The new Rockrider AM100 from Decathlon looks a great bike on paper but on the trail, it’s fantastic, a riot of fun and hugely capable. Modern geometry gifts this sub-£1,000 hardtail great handling and the parts package is all top-notch with no real weaknesses, with the dropper post being especially rare at this price.
Geometry is everything when it comes to determining how a bike rides. Here the AM100 gets a good set of numbers that are more relaxed than typical XC influenced hardtails at this price. The slack 66-degree head angle sets the tone for the sort of riding this bike is up for.
I found the fit of the size large pretty good, despite the 448mm reach being a bit on the conservative side to where modern trail bikes are heading these days. But I didn’t feel cramped and longer climbs were dispatched in comfort. The 760mm handlebar is a good width and a nice shape that worked for me, while the 35mm stem kept the steering snappy and alert.
The 13.3kg weight isn't bad at all the equipment and price and doesn’t hold you back until you get to the monster climbs. The stiff frame is excellent at transferring power, and on smoother gradual climbs it makes really good progress.
The chunky profile of the Michelin Wild AM 2.6” tyres, enhanced by the 40mm wide Sunringle Duroc rims, look almost plus-sized and provide reassuringly traction in all situations. You can send the AM100 into a loose berm and be confident the tyres are going to grab a load of traction and fire you out the exit. They’re capable in the mud too and on harder ground roll along very nicely with minimal drag.
As standard, the tyres come with inner tubes fitted, but given the tubeless readiness of both the tyres and rims, I’d strongly advise investing in a tubeless setup. I found I could run the tyres at quite low pressures to provide a bit more rear-end comfort, but ran the risk of pinching the inner tube on heavier impacts.
Decathlon has designed a handsome 6061/6013 aluminium frame with butted tubes and massive downtube to maximise stiffness, and a clever rear triangle sees the stays curving and bending to provide lots of tyre clearance with space for up to 2.8” tyres. There will be no issues with mud clearance here in the winter. I particularly admire the chainstay yoke for showing the attention to detail that has gone into this frame.
There’s a mixture of external (gear and brakes) and internal (dropper post) routing which I have no complaints about. The press-fit bottom bracket gets a bad rep and is perhaps the only potential niggle given its propensity for reliability issues, but none were experienced during the test period.
Bolted in the stubby head tube is a RockShox Sektor RL Debonair fork delivering 130mm of travel with adjustable compression and sag guidelines neatly printed on the upper legs. It’s a solid fork with good stiffness and the damping is smooth and controlled, but it is a bit noisy and can be overwhelmed in really rowdy terrain when the big impacts come thick and fast.
It’s easy to criticise a low-end fork but for the most part, it worked very well, was easy to set up and can be tuned with Bottomless Tokens, and looks good too.
Setting the AM100 apart from many of its rivals is a 120mmm dropper post. It’s easy to activate from the handlebar remote lever and it works smoothly. If I was being critical there’s probably room for a longer dropper post, but some drop is better than none.
SRAM NX Eagle uses much of the tech first introduced at the top-end but different materials and a few changes make it much more affordable. So you get an 11-42t cassette mated to a 30t chainring with the wide/narrow teeth and a clutch-style rear mech to stop the chain flailing off in rocky terrain.
Gear changes from the paddle shifter are smooth and light, the chain working its way up and down the cassette very nicely. My only issue was one of the lowest gear not being quite low enough for some of my very steep climbs, so I’d love to see a 28T chainring fitted. It’s no issue to do that as an upgrade, or even go the other way and fit a bigger chainring.
When you need to scrub off some speed or pull some hooligan skids, you’ve got B’Twin branded Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. They’re two-piston brake callipers with a 180mm rotor on the front and 160mm out the back. They’re reasonably powerful but if I’m being picky they feel wooden and lack feel, they’re just not as refined as more expensive brakes. But they do stop you and help you control your speed on steep descents, and the long lever is easy to grab.
For £999 you could look at the Sonder Transmitter SX Eagle Recon. It’s also an aluminium frame but with longer and slacker geometry and the SRAM SX 1x12 Eagle groupset gives a wider range of gears, but the RockShox Recon fork isn’t quite as good. And there’s no dropper post either.
Want to spend less? The Vitus Sentier costs £850 with an aluminium frame and Shimano Deore 1x10 groupset and the same Recon RL fork delivering 140mm of travel, but you’ll want to spend the money you saved on a dropper post to match the Rockrider AM100.
It would be easy to pick apart the Rockrider AM100 but taken as a whole and considering the price, it’s a decent bike that is a lot of fun to ride and easier to ride technical terrain than many hardtails at this price. Yes, some parts aren’t perfect, but the tyres, dropper post and cockpit are redeeming highlights.
If you’re buying a first mountain bike, hardtails are a popular choice because they are more affordable than expensive full-suspension bikes and the simplicity and ease of setup remove some of the technical hurdles. If my very first mountain bike had been half as good as this brand new Rockrider AM100, I would have been a very happy little boy.
And if you’re looking at buying a hardtail for the approaching winter of night rides and muddy slogs, saving your expensive full suspension bike for nicer weather, the AM100 is worth serious consideration with maybe a few choice upgrades to take it to the next level.
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