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We get aboard a £750 aluminium road bike in a largely Shimano 105 spec - sounds like a bargain? It is

B’Twin’s Alur is a new road bike that offers what looks to be outstanding value for money. £750 gets you a triple-butted aluminium frame, a carbon bladed fork, and a Shimano 105-based spec. We had the chance to take it for a spin…

We showed you the 2014 B’Twin range back in the autumn and we’ve ridden each of the key road bikes now, including the top-level Ultra

The Alur is an altogether different beast but, like the Ultra, it offers excellent value for money. B’Twin see this as a tough endurance bike and I’d agree with that assessment.

Why ‘endurance’? Well, the Alur has a geometry that’s slightly more relaxed than that of either the Ultra or the mid-level Mach, so you get a ride position that’s a touch higher, putting less strain on your back. It’s designed to be just that little bit more comfortable for racking up a high mileage.

It’s still very much a genuine road bike geometry. The large model, for example, (statistics alert!) comes with a 564mm top tube and a 177.5mm head tube. For comparison, there’s a Mach model (57cm) with an almost-the-same top tube length (565mm) that has a head tube that’s 13.5mm shorter. It’s not the biggest difference ever but you get the idea that the Alur’s front end is just a bit higher. It’s hardly lofty, though. You don’t climb aboard the Alur and feel like your upper body is hitting the wind full-on. You can still get into a decent tuck position on the drops when you want to turn up the speed.

The Alur’s Evo Vario frame is made from 6061 hydroformed aluminium that’s triple butted and heat treated. Triple butting, as you probably know, means that B’Twin vary the tubes’ wall thicknesses to keep the weight down while maintaining high strength in the areas where it’s most needed.

The Alur’s frame is fairly angular with almost-square edges to many of the tubes. Visually, all those straight lines might float your boat or they might not; that’s going to be a matter of personal taste. Although the Mach and Ultra carbon-framed bikes look very different, they’re also sharp edged and recognisably of a type.

The head tube is tapered, taking a standard 1 1/8in bearing at the top and a 1 1/4in bearing at the bottom to add some extra stiffness to the front end.

Out back, the chainstays are oversized for stiffness too and, unusually on a bike of this price, they’re home to a Shimano 105 direct mount brake. The idea of the positioning is to reduce drag. It also means, of course, that B’Twin don’t need to use a brake bridge between the seatstays… so they don’t. Instead, they’ve just added some reinforcement between the stays right up by the top tube junction.

All of the cabling is internal, the rear mech cable emerging right by the dropout, and the Alur is electric-shift compatible if you want to go down the Shimano Di2 or Campagnolo EPS route in the future.

Oh, and guess what: the frame is UCI approved. That means that you can race it at any level you like (right up to UCI sanctioned races), it conforms to all the rules and regs.

Of course, that’s more of a marketing thing than anything else (and an income generator for the UCI) – you’re not going to see this bike in the Tour de France – but it’s still pretty cool. This is the most affordable bike we can think of with that UCI sticker on the seat tube (feel free to let us know if there are any cheaper ones).

The fork is B’Twin’s own Evo Vario design with carbon legs and an alloy steerer, and the front brake attached to it, like the rear one, is direct mount.

An aluminium frame will struggle to match carbon fibre on the scales (although some are right in the mix), but the Alur’s frame weight (size medium) is 1,400g, according to B’Twin. The fork is around 550g. Okay, that’s not mega light compared to some of the high-end finery we test here on road.cc, but this is a 750 quid bike. The fully built up Alur 700, again in a medium, hits the scales at around 8.9kg (19.6lb).

As I said up top, the Alur comes in a largely 105 build – that’s Shimano’s third tier road group, sitting below Dura-Ace and Ultegra. That’s a very high-level spec on a bike of this price. As well as those direct-mount brakes, the shifters and both mechs are 105 while the cassette is next-level-down Tiagra. The only major deviation is the chainset which is a compact (50/34-tooth) B’Twin branded option. Still, it’s a lightweight alternative.

Most of the other components are B’Twin’s own too, including the wheels with their 28mm-deep rims and sealed bearing hubs. They weigh in at 1,790g the pair, which is more than reasonable for the money. You even get clipless pedals as part of the package.

