BTwin Riverside 26 900 kids bike first impressions review
The B'Twin Riverside 900 26" inch wheel kids bike is the top of the range kids hybrid bike offered by Decathlon, and in this review we're taking a closer look at the bike and its specification.
The Riverside is a lightweight "hybrid" bike, meaning it's designed for a child who wants to do a mix of riding on roads (perhaps cycling to school during the week) and also riding on leisure routes at the weekends and in the holidays.
Our tester WP has now put this bike to the test- you can read her rider review here.
DISCLOSURE: Cycle Sprog were sent the B'Twin Riverside 900 by Decathlon for this review. We were not paid to write this review and all opinions and photos are our own.
Bike Model: BTwin 26 inch Riverside 900
Child age: 9 - 12 years old
Child Height: 135 - 150 cm
Weight: 10.1 kg without pedals
Warranty: Lifetime on frame, stem, handlebars. Other parts: 2 years
Date: November 2022
We Like: An attractive looking hybrid that is fit for purpose and comes in at a great price
B'Twin 26" Riverside 900 first impressions review
In this review we're taking a closer look at the top of the range Riverside 900 with a 26" wheel, and the first thing you notice about the BTwin Riverside 900 is the price.
The 26" wheel version comes in at a penny under £300, when the majority of lightweight aluminium kids bikes are somewhere north of £400.
With the adage of "You get what you pay for" going around in my head I was really keen to see what the Riverside 900 would offer.
Who are BTwin?
The parent Company for BTwin is Decathlon which is a global success story, selling a huge range of sporting equipment and clothing that is both fit for purpose and at realistic price points. They sell bikes in their network of stores and also on-line.
The Riverside is BTwin's range of hybrid bikes for kids (a hybrid is a regular ride-most-places type of bike with gears). They also do a Rockrider range, which are mountain bikes.
The BTwin ranges of kids bike usually come in three levels for each model - the 100, 500 and 900.
The 100 is their basic entry level bike which comes with a steel frame, with the 500 built around the same frame but with an upgrade on some of the components fitted.
The 900, which we are reviewing today, is the top of the range bike and this comes with a lightweight aluminium frame and an improved specification and component quality.
First look at the BTwin Riverside 900
The first thing I noted about the bike as it came out of the box was how light it felt.
We've unpacked a lot of kids bikes in our time, and I had been worried that the low price point on this bike would have meant a significantly heavier bike than others we've reviewed to date.
The bike came without the pedals fitted and I can confirm that in this state it weighs 10.1kg, which is very competitive indeed.
The light weight of this bike shouldn't be underestimated when considering it's ability to deliver enjoyment. Children in this age range tend to be much stronger than when they were younger, so a little additional weight isn't going to make much difference. However, adding a load of kilos most certainly will!
For example, there are some cheaper bikes in this wheel size that weigh over 20kg, double the weight of the Riverside 900, and this will have a detrimental impact on both the riding experience and enjoyment. So the light weight is an important factor, as it contributes to its nimbleness, makes it easier to pedal up hills and enables it to be picked up when required!
The second thing I noticed was the frame design. The majority of kids bike we review come with plain ole circular tubes. However, the design of the Riverside stood out immediately as it has an interesting downward sweep where the top tube meets the seat tube and rear stays, plus the larger diameter down tube has an interesting oval profile.
This downtube reminded me slightly of the style of an e-bike and got me pondering whether their huge popularity on the continent is influencing more traditional kids bike design. Time will tell!
Assembling the BTwin Riverside
For transportation in the box the bike arrived needing the front wheel, pedals and the handlebars attaching. If you're buying online Decathlon will send you a video showing you how to assemble the bike.
If you need additional help with this then check out the relevant videos on our article How to assemble a kids bike out of the box.
The threads in the crank were nice and clean so the pedals attached super easy using either an allen (hex) key or pedal spanner.
The front wheel slotted into the dropouts easily with a quick release (QR) skewer used to tighten things up. The rear wheel is also QR, which makes it much easier to fix punctures / change tyres than a fixed bolt version.
The wheels are own brand and both spin nice and freely with no grating - always a good sign!
