For some time now, sports supermarket Decathlon's own brand, B'Twin, has been putting the lie to the notion that only expensive bikes are good bikes; its road models in particular have been the bargain hunter's dream. But what can it do with dedicated commuting machinery? If the Hoprider 900 is anything to go by, I can tell you it's just as impressive: okay, it's not a light bike, but if your commute isn't too hilly it rides really well and is excellent value, equipped with just about everything you could need for cycling to and from work.
Although road.cc bike reviews tend to start with a report on ride quality, it's a little unfair to begin immediately with how the Hoprider 900 rides because first we need to put it in context: this is less a 'bike' and more a 'total cycle commuting solution'. That might sound like marketing guff (it really isn't, I've just made it up) but you'll soon understand why. For £549 you're buying a bicycle that comes fully loaded with features that cover everything from load carrying, to night-time illumination, to even basic lockable security.
Technically, the Hoprider 900 is a trekking bike. Trekking bikes have been all the rage in Continental Europe for donkeys' years because they offer efficient, sensible, practical answers to people's daily cycle transport requirements. They're not aero or lightweight but they don't need to be for flat city riding.
The Hoprider 900 certainly lives up to that 'weighty' tradition but you can't fault it for effort, emerging from the box complete with rear rack, hub dynamo lighting system, frame lock, front suspension fork, kickstand, hydraulic disc brakes, mudguards, 38mm Schwalbe Marathon tyres and even a chainguard to keep your tapered turn-ups oil-free.
With all that kit in mind, it seems obvious to say you won't be throwing the Hoprider 900 into corners, getting your knees out as you weave down mountain passes. You also probably won't find yourself dancing out of the saddle enjoying every chance to test your climbing legs. At a total weight of nearly 19kg, this is a seriously heavy bike and it feels it when the road starts to rise.
But that mass isn't all bad news because the Hoprider 900 is also fantastically stable even at speed (that 19kg plus rider can sure pick up some momentum downhill) and it offers a supremely inspiring base from which to navigate the urban jungle. It might sound a minor point for riders with excellent bike control, but for more nervous or wobbly folk, the Hoprider 900 is a brilliantly benign bike for looking over your shoulder or signalling. The view forward is impressive, too: the riding position is relatively upright, which is good for visibility and also adds to a rider's road presence.
For all the talk about bike weight, the Hoprider 900 is mechanically no slouch and B'Twin has specced some very decent components. The Shimano Alivio/Deore/Altus drivetrain is bombproof and works well, which is good because you'll probably make the most of its 27 available gear ratios.
Meanwhile, the Shimano BM-M315 hydraulic discs have enough stopping power to handle a laden Hoprider 900, even when travelling fast.
'Travelling fast'? It's not as ridiculous as you may think. The Hoprider 900's aluminium frame is quite responsive and turns effort into forward motion with impressive efficiency. You may find yourself cursing gravity at times but at least you won't find yourself fighting with your own bike. Indeed, despite being accessorised to the max, and having a hub dynamo, disc brakes and mudguards (all things that can easily cause irritatingly inefficient rubbing sounds) our Hoprider 900 cruised like a silent dream fresh from the box.
Stiff alloy frames might be good for efficiency but they tend to fall down in the comfort stakes; B'Twin has tried to alleviate this by fitting 63mm of front suspension and a fairly voluminous Selle Royal saddle.
Although you'd never pick it for the red run at Fort William, the Suntour fork puts up a good fight and will take the edge off minor potholes or patchy parkland paths. It can also be locked out, if front stiffness is your thing.
The saddle, on the other hand, is something that might visually reassure novice riders but would also make experienced roadies wince with its extravagance of cushioning. I had my doubts about it, but it's actually not a bad seat at all and will certainly do until you need to give people ideas for your next birthday or Christmas present.
Other road insulation comes via the excellent Schwalbe Marathon tyres with reflective sidewall strips and puncture protection: a perfect piece of speccing on a bicycle of this type.
And let's not forget those other practical extras, either. The rear rack comes with bungees and a clip. The dynamo system puts out 30 Lux of LED light at the front and a constant red LED glow at the back.
The kickstand comes in surprisingly useful. And the frame lock might not deter committed ne'er-do-wells, but at least it's an extra reason why they might choose to nick the bike parked alongside instead.
However, for all B'Twin's speccing excellence elsewhere on the bike, the Hoprider 900's contact points are a slight disappointment. The stock pedals alone hit the scales at 400g, so you could start making weight savings instantly by replacing them with something lighter.
Meanwhile, the wide handlebar grips have a nicely shaped palm rest but the rubber surface is unforgiving. Cycling mitts aren't a bad idea at all times but they're a requisite if you'll be riding the Hoprider for anything more than half an hour.
Those minor and easily rectifiable gripes aside, B'Twin has worked its customary speccing magic with the Hoprider 900, offering a fantastically fulsome trekking/commuter bike package with a fine riding experience at an astounding price. For those who need a bike to carry kit to work on a reasonably flat commute, I'm not sure you could find anything better. If only B'Twin could also work its magic on the weighing scales, it would be perfect.