So what's it like to ride?

The Alur 700 rides like a bike that’s considerably more expensive than it actually is. If someone told you that this was a £1,000 or even a £1,200 bike, you’d think that was fair enough. Easily. It just doesn’t feel like you’re having to make too many compromises here.

Say ‘aluminium’ to many people and they’ll automatically assume that the ride is harsh. That’s plain wrong. The Alur is actually a pretty comfortable bike. For a start, if you want a slightly more relaxed ride position than you get on a traditional road bike, that’s what’s on offer here. Chances are that you ride most of the time with your hands resting on the hoods, but when you do want to hunker down, B’Twin’s compact aluminium bar offers a couple of comfortable hand positions on the drops.  

Plus, both the frame and the fork do a good job of filtering out vibration and chatter from uneven roads. Admittedly, I only had a couple of hours on board the Alur so I can’t tell you how it would feel at the end of a long day in the saddle, but the ride quality is certainly a long way from harsh. For what it’s worth, I got on well with B’Twin’s Comp saddle too. Saddles are very much a matter of personal taste but B’Twin haven’t made the mistake of going large and squishy here as so many manufacturers do on more affordable bikes; this is a slim option with enough flex in the shell to take the sting out of bigger hits.

Sling a load of power through the cranks and you do get a little flex in the frame around the bottom bracket, but not loads – it’s still reasonably stiff. Here at road.cc we’re used to reviewing super-rigid bikes aimed at very strong cyclists, and the Alur’s frame stiffness does fall a little short in comparison, but then, it’s much cheaper than most of those. At lower price points it’s always going to be a balancing act between weight and frame stiffness, and B’Twin hit a good compromise here. Plus – and I hope this sounds realistic rather than patronising – most people thinking of buying this bike won’t be putting a Fabian Cancellara level of power through the drivetrain.

Good front-end stiffness means that the steering is pretty accurate too, and those direct-mount brakes do make a difference on the descents. I'm a fan. There’s certainly not a lot of flex in them because the arms are mounted straight onto the frame/fork rather than via a skinny pivot. Direct-mount brakes just feel a bit more… direct.

Riding the Alur 700, you have to keep reminding yourself that this is a £750 bike. I’m struggling to think of another bike at this price that offers as much. Yes, as I mentioned, I only got a couple of hours in here and long-term tests can sometimes reveal other issues, but first impressions are very promising indeed. I think B’Twin are onto a winner here.

The Alur 700 will be available through Decathlon from March. It’s already listed on B’Twin’s website if you’d like to take a look. 

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

42 comments

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Shamblesuk [167 posts] 3 years ago
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Just question how many folks would consider electronic shifting on an alu frame. At the current price, anyway.

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jason.timothy.jones [293 posts] 3 years ago
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Shamblesuk wrote:

Just question how many folks would consider electronic shifting on an alu frame. At the current price, anyway.

I would, mostly as I really don't want a carbon road bike.

B'Twin have really do think about future proofing there bikes, in a few years we will see Di 105, or the fables SRAM elec set

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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Isn't the rear brake perfectly positioned to get all the shyte from the rear wheel and some from the front too? And any flung-off chain lube on the pads.

Is the extra ballache (flangeache too, for the feminists) of cleaning, lubing and adjusting the rear brake down there adequately compensated for by the marginal aero and mass-centralisation gains?

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jollygoodvelo [1677 posts] 3 years ago
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Comparing this to my much-missed CAAD8 which was £900 a couple of years ago... it has better gears, better brakes, a tapered headtube, it's half a kilo lighter and it's 15% cheaper.

Downsides: the welds aren't very pretty, the chainstay brakes will get gunked up by commuting, I personally prefer non-black bikes and, er... you can't fit Roadracers to the Alur.

It's a conspicuous bargain really.

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sorebones [139 posts] 3 years ago
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Looks like a lot of bike for the money, but what are the options for mud guards? I cannot see any frame mounted options, and without a rear brake bridge Crud Catchers would be out too?

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KiwiMike [1310 posts] 3 years ago
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On a recent BikeShopShow podcast (ep 67, here http://goo.gl/idyQ63 ), Scott was talking about wheels and how they twist under load - and a major issue being that - counter-intuitively - the flex in the opposite direction at 90 degrees to the force point. I.e. in a trad brake setup the wheel hardly flexes at the top/brake position, but at 90 degrees the chainstay mount position is the worst-possible location.

