So after almost a year of trying to convince a friend to get rid of his old bike for a new one I managed to get him to purchase a Rock rider 8.1 by B-twin which is Decathlons cycle company. I didn’t own one but the specs and bike reviews for this bike where simply great and you couldn’t get better value for money at the time or even today to be honest as Decathlon really do get you great spec for your money.
So once he bought it and I tried the bike my self (be it in a size smaller ) I decided to buy one as I needed to ship my Rock Rider 9.1 to London to keep my training sessions going even when on holiday or on my weekends there.
As usual the day I got the bike I immediately changed the handlebar and pedals. Due to knee issues as you may already know if you have read my review on my Giant TCR, I switched to flat pedals as the bike comes with SPD pedals as standard. I have ridden it with the SPD’s and yes it is faster but for day to day use and when you are doing steep descents with it I much prefer a good pair of flat pedals. Anyway that said lets get straight to the point of this review and see what this bike can do.
Let’s start with the Specs
- Frame Double-thickness 8 series competition 6061 T6 aluminium frame; racing geometry; 1.85 kg in size M. Lightweight and resistant. Its geometry offers an ideal combination for climbs and descents.
Available in 5 sizes: S; M; L; X
- Fork New Rock Shox RECON Silver TK 100 mm fork Remote Lock-Out
- Drive train SRAM X7 front derailleur
SRAM X7 rear derailleur; 9 speeds;
Push pull SRAM X5 levers.
Shimano Deore M590 22x32x44 crankset with
SRAM PG950 11×32 9-speed cassette
- Brakes TEKTRO AURIGA COMP hydraulic disc brakes with 160 mm rotors. Powerful, progressive in any circumstanc
- Handlebar Comp 600/ 640mm raised handlebar, oversize diameter for greater durability. The position is higher to provide more control and comfort without affecting performance.
- Stem Rockrider Comp stem, oversize diameter, for more durability.
- Steering Aheadset headset by VP.
- Saddle New Rockrider COMP saddle by Velo
- Seatpost Rockrider COMP seat post
- Wheels Rockrider Comp 32 hole rims by Rigida Hub JT D041/D142, 2 mm stainless steel spokes Sealed bearings.
- Tyres Nouveau Pneu Michelin Country Trail
The only thing I really think that is disappointment on the bike is the saddle as its way to hard. I rode the bike from the shop to my place and immediately changed it for one that I knew I was comfortable with. My mate who has the same bike seems to not mind it it even though he admits is a little hard on the bottom on a medium to long ride. I simply changed the handle bars to a pair spare white ones I had (although they have changed many times since depending on the ride I am doing) as I really don’t like black handle bars on a bike (personal preference). And it lightens up the very dark frame. And I then added flat downhill pedals as with a good pair of mountain bike or skate boarding shoes, the grip is just great when bombing down a step hill. However when used with SPD’s this bike is a rocket on the flats and climbs.
I love the SRAM mountain bike gears systems and since I first started using them my Rockrider 9.1, I am now addicted to their levers. I hate the Shimano shifters as I don’t find they are conducive to down hilling. The back and front shifting mechanisms work great and are easy to maintain. The hydraulic brake systems is very good although adjusting them is really hard if you like levers that don’t have to much leeway.
The frame is not the lightest but it is manoeuvrable and reactive. The suspension is good but not the best I have used, however at this price it’s a good fork. If the bike was on sale for lets say 400€ more with this fork I would say it was a rip off. But at the price the bike is sold with all the other parts is a good fork. Whilst on the price of the bike 1 Euro under 700€, it’s being sold for me under it’s real price which should be closer to the 800€ mark as most of the more well known bike brands sell bikes at the twice the price with lesser specs and the frame quality is slightly better that’s all.
It handles great on the road even with the cross country tyres. On dry off roads single tracks and rocky patches the bikes tyres handle great as they are well suited for that. When it gets moist or muddy this is where the tyres show their weakness. They lack grip in the wet stuff but are great on the dry stuff. The wheels are tough and not the lightest but if you are not going to use the bike in a semi pro race then they will do you just fine.
So as you can see I have enjoyed riding this bike for the last 9 months or so at least twice a week on 20-30km bike rides in the forests around Paris and it’s perfect for the distances I we do. I have taken it on a Tours of Burgundy where I would use it to get between fishing spots and even did a little downhill with it and it was just great. If you are looking for a good quality bike that you can use to commute with (lever in handle bar to lock out fork) and then hit the trails with as well then this is the one for you. It won’t break the bank, but it will get you wanting to ride more and more trails.
Bargain if you ask me !