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Btwin Ultra 920 review

24 May 2018
Verdict:

A punchy all-rounder that makes the most of your pedalling input whether powering along on the flat or attacking a climb

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,999

Enhanced by feedback from the French Btwin-sponsored development squad, the Ultra 920 is unashamedly pitched at the racer in all of us.

Perhaps not what you’d expect from the in-house brand of sports superstore Decathlon. Beyond the bike’s racing credentials, it also sports a stunning paintjob – we’re suckers for a flash of pink…

Buy the Btwin Ultra 920 from Decathlon here

Frame

B’twin claims its Ultra Evo Dynamic carbon-fibre frame is ‘the most advanced frame for tackling mountain climbs and winning the most demanding classic races’, and that it was ‘specially designed for the most climbers and sprinters’.

Their U19 team ride this frame at races such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège, so this rings true. The frameset features an oversized, square-profile down tube and chunky head tube.

Conversely, its bladed carbon forks seem positively slender by comparison, and taper towards their ends, where a standard quick-release skewer attaches the front wheel (this is the only bike of our four not to use a thru-axle).

A great expanse of carbon-fibre wraps around a pressfit 86mm bottom bracket, while deep-section chainstays keep the rear end stiff for a better response to power input.

Narrow seatstays project from the top of the seat tube in order to soak up vibrations that would otherwise be transmitted by the road.

All the cabling is internally routed. If you were the slightest bit concerned about buying a bike from a sports superstore, be aware that this frame also comes with a five-year guarantee. 

Groupset 

The 52/36, mid-compact unit is matched to a 12-29 Potenza cassette. As with all of these bikes, the shifters/brake levers are 11-speed Potenza, but because this bike is running rim brakes rather than hydraulic disc brakes, the hoods are slightly shorter.

Finishing kit

A set of 420mm Deda RHM02 compact drop handlebars are clamped by a 120mm alloy Deda Zero 2 stem, while the seatpost is a square-section carbon component.

Atop said seatpost is a Fizik Antares saddle (corner-cutting is most certainly not on the cards here). We’re huge fans of the Antares – it keeps the weight of the build down and is a perfect compromise between performance and comfort.

Wheels

Campag Zonda wheels are the training weapon of choice for fans of Italian components, offering great durability and reliability, and ease of servicing.

It’s a pleasant surprise to find this £450 wheelset on a sub-£2,000 bike. The 25mm-wide Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyres were also faultless in their grip and puncture resistance throughout testing. 

On the road

The way the bike rolls out for the first few miles of our test loop tells us much about how the next couple of hours will feel – its low weight makes it easy to push against wind and rough roads, as well as easy to flick from side to side.

Plus, the smooth-running bearings and excellent tyres make riding Campag Zonda wheels feel like coming home to an affectionate partner after spending the week at a sales conference.

The Ultra 920 is one of those bikes that rewards big-ring inputs in the saddle, rather than simply when climbing. The efficiency with which it transmits power from the pedal stroke to the rear wheel is far beyond what we expected.

Smashing out rolling roads in a seated position allows us to concentrate on maintaining a steady core while drawing perfect circles with the pedals – it flatters every input.

It’s telling that we spend most of our ride not only in the 52-tooth chainring, but also nowhere near the larger cogs of the Potenza cassette.

This remains true when shorter rises in the road present themselves, except when we rise from the saddle to attack climbs on rolling roads in successful attempts to maintain momentum.

By the time we’ve reached the hillier section of our test loop, we’re destroying kilometre-long climbs in gears, still in the big ring. As steeper roads begin to creep into the route, we change down to the 36-tooth chainring and dance on the pedals like Contador.

Very few bikes we’ve ridden in recent years have left us this fresh after such a demanding ride, and flattered us to the point where our riding companions are convinced we’ve been engaging in some sneaky secret training.

The only niggle is a little vibiness from the front end, but it’s not too intrusive. 

Handling

The Ultra 920 possesses a steepish head angle of 72.9 degrees, but thanks to its fairly rangy wheelbase, a level of composure is retained.

Don’t get us wrong, if you want to leave the brakes alone and just throw this bike into a corner with your breath held, it’ll turn in the blink of an eye, but it does so in such a confidence-inspiring way that you’re never in any doubt as to whether you’ll get round on your chosen line.

Apply those direct-mount brakes on the run into a downhill hairpin, however, and you’re treated to something utterly special. The set-up of the Potenza stoppers on this bike is, without a doubt, one of the best we have ever tested – on any bike.

The total feel mainlined from brake pads to rider is one of those things that makes riding this bike almost feel like a symbiotic relationship.

That sounds like hyperbole, but let us assure you this bike needs to be ridden to be believed. And that’s before we’ve even touched upon the fact that this level of speed, confidence, comfort and all-round performance is available for less than £2,000.

Ratings

Frame: Impressively low weight and stiffness. 9/10 
Components: Makes a very good case for sticking with rim brakes. 8/10 
Wheels: Campag Zondas are excellent all-rounders. 8/10 
The ride: Flatters the rider and instils great confidence. 9/10 

Verdict

A punchy all-rounder that makes the most of your pedalling input whether powering along on the flat or attacking a climb

Buy the Btwin Ultra 920 from Decathlon here

Geometry

Size tested: M
Weight: 7.43kg
Top tube (TT): 545mm
Seat tube (ST): 500mm
Stack (S): 548mm
Reach (R): 398mm
Chainstays (C): 405mm
Head angle (HA): 72.9 degrees
Seat angle (SA): 73.4 degrees
Wheelbase (WB): 998mm
BB drop (BB): 70mm

Btwin Ultra 920 CF
Frame Btwin Ultra carbon frame, Ultra Comp carbon fork
Groupset Campagnolo Potenza
Brakes Campagnolo Potenza
Chainset Campagnolo Potenza, 52/36t
Cassette Campagnolo Potenza, 12-29t
Bars Deda RHM02 alloy
Stem Deda Zero 2, alloy
Seatpost B'Twin carbon
Wheels Campagnolo Zonda rims, Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance 700x25c tyres
Saddle Fizik Antares
Weight 7.43kg (M)
Contact btwin.com

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