Disclaimer: This is an "early impressions review" based on approximately 1000 kms of riding the Rover on paved and cobbled Mumbai city roads and national highways which includes steep gradients. This is not a recommendation of the product, any info provided is best to my knowledge & experience and I cannot be held accountable for any errors or omissions.
I have been looking for a companion bike to my 2 year old dual-suspension Adidas Genius mostly for casual city riding but also for the occasional off-road. Being used to the comfort a dual suspension provides, I was looking for the same, however this time on a lower budget of 15k. As expected my choice was limited to the Y-frame bikes from the Hero and Firefox stable. Comfortable, but heavy, inefficient, bouncy and kiddish looking, at
which point I decided to open up my options by increasing my budget and opting for a hardtail with better components for the price range.
With my budget increased by a few Ks, my options were:
1) GT Aggresor 1 @18.5k
2) Schwinn Frontier Sport 2012 @19.3 k
3) Schwinn Rover @18.1k
4) Trek 3700 @21k
Having test rode all four, I ruled out the GT because of the very stiff & springy 63mm Suntour forks and seemingly low build quality compared to the Schwinn, Schnell & Trek. The Schwinn came with better 80mm Suntour XCT V3 forks and road specific mountain tires which gave it the best ride out of the four. The Trek felt light, sprinty and raring to go along with its 100mm XCT forks.However I ruled out the Trek because it didn't have disc-brakes.(Guys do not crucify me for this!!!) I finally opted for the Schlenn Rover which comes equipped with the newer 2012 80mm XCT V4 forks, hydraulic disk brakes as compared to the mechanical ones on the other two and has a much more appealing design.
The Schnell Rover Review:
Schnell is supposedly a German brand, I say supposedly here because even though the bike carries a German flag decal, there is no mention, info or review of the company anywhere on the net. The only info pops from an India specific site and the Rover is the top of the line bike on it.
Frame:16'' Butted Tig welded Alloy. Suitable for 5'4 to 5'7. Here's a bike size calculator.
Forks: Suntour 80mm XCT v4 2012 series
Drive Train: 24 Seed Shimano Acera with TX50 front Derailleurs, M360 Rear derailleurs and Shimano M310 Rapidfire shifters. Shimano CS-HG30 8-Speed Mega Range Cassette 11-34T, Shimano M191 Crankset 24/34/42T.
Front and Rear Brakes: Tektro Draco Alloy Hydraullic W/TR160 8 Disc
Tyres: 26'' MTB Kenda "Kadre". The inside of the rims has Kenda mentioned.
Handlebar & Saddle: Schnell Padded, Seatpost: Promax, Pedals: Nylon(Unbranded)
Cable Housing: Jagwire USA.
The Schnell Rover impresses with a lightweight tig welded alloy frame with an excellent paint job and the ride quality is as good as it looks, however can be even better with semi-slick tyres if intended to ride purely as a road bike. The bike literally screams "SCHNELL" as the name is mentioned almost 10 times throughout the frame. The 24speed Shimano Acera shifted effortlessly without any slipping or rubbing on either of the derailleurs throughout the entire range. Accelerating is effortless and climbing steep gradients such as Mount Mary's and Pali Hill is accomplished with little effort.
The Rover is the only bike within the price bracket to come with the newer 80mm XCT V4 2012 Series from Suntour, it comes with preload adjuster. Much better than the no-good stiff 63mm models from the same company found on bikes within this bracket.
Brakes and Tires:
The Schnell Rover comes with entry level but powerful Tektro Draco Hydraullic Front and Disc brakes.Wheels lock immediately with a mere pull of a single finger on the lever. Brake operation is extremely smooth, effective and responsive. On long and steep downhill roads these brakes are your best friend, they won't stress out your fingers as much as Mechs. With none of the other bikes including the Schwinn Frontier having hydraullic brakes(including Trek 3500/3700 which I fancied), this was a dealbreaker. It remains to be seen if the performance remains consistence in the future as well.
