A budget priced bike needn't these days mean that unacceptable corners have been cut. The Mach 740 from B'Twin, mega-retailer Decathlon's in-house brand B'Twin, is testament to the positive aspects of economies of scale.
The full carbon frame might be more angular than a stealth fighter, but rides like a high class endurance bike. Even with 23mm tyres, the level of comfort and complete lack of interfering road vibration through the bar or saddle made this B’Twin just a joy to spend time on.
We must admit that when setting the bike up, all those unconventionally angled and shaped tubes, with sharply defined edges and corners really didn’t fill us with confidence. It looks like a designer has been let loose after a couple of drinks at lunchtime, and drew a concept bike for fun.
The top tube is heavily flattened, tapering from the head tube, which is buttressed by the triangular shaping behind it. There are definitely no aero concessions from the broad down tube, and the BSA bottom bracket is almost lost within the vast expanse of tubes that meet around it.
Talking Italian – you get a full Campagnolo Athena groupset
The seat tube is especially unusual. It's very slim and triangular at the bottom, with a partly filled in brace between it and the seatstays, and a seat mast that rises 130mm above the top tube. The stubby aluminium seat tube can extend around 120mm further for saddle height adjustments.
Both seat- and chainstays flare outwards to the dropouts, with the seatstays finishing in a mono-stay. Overall, apart from aesthetics, it’s hard to say why the shaping has been made so unusual, with sharp edges in materials being common sites of stress risers (locations in objects where stress becomes concentrated). You can’t see any of that from the saddle, but you can feel that the design works – and it works very well.
As for the component specification, there’s a complete Campagnolo Athena groupset, which with its white hoods and black finish cuts a classy dash. We’ve always been fans of Campagnolo’s ergonomic levers, but the addition of the swept down inner shift button, first seen on the EPS electronic system, makes shifting far simpler.
The new shifter is much easier to reach from above or below without needing to contort your hand. Combined with a lighter action, this makes operation less abrupt, and more definite, avoiding accidental over-shifting.
Cornering stability is excellent
Performance is as solid and smooth as the frameset, with great brakes that give easy modulation on the Campagnolo Khamsin wheelset. The rear rim is asymmetric, with just 20 spokes, J-bend on the drive side, and straight pull on the other. The front has 18 spokes, and the rims are a fairly normal 21mm wide and 27mm deep, fitted with Hutchinson Equinox 23mm tyres.
Together they make a responsive package, keen to accelerate and hold speed, and predictably stable through the corners. They roll well too, thanks in no small part to the grippy and supple Hutchinson tyres, enhancing overall ride comfort more than 23mm rubber should.
Sizing allows riders to get racy if necessary, but isn’t overly aggressive – this B’Twin is all about satisfying ride quality. The Prologo saddle was widely praised by our testers, and the bar and stem combo are smart and well up to the task, rounding off a fine package that’s hard to fault.