Review: B’Twin 500-series mountain biking shorts

So I’ve talked about Decathlon and its cycling house brand B’Twin on two separate occasions now: my visit to their branch in Singapore a few months before we got our own, and my test of their 500-series cycling bib shorts. But what about our mountain biking brethren?

I lauded the bib shorts for their low, low price, but one could say their MTB baggy shorts are an even better deal. Coming home from that initial trip to the Singapore Decathlon store, I had purchased one pair of their 500-series baggy shorts for the equivalent of PhP680 in our money – or PhP750 when bought locally. I’ve been wearing them for about ten months now, primarily on my ride to work. Let’s see how they’ve held up.


  • Designed for occasional riding
  • Offered in sizes S-3XL; size XL tested
  • Snag-resistant fabric
  • Three pockets
  • Belt loops on waistband
  • No chamois pad


While these shorts are a little loose around the waist, the length and cut are spot-on.

Immediately obvious is the slightly odd sizing on these shorts. When it comes to spandex, I’m used to the XL size, but these same-size baggies fit pretty loose around my waist, necessitating use of a belt at all times. The shorts would slowly fall off my ass, otherwise.

They’re the correct length, though, with a hem that terminates just over the knee, and a nice cut that tapers toward the bottom. This slight tapering towards the leg opening ensures that the fabric doesn’t snag on your bike or your water bottles as you pedal or dismount and remount.

Out of curiosity, I had another pair in the next-smaller L size, and they were clearly too small – there wasn’t enough in the waist to let me close the top button. The smaller shorts never made it to my saddle.

Attached to B’Twin’s own liner shorts. Photo from

Hidden in the waistband are a pair of small buttons. They are unobtrusive, and they sit on your left and right flanks when you wear the shorts, but it seems like they’re in there to hook up to a pair of liner shorts on days when you want to ride with a chamois pad on your bum. I thought that was a neat bit of design. Unfortunately, I was never able to test these as I don’t have liner shorts.

My only real complaint: no rear pockets.

The two waist pockets have a very useful depth, and the third pocket on the right thigh is set at a slight angle, covered by a flap you can lock with a button. While the pockets were all great, I wish B’Twin had added a few more, such as two on the bum and another on the left thigh.

My shorts are black, and its fabric is pretty hard-wearing. It’s stood up to repeated launderings just fine, with nothing in the way of threads coming loose or discoloration. That large white B’Twin logo on the left thigh is still there, unlike the reflective B’Twin logo accent on their bib shorts that peels off easily. Worn off the bike, it’s quite easy to live with these shorts as casual wear.

Looking at the seat area shows just how well these shorts have held up. There are a few tiny areas where the threads got worked off their stitches, but nothing catastrophic. More importantly, the fabric shows very little sign of friction wear; no danger here of wearing a hole through these shorts after a year’s worth of riding.


Admittedly, these are a pretty basic pair of shorts. Then again, they do the basics pretty damn well, and cost a very reasonable price. They even have thoughtful touches like the buttons for liner shorts. For bike commute duty, Decathlon’s offering is money well spent, in my opinion.

Review: B’Twin 500-series men’s cycling bib shorts

With the opening of Decathlon Philippines, Filipinos now have access to the French sporting goods warehouse store and its cycling-related house brand, B’Twin. Renowned in other countries for good yet affordable gear, I thought it would be interesting to put some of its products to the test.

When I visited Decathlon’s Singapore branch in Bedok, I made mention of just how surprisingly cheap their 500-series bib shorts are. For just a couple extra Singapore dollars over their waist shorts, the significant onus that usually comes with bib shorts is waived. This registered in my head as the bargain of the entire B’Twin lineup – one practically begging to be put to the test. I’m pleased to announce that the pricing has carried over to our shores too. Having had Pearl Izumi’s US- and Japan-/Philippine-market waist shorts, how do these items fare?

How good are these, really?


  • Designed for rides around two hours long
  • Offered in sizes S-XXL; XL size tested
  • Mesh bib straps
  • Double layer construction on thighs
  • Large ventilated pad, preformed, with antibacterial treatment


On the left is a fresh pair with black thigh cuff. On the right with the blue thigh cuff is the same model of shorts I’ve had since December 2016. Note the B’Twin logo almost totally peeled off on the older pair.

These are pretty simple shorts, mainly made up of black except for the white B’Twin logo and a thigh cuff of your choice of color: blue, orange, red, or the same black of the rest of the shorts. This simplicity means easy pairing with almost any jersey. The thigh cuff does away with any elastic or silicone to help combat it hiking up your leg, but it stays in place nicely even so.

The “yoke” of the bibs that suspends them over your shoulders is a sheer white polyester mesh, with straps that are middling in width. Thicker straps tend to sit flatter for longer, but these have enough weight to them to do so without digging uncomfortably into your shoulders. They’re also set low enough on the waist to enable relatively quick nature breaks…at least for men. Sorry ladies, none of the halter-back-style straps, quick-release buckles, or thoughtful zippers that will help you drop and pee on these shorts.

