Reviewed by Louise Totton
We all want to give our kids that big ‘WOW’ gift at Christmas, and I find myself looking back at the Christmas presents I received when I was growing up for inspiration. One of my absolute best Christmas mornings was when I found a brand new shiny bike, with a massive bow wrapped around the handlebars, in front of the fireplace. A bike for Christmas is one of those special, very memorable presents, and I only ever received one brand new bike in my life – the others had been passed on from various neighbours and family members, so getting a brand new one was really special. My own kids have never had a brand new bike either (we also have the benefit of neighbours with slightly older kids), but they’ve both had a big growth spurt recently, so the time was right, at the ages of 10 and 7, for their first new bikes.
One thing that I do remember from my new bike was my dad telling 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! Not being the handiest person in the world, I was hoping that we wouldn’t be in the same situation, and having to be able to assemble two of them with two expectant kids watching on filled me with a deep sense of foreboding, 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, (they got lots of their Back to School items from there), so it didn’t really come as a big surprise to me that they have a great range of bikes on their website this year which are ideal for Christmas presents. Their own range of bikes is called B’Twin, and they have a huge number of options, ranging from 10” balance bikes for kids aged 2-4, all the way up to 24” mountain bikes for kids up to the age of 12. 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 desperate for mountain bikes – we live somewhere with lots of hills and off-road terrain, and I thought they might be able to put the gears to good use, so that’s where we started our search. The Decathlon website is very easy to use, 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 eldest and the B’Twin Rockrider 500 ST 20” Blue for my youngest.
The 24” Rockrider, is mostly black with cool vivid blue highlights, and it appealed to my eldest because she thought it looked very trendy 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, there are 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 lovely light blue, and my youngest loved it so much because she said that it was her Frozen Elsa bike! It’s a gorgeous pale aqua blue and is a fantastic choice for either boys or girls. This one, as it is 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 – much easier for younger children to get their heads around and a great introduction into mountain biking! 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 was delighted to find that both of these bikes came mostly ready assembled straight out of the box and required virtually no effort on my part to put together! They arrived securely packaged in a large box, the only assembly that they needed was to twist the handlebars and front wheel straight, screw the pedals into place and adjust the saddle for height; it really was 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. 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 bikes even came with all of the tools that we needed to get it set up – a massive plus point as finding the right tools in my house isn’t always the easiest task!
We were really pleased to see that the bikes both came supplied with a pair of lights – massively important for safety, especially if the bike is being used in the winter. The lights are battery powered, requiring 2 x CR2032 batteries, have a simple on/off switch, and fit on front and back stems via a strap meaning that they can be easily removed to take with you in case you want to leave the bike unattended at any time.
The girls were both delighted their bikes – they look fantastic and they are superb quality. They aren’t the lightest bikes I’ve looked at, but they’re more than light enough and are perfectly fine 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 10-year-old has coped 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 should 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 a great feature, as it means we can just pop the bikes in the boot of the car without needing to take any tools out with us. I don’t have a bike rack or carrier on my car, whilst I am considering getting one, I don’t actually need one (although it will come in handy at some point!). Both bikes came complete with a bell and reflectors, the lights are included and take no time at all to fit, and the bikes 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 so easy, they look amazing and the quality is superb. The kids really do feel the bees’ knees when they’re riding them, and I think they would make a fantastic Christmas present. Decathlon also stock a range of accessories for them, along with safety gear such as helmets and pads, all of which are a must and make super stocking fillers too! The range has something for kids of all ages and is a fantastic option for any parent who is looking for a nice, easy way to make that magical Christmas memory of the brand new bike on Christmas morning!
For more information or to buy visit www.decathlon.co.uk.