Looking for the best 24 inch kids bike on a budget? You found it! The Btwin by Decathlon Rockrider 24 offers a smooth ride and great quality at a shockingly low price point.
Smartly designed with child-specific components, responsive, easy-to-adjust brakes, a padded saddle, and a smooth grip shifter, the Rockrider 24 quite simply raises the bar for “big box store bikes”!
We put the Rockrider ST100 24 inch to the test around the neighborhood with several testers aged 8 to 10 and they all agreed – the Btwin by Decathlon Rockrider offers a fun and comfortable ride that some of our testers even preferred over more expensive bikes.
In our complete review, we’ll cover what makes the Btwin Rockrider so great for it price as well as how it compares to other budget bikes.
Btwin Rockrider 24 ST100
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: All types of neighborhood riders, from paved to basic trail riding
SEAT HEIGHT: 26″ – 33.5″
WEIGHT: 30.2 lbs.
GEARS: 6-speed with grip shift
BRAKES: Dual handbrakes
- Amazing quality of build for its price
- Responsive brakes that are easy to adjust
- Padded saddle
- Protective derailleur cage
- Simplified 1x gearing (most “budget” bikes have more complex 3x)
- Lighter than similarly priced bikes
- Does not come with kickstand (but does have a mount for one)
- No derailleur hanger
- Sticker decals likely to come off with time
- On the heavier side for a 24 inch bike (but still light weight for its price)
Decathlon Btwin 24 inch Bike Models
Btwin sells 5 different 24 inch bike models that are available in two different lines – the Original Line, designed for city riding, and the Rockrider line designed for all-terrain riding.
The Original line (click for our review) comes in two color variations. The components between the two are the same except the Btwin Original 500 (the bike with the basket above) comes with a metal basket, fenders, and a chainguard, while the more basic Btwin Original 100 Kids version does not.
The Rockrider line comes in 3 different models that vary in color and quality of components. The ST500 and ST900 are only available in one color, but the ST100 is available in the white and black color shown throughout this review as well as a red and black version. The red ST100 is only available through Walmart.com.
Rockrider 24 ST100 vs. ST500 vs. ST900
The Rockrider 24 is available in three models – the ST100, ST500 and the ST900. All three Rockriders have the same size frame and are designed to fit the same size child. The ST100 is the base model, which this review is based on.
There are several differences between the three different models, and which bike is best for your child really depends on how you plan on using it. The more advanced your child is, especially on trail riding, the higher the model number that is appropriate for them.
|Weight||30.0 lb.||31.5 lb.||27.1 lb.|
Based on our experience with the ST100 (we have not seen the ST500 or the ST900 in person), the Rockriders provide amazing quality for the price. They are certainly heavier than more expensive brands, but for those on a tighter budget, they can’t be beat for their price.
Btwin Rockrider ST100 – Results of our Test Rides
From its easy assembly to its solid performance, the Rockrider ST100 continually surprised us and our kids. For $169, it is hands down the best 24 inch bike you can buy for under $200.
From riding around the neighborhood to hitting up the local bike jumps, the Rockrider 24 was surprisingly smooth and showed no signs of the typical clunkiness and “dead weight” often experienced on budget bikes.
Performance on All-terrain trails
Designed for basic trails, we immediately put the Btwin to work on our neighborhood dirt trails. Considering its low price, the Btwin Rockrider performed like a champ and much better than anticipated!
While the Rockrider ST100 does not have a suspension fork like the ST500 and ST900, it does come complete with knobby tires that provide plenty of grip for loose surfaces.
While going over jumps and over rocky sections, it easily rolled on through without the common audible “clunk” of standard budget bikes. While certainly not as smooth and precise as our favorite higher-end brands, for its price, the Btwin Rockrider’s performance was honestly a bit shocking (and in a good way!).
Due to faster speeds and steeper inclines, brake performance is essential on any all-terrain bike and the brakes on the Rockrider 24 did not disappoint.
Flying down steeper sections of trails can be a bit nerve-racking on a budget bike (that usually have less-than stellar–brakes), but our testers showed no hesitancy with the Rockrider.
We moms even hopped on this Btwin 24 inch bike ourselves, and we can attest to the Rockrider’s quality brakes! Not only are they surprisingly smooth and easy to engage, they are also easy to adjust.
While the Rockrider isn’t fancy by any means, on dirt trails it offers great traction, quality braking, and responsive shifting which other budget brands simply can’t compete with. As a result, the Rockrider is really the only budget bike that we would recommend for use on basic dirt trails.
For more advanced riders, the SUNTOUR XCT suspension fork on the ST500 and ST900 would be a beneficial, but not necessary, upgrade.