Initially I found the length of the Schlenn branded alloy handlebars a tad short for my liking, however now I feel used to it. I personally find the grips a bit hard, gonna change them into more comfortable ones soon. Nothing much to say about the saddle, it is comfortable.
A mention about the pedals, are unbranded nylon ones and are the only components which feel a bit iffy. Initially they used to squeak when climbing steep gradients, that was solved with a little bit of lubing, however there is a slight vibration on the left pedal, will get it changed if and when it gets annoying.
Having done more than 1000 odd kms including a few 100kms+ and uphill riding on the bike within a few months, I can safely say I have got max bang for my bucks. It's light, accelerates quickly and feels great for commuting as well(never mind the MTB tag). On paved downhill rides I've restricted myself to a safe top speed of around 62kmph and the bike still feels stable, while the hydraulic brakes give confidence in controlling the descent with minimal effort offering excellent modulation. On downhills, on speedsa bove 60kmph, one can feel a faint vibration on application of the front brakes, so far it has not been a bother, for entry level hydros, I'd say these are excellent.
Also, just for fun, I tried to see how fast I can accelerate on tarred flats with no head or tail-wind and in my novice capacity I managed to accelerate to a top speed of 42kmph in less than 10 seconds. I can manage to hold that speed for less than a minute, which truly sucks on a personal level :(
The bike feels and looks good, has better components than most of its peers. It was a bit risky going for an unknown brand rather than the Schwinns or the Treks, but having researched a little bit on the components, I felt confident enough to get it.
So far the only negative point, which I have found on my 100km + rides is that the small frame allows space for only one water bottle, but then that's kinda expected from a 16'' MTB frame.
Issues so far:
During the second month, there was a ''tak-tak'' noise emnating from the bottom bracket, after it was found to be faulty it was promptly replaced by the LBS at no extra expense. Since then there has been no other concern. Other Rovers I know of do not have this problem so I guess this to be an isolated issue.
Stock Kenda Kadre Tyres into slick Serfas Drifters Commuting 2.0, noticeably much more faster due to less rolling resistance.
Stock saddle changed into Serfas gel Seats. Provides adequate cushioning without putting undue pressure on the unmentionables. Really comfortable on long rides.
Stock MTB grips changed into rolled foam grips.
I would be interested in joining any trailing activity close to Mumbai, can leave a msg on 9967889089 :-) .
If any of you have purchased the Schnell Rover, I invite you to share your experiences(good and bad) here so that we can build a knowledge base other bikers can refer too.
Please comment if you find the review useful.Thanks for reading, enjoy your ride and remember to ride safe!!!
A nice first insight into the schnell brand.Looking forward to hearing more about the bike.
you just managed to increase my faith on an not so known Brand , I got my Schnell coupe abt 2 weeks back , Honestly the price and look were too attractive since was getting back to cycling after 20 odd years didn't wanna spend a whole lot of money . But i guess Schnell for the price are true value for money.
Hi Salim, I think it would be a good idea if you can try to put up a small review and experience with your coupe so that people looking for a budget bike can have better knowledge about the choices available to them.
Nice review. Everyone out there should put up reviews for their bikes. Itll help others a lot especially if its not a very popular bike.
24 Speed + Al-frame + Hydraullic Front and Disc brakes + 80mm XCT V4 Suntour fork = Cycle @18.1 K.....??? Great!!
How about the wheels? The rim and the spokes ? Pedals are not given much of importance even by companies like TREK. I think they expect us to replace them often!!
Is this beginning of a price correction in bicycle market ? I think other bike manufactures may have to think of pricing their stuff more economically. Even GT and Mongoose have lined up a formidable range of bikes in Indian market for the year 2012.
Thanks for the posting. I look towards hearing from you after you do couple of on-road and off-road trails.
Yeah i personally believe that even entry level imported bikes are slightly over-priced owing to the addition of taxes,duties and customs...At the moment Indian made bikes can only compete in price, once the price factor is taken out, then they will be forced to compete on quality...hope that happens soon...we all will benefit!!!
Btwin - ROCKRIDER 5.3, price 23k
Hi Nandadeep...Im not aware but is btwin an Indian company?
is it available in delhi NCR?