First Ride: B’Twin Alur 700

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

by Mat Brett   February 21, 2014  

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. 

39 user comments

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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.

posted by bendertherobot [247 posts]
21st February 2014 - 18:38

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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

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [432 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:16

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Full mudguards, IMHO, should be compulsory!

posted by GrahamB [3 posts]
21st February 2014 - 21:12

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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

Follow me on-
Twitter - @StuKerton
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posted by stuke [300 posts]
21st February 2014 - 21:38

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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.

posted by drfabulous0 [261 posts]
21st February 2014 - 21:47

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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

posted by russyparkin [575 posts]
21st February 2014 - 21:51

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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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posted by joemmo [768 posts]
21st February 2014 - 22:21

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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?

Wink

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [432 posts]
21st February 2014 - 22:23

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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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posted by giff77 [1032 posts]
21st February 2014 - 22:34

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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.

posted by Nick T [735 posts]
21st February 2014 - 23:00

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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.

posted by drfabulous0 [261 posts]
21st February 2014 - 23:43

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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.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [432 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 0:08

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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.

posted by jason.timothy.jones [287 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 0:20

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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

posted by jason.timothy.jones [287 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 0:23

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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?

Wink

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

posted by russyparkin [575 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 0:36

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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

posted by russyparkin [575 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 0:39

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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.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [923 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 11:44

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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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posted by David Arthur [1379 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 13:43

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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.

DanTe's picture

posted by DanTe [47 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 16:16

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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.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 16:28

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I'm glad bikes like this exist, hopefully it helps to challenge some of the other manufacturers with how much they charge for a bike with a similar (or lesser) spec. I know that components etc aren't the whole story, but if it encourages other bigger companies to look at the prices they charge for their offerings then it's all good.

On a slightly separate issue, I'd really like to see some more bikes in colours other than black, it does seem to be a bit of a default colour now.

Former Fat Lad on a Bike

posted by RobD [82 posts]
24th February 2014 - 9:26

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russyparkin wrote:
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?

Wink

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

Don't wear Assos, the inference was that even in kit like that you get plastered just the same. We all have to take our bibs off to answer the more pressing call of nature, although if you don't run guards in winter round here (deepest North Hampshire) it's frequently hard to tell if you bothered.

Luckily we are so spoiled for choice, on an issue like mudguards you can walk away from a certain bike and not loose out as there are 10 more brands waiting to take your cash with similar spec machines that do accommodate.

As St Dave says "cycling is a broad church" - with wooden wipe-clean pews to accommodate the less-salubriously-attired. There are those who live in Dorset but think they are on Mallorca or Tenerife. They belt along rural roads foregoing all mid-ride sustenance, flint chips and cow extrement flinging up into their faces and those of the peloton around, all the while chanting under their breath: "I'm a proper cyclist, I'm a proper cyclist"

Wink

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [432 posts]
24th February 2014 - 9:47

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Don't be coy - I bet you're protected from the worst of the backspray by your Carradice Camper Longflap, right?

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posted by dafyddp [139 posts]
24th February 2014 - 10:32

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I've fitted some guards to my 'cross bike. The other racers always take time to thank me for being so considerate as they pass.

posted by Nick T [735 posts]
24th February 2014 - 11:04

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I do understand you guys, mudguards helps, especially where you live, but this definitely not a commuting bike.
If you need of a commuting bike then look for a 28 mm section tyres (at least)and definitely not slick, mudguard and maybe a bag holding system, and forget about any road race bicycle. Bigger section tyres helps also having lower pressure and a more comfortable ride, many parts of your body will thank you about, especially prostate (if you a man...). Talking about a proper choice for wheels on commuting, best comfort requires a low profile one.
By the photos this byke looks really good, and I think b'twin is trying to do good products again, even if still far from the one of AG2R age (personal opinion)

posted by edoardo3 [3 posts]
25th February 2014 - 0:41

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You can still buy the AG2R age bike. It's the Mach.

posted by redmeat [44 posts]
25th February 2014 - 8:55

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edoardo3 wrote:
Bigger section tyres helps also having lower pressure and a more comfortable ride, many parts of your body will thank you about, especially prostate (if you a man...).

Im not to sure what saddle you are using but if its hitting your prostate, you are doing it wrong Smile

posted by jason.timothy.jones [287 posts]
25th February 2014 - 9:23

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redmeat wrote:
You can still buy the AG2R age bike. It's the Mach.

I mean the one used from AG2R during world tour from 2000 to 2006 (check wiki), at that time the bicycles was still decathlon brand, not b'twin

posted by edoardo3 [3 posts]
25th February 2014 - 14:35

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jason.timothy.jones wrote:
edoardo3 wrote:
Bigger section tyres helps also having lower pressure and a more comfortable ride, many parts of your body will thank you about, especially prostate (if you a man...).

Im not to sure what saddle you are using but if its hitting your prostate, you are doing it wrong Smile

Why? So comfortable using it vertical... Big Grin

posted by edoardo3 [3 posts]
25th February 2014 - 14:38

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I have ArfGuards Silly SKS half length RaceBlades and they do the trick and (if you are so minded) simply unclip in seconds if a photo op' presents itself Cool .

Bell.

Doddery cyclist with bad back and tendency to be last up any hill

posted by Bell [2 posts]
1st June 2014 - 22:26

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