Rockrider series from Btwin is easily one of the most famous MTB's in the world. They are at that position clearly due to one main reason, getting more than what is worth for the price. With quite a bit of new range Rockriders in India this year, the difference in performance in each bicycle in this series comes down to very minute details which might even go unnoticeable depending on the rider and the terrain. One such bicycle is the Btwin VTT Rockrider 500 2016 and here is the detailed review of this MTB.
The Btwin VTT Rockrider 500 2016 is built with a full aluminium frame. This is obviously a good performance riser for entry level hardtail MTB's. The build quality is on par with what can be seen on far more expensive mountain bicycles. For increased durability in the frame there are two mounted additional reinforcements to merge the top tube with the downtube. Thus, it is very unlikely that you will ever crack the frame. On top of that, Decathlon also offers a lifetime warranty on this frame.
The Suntour XCT front suspension fork comes with 80 mm travel, but in real life it does not work more than half of its capacity. The springs are very tough and will surely be appreciated by heavy riders. However, the fork has minimal control apart from the preload and is overall a heavy component.
The VTT Rockrider 500 2016 which I test rode came in a dark grey colour. The paint job quality is top notch with a neat gloss finish. The welding in a few places near the joining areas of top and bottom tube do look a bit messy but they are excusable due to the frame strength it brings in. The graphics are elegant with bold characters. Definitely a stylish MTB with envying looks.
The speeds are controlled by a 3 ã 8 SRAM drivetrain with quick and smooth changes on uneven surfaces but also a bit noisy. On slight climbs during the test ride, sprocket 32 teeth connected to the 22 teeth could provide a more cumbersome experience to beginners who have not yet trained their legs for a trail experience which requires quick shifting. The shifting is taken care by SRAM levers and are integrated with the brake. In addition, there is even a display that shows the gear which you are in, which will be highly appreciated by novice riders. The gear switches provide almost decent shifting, with occasional late reactions. The SRAM X4 isn't the quickest and does not print a sense of precision, although throughout the test ride it did not fail at all.
The mechanical disc brakes on the VTT Rockrider 500 2016 do work well. Depending on the route you choose to ride it, I would recommend as many as descents to start with to get used to the stopping power of these brakes. Obviously, if you pedal on level ground you will use the disc brakes less, but during the test ride it took slightly longer to reach the desired mechanical performance. The modulation is a bit weak and functionality on / off, but even with 160 mm discs, at this price point the performance was acceptable. For a rider heavier than 75-80 kg, clearly there will be a requirement of a larger disc mounted on the front wheel, about 180mm especially for harder trails. The brake levers were stock and felt comfortable enough for easy access and swift braking.
The Rockrider Sport handlebar has a 660mm width and is perfect for a MTB in this price point for a bicycle with 26 inch wheels. It enhances control on descents and ascents to contribute to a decent riding position. Handling is precise while taken on recreational trails and urban roads.
Turning to the tires department, it is a clear positive that Btwin installed a set of double stitched All Terrain Dry 26'' x 2.0'' tires on the VTT Rockrider 500. The rubber in the tires are very tough and treads quite high which will slow you down a bit but will never compromise on traction. Instead, while cornering, the lateral spikes stick well in the soil and keeps the cycling direction at a faster pace. Tires having a width of 2 inches appear to be very durable. The saddle is constructed of a single piece of cushioned rubber, it has no outer shell, and the shapes are quite ergonomical. The over-all ride quality was comfortable on flatter trails.
Without a doubt, Rockrider 500 is a class apart when it comes to entry level MTBÈs. It is also proof that you can build bicycles that have an attractive appearance to be functional at the grassroots level and even cost less. This bicycle is not quite meant for the difficult terrain and is rather good company for recreational riding in the woods or on flatter trails. A welcome choice in the entry-level MTB segment that can cater to all the basic needs for beginners. And perhaps most importantly, the Btwin VTT Rockrider 500 2016 is a mountain bicycle that feels cohesive and solid.