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BUYER'S GUIDE

Introducing the Decathlon road bikes – get to grips with the Triban and Van Rysel ranges

Confused by Decathlon’s selection of road bikes? Here’s a guide to help you understand what’s what

Sports megastore Decathlon has earned a solid reputation for delivering great value budget bikes, but there is more to the firm’s offering than that. As well as the super-popular Triban models, the Van Rysel range caters for those looking for superior performance.

  • As the Decathlon chain has grown in the UK over the last few years their bikes have become a very common sight on our roads. That they're usually excellent value for money hasn't hurt

  • There are two ranges: Triban for all-rounders and Van Rysel for sportier bikes

  • Standout models include the Triban RC 520, which was a road.cc bike of the year when it was launched, and the carbon fibre Van Rysel Ultra CF series of bikes built on an excellent 850g road racing frame

  • Look out for bargains marked 'Second Life' on the Decathlon website — these are returned bikes that can't be sold as new, at big discounts

The full Decathlon road and gravel bike range for 2020

Decathlon road bikes range in price from £280 for the Triban RC100, up to £4,000 for the top-of-the range Van Rysel Ultra CF Dura-Ace Di2.

Decathlon usually (but not always) abides by the time-honoured naming convention of ‘bigger number, better bike,’ so this can give you a general idea of the hierarchy.

In simple terms:

  • Triban is the entry-level and all-rounder range of Decathlon road bikes and the firm's best selling by a country mile
  • The Van Rysel performance bikes come in aluminium and carbon-fibre-framed versions; they're Grand Tour or Ardennes classics specialists – designed to be smooth, light and responsive

Decathlon formerly badged many of its bikes 'B'Twin' and that brand covered road, round-town and kids' bikes. You'll often come across B'Twin-branded bikes secondhand, but the only new bikes for which Decathlon uses the name are kids bikes. Road bikes are Triban and Van Rysel, as above, while round-town bikes are Riverside or Elops. 

Triban

There are eight models in this range, billed as super-comfortable road bikes for commuting, day rides and light touring. The more recent models feature an entirely new frame in 6061 aluminium and fork with carbon fibre blades. We took a closer look here.

Triban RC 100 — £279.99

2020 Triban RC100

The entry-level model in Decathlon’s road bikes range, the RC100 is built around a 6061 aluminium frame with a geometry that’s designed for comfort. The top tube is shorter than that of a traditional road bike and the head tube is longer so the ride position is a little more relaxed, putting less strain on your back and neck. A sloping top tube reduces the standover height.

The fork is high tensile steel rather than lighter weight aluminium or carbon, although you have to expect that on a bike of this price.

The RC100 comes with a single chainring and a 7-speed Shimano cassette. You don’t get the range of gears that you do with the more expensive models in the Triban range but the Shimano A050 rocker shifter mounted next to the stem provides easy, reliable changes.

The B'Twin 700 wheels are fitted with 32mm-wide tyres that are designed to provide plenty of comfort both on road and on smoother paths, and you get eyelets for fitting mudguards and a rear rack which could come in handy if you want to use the bike for commuting.

For the same price there's also a woman's version, dubbed the Women's Starter Road Bike, with a woman's saddle, shorter stem on the smallest size and extra brake levers on the tops of the handlebar.

If you think white's a bit boring, you can get it in red too.

Buy if: You’re looking for a no-frills entry-level road bike.

Triban RC 120 — £399.99

2019 Triban RC120

This is the base model Triban RC (it stands for 'road cycling' but as far as we can tell it's really only there to differentiate the new Tribans from the old B'Twin Tribans with similar model numbers). You don't get disc brakes at this level, but you do get eight-speed MicroShift gears with a very low bottom gear from the combination of an 11-34 cassette and 50/34 chainset. That'll make it straightforward to tackle just about any climb you'll find in the UK.

Like the other Triban RC bikes it has mounts for a rack and mudguards so you can easily set it up for commuting or touring.

Buy if: You want a budget all-rounder for commuting, fitness riding and weekend touring.

Triban RC 120 Disc — £429.99

2019 Triban RC120 Disc

This is the cheapest of Decathlon's road bikes with disc brakes, and one of the cheapest disc-brake road bikes around. As well as the improved brakes, it gets better wheels than the rim-braked RC120. They're tubeless-ready, so you can run them with compatible tyres and sealant for a better ride and fewer punctures.

Buy if: You want a budget all-rounder with the all-weather stopping power of disc brakes.

Triban RC 120 Gravel — £599.99

2020 Triban RC 120 Gravel

A new model in the Triban range, the RC 120 Gravel has an intriguing mix of features that make it suitable for just about any kind of cycling other than racing, as well as its stated job of exploring dirt tracks and back lanes.

The key spec here is the combination of a single, 38-tooth chainring with an 11-42 ten-speed cassette. That gives a wide gear range and, most importantly, some very low gears for winching yourself up hills.

The frame is based on the aluminium frame Decathlon launched with the RC520, though the firm says it's been adjusted for clearance for the Hutchinson 38mm tyres it sports.

Buy if: You fancy playing in the dirt and don't want to spend a fortune

Triban RC 500 — £549.99

Triban RC 500

No longer the cheapest disc-braked bike from Decathlon, the RC 500 remains arguably the best value for money bike around £500, because unlike other budget road bikes it comes with Shimano's 9-speed Sora groupset. Other significant features include tubeless-ready wheels and Decathlon's own Resist+ 28mm tyres.

Decathlon clearly played a blinder with this bike. The first batch to arrive in the UK was supposed to keep Decathlon shops stocked for six months. It sold out in three months.

Buy if: You want a great-value pothole-basher with the stopping assurance of disc brakes

Triban RC 520 — £799.99

Triban RC 520

Built around the same frame as the RC 500, the RC 520 gives you most of a Shimano 105 R7000 groupset for your extra £200 and TRP HY/RD disc brake calipers. These have a hydraulic stage to do the tricky bit of turning the braking force though 90° and are significantly more powerful and easier to modulate than cable-only disc brakes.

The Triban RC 520 also has upgraded, lighter wheels compared to the Triban RC 520 and shares that bike's puncture-resistant rubber.

Read our review of the Triban RC 520.

Buy if: You want perhaps the best-value all-rounder on the market.

Triban RC 520 Gravel — £849.99

2019 Triban RC520 Gravel

There's enough room in the RC5xx disc-compatible frame for fairly fat tyres, so if you want to go exploring dirt roads and easy trails, you can fit some yourself, or you can pick up this version of the RC520 with Hutchinson Overide 35mm tubeless ready tyres already fitted and a bar with a 16° flare for extra width and control on rough surfaces. It's otherwise identical to the regular RC520.

Triban GRVL 900 Titanium — £2,499.99

2021 Triban GRVL 900

If Decathlon wanted to grab everyone's attention with the launch of a titanium gravel bike then they succeeded with bells on with the Triban GRVL 900: our story on it is the most-read tech news story on road.cc ever.

Titanium's springy, forgiving ride is making it popular as a material for gravel bikes. Decathlon's noticed this but instead of going to a budget titanium supplier, they've gone to Italy's Dedacciai for what looks to be a beautifully-welded and very shiny masterwork.

With a 71.5° head angle for stability and clearance for 45mm 700C tyres or 50mm 650Bs it's right in the mainstream of modern gravel. Fulcrum Rapid Red 900 wheels and Hutchinson Tuareg tyres just need sealant to make them fully tubeless and there's a Shimano GRX 1X11 transmission for simplicity.

Read more: Decathlon releases Triban GRVL900 Titanium Gravel Bike

    Women's Triban

    There are four women-specific bikes in the Triban range, .

    Triban Women's Starter — £279.99

    2019 Triban women's beginner

    This bike is essentially the women's version of the men's Triban RC100, with details tweaked to accommodate a female anatomy. There's a woman's saddle, shorter stem and narrow bars, plus extra levers on the tops of the handlebar for braking from an upright position. Its name's not exactly imaginative, but it's excellent value for money

    Buy if: You’re a woman (or a small man) looking for a no-frills entry-level road bike.

    Triban Women's Intermediate — £499.99

    2019 Triban women's intermediate

    With a similar frame to the men's RC120, and Shimano's excellent nine-speed Sora components, this might just be the best-value women's bike available. Like the beginner bike, above, it has a woman's saddle, shorter stem and narrow bars, and the reach-adjustable brake levers provide easier stopping for a woman's smaller hands.

    Buy if: You're a woman or a small man wanting a great-value bike for commuting or weekend riding

    Triban Women's RC 120 Gravel — £599.99

    2020 triban rc 120 womens gravel

    The women's equivalent of the men's RC 120 Gravel has a narrower handlebar, shorter stem, brake levers closer to the handlebar, and a women-specific saddle.

    Buy if: You're a woman wanting a budget entry to dirt road and trail riding

    Triban Women's RC 520 Disc — £799.99

    2020 Triban womens rc520 disc

    Built around the same Triban Evo frame as the men's RC520, the women's version has a narrower handlebar, shorter stem and shorter cranks for any given size, plus a woman's saddle.

    Buy if: you're a woman and want one of the best-value endurance, touring and general-purpose bikes around.