So if there is any flex in the wheelset, that's where it's gonna be seen.

Was this at all noticeable? Or can the brake/lever combo allow for enough clearance when putting the power down, then be short-reach/powerful enough when you need to stop in a hurry?

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KiwiMike [1310 posts] 3 years ago
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Two words: MUD. GUARDS.

I cannot see for the life of me how you can fit anything other than a set of fork/seatstay-mounted SKS RaceBlade XL's here.

There is just nowhere to secure anything.

On my wife's disc-equipped Genesis CdF, they still had the sense to leave a drilled brake bridge on frame and fork.

Maybe this bike is only for sunny, cowshit-free French roads?

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russyparkin [570 posts] 3 years ago
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woah woah woah!

a; mudguards are for losers so this bike solves a problem straight away
b;aluminium is better than cheap carbon all day long
c; mudguards should be banned,

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edster99 [338 posts] 3 years ago
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russyparkin wrote:

woah woah woah!

a; mudguards are for losers so this bike solves a problem straight away
b;aluminium is better than cheap carbon all day long
c; mudguards should be banned,

a) I'm guessing you dont go winter riding in a group.
b) perhaps
c) see a).

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bendertherobot [1471 posts] 3 years ago
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It's really hard to fathom the mind of someone who wants something that they don't like to see on a bike which isn't theirs, banned.

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KiwiMike [1310 posts] 3 years ago
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russyparkin wrote:

woah woah woah!

a; mudguards are for losers so this bike solves a problem straight away
b;aluminium is better than cheap carbon all day long
c; mudguards should be banned,

Dear Russyparkin

Please do not visit the cafés near me of a Sunday morn. I (and indeed anyone else I imagine) do not wish to sit upon a wet cowshit-and-mud-splattered seat recently vacated by your good self.

Best regards

The rest of the UK cycling and café-frequenting populace

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GrahamB [3 posts] 3 years ago
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Full mudguards, IMHO, should be compulsory!

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stuke [335 posts] 3 years ago
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Do you mudguard lovers all sit watching the Tour thinking "well I like the Dogma but I wouldn't have one coz I can't fit guards to it "

The bTwin is a race bike, how can you criticise a race bike for not having guard clearance?

If you want guards buy a bike with a frame designed for them

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 3 years ago
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Because a lot of us like to take a race bike on the commute or the Sunday club run, and we live in Manchester so it's pissing down all the time.

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russyparkin [570 posts] 3 years ago
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i dont cafe stop in winter, i just ride with my race training group, none of us have mudguards

i ride all winter long without spoiling the look of my bike,

i just buy decent cycling clothing to keep me dry

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joemmo [1164 posts] 3 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

Isn't the rear brake perfectly positioned to get all the shyte from the rear wheel and some from the front too? And any flung-off chain lube on the pads.

Is the extra ballache (flangeache too, for the feminists) of cleaning, lubing and adjusting the rear brake down there adequately compensated for by the marginal aero and mass-centralisation gains?

yes / no. Those of us who are of a certain age may remember chainstay mounted U-brakes on mountain bikes back in 'the day' (early 90s). As well as being crap traps they also served as convenient places to get the chain hooked onto and jammed, spawning various aftermarket toothy things to try and prevent this happening.
Less of an issue on a road bike but it still seems a bit of a retro-grade step.

I think this looks a great bike for the cash. I also like mudguards and disc brakes, so there.

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KiwiMike [1310 posts] 3 years ago
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russyparkin wrote:

i dont cafe stop in winter, i just ride with my race training group, none of us have mudguards

i ride all winter long without spoiling the look of my bike,

i just buy decent cycling clothing to keep me dry

Ah, sorry - I missed the 'Magically repels cowshit and clay' swingtag on that £250 Assos gilet.

And 'No Cake in winter': W-T-*actual*-F?

 3

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giff77 [1277 posts] 3 years ago
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Cycling must be incredibly boring without the cake stop. Several of my loops include a cafe, some actually have a couple. And guards are a must during winter. Protects the bike and your kit.

