Don’t Buy a b’twin Riverside 1 Bike
A pun-free title and fairly quick return to my rather occasional blog, spurred by a visit to the stats page.
Quite a number of people have come here via a ‘net search for the b’twin Riverside 1 bicycle, made and sold by Decathlon. I’m the unfortunate owner of one these, so perhaps an update is due to give those searchers an idea of how the bike has stood up to a few short months of normal use:
Very poorly indeed.
To put things in context, I use my bike almost exclusively to commute to work along city streets, a round trip of about eleven miles. Hills are few and minor, so the main stresses on the bike are down to the poorly maintained Manchester roads. Naturally I avoid potholes (travelling the same route every day means that I know where they all are) but the tarmac does have a few rough areas. Still, nothing that would trouble a halfway-decent machine. I bought the bike when my Pashley needed a fairly major, urgent overhaul and at a time when the mechanic I trust to do such a job was out of the country for a time (I wouldn’t take it back to the shop from which it was bought, since they have generally caused more problems than they fix). With no time to find a good second-hand bike I read some reviews and was persuaded that a new one from Decathlon would be worth the money.
The first bike I looked at was set up as a city model. Looked pretty decent on the website, with mudguards, pannier rack and lights, all the things needed for a commuting set-up. In the shop I was surprised to find that despite being sold as a bike for adults it was so tiny that my knees rested between the handlebars… which made it impossible to do anything other than trundle in a straight line. So, some time later I settled on the Riverside 1, a men’s bike lacking things such as mudguards (heaven knows why) but seemingly a much better option. The staff cheerfully said that they could fit mudguards, stand etc while we waited.
Three days later the back wheel had developed so much side-to-side play that I began to expect it might pull out and overtake me at any moment. Back to Decathlon, where the mechanic told me it was “perfectly normal” and simply needed some adjustment. After lowering my incredulous eyebrows I let him fix it. By the trip home from work it was as bad as before.
Back to Decathlon and a different mechanic, who admitted that the wheel shouldn’t do that and changed it for a different type. He also changed the mudguards, since the ones installed on purchase were too short. It subsequently became apparent that the new ones, supposedly the correct size, are also too short because Decathlon don’t seem to think that mudguards should actually stop water from spraying up your back. I fixed a piece of plastic to the back and solved the problem. A few days later the back tyre blew out. Ah well, punctures are inevitable in the city… but wait, what’s this? A small puncture, yes, but also a complete failure of the rear tyre itself, which had split along the sidewall. I nursed the bike along to Ken Foster’s Cycle Logic in Chorlton, bought a new tyre and fitted it myself.
Decathlon offer a free service in the first six months. Due to further problems and the sneaking suspicion that the bottom bracket might have gone I took the bike in after about two. They replaced the bottom bracket. They also noticed that the rear axle was bust and so fitted yet another model of wheel, this one seemingly better than the previous two. The brake pads had to be replaced too, as the ones it came with were apparently made of cheese and wore out if subjected to a hard stare. I had to pay for those, Decathlon’s policy being that even though the ones they initially supply are barely fit for the job such things naturally wear out anyway.
Currently I’ve had the bike for about three months. It’s required a number of fixes, most of which entailed getting it over to the shop in Stockport, including two new wheels, a new tyre, replacement brake pads and a new bottom bracket. The right pedal seems to be failing and is making an ominous plasticky cracking sound with each revolution. The gears have begun to slip. Bear in mind that in the short time since I bought it the bike has also received a full service.
If you need a cheap bike try to find something on the second-hand market if you can. It’s worth asking at some small bike shops too, as they might carry reconditioned models or have suggestions for where to get a good one. If you’re considering a b’twin Riverside 1 from Decathlon then I suggest you forget that idea immediately and look elsewhere. Unless you want to buy mine, full service history, serious offers only…