The seat post is quick release, meaning it's very easy to get the saddle height correct both at set up and as your child continues to grow. The saddle is on rails, which means it's more adjustable than the fixed saddles on cheaper models.
Gearing and brakes on the BTwin Riverside 900
The Riverside 900 comes fitted with 8 gears, something I was very pleased to see as there is a tendency on cheaper kids bikes to have 18 gears or more.
This number of gears is unnecessary on a child's hybrid bike as they make the bike more difficult to ride. Your child would need to use both hands for changing through the gears, and increases the risk of them "crossing the chain" - which increases the risk of mechanical faults and causes wear.
So it's good to see that the Riverside 900 comes with a single chainring at the front. Your child changes gear using the thumbshifter that is located on the right hand side of the handlebars. This simple setup also means there's less cabling, less weight and less to go wrong. Result!
Decathlon supply a derailleur guard which we really recommend you fit. This is a useful piece of kit as it will protect this vital part of the bike from getting knocked or damaged if the bike gets dropped on the ground wrong side up.
The 8 gears on this bike are operated by a thumb shifter with a single 36t chainring paired to an 11-34 cassette. This combination means the bike will cope well on flat and undulating terrain. If your child is planning to climb very steep hills a wider range may help.
The gears change very smoothly both up and down the cassette, but the thumb shifter itself was a little bit stiff straight out the box, so it will be interesting to see if this loosens up over time as our reviewer puts it through it's paces.
The brakes are standard v-brakes with calipers by Tektro; a big player in the world of bicycle brakes.
It was noted that the brake levers did feel a bit cheap in comparison to the rest of the bike, plus they don't have the facility to adjust the reach for hand size. This is one of the only areas where we noticed BTwin making the decisions needed to bring this bike in at such a good price point.
The tyres on the BTwin Riverside 900 are an own brand item labelled up as "Riverside Trekking" and are 1.75" wide and inflated using a presta (car style) valve.
The tread composition of the tyre gives a dimpled centre section which is ideal for tarmac, with raised knobbles on the outer edges to provide additional grip on looser surfaces.
The material feels quite sticky to the touch and should deliver good levels of grip on the school run or venturing out onto towpaths and other light off road conditions in fair weather. They're not aimed at heading off into the mountains or for very muddy surfaces.
If your child isn't planning to be doing any really muddy off road cycling this style of tyre will be fine.
One of the first things I noticed on this bike was the ridged handlebar grip design. This is very tactile, and may prove distracting for some children.
I also thought to myself "that's going to hold the dirt", before realising I really have turned into my own mum!
But sure enough, before we'd even finished the photo shoot the bike had ended up with mud in the grips, and it's really hard to remove.
This won't bother some people. Others will be seriously upset with this design element.
Accessories for the BTwin Riverside 900
One really nice touch with the BTwin Riverside 900 is that it comes fitted with a front and rear LED light, saving you the expense of buying separately.
It's really good to see that there are also connecting points for mudguards, a side stand, bottle cage and pannier rack, so it can be turned into a commuter bike or used for longer cycling adventures.
One minor gripe we had is that the decals (stickers) are applied on top of the paint and so have no protection. One had lifted slightly and so it may start to peel off over time.
BTwin Riverside 900 summary
The BTwin Riverside 900 is a nimble 26 inch wheel hybrid with an attractive design at an even more attractive price.
The hybrid style is perfect for fun rides at the weekend on road or paths and towpaths, plus it would also make a great cost effective choice for the school run during the week.
The ability to add accessories such as mudguards, panniers and a bottle cage results in a really versatile all round bike for a 9 or 10 year old child.
Where to buy the Riverside 900
The BTwin Riverside 900 kids hybrid bike is available to buy exclusively at Decathlon for £299.99 with optional extras of mudguards for £7.99 and a bottle cage for £5.99.
What next for the BTwin Riverside 900?
So with the adults having taken receipt of the BTwin Riverside 900 and cast their eyes over it for this initial review, it has now been handed over to our age apropriate reviewer to take it out, have some fun and feed back her thoughts.
If you sign up to our newsletter then we'll let you know in a few months when our rider review is complete.
Edit: our rider review is now live! Read it here (spoilers- our tester LOVED it!)
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