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Nick T [1095 posts] 3 years ago
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Fortunately, neither myself nor my bikes are made from alka seltzer, gingerbread, sherbet or any other water soluble materials and i find cake more enjoyable after, say, a family meal than huddled in a roadside cafe with a load of other sweat and mud covered Lycra clad dudes, bikes left unsecured in a pile outside in the cold.

I understand other people may have a different view, however.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 3 years ago
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To be honest I just can't be arsed cleaning mine. And I can do the whole best bike and lycra thing in the rain, but full guards and a rain cape is more my style.

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KiwiMike [1310 posts] 3 years ago
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Nick T wrote:

I understand other people may have a different view, however.

Nope. Can't see it. Coffee/Cake transcends all the optional Velominati-poseur-sycophancy.

The Way, The Truth and The Cake.

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KiwiMike [1310 posts] 3 years ago
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Nick T wrote:

I understand other people may have a different view, however.

Nope. Can't see it. Coffee/Cake transcends all the optional Velominati-poseur-sycophancy.

The Way, The Truth and The Cake.

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jason.timothy.jones [293 posts] 3 years ago
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Seriously I have sat in a room full of post menopausal women that bitched less than some of you lot....if you don't like the bike, don't effen well buy it.

If this bike was £10K and had some fancy Italian name on it you would all be dripping over it.

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jason.timothy.jones [293 posts] 3 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

Is the extra ballache (flangeache too, for the feminists) of cleaning, lubing and adjusting the rear brake down there adequately compensated for by the marginal aero and mass-centralisation gains?

Yes, but not for Aero, mostly cos it looks horny

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russyparkin [570 posts] 3 years ago
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KiwiMike wrote:
russyparkin wrote:

i dont cafe stop in winter, i just ride with my race training group, none of us have mudguards

i ride all winter long without spoiling the look of my bike,

i just buy decent cycling clothing to keep me dry

Ah, sorry - I missed the 'Magically repels cowshit and clay' swingtag on that £250 Assos gilet.

And 'No Cake in winter': W-T-*actual*-F?

 3

ah you wear assos? well that gives away a lot about you,

i use winter for race training, the one cafe i may stop at is 4 miles from home and is a cycling cafe so welcome us muddy riders,

being a southwest boy i have seen a lot of rain! and my views on mudguards are still the same,

in my opinion if you walk into a bike shop and your priority on bike choice is if it takes mudguards over anything else, your not a proper cyclist.

snobbery/arseholery? yeah probably but i would rather drown than stick fugging mudguards on my tcr, and yes in case your wondering i pretty much do run 50mm carbons through winter

not even sorry

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russyparkin [570 posts] 3 years ago
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but back on topic, this bike looks really good, some flaws but bloody hell even at 900 it would still be an awesome bike

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antonio [1168 posts] 3 years ago
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I just wonder when these 'race bikes' are marketed at the remarks alluding to higher front end, for endurance and comfort. Does this imply that pro bike riders are never comfortable on a true race machine but suffer permanent bad backs and position, not to mention the pain endured in trying to be first in the race.

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David Arthur @d... [813 posts] 3 years ago
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Pro riders do about 30,000km a year at least and most have pretty good flexibility as a result, so they can ride the extreme setups their bikes usually have

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DanTe [190 posts] 3 years ago
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I particularly like the posts that suggest menopausal men and also the post that highlights the road sh##e catching potential of the rear brake.
Surely neither of those two things are healthy.

I've seen DIY forums with people arguing vehemently over the opacity of B&Q own brand paint, fishing forums with gangs of middle aged men organising mass car park brawls over the right temperature to keep maggots in a fridge but cycling forums just tend to have that slight edge over the lot.
I think maybe it's all this marketing heavy, secondhand techy terminology that tips it..

The bike looks perfectly decent for £750. I paid 2 or 3 times that for a steel Condor with virtually the same spec.
Is it better looking, yes, is it 3 times the bike above, no.

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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I particularly like your post, and in particular the bit that states that you particularly like my comment about the rear brake placement. Particularly good, that bit.

Anyway, off to the diesel car exhaust enthusiasts forum, they have particularly good discussions on particulate filters, with some forum members particularly articulate.

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