These stiff, large label tags can be a little obnoxious.

One thing that sticks out like a sore thumb almost immediately is just how huge these label tags are. If you ride around without a base layer, these can potentially chafe on your skin. It’s also a faff trying to keep them inside the bib straps. Cutting them off will help.

Arguably, the main function of any cycling short (aside from keeping you in as civil a state as possible while remaining skin-tight) is to locate the chamois pad correctly against your bum, so that it helps absorb road vibration. In this respect, B’Twin does quite well. I’ve ridden many, many kilometers on the first pair I’ve had, and the pad has never shifted away from its location, which is pretty good to begin with. It’s not too far up on your butt crack, nor is it too far forward of your groin or genital area. This is in contrast to one pair of my Pearl Izumi waist shorts, where the pad effectively folded in under itself in a bizarre fashion inside its top covering.

A look at the chamois pad B’Twin used on these shorts. Again, fresh pair on the left, older pair on the right. It’s subtle, but there’s a difference in the thickness.

B’Twin’s “preformed” pad itself, though…takes a bit of getting used to.

When I first wore my first pair of these shorts, I distinctly remember the pad feeling a little bulky between the legs, somewhat like wearing a diaper while riding. Very little interference in pedaling motion, but I was always aware that it was there. Initial wearings had me persuading the pad to fit better between my legs and crotch before setting off. After buying my subsequent pairs, I noticed the same thing too. Upon further inspection, it’s down to the pad’s sheer thickness.

Lowering the angle shows the thickness difference better between fresh and broken-in. Personally, the older pair is more comfortable to ride in; this pad tends to bunch up a little when new.

The good news is, the chamois pad does compress under your weight, breaking in after a few rides. Once it does, it conforms better to your buttock and perineal area, and it “disappears” from under you as you ride – which is how shorts and saddles should be. It stays that way for quite a long time, too. Decathlon and B’Twin are conservative with the two-hour rating; it can stay comfy for quite a bit more riding. My recommendation, then, is to break in fresh pairs of these B’Twin bib shorts on the turbo trainer for a few sessions to improve their comfort, before taking them out on a significantly long ride.

Pearl Izumi’s US- (left) and Japan-/Philippine-market (right) shorts both have chamois pads that work better straight out of the box.

Aside from the pad needing some work, there are a couple other areas where the shorts feel their price somewhat. That white B’Twin logo on the thigh is reflective, but it peels off a little too quickly, negating the benefit. That “double layer” construction of the shorts may also need some getting used to, as the top layer tends to snag on my saddles’ noses when getting in and out of the saddle. This can be adjusted to, but seeing as I had no such problems with Pearl Izumi’s single-layered shorts, I wonder if there’s actual benefit to the two-layer fabric.


So B’Twin’s 500-series bib shorts aren’t perfect. At that PhP1,100 price though, the relatively minor flaws are forgivable, and can be overcome by wearing them in.

The inside of the cuff reveals no elastic or silicone used to keep them in place on your thighs – it’s just the same spandex of the shorts. The material is such that you don’t really need it.

In my opinion, they get most of the important things right, and they make for quite a decent “graduation” from waist shorts to bib shorts. They don’t offer the best comfort out of the box (break them in for best results), nor are they the best in absolute comfort, so the price premium of big-name brands such as Pearl Izumi, Castelli, or Rapha still has justification. If you’re looking to expand your cycling wardrobe quickly and on the cheap, though, B’Twin has something good here…provided Decathlon actually has them in stock.

Decathlon: Here comes a new challenger

Previously I shared part of my year-end Singapore jaunt as I checked out Ikea’s Sladda commuter bike. Today we’re moving from Queenstown to Bedok as I take the bus across the island to visit the local branch of the French sporting goods mega-store, Decathlon.

Getting off at a bus stop in Bedok along Upper Changi Road, you can simply turn around to see the store’s large building complex. What’s interesting about Decathlon is that all of its wares are made up of its own house brands. You know how household goods branded “Bonus” are sold cheaply at SM grocery stores? That’s because Bonus is SM’s house brand. It’s a similar deal here.

Decathlon’s approach dedicates each house brand to a specific sport or product line. Their Quechua brand, for example, is for hiking and backpacks, while their Orao label adorns most of their eyewear.

The house brand we’re interested in is B’Twin.

I don’t know how many of you read any foreign cycling websites, particularly those in Europe and the UK, but B’Twin’s stuff is almost ridiculously well reviewed in the past couple of years. Their Triban road bikes are frequently recommended for newcomers to road cycling because of a good build kit of components and great workmanship on frames…while simultaneously coming in below the magic and highly competitive £1000 (~PhP61,000) mark of the UK’s “Cycle To Work” (C2W) bicycle subsidy scheme.

