Tuesday, August 2, 2011 4.00pm
By Guy Kesteven, Cycling Plus
B’Twin is the house brand of the massive decathlon sports supermarket chain which has also sponsored several French pro teams. That means the Facet 3 offers top-level-evolved performance at a super low price. The carbon frame with semi-integrated seat mast design and carbon topped fork are a coup at this price.
The angular ‘stealth bomber’ shapes, conventional head-tube, slab alloy rear dropouts and skinny tubes show that its design and technology are rather more dated. It was good enough to win the French national champs under Christophe Moreau in 2007 though, and is impressively light for the price.
The fork is very light too, but there’s a noticeable amount of flex and twang in the front end as a result. The slightly soft frame and relatively weighty wheels mean it’s not the most reactive bike under power, relying on steady application of wattage rather than a sudden snap to get you up to speed. It’s certainly no escargot though, and the triple chainset means it nearly always has a lower gear ratio left if you decide to sit and spin up the climbs.
The full 105 drivetrain is another tick in the value box, and the cartridge pad B’Twin brakes produce predictable if low-powered braking, though that means less chance of braking judder from the light front fork. Helped by the long racer-style position, this gives it a useful dose of stability and confidence at higher speeds on descents.
Overall handling balance is good too, with an easy swing and sweep through corners and reasonably reassuring traction from the B’Twin branded tyres. The soft frame means it treats precision steering instructions as suggestions rather than following them slavishly, though, while twist in the front end is very obvious if you get too far forward over the front on climbs or trackstands.
While not everyone will enjoy the amount of flex in the frame or the long and low position, comfort levels are more than good enough for longer rides and sportives, with no nasty shocks coming from either rough tarmac or pothole/cattle grid collisions. The short seat-tube stub plugged into the top of the extended seat mast also allows plenty of height adjustment without having to get your saw out. It’s certainly worth a long look for cost-conscious composite fans.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.
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