The B'Twin Tilt 900 is an efficient and comfortable folding bike that feels good on the road, and comes equipped with a very respectable Shimano Sora drivetrain. It wasn't without a few teething issues, and we're at a point in the market where you could argue that disc brakes would be nice, but overall it's a very sensible option.
For more options, check out our guide to the best folding bikes.
> Buy now: B’Twin Tilt 900 for £449.99 from Decathlon
Folding bikes, by their small-wheel and short-wheelbase nature, tend to be fairly twitchy to start off with and the Tilt 900 from Decathlon's bike brand B'Twin is no different. At slow speeds, especially when you haven't yet grown entirely used to its handling, things are all a bit excitable, but it settles down very nicely once you get up to speed.
Cruising seems particularly pleasant, and seated acceleration is good. Getting out of the saddle of any folder is fairly unnerving, and here it's the same. But there's no lack of enthusiasm from the bike and it's easy to adjust both your line and your power output to perfectly match the task ahead.
Climbing is good enough if you can keep to a solid cadence, but for some reason it didn't feel quite as responsive on hills as its flat surface performance would have suggested.
Aside from dependable power delivery, part of the reason for the Tilt's overall agreeable ride experience is thanks to the frame's inherent comfort. I'm mentioned it before and I'll say it again – I strongly suspect the natural little bit of give that comes courtesy of a folding bike's hinges acts as just a slight damper. Certainly, the general ride quality here is superb. On smooth and moderately rough road surfaces, this is close to being an armchair ride.
The same can't quite be said of big hits, though. We're fully into pothole season now and I also used the Tilt 900 to crest some of South Croydon, innits, most aggressive speed bumps. All my teeth are present and correct, but only just – the front end seems particularly stiff.
B'Twin has two aluminium folding frames in its line-up: one with a fairly standard rear triangle; and this slightly more plush folding frame where the seatstay loops over the chainset to join further forward. It's a very pretty design.
The overall folding mechanism is B'Twin's take on the standard mid-frame fold and feels very familiar. I'm not sure I'm a big fan of the colour scheme, although my late Uncle Ernie would have loved it.
In terms of the fold, anybody who has had some experience of a Dahon or Tern bike – or, indeed, any of the mass-produced folding bikes you're likely to spot mail order or on the high street – will find this pretty familiar. There's a clamp at the bottom of the long stem to allow that to fold in half, and there's a clamp roughly two thirds of the way back along the main tube for the frame fold. I actually found that main frame clamp a little fiddly at first, although if you read the instructions B'Twin provides it all becomes quite simple.
Folding and unfolding time, when you get practised, is apparently 15 seconds. I have to say, that seems very possible – it's supremely simply.
Incidentally, when folded, a set of startegically positioned high-strength magnets prevent the frame from opening. And B'Twin also throws in a funky set of folding pedals.
While I contend that the frame fold adds a bit of damping to the ride, in the case of the Tilt 900 I think I also know where the front-end stiffness comes from. The main tube tapers from being really rather chunky where it meets the steerer and stem, to being much more svelte at the seat tube. It's the kind of design detail you might miss and other brands wouldn't necessarily bother to adopt. But I think it's to B'Twin's credit and contributes to the all-round assured performance, albeit with that strengthened front end lending a propensity to feel big hits more acutely.
Finishing off the frameset side of things is the typically diddy aluminium fork. There's not really much to report here – it does its job perfectly well and makes its own contribution to the decent 12kg all-up weight. In fact, I was surprised by that weight because the Tilt 900 actually feels lighter both on and off the saddle.
My only real gripe is sizing. B'Twin says the Tilt is suitable for riders from '1.45m to 1.95m'. I'm 1.83m in new money, and I was maxing out the available seatpost. B'Twin also says maximum rider and luggage weight is 100kg. Ahem... well, the less we say about that the better; it has, yet again, been a very good Christmas. Assuming, unlike me, you're not putting the bike under undue stress, the frame, stem, fork and handlebar also all come with a lifetime warranty.
Before we start looking at the spec, in the intro I mentioned a few teething issues, so what were they?
Have you ever seen a car crabbing? It is quite a disconcerting thing to watch, with the body of the car ever so slightly pointing in a different direction to where its wheels are taking it.
