bike for your money with this bike – at £149.99, this has a number of features that I wouldn’t have expected to find on a bike at this price. The tech specs are:
- 24” wheels
- 2 x V brakes
- Front suspension
- 18 gears, changed with 2 Twist Grip gear changers
- Quick-release front wheel for ease of transport
- Total weight 14.75kg
The 20” Rockrider is a lighter blue, and my youngest loved it so much because she said that the colour reminded her of Frozen and Elsa! It’s a gorgeous pale aqua blue and is a lovely choice for either boys or girls. This one, being aimed at slightly younger kids who might not yet have the dexterity for 18 gears on a dual twist grip has just six gears which are controlled from a single twist on one of the handlebars – far easier for younger children to get their heads around! This one is £139.99, which is also a fantastic price! The tech specs on this one are:
- 20” wheels
- 2 x V brakes
- Front suspension
- 6 gears, changed with a Twist Grip gear changer
- Quick-release front wheel for ease of transport
- Total weight 12.4kg
I loved that both of these bikes came pretty much ready assembled in the box and requited virtually no effort on my part to put together! They arrived well and securely packaged in a large box and all that was needed once they were removed from the box was basic setup of the handlebars, pedals and saddle, it really is that quick. The User Guide supplied with the bikes provides very good detail on maintenance, repair, usage and on ensuring that the bike is adjusted to ensure the correct ride height for your child’s size. Assembly was as simple as screwing the pedals into place and tightening up, and then the handlebars needed securing once they had been twisted into place. I had visions of having to attach chains, set gears and fiddle around with the brakes but nothing of the sort!
Each bike was assembled and ready for the kids to ride in less than fifteen minutes, and completely stress free! What took the longest time was the children deciding the angle and height they wanted the handlebars set at. It was “up a bit, down a bit, no – too far!” however once they’d ridden the bikes a couple of hundred metres it became obvious us all what the most comfortable set up would be! The boxes even contained all of the tools that I needed to get it set up – a massive plus point as finding the right tools in my house can be challenging to say the least!
We were really impressed that the bikes even come supplied with a pair of lights – hugely important for safety, especially if the bike is being used in the winter. The lights supplied are battery powered, have a simple on/off switch, and fit on front and back stems via a strap which means of course that they are easily removed to take with you if you want to leave the bike unattended at any time.
The girls both absolutely love their bikes – they look fabulous and they are superb quality. They aren’t the lightest bikes I’ve ever seen, but they’re more than light enough and acceptable for the kids, and certainly for the price. They have no problems at all pedalling and manoeuvring them, and the sizes are just right. My eldest has managed very well getting to grips with the 18 gears and has found the twist grips really easy to use. I’m pleased that the smaller bike had fewer gears too, as I think my 7-year-old would have found the 18 gears on the three chain rings a little overwhelming!
My two aren’t exactly serious off-road bikers, but they do enjoy riding around the woods and more rugged parts of the local areas. The suspension, gears and brakes have been more than up-to-scratch for this and I think these bikes are a great first foray into mountain bikes. The tyres are very sturdy with deep tread/stud pattern that should cope with most terrains that the majority of children would subject their bikes to, and the fitted V-brake system has a good solid feel, and together with the brake blocks have very good stopping power.
The saddles are adjustable enough that the bikes will fit them for a few years to come, which is great as I really do think these bikes will stand the test of time. The bikes come with a lifetime guarantee on the frame, stem, handlebars and rigid fork, and I can see why as the steel frame does feel solid and robust.
The Quick Release system on the front wheels of both bikes is fantastic, as it means we can just pop the bikes in the boot of the car without needing to take any tools out with us in the car. I don’t have a bike carrier on my car, and was considering getting one, but I don’t actually need one (although it will come in handy at some point!). Both bikes came ready equipped with a bell and reflectors, the lights are included and take minutes to fit, and they are ready for the installation of stands, mudguards and a bottle cage, all of which the kids have already popped on their Christmas list!
We are all really impressed with these bikes – assembly was an absolute doddle, they look fantastic and the quality is excellent. The kids really do feel like the cats who got the cream when they’re riding them, and they would make an ideal Christmas present. Decathlon also stock a range of accessories for them, along with safety gear such as helmets and pads, both of which are a must and make super stocking fillers too! The range has something to suit kids of all ages and is well worth a look for any parent who is looking for a nice, easy way to make that magical Christmas memory of the brand new bike under the Christmas tree.
For more information or to buy visit www.decathlon.co.uk.