There’s good news and bad news about the Alur 700, from mega retailer Decathlon’s B’Twin house brand. At the time of writing its price had been slashed by £150 to £599, to make room for a slightly differently specced Alur 700 (more of that later) – but dwindling stocks mean you may not end up snaffling one.
Highs: Low weight, low price and great kit
Lows: Firm-ish ride; hard to access brakes
Even at its original price the Alur is a bargain. It has the sort of kit, based around 10-speed Shimano 105, that normally adorns a bike costing £1000, and which is virtually unheard of at this price.
The compact 50-34 chainset combines with the 12-28 cassette for versatility at both ends of the spectrum. Some might prefer a slightly higher top gear, but the 34×28 bottom gear should get most riders up just about everything, especially considering the Alur’s impressive sub-9kg weight.
The brakes are direct-mount Shimano 105s. There’s no doubting the power of these stoppers, even if they don’t have the same smooth control as standard callipers, but we’re not so keen on the positioning of the rear brake behind the bottom bracket, where it picks up road-borne detritus and is harder to access. The internal cabling is a more popular feature, however.
The wheels are usually a major compromise on entry-level bikes. But there are few short cuts evident on BTwin’s own lightweight Aero 2024 wheels, which feature 24 aero spokes on the rear, 20 at the front. Their cartridge bearings should endure durability while their c1800g weight is very good, too, challenging the likes of Mavic’s Aksiums.
Handling is stable and assured:Immediate Media
Handling is stable and assured
The frame – with a gently arched top tube reminiscent of Specialized – is made from triple-butted 6061 aluminium, which is again very good for the price. It’s got a competitive pedigree too, being used by the BTwin U19 racing team. It has a 1 1/4-1 1/8in tapered steerer, which contributes to true, stable and confident handling.
The geometry leans towards endurance, with a slightly upright riding position. Though the ride is on the firm side, it’s not unduly harsh, and a wider pair of tyres than the 23mm Hutchinsons fitted would add a touch more plushness. This does make us wonder why 25mm tyres haven’t yet taken over on lower priced bikes as they have further up the market. Maybe in time. But overall the ride is pretty much as good as market-leading equivalents from the likes of Giant.
As for the ‘differently specced’ Alur 700 we alluded to earlier? Well, that has had a very welcome upgrade to the excellent Shimano 105 11-speed groupset, though you’ll be paying the full RRP again. But as £750 bikes typically come with Tiagra 10-speed, this is a full-on French-flavoured bargain whichever way you look at it.
Throw in a frameset with the UCI seal of approval and a lifetime guarantee – oh, and a pair of Look-compatible pedals – and this alluring offering is certainly one worth seeking out, even if it’s not the most exciting looking bike on the market. Considering its many major plus points, we’ll forgive B’Twin that.