    Van Rysel

    Van Rysel — the name means 'from Lille' after the location of Decathlon's global headquarters — is Decathlon's performance range. There are two sub-ranges: the AF series are aluminium framed bikes with carbon forks while the CF bikes have carbon fibre frames.

    For the fairly modest prices, the CF bikes have a surprisingly nice frame. Decathlon's Ultra Evo Dynamic carbon fibre frame, which Decathlon claims weighs just 850g in a size Medium, and the fork 320g, builds into stiff, light performance bikes with internal cabling. Those frame and fork weights are impressive for bikes in this price range.

    The most eye-catching part of the carbon-fibre frame is the large and angular down tube. The head tube is tapered, the bottom bracket is Press Fit 86, and the carbon seatpost is held in place by an integrated wedge-style clamp.

    Van Rysel EDR AF 105 — £999.99

    2020 Van Rysel edr af black 105 side view on white

    Decathlon bills this new model in its Van Rysel range of sporty bikes as an endurance bike, with a newly-designed aluminium frame, and a full Shimano 105 groupset including the brakes and chainset, components that are often swapped out for cheaper models.

    It rolls on Fulcrum Racing 6 wheels shod with Michelin's highly-regarded Lithion training tyres, and overall looks like a good deal.

    Buy if: You want a great-value bike for sportives, training and long days out

    Van Rysel EDR AF Ultegra — £1,299.99

    2020 Van rysel edr af ultegra

    For the more expensive of the brace of new aluminium-framed Van Rysel bikes, Decathlon has taken the unusual step of using a full Ultegra groupset, a spec most manufacturers reserve for their carbon fibre bikes these days.

    Along with Fulcrum Racing 4 wheels and Hutchinson HDF>5.2 tyres, this should be a fine machine for eating the miles.

    Buy if: You want the value and performance of Shimano's Ultegra groupset at a very sensible price

    Van Rysel Ultra RCR CF 105 — £1,399.99

    2019 Van Rysel Ultra CF 105

    The Van Rysel Ultra CF 105 is made to a race geometry and is built up with Shimano’s mid-level 11-speed 105 groupset. 105 is slightly heavier than Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra but not by much, and the level of performance is excellent. It was previously known as the B’Twin Ultra 900 CF 105 and as the Van Rysel RR 900 CF 105.

    Our Stu Kerton loved it. "The ride is sublime, absorbing pretty much everything the road surface can chuck at it, so you just waft along at a very impressive pace, smashing mile after mile without effort," he wrote.

    Check out our complete guide to Shimano’s road bike groupsets here.

    Mavic’s Aksium One wheels offer very good value too.

    Read our complete guide to Mavic’s road wheels.

    Decathlon provides branded components right across the board with a handlebar and stem from Deda and a Fizik Antares saddle.

    Buy if: You'd like a carbon fibre road bike with a solid, reliable groupset.

    Read our review of the Van Rysel Ultra CF 105 (as B’Twin Ultra 900 CF 105)

    Van Rysel Ultra CF Ultegra — £1,999.99

    2019 Van Rysel Ultra CF 920 Ultegra

    The Van Rysel Ultra CF Ultegra is a very good deal given its high-quality finishing kit (Deda bar and stem, Fizik saddle) and Mavic Cosmic Carbon wheels.

    The Ultegra R8000 groupset is a solid performer, and Decathlon has gone for a performance-orientated set-up with a 52/36 chainset and 11-28 cassette.

    Buy if: You want a light, fast bike at a very sensible price

    Van Rysel Ultra CF Potenza — £1,999.99

    Van Rysel RR 920 CF Potenza

    When we first rode Decathlon's carbon fibre platform we described it as “a performance-orientated road bike that really impresses in combining frame rigidity with a comfortable ride”.

    Check out our First Ride on the Van Rysel RR CF.

    The design has changed a little since then but the Ultra CF  is still focused on fast road riding: racing, if that’s your thing, sportives maybe, or just ragging it around the roads with your mates. The geometry is race-orientated – head-down and stretched rather than sit-up-and-beg, which is entirely appropriate for a bike like this.

    Rather than the Shimano Ultegra-based spec of the Ultra CF Ultegra, the Ultra CF Potenza is decked out in Potenza components, Campagnolo's answer to Shimano Ultegra.

    The wheels are from the Campagnolo lineup too: Zondas with aluminium rims. You’re getting excellent value here.

    Buy if: You want a stiff and light performance-orientated bike with a great spec for the cash.