The reason I mention this is because, out of the box, the Tilt had a similar problem. In its wisdom, B'Twin has specced the seatpost with a side groove and the seatpost collar with a small grub screw pointing inwards to locate in said groove. Because the groove has its own retaining bolt at the bottom, it means the post can never be extended beyond its maximum limit – very sensible.
But there is a problem: this set-up also means the post can't be twisted round, and initially the seatpost collar grub screw wasn't at exactly the three o'clock position, so the saddle was pointing slightly off to the left. I rectified this just by removing the little grub screw entirely, but, actually, if you just reseat the seatpost collar perfectly straight, all will be well.
In any case, no bother, because the bar/stem combo had gone matchingly wonky in sympathy. On first view, this looks a bit trickier to fix, because folding bike stems are not exactly Aheadset simple.
However, in this case, they are.
Right down below the stem folding bracket there's a little hex bolt, and inside the folded stem there's something that looks suspiciously like an Aheadset top cap. I undid both and – wouldn't you know it? – it allowed me to straighten things up enough to satisfy my compulsive fastidiousness.
This might all seem like common sense when explained on the page, but folders can feel a bit like encountering a half-remembered foreign language at times, so I was quite proud of myself.
Drivetrain and brakes
What doesn't seem like a foreign language is the drivetrain – you really can't go far wrong with Shimano Sora, especially not at this price. B'Twin has opted to fit a single 52-tooth double-guarded chainset, which is perfectly sensible for a folding bike, although the 9-speed 11-28t cassette does feel just a tad highly geared.
I mentioned the Tilt 900 doesn't seem to shine as much as expected on climbs, and I think missing out on one larger rear sprocket might be the reason.
Shifting between gears, as you'd expect with Sora, was swift and assured.
The Tilt 900's brakes are less impressive. With folders, weight and simplicity are valued perhaps more highly than outright performance, so in that context the Tektro alloy V-brakes are fine. In truth they actually performed pretty well, but you don't have to be a bike snob these days to really feel like you're missing out on something with no disc brakes. Even mechanical discs would do a better job, especially in the soggy conditions in which I tested this.
Wheels and tyres
With only 20 inches to play with, there's not much room for the wheels to make a huge impression either way, and there's all but no chance of finding them too flimsy. As it happens, they did indeed feel plenty solid enough and they rolled very nicely.
Equally fit for purpose were the 1.75in B'Twin tyres. I tested the Tilt 900 in manky winter weather but grip under tread was surefooted even on soggy roads. The tyres offer good comfort, too, and there's a handy reflective stripe on the sidewall for after-dark urban meanderings.
In terms of finishing kit, I really liked the memory foam saddle, even if it's a bit chunkier than I'd normally choose. The ergo bar grips are good, too. B'Twin's folding pedals are as fun as any equivalents, but in rainy conditions, my feet did have a tendency to slip off them.
With the Tilt 900, B'Twin also supplies a range of helpful extras, such as battery-powered front and rear lights. There's a kickstand and mudguards front and rear – which have proven to be worth their weight in gold.
In an accompanying plastic bag, you'll also get a derailleur guard to protect that Sora rear mech. You have to fit it yourself, but that's no biggy.
Value and conclusion
I've tested some fine folders over the last year, but my favourite remains another retail park-offering: the Carrera Intercity Disc 9-Speed. It's super fun to ride, comes with Sora gears and hydraulic discs brakes and, at £460 (up a tenner since I tested it), it's also a little cheaper than the Tilt. Funnily enough, my main gripe with the Carrera was that it wasn't quite big enough for me – something that is almost echoed by the Tilt 900.
If that height limitation and the Tilt's 100kg weight limit is a major stumbling block, there's also the Dahon HIT for bigger riders. I wasn't a huge fan of it on the road, unfortunately, but it at least fills a hole in the market. It's £500.
I have to admit, the Tilt 900's out-of-the-box set-up issues did cloud my initial experience of it, but once they were fixed this is actually a very capable and comfortable folding bike. It's fair value, too. In fact, the only thing I can really level against it is that the Carrera Intercity Disc 9 is slightly better value. So, if you find Halfords have run out of those, nip straight to Decathlon because this is a very worthy second-best.