From what I understand of C2W, you can either blow the whole £1000 subsidy on a bike, or spend slightly less on the bike (for example, £800 or PhP49,000), and use the remainder on cycling-related apparel and accessories such as a helmet, repair spares, and lights – all of which B’Twin also offers.

B’Twin offers mountain bikes, but I’ll be taking a long hard look at their road bike line. This is one such model, the Triban 520 – perhaps the bike responsible for so much of the brand’s positive press. Its foundation is of 6061 aluminum and a carbon-bladed fork with an aluminum alloy steerer, but interestingly has clearance for 32 mm tires and mounting hardpoints for full-length fenders and a rear rack.

The 520 build kit then bolts on Shimano’s 9-speed Sora 3500 groupset parts and a triple crank, with the exception of B’Twin’s own-brand brake calipers. Word on the street is that the calipers are the weak link in the package, but realistically speaking, they’re a cheap upgrade.

So how much does this sell for? S$700 – PhP24,000 in old money. If you’re fine with rim brakes, that’s a great value. Most other bikes in this price range are equipped with Shimano’s Claris 2400 8-speed drivetrain. The real draw for me however is just how adaptable the frame is…and there are even cheaper models in the Triban lineup.

If you’re not a brand snob and are willing to save even more, you could go for a Triban 500. You get the same frame, but the build kit now consists of Taiwanese firm MicroShift’s 3×8 R8 drivetrain. These guys have been knocking out drivetrain components for a very long time, many of them Shimano-compatible, yet do not enjoy a large brand presence and reportedly work quite well regardless.

Because not much is known about MicroShift, it’s worth taking a closer look – at least at their control levers.

From the outset, MicroShift’s R8 contol levers look similar to Shimano’s STI levers. The main difference is that they adopt Campagnolo’s philosophy of “one lever, one function” in their own way.

Unlike STI levers, here the brake lever doesn’t act as a shift lever – all it does is pull brake cable when squeezed. Behind the brake lever are two shift levers stacked one on top of the other. The lower lever downshifts to an easier or larger cog; the upper lever upshifts to a smaller, harder cog. MicroShift’s control scheme will probably take a bit of getting used to, especially for upshifting.

Just as impressive is how many frame sizes the Triban caters to. The bike on the right is a size XXS; the one overlapping it is a size L. Apparently the smaller sizes come with smaller 650C wheels. There are even flat-handlebar versions.

Over to the apparel section…

B’Twin divides its road cycling apparel into three lines. The 300 series is for occasional riders who ride for up to an hour at a time, maximum. Regular riders will appreciate 500 series stuff, built to provide comfort for three or four hours. Seasoned cyclists are catered to by 700 series garments.

Their 500-series waist shorts are a pretty good value at S$28 (~PhP960). This isn’t the best bit, however.

Just a couple Singapore dollars more gets you the equivalent bib shorts. I was always put off by bib shorts because of their prohibitive pricing, but at S$30 (PhP1030), these are a fraction of the price of name-brand stuff. Difficulty of nature breaks aside, at this level of difference over their waist-banded brothers, you might as well buy these as your first proper pair of bibs.

How good are they? Is this a case of “you get what you pay for”? That remains to be seen.

B’Twin even offers their own helmets. This is the midrange 500 series model, sold with a removable visor to cater both for mountain bikers and road cyclists. That orange is rather fetching.

Two snaps secure each end of the visor onto the helmet shell. Not as discreet as they could be, but at least they make for a solid foundation for the visor.

Decathlon advertises them as having a total of 21 vents, with about seven of them at the back to extract hot air from your head. A ratcheted knob engages the retention mechanism for better head fit, and it has reflective stickers on it too.

I wasn’t able to take photos of the inside of the helmet, but there’s not much air channeling molded into the foam, and there’s no MIPS liner either. Still, 286 grams in a Medium size is respectable, and it’s a good deal at S$56 (PhP1900).

I skipped on their jerseys, as they had no full-zipper varieties, but I took a good look at their gloves. These fluoro yellow jobs are from the 520 line and cost S$22 (PhP760), which is par for the course with branded stuff. When I tried them out, I found the padding is quite generous but cut in a pattern accounting for palm flexion well. The back side is very stretchy, and the wide Velcro closure strap holds on rather well. The 700-series gloves eschew any Velcro and are held on purely by the material’s elasticity, but are quite a bit more expensive.

Finally we look at something for our baggy-shorted cousins: B’Twin’s baggies.

Only the 300-series MTB shorts were in stock, in blue and black. The waistband has a couple buttons on the inner edge that look like they should mate with B’Twin’s own liner shorts. The material feels hard-wearing, and it’s sized rather generously – a size XL is loose around my waist. There are belt loops, two side pockets and an external cargo pocket on the right leg.

And just check out that price – at S$20 (PhP680) it’s a steal.

The best part about this story is that as of this writing, I’ve seen a Decathlon branch being constructed inside Festival Mall in Alabang while dining out. How well the French super-store’s value proposition translates into the Philippine setting is something we will only have to wait and see.