Performance around the Neighborhood
For the standard neighborhood rider who mainly sticks to riding on pavement, the Rockrider is fully equipped for fun! Although it features the “mountain bike” styling that older kids typically prefer, its nicely padded saddle and semi-upright positioning provide a comfortable ride for everyday use on paved surfaces.
For more adventurous riders, the Rockrider is also easy and fun to jump! If your little one is eager to jump off curbs or practice wheelies, the Rockrider will happily oblige.
While on longer paved rides, the Rockrider’s 6 gears were more than suitable for our standard rides with mild hills. Paved trails with steep hills or high elevation gains are likely a bit too much for the Rockrider 24 as it doesn’t have a very low “granny gear” (more about this in the gearing section below).
After several weeks of testing, it quickly became clear that the 24 inch Rockrider is a great all-arounder at an amazing price that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any family on a tighter budget.
What size child fits on the Btwin Rockrider 24?
We tested the Rockrider ST100 24 inch bike on three different kids ages 9 and 10 with heights ranging from 51″ to 54″. They were all a mid-range fit on the bike with room on the seat post for slightly smaller or taller riders.
The Btwin Rockrider 24 has a seat height range from 26″ – 33.5″ and is the best fit for kids with inseams ranging from 24″ to 31″. Our main 54″ tall 9-year-old tester shown below has an inseam of 25.5″.
For kids on the shorter end, the Rockrider is also available in a 20″ model with a seat height range of 23.5″ to 30.5″. The 20″ Rockrider ST100 is a single-speed, but the 20″ ST500 and ST900 are geared.
Components and Features of the Btwin Rockrider ST100
What makes the Rockrider 24″ ST100 so much better than other budget bikes? In addition to overall quality of build (the bike feels much more solid with much less play in components than other budget bikes), the Rockrider is also built with better components.
Responsive Hand Brakes
Of all the components of the Rockrider 24, the biggest standout is the brakes. The brakes work amazingly well with very little effort necessary to engage. Most brakes on budget bikes are seriously awful and often barely work even after spending extensive time attempting to tune them.
The brakes on the Btwin Rockrider 24 are a far cry from these standard cheap brakes and offer stopping power comparable to, and in some cases better than, mid and high-range kids bikes.
Even better, the brakes are ridiculously easy to adjust. By simply turning the silver adjustment knob pointed out below, the tension wire can be adjusted to tighten or loosen the brakes as needed, no tools required!
Gearing and Gain Ratio
The Rockrider 24 is unique in that it has the coveted 1x drivetrain. 1x, 2x, and 3x drivetrains refer to the number of cogs on the chainring (the cogs closest to the pedals).
All geared bikes have one derailleur for the cassette in the back (the stack of cogs near the rear axle), which is shifted by the right hand. But only 2x and 3x drivetrains have a second derailleur for the front, which is shifted by the left hand.
1x drivetrains are especially beneficial for kids as it greatly simplifies shifting. With only one derailleur and shifter to worry about, kids don’t get confused about which hand they need to shift with! They just simply shift up or down with their right hand.
Most budget bikes, including the popular Schwinn High-Timber and the Huffy Hardtail, have a 2x or 3x drivetrains
6-gears with a Narrow Gain Ratio
The Rockrider 24 inch has 6 gears with a gain ratio ranging from 2.58 to 5.16. Our testers found this range more than enough for everyday riding around the neighborhood.
For those who are tackling steep hills, a bike with a wider gain ratio (a lower low gear and a higher high gear) can be beneficial. But keep in mind that cheap kids bike with more than 8 or 9 gears almost always have a 2x or 3x drivetrain.
For example, the $140 Pacific Mountain 24 inch bike has 18 gears with a much wider gain ratio range, but it requires a 3x system in order to achieve a higher range of gears.
In our experience, a child is better off with one derailleur with 6 to 8 gears versus 2 derailleurs with 18+ gears. More gears do not equate to a better bike! In fact, most adult mountain bikes also come with a 1x system with 12 gears max!
For those who need a greater gear range, the Guardian Ethos is a great choice. While it still only has 6 gears and a 1x system, it has a wider gain ratio range of 2.3 to 5.6.
Grip Shifter with Soft Grips
The grip shifter on the Btwin Rockrider 24 is comfortable and easy to use. Easy on the hands, the shifter (as well as the grip) is soft and pliable.
The narrow rotation section of the Rockrider’s shifter makes it much easier for small hands to twist than other shifters found on budget bikes. As you can see in the image below, Rockrider’s shifter on the left is much narrower than the budget shifter on the right.
Derailleur with Derailleur Cage
Derailleurs are typically very finicky and easily get out of adjustment. To help keep the bike shifting properly and out of the bike shop for maintenance, the Rockrider 24 comes with a derailleur cage.