Very competent and comfortable folding bike that won't leave riders disappointed, especially at this price
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Make and model: BTwin Tilt 900 folding bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: B'Twin folding, 6061 T6 aluminium
Fork: 6061 T6 aluminium
Gear lever: Shimano Sora
Rear derailleur: Shimano Sora
Chainset: Unbranded aluminium 52t with 170mm cranks
Cassette: Shimano 11-28t
Brake levers: Unbranded aluminium
Brakes: Tektro aluminium V-brakes
Wheels: B'Twin 20in
Tyres: B'Twin 1.75in
Handlebar: B'Twin aluminium 560mm with 60mm rise
Seatpost: Aluminium 31.8mm
Saddle: B'Twin with memory foam
Accessories: Battery operated front and rear lights, kickstand, mudguards, folding pedals, lifetime warranty on frame and fork
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
This is a fairly standard mid-range folding bike aimed at commuters and urban riders. B'Twin says: "Fast, efficient and compact, the B'Twin Tilt 900 will get you where you need to go. The folding design means it's easy to store. Unfolds in just 15 seconds. The nine speeds, lightweight aluminium frame and ergonomic handles make this bike both practical and comfortable. The frame, stem, rigid fork and handlebar are guaranteed for life."
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This model is actually the top pedal-only-powered model in B'Twin's folding bike range, which starts at £199.99 for the B'Twin 100. Only the electrically assisted B'Twin 500E costs more at £799.99.
Overall rating for frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It looks like a fairly standard mid-fold folding bike frame at first glance, but there are actually some very nice details, like the swooping seatstays and tapering main tube. The folding procedure is standard mid-fold, though.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
It's 6061 T6 aluminium throughout.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Folding bike geometry is a bit different to other bikes, but the Tilt 900's is very much in keeping with its rivals.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The effective top tube length is 540mm and the pedal-to-saddle distance can range from 480 to 780mm, so there's a fair bit of adjustability for a wide range of riders. I'm 6ft (183cm) tall, and it was just on the cusp of being too small for me in terms of height, although reach was OK.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, surprisingly so. On smooth and even bobbly surfaces it felt very comfy. Only big hits had an effect, and it was quite an effect – it doesn't deal with big hits particularly well.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
For a folding bike, it felt impressively stiff. The front end potentially just a tad too stiff at times (see above), although those were rare and specific circumstances.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very efficient power delivery – no sense of wasted effort.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Lively at first – as per all folders, really – but settles down to be very dependable at even moderate speed.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
I was largely impressed by the handling. Combined with the comfort, it made for a largely easygoing ride experience.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I liked the memory foam saddle and ergonomic grips. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot you could change.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
No changes recommended.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
No changes recommended.
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Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The Shimano Sora drivetrain is not only dependable but also fairly plush for a folding bike, certainly at this price. No complaints here.
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Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
A pretty solid pair of wheels. No questions around strength or weight. I do wonder if they contribute to the stiff front end when it comes to big hit reactions, but at this price they are perfectly suitable.
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Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
I'm quite a fan of the tyres. They're nothing super special, but they held on well in damp conditions and the 1.75in width offers decent cushioning.
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Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The controls generally look like fairly standard folding bike kit, but there are some nice highlights, such as the saddle and grips. I was unimpressed by the set-up out of the box, but I'm not deducting points for that.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Tektro alloy V-brakes are a slight disappointment, although they do the job well enough and aren't overtly budget-chasing.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Carrera Intercity Disc 9-Speed is super fun to ride, comes with Sora gears and hydraulic discs brakes and, at £460, it's also a little cheaper than the Tilt. If the height and weight limitations of the Tilt 900 are major stumbling blocks, there's also the Dahon HIT for bigger riders at £500. I wasn't a huge fan of it on the road, but at least it fills a hole in the market for big riders.
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Use this box to explain your overall score
The B'Twin Tilt 900 is one of the better folding bikes I've tested. At this price point, it's perfectly competent and does features some nice details and speccing – such as the Sora drivetrain. If this was the only folder you could have, you'd be perfectly happy. Although there is at least one outright better option on the market, there are also a lot more that are a lot worse!
Age: 39 Height: 6'0 Weight: 16 stone
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure
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