If you place practicalities, comfort and general usefulness ahead of bike weight, the Hoprider 900 is a gem – but it is heavy
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road.cc test report
Make and model: B'Twin Hoprider 900
Size tested: Large
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame 6061 aluminium; Fork Suntour NEX 63mm suspension; Wheels unbranded aluminium rims with Shimano dynamo hub (f) and Shimano Deore hub (r); Shifters Shimano Alivio; Front derailleur Shimano Altus; Rear derailleur Shimano Deore 9-speed; Chainset Shimano FC-T 3010 triple 48/36/26; Bottom bracket square taper; Casette Shimano Alivio 9-speed 11-32t; Chain Shimano; Brakeset Shimano BR-M315 hydraulic disc brakes; Saddle Selle Royal Lookin Gel; Seatpost unbranded aluminium; Handlebar unbranded aluminium; Stem unbranded aluminium; Headset aheadset; Extras: rear rack, dynamo lights, frame lock, mudguards, kickstand.
Tell us what the bike is for
Commuting, trekking, touring and leisure use.
Decathlon says, "Designed for daily rides in town and the countryside. The bike is suitable for rides over 10 km.
"Fully-equipped town bike that is versatile enough (27 speeds) to take on the hills. The aluminium frame makes the bike lighter, and the fork and suspension seat post make it very comfortable to ride."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Well-constructed aluminium frame – stiff and efficient – though possibly over-engineered and it is a very heavy bike. Internal cable routing for gear cables is a nice touch. The Suntour NEX suspension fork helps to take the sting out of road bumps but can also be locked out for added control.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame is made of heat-treated 6061 aluminium. Suntour NEX 700C suspension fork features aluminium lowers, 9mm axle, 63mm of travel and lockout.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Comfortable geometry with high seated position – perfect for commuting.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Height and reach felt perfect for the stated size.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The bike was very comfortable on smooth surfaces, although the stiff frame does mean shocks are transferred to the rider.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Definitely not too flexible – the Hoprider 900 is as solid as a rock.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer felt very efficient, which is necessary considering the weight of the bike.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively Not lively, but very stable and secure. Direct, but not twitchy.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
This is a heavy commuting bike, so it is never going to be exciting to ride. However, on the upside, it is supremely stable and offers a reassuringly safe ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I'd change the saddle and pedals as they both suffer from overkill – too much padding in the saddle; too much weight in the pedals.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Frame was solid and dependable. Position is very good for commuting.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
General spec is fantastic for the typical commuter with almost everything you need on a typical daily ride to work.
Mid to lower-level Shimano drivetrain is dependable and perfect for this kind of role.
Weight is the biggest issue, but triple chainset at least helps you get up to speed.
Stable, but not really a bike you feel like getting out of the saddle for.
Very stable at all speeds.
Like an HGV on the motorway with no sidewinds!
Excellent – perfect for looking over shoulder, signalling and navigating urban jungle.
Power transfer is good, but the overall weight is a significant handicap.
Perfectly capable and triple chainset is very useful.
Tried and tested components – should be bombproof.
Not lightweight by any stretch!
Very good – clever mix of efficient parts.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Considering its relatively lowly place among Shimano's pecking order, the mixed Alivio/Deore/Altus drivetrain is fantastic value and works well.
Wheels and tyres
Fairly nondescript but rolled straight and smoothly. Having the Shimano dynamo hub is a nice bonus.
Should be bombproof like the rest of the bike.
The wheels are another heavyweight ingredient.
Fairly stiff but not uncomfortable.
Pretty much as you'd expect or hope for on this kid of bike. Shimano Deore hub at rear is a good sign.
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so
Wouldn't change the wheels until they needed replacing; I don't think a better set of wheels would do much for the ride quality as the frame is stiff ands the overall weight is spread so far throughout the bike's total package.
Schwalbe Marathon tyres rolled well, offer good grip, and have puncture resistance and reflective sidewall strip.
Should last for hundreds, probably thousands of miles.
Not lightweight but fine for this kind of bike.
38mm volume adds a welcome extra level of cushioning.
Very, very good commuting tyre.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so
Couldn't really think of a better speccing choice than Schwalbe Marathons for a bike with this type of focus.
Fine. Bar is a nice width.
Felt durable – almost too durable!
Handlebar grips are a little unforgiving – would like better cushioning.
Decent finishing kit.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Everything felt in proportion – no unusual or wrong speccing decisions. I expect most riders will change certain components in time due to personal preference, but there's nothing that needs changing at point of sale.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Incredibly well-specced bike, particularly with extra accessories such as the rear rack, dynamo lights, mudguards and frame lock. Pedals are heavy, though.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, it's a very reliable and benign ride, perfect for commuting, allowing you to concentrate on the road rather than worry about your bike.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, but only for specific purposes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is not a fast road bike, so the performance score relates to what the Hoprider 900 is designed for: commuting, trekking and leisure riding. Its weight prevents it getting a higher score. However, the fantastic overall build and speccing – while contributing to that weight – does mean it is superb value.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: Commuting, touring, sportives, fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure