There is a big new shiny French superstore in town and its selling bikes. If you ignore junk mail and generally have a knack for filtering useless adverts out of your life then you may have missed the fact Decathlon “the sports megastore”, yes they call themselves that, has opened on Botley Road. Cycle King and Go Outdoors have a new contender as this place makes its dosh in the same way, pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap.
Some call me a bike snob but I just think things should be built to last, including something that is going to propel you along concrete at 15mph.
I am open minded when it comes to budget bikes but I think I know cheap components when I see them. Shiny paintwork and slick logos don’t obscure my vision.
There was a bit of that going on when I visited the week after opening but honestly I thought their offerings weren’t so bad if you don’t mind a few compromises on your bike.
If you want really cheap there’s a £140 folding bike and £170 full sized bike on offer. Personally I hate bikes this cheap. I think these bikes will become a regular sight in Oxford.
The most expensive bike is online presumably to order for collection. It is a cross country mountain bike at £2,700, an ugly bug if ever I saw one.
One difference that was apparent to its Oxford competitors is that they only sell their own brand called B’Twin. We are already trying to figure out how you pronounce it bearing in mind the company is French. I prefer “B, Twin” while some of my friends suggest “between”. Either way if you are a brand junky this is not the shop for you as B’Twin is all you get. And the main crux with their bikes is they all encompass the same design that is obviously the vision of one French man in some grey office in Calais.
But when price is the only worry, French conservative design is not the be all and end all.
Unsurprisingly I didn’t buy a bike. I was just window shopping. There were plenty of people discussing the relative merits of one cheap bike over the other, with bike sellers habitually replying “different brakes”.
I bought something from the camping section, a windup LED camping lantern, for £17.99. It was small and light with 4 LEDs, great for emergency lighting when other power devices pack up.
Unfortunately for Decathlon it got returned after 10 minutes as I popped into Homebase next door for something completely unrelated only to find a similar model with 12 LEDs for £2 more.
Well sometimes it pays to spend a little bit more, bikes included and in my case extra LEDs worth of light.