The cage wraps around the derailleur to prevent it from being damaged, which often happens when kids drop their bikes onto the drivetrain side. This simple cage can mean the difference between a bike that properly shifts and one that struggles to shift or causes the chain to come off when attempting to shift.
One protective element the Rockrider is missing, however, is a derailleur hanger. A derailleur hanger prevents the frame from being bent as the result of the derailleur being bumped. To be fair though, derailleur hangers are rarely, if ever, found on budget bikes.
Unlike standard bike saddles found on most kids bikes, the saddle on the Rockrider 24 is ergonomically shaped to fit a child’s smaller frame. It also provides plenty of cushioning that was much appreciated by our testers.
Offering greater adjustability, a stronger hold, and more responsive steering, the Rockrider ST100 24 is equipped with a threadless headset. (Image on the left below.) The headset of the bike is what connects the front fork, frame, and handlebars to each other.
Most budget bikes come with threaded headsets. (On the right above.) Cheap threaded headsets, found on most budget bikes, are often problematic as their looser grip on the handlebars and fork can cause them to get misaligned. When this occurs, the front wheel no longer points straight when the handlebars do!
The better quality threadless headset of the Rockrider holds everything in place tighter, helping to keep everything properly aligned. The threadless headset and stem of the Rockrider also allow the handlebars to be easily swapped out for a different shape or size if desired.
While not a component, it is worth mentioning that the Rockrider has stickers versus embedded decals. This is one area in which the Rockrider’s budget price is more apparent.
While the stickers are likely to scratch or peel off with time, we were glad to see that Btwin focused its budget on equipping the Rockrider 24 with higher-end components that directly affect the performance of the bike, versus using lower-end components to allow for higher-end decals in the budget.
Btwin Rockrider Comparison
What do I lose by spending $50 – $100 less on a 24 inch bike at a big box store?
The Btwin Rockrider is without question our favorite budget bike under $250. The overall design and quality of the bike is far superior to any other budget bike we have tested. The four main benefits of the Rockrider over other budget brands are:
- Lighter weight – Lower-priced bikes weigh up to 5 pounds more
- Kid-friendly geometry – Great geometry that comfortably positions a child in a semi-upright position. We had no issues with the child’s feet hitting the front tire when turning. (This is an issue on the BikesDirect and Roadmaster 24 inch bikes)
- Responsive Brakes – The brakes on the Rockrider work amazingly well and very comparable to v-brakes on higher-end bikes. Brakes on other budget bikes are typically very hard to use and adjust
- Quality of Build – The Rockrider feels comfortable and sturdy while riding, not rough and clunky
What do I gain by spending $150 – $200 more on a 24 inch bike?
On the flip side, there are certainly benefits to spending more money on a bike. The four main benefits of spending more on a bike are:
- Even lighter weight – More expensive bikes can weigh 5 lb. less or more, for example, the Polygon Ultralight 24 weighs 23.1 lb.
- More gears with wider gain ratios – More gears with a wider range are better for tackling steeper hills as well as gaining speed on long straightaways
- Higher quality drivetrain – Upgraded shifters and derailleurs are more durable and typically shift faster with less force required. Higher-end bikes also have a derailleur hanger that can help protect the frame of the bike from being bent as a result of the derailleur being hit.
- Integrated decals vs. stickers – Decals always last longer and look better than stickers
What is the Btwin brand and where can I purchase them?
Btwin bikes are only available at Decathlon.com or at Decathlon stores. While new in the US (their only brick and mortar stores are in the San Fransisco area), Decathlon is a well-known and well-established international brand with over 40 years of experience under their belt.
Unlike most sporting goods stores, Decathlon is unique in that it only sells its house brands. Btwin is Decthalon’s brand for its entire bike line, ranging from kids balance bikes to adult mountain and road bikes. With everything from research and development, to distribution all done in-house, Decathlon is able to produce quality products at lower prices.
What makes Btwin bikes so affordable?
By eliminating many of the middle-men, Decathlon is able to keep their prices low. With a goal of making sports accessible to more people, Decathlon’s business model is streamlined to cut out extra expenses and focus on creating quality products.
While other budget bikes divert their funds towards making a bike look good via colorful decals, accented saddles and bulky suspension forks, the Btwin focused on performance. The Btwin Rockrider may only be available in one color and with a basic look, but it has far superior components and quality compared to similarly priced bikes.
Btwin Rockrider 24 Inch Bike Bottom Line
A mid-range bike masquerading as a budget bike, the Btwin Rockrider 24 is an amazing deal for its low price point. Whether you’re looking for a solid bike for neighborhood riding, commuting several miles to school, or even mild trail riding, the Rockrider is hands down our favorite 24 inch bike for under $200.