Inexpensive, bolt upright and sweetly practical, the B’Twin City is a charming alternative to MAMIL-mobiles or urban hipster ﬁxies. For just over £100 it’s stately, elegant, basic transportation – as long as you live somewhere that’s pancake ﬂat.
Instead of the multiple gears and suspension forks found on a lot of inexpensive bikes, B’Twin have stripped the City down to basics: a steel loop frame, one gear and cantilever brakes. Then they've added a few essentials: kickstand, rack, dynamo lights, chainguard and basket.
It all adds up to a sturdy and practical package that’s not going to win any sprints from the lights but does bowl along gracefully when you get it moving. And the great thing is the mudguards and chainguard mean you can jump aboard in whatever you’re wearing.
The swept-back bar is close to the saddle so that you’re placed in a position of Range Rover command, gazing down imperiously over the trafﬁc, and the fat tyres plough cheerfully through potholes. We especially like the way it rides better with a load of stuff in the basket.
Empty, it’s a little ﬂighty, but come back from the supermarket with a couple of pints of milk, a loaf of bread and a big lock stashed up front and the steering calms down. Every little helps, and all that. The B’Twin City’s biggest limitation is that single gear.
If you live in York or Cambridge then you’re not going to care much, and the City will feel right at home among Roman walls or collegiate quads. But it’s hard work on anything but a gentle climb and we’d really love a version with a three- or five-speed hub gear.
The closest thing B’Twin offer is the City 5, with a ﬁve-speed derailleur, but somehow a gear dangler feels wrong on a basket-equipped bike. If your needs are ﬂatland simple though, the City will fulﬁl them amply. And you’ll have plenty of cash left over to ﬁll the basket with bread, cheese and a bottle of wine for a pootle down to Grantchester Meadows.