b’Twin is the brand name for cycles coming out of the French sports chainstore Decathlon. Its own brand kit combines quality designs and useful features with sensible pricing, and while it’s fair to say they’re not the sexiest or most desirable bikes on the planet, they do impress in the function and value stakes.
Much is therefore expected from their fleet if you’re on a budget and keen to take advantage of the French cycling heritage that’s been a clear influence. The Sport 2 is one of their mid-range road bikes and an entry-level racer, designed for “leisure and more athletic cycling”, according to their marketing spiel.
When you’re used to riding bikes whose cranks cost more than the b’Twin, it’s easy to get snobbish. So it was great to jump on the £500 Sport 2 and the first impression be, “Actually, this feels pretty good.”
The reason for this is that Decathlon has got the geometry of this machine just right, which is a major plus. Where other bikes at this kind of price point assume the rider wants an upwardly angled stem and very upright riding position, the b’Twin feels like a proper racing bike. Your weight falls nicely forwards onto the hoods of the STI levers and you’re ready to go flat out, rather than just nip down the shops for a baguette.
Okay, it’s no featherweight but the Sport 2 doesn’t feel like a bloater when you’re climbing, either. In and out of the saddle it remains stiff and responsive to sudden bursts of power, without any noticeable flex around the rear stays and bottom bracket when sprinting flat out. When descending, the road bike geometry means stable, predictable handling, with nice wide bars to give leverage into tight turns.
Braking with the dual-pivot callipers and alloy rims is progressive and powerful, with traditional cable routing helping keep it free of the tight, snagging turns that can compromise the internal routing on gimmicky high-spec machines.
The frame is a 6061 double-butted alloy triangle with carbon rearstays bonded in. ‘Double-butting’ refers to varying the thickness of the metal in the tubes, to allow a combination of thinner and thicker tubing. This minimises weight without compromising strength and stiffness. The fork is a carbon fibre one, which should work with the carbon in the rearstays to dampen out some of the road shock associated with all-alloy bikes.
The transmission uses Shimano’s entry-level Sora STI set-up with a triple chainset for maximum flexibility in the gearing. Braking is down to a set of unbranded but well-finished alloy, dual-pivot callipers, and the wheelset is a robust alloy rim/steel spoke/alloy hub arrangement. Simple, but cheap and effective.
The finishing kit is largely unbranded forged alloy and the saddle a comfy Selle Royal viper in pimping bright white. Colour ways are smart white and blue with an excellent paint finish and smooth, neat welding on the frame.
The Shimano Sora STI levers and transmission are not much to look at with a dull grey finish but they do perform very well on the Sport 2. The plastic thumb levers used for downshifting gears are a bit flimsy and flexible, but when everything is dialled in correctly the changes are pretty slick and secure.
I probably wanted to dislike this machine for being cheap and, well, French… but in all honesty found it very hard to fault once it had been ridden a few times. As a novice racer bike, you could easily just strap on some tri-bars and be very competitive in your first triathlon, while for a more experienced athlete it would make a great winter training steed, probably costing less than the rear wheel of your summer racing machine.
All in all, the b’Twin Sport 2 puts affordable bikes up there alongside red wine, cheese and air traffic control strikes on the list of ‘things that the French do rather well’.
Frame Double-butted ?6061 alloy with high?modulus carbon stays
Forks Carbon fork with aluminium steerer
Wheels Aluminium rims ?and b’Twin hubs; ?Hutchinson Nitro tyres
Cockpit Aluminium stem and drop handlebar
Seating Aluminium seat post; Selle Royal Viper saddle
Weight 9.93kg (21.89lb) ?without pedals
Sizes 48, 51, 54, 57, 60, 63cm
Contact : Decathlon 0207 394 2000 www.decathlon.co.uk