|Plus: Frame finishing, very stable, comfortable bike, quality tires, decent price|
|Minus: Lack of agility, heavy weight, brakes need thorough tuning to work at their best|
BigRR 5.3 is the first 29er coming from Rockrider, Decathlon’s very own bike brand. As the 29er niche is such a flourishing one, the Frenchmen thought to come up with a bicycle suitable for taller persons who might prefer the comfort of larger wheels, but also designed it for those willing to pedal with a little less effort. Remember that compared to a classic 26-inch bike, a 29er easily moves over obstacles. This bike has been designed for recreational riding in the mountains or into the woods, given the configuration of its components and the frame, very similar to Rockrider 5.2 which is a good thing. So, we can say that Rockrider manages to seize the characteristics which have established budget mountain bikes.
In other words, this is an entry-level model with decent equipment, sold for a small price. But is this enough to keep up with competition?
Frame/On the track
The first thing you’ll notice when you get onto this bike is its massiveness. And this is not necessarily because it is a 29er with larger wheels, but rather due to its chainstay. The frame’s rear triangle is quite long, 475 mm measured from Bottom Bracket to the dropout, some 30 mm longer than other 29er bikes. This translates into low agility but remarkable stability. Basically, the shorter the wheelbase gets, the more skill is needed when cornering, as the bike gets very agile. On the other hand, a bike with a long wheelbase may provide a slower feedback when taking corners, but is still very stable.
In this line of thinking, some riders may prefer a relaxed ride, while others can’t wait to test their skills on a curvy track. Overall, we conclude that Rockrider Big RR 5.3 has been designed with the first type of rider in mind.
The weight of this bike does not make it suitable for fast sprints. The “Big RR” weights no less than 15.14 kg, while the frame only puts on the scale 2.423 grams. This value is rather big, but still remains close to what 26-inch wheel frames have to offer. Rigidity is 92 Nm / degree and the STW value (Stiffness-to-weight) is 38 Nm / degree / kg. These figures tell us that in a turn, for example, the Big RR’s frame will twist more than the average 26 inch wheels frame, due to its longer tubes, which flex more, but still manages to offer decent performance, even if it is ridden by heavy riders.
The wider handlebar (650 mm) compensates for the lack of agility, managing to provide decent handling. Position on the bike tends to be sporty, as you are leaned forward, but if this doesn’t suit you, you may always choose a shorter stem.
As for the frame finishing, there is no room for criticism. Welds are very well made, the paint job has a good quality, and the frame benefits from pannier rack mountings and bottle cage mounting. However, one comment should made here, regarding the rear derailleur cable, which is pulled below the Bottom Brocket towards the dropouts, being positioned relatively close to the rear wheel. It has no real bad consequences but it doesn’t look to appealing.
The 3 × 9 drive train of the bike is represented by a Shimano Tourney front derailleur and a Sram X5 rear derailleur, both connected to a set of Sram X5 sequential levers. The crankset comes from Suntour (975 grams without Bottom Bracket) and overall, shifting is acceptable as long as you don’t push it on tougher trails and avoid doing it under heavy load.
The coil suspension fork is an XCR Suntour, and benefits from a Lock-Out function, meaning that you can stiffen it while riding on asphalt, which is exactly what we have done. The coils are relatively soft, and the fork flexes more than one fitted to a 26 inch bike, as it is also bigger. 100 mm travel is enough for the trails this bike allows you to ride.
Brakes come from Hayes, we’re talking about the MX5 model which needs thorough adjustment in order to work at its best. The 160-mm rotors were enough for my weight of 68 kg, but riders heavier than 75-80 kg might need a 180 mm front rotor if they want to try some steeper descents.
The Hutchinson tires are quite good, providing enough speed and corner grip. They don’t load up with mud, which is good news while the size of 29 x 2.2 provides extra- comfort. Tires come on Rigida double rims which seem to be quite durable, but I haven’t been able to identify what brand the hubs are coming from.
The Lock-On grips are a plus for this segment. They can be very simply removed using a smaller Allen key but since you are buying this bike for the comfort it offers and you don’t choose to change the stem for a more upright position, I highly recommend a pair of ergonomic grips with palm support. You will se that riding this bike will get even more pleasant.
Rockrider Big RR 5.3 is not a sports bike as it is clearly geared towards comfort and recreational rides. Its excellent stability provided by the length of the posterior triangle of the frame together with the comfort offered by tires are clear proves of this statement. Even if most components are decent for the segment, Big RR 5.3 does not have an easy life. Some competitors in this segment offer hydraulic disc brakes, which is a minus for our “Great White”.
In short, this bike is suitable for those who don’t want a sports bike, but rather wish to focus on comfort and light riding on mountain or forest trails. A single question remains unanswered: why the famous equipment/price ratio I have seen on so many other Rockrider bikes, simply smashing competition, is missing?