Home > b'twin, Cycling, decathlon > Don’t Buy a b’twin Riverside 1 Bike

Don’t Buy a b’twin Riverside 1 Bike

September 22, 2012

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…

Categories: b'twin, Cycling, decathlon
  1. October 31, 2012 at 10:49

    Hi Jon!

    Sorry to hear your cycling life has become so arduous since we left town.
    Thanks for the glowing report below – got to be worth a few quid off an overhaul of the Decathlon bike, or a resurrection of the Vicar 😉

    You’re absolutely right – decent second hand bikes are almost always better than cheap new bikes. If it rides right, it probably is right…



  2. Varun
    November 12, 2012 at 09:16

    Something one poor make spoils the fun… i feel that is exactly the case here. I ride Riverside 1 and totally love it. Its given me no problems at all. Driven close to 500Kms so far. Not a single puncture or tire problem. The ride itself is very comfortable and the bike speeds-up nicely to 30+Kmph on straight roads.

  3. February 28, 2013 at 08:16

    I dont have a Riverside 1 – altho I notice it costs about £50 so Im tempted to say what on earth do you expect – and I do have a Sport 2 (now Triban 5) which every review in the universe seems to say is about the best value for money in history – this generally goes for all Decathlon bikes – still, as they say there’s always one

    • February 28, 2013 at 16:41

      What do I expect? I expect something to be fit for purpose, regardless of cost. If you’re selling a bike for £150 (which is how much the Riverside 1 costs, not £50) and it can’t cope with moderate use on good roads then it’s time to have a rethink about whether it should be sold at all. What I was hoping for was a bike to use for a while until I could afford to properly fix or replace my Pashley; and unfortunately I needed to find something quite abruptly.

      My expectations were modest, believe me, but Decathlon spectacularly failed to meet them or even come close. In general I’m a fairly forgiving sort, but the Riverside 1 is a disaster.

  4. Robert Jenkins
    February 28, 2013 at 10:21

    All the comments here seem to be about a Riverside 1 but can anyone help me with comments on a Riverside 03 that I have been offered?
    I have seen the bike and it is clear that it is more or less brand new but I am worried about the experiences of Big Jack Brass and would not like to suffer the same difficulties.
    The following information has been offered by the seller
    “It has 24 Shimano gears and a number of extras. There are lights front and back (in fact 3 lights at front). There is a panier holder (presumably removable) and 2 easily removable paniers with lots of storage space. There are also mudguards front and rear.I reckon the full cost new would be about 300 pounds. I would accept 150 pounds.”

    • February 28, 2013 at 16:43

      Not familiar with it, I’m afraid. Anyone?

      All I can say is that Decathlon have a decent reputation for making good value bikes… but then that, of course, is how it all started with my troubles…

  5. March 9, 2013 at 12:51

    I have had a Riverside 3 Ladies bike since last November and ride it to commute to work 12 miles a day and long rides at weekends, (although the winter has limited my leisure use.) So far so good and I really like the gears, make the hills around Bolton and Bury much easier than on my previous Giant Hybrid, expressions bike. The local roads are still full of potholes so I guess the bike has been put through it’s paces.

    My only complaint is that the mudguards they fitted when I bought the bike are useless and not big enough to stop the spray from messing up the back of my clothes. make sure they fit good mudguards or buy some from another source. The lights that also came with the bike are also rubbish. I replaced them with better quality ones.

  6. Dom
    March 13, 2013 at 08:44

    I would take it back to the shop and ask for my money back. If that fails, if you paid via credit card then the card company will get your money back (they have to) with it being unfit for the purpose it was bought for.

  7. tuna
    June 8, 2013 at 09:18

    What put me off the Riverside 1 – which I was on the verge of buying as a cheap interim bike – is the handlebar stem is fixed i.e. it can’t be raised. Total dealbreaker.

    • June 8, 2013 at 10:29

      I know what you mean, although to some degree I can accept things like that, cost-cutting decisions made to keep the price of the bike low. Of course it makes it more likely that the bike won’t suit everyone, which is what I found with the comically tiny but supposedly adult sized model I first tried, but assuming it does fit I’d rather see that sort of compromise than a poor quality version of something more versatile. Where it all fell down for me is that the Riverside 1 pairs those cost-cutting design choices with very poor quality, which simply does not work.

  1. November 1, 2012 at 20:17
  2. January 5, 2013 at 14:35
  3. January 5, 2013 at 14:35
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