    Van Rysel Ultra CF Ultegra Di2 — £3,200

    Van Rysel RR 940 CF Ultegra Di2

    The flagship Van Rysel Ultra CF comes in two variants: this one, with Shimano's electronic Ultegra Di2 gear shifting, and the mechanical Dura-Ace version, below. Aside from the groupset they're identical, with Mavic's Pro Carbon SL UST wheels and tyres and Yksion Pro tyres, and a Deda carbon handlebar on both bikes.A recent price drop means this is now one of the best value Di2-equipped bikes, especially when you take into account the carbon fibre wheels and handlebar.

    Buy if: You want a great package with whirr-clicky electronic gear shifting

    Van Rysel Ultra RCR CF Dura-Ace — £3,499.99

    2019 Van Rysel Ultra CF Dura-Ace

    For the top mechanical-shifting model in the range, Decathlon hangs a compete Dura-Ace groupset on the Ultra carbon frame and throws in a pair of Mavic's new Pro Carbon SL UST wheels and tyres and Yksion Pro tyres, and a Deda carbon handlebar. The three and a half grand RRP isn't cheap by anyone's standards, but it's still excellent value for money.

    Buy if: You want Dura-Ace and Pro Carbon SL wheels without too outrageous a price tag.

    Van Rysel EDR 940 CF — £3,799.99

    2021 Van Rysel EDR 940 CF Dura-Ace

    The first carbon fibre bike in Decathlon's Van Rysel EDR endurance line looks like a winner, with a claimed 890g frame (size M) and a tasty suite of carbon fibre components alongside the Dura-Ace components. Rather than following the disc-brake herd, Decathlon has equipped the Van Rysel EDR 940 CF with direct-mount rim brakes, which not only saves a little weight but also swerves the price premium of hydraulic stoppers. The upshot is that with a carbon fibre saddle, seat post and handlebar, plus Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon wheels the Van Rysel EDR 940 CF is excellent value for money and weighs a claimed 6.6kg without pedals.

    Read more: Van Rysel releases £3,799.99 Dura-Ace carbon endurance bike

    Buy if: You want a great-value high-end package for long days out

    Van Rysel Ultra RCR CF Dura-Ace Di2 — £3,999.99

    Van Rysel Ultra RCR CF Dura-Ace Di2

    For the flagship model in the Decathlon road bikes range, the firm pulls out all the stops and goes for the electronic version of Shimano's pro-quality Dura-Ace shifting. There's usually a much bigger gap than this between the mechanical and electronic versions of top-end bikes, and while some of that is often accounted for by high-zoot wheels on the spendier bike, getting Di2 for just £500 more than mechanical Dura-Ace does make this bike amazing value for money

    Buy if: You want a great-riding road bike that's also a bargain for the spec

    Van Rysel gravel bikes

    Two new models recently popped up on Decathlon's website, the Van Rysel EDR CF and RCX CF. Decathlon is claiming a 1,020g frame and 340g fork in a size M for the new platform, which is respectably light.

    Van Rysel EDR CF — £1,699.99

    2021 Van Rysel EDR CF gravel bike

    The EDR designation suggests this bike sits at the top of the recently-launched Van Rysel endurance series, and that's how it's set up, with Shimano GRX 600 and 800 components in a 1 x 11 configuration.

    It's shod with Hutchinson Black Mamba tubeless-ready tyres on 21.6mm tubeless-ready wheels so it looks all ready for hitting the trails and back roads.

    Van Rysel RCX CF — £1,499.99

    2021 Van Rysel RCX CF cyclocross bike

    Its gearing and 33mm tyres indicate that Decathlon has cyclocross racing in mind for the Van Rysel RCX CF and that's confirmed by the description: "Van Rysel has designed this carbon cyclo x bike for budding racers. … All you're missing is your race number."

    It'll take 38mm tyres for versatility and you could swap out the 11-32 cassette for an 11-42 to get wider gears for riding away from the race course.

    Van Rysel Women's

    Van Rysel Ultra RCR AF Women's — £799.99

    2020 VAN RYSEL Women's Road Bike Ultra RCR AF Tiagra

    The top model in Decathlon's trio of aluminium-framed women's road bikes, the Ultra AF Women's gets the same frame as the Van Rysel RR AF bikes, with a full suite of contact points tailored for a woman's anatomy, and Shimano's super-reliable Tiagra groupset.

    Buy if: You're a woman who wants to go fast for a very reasonable amount of money

    Van Rysel Women's Ultra CF 105 — £1,399.99

    Van Rysel Women's Ultra CF 105

    Like the Ultra AF Women's, the carbon fibre version gets women-specific contact points — saddle, stem and handlebar — on its Ultra Evo Dynamic frame. It's available in three sizes, XXS, XS and S, and the black edition here is a terrific deal at just £1,100.

    Buy if: You're a woman who wants a go-faster carbon fibre bargain

    Explore the complete archive of reviews of road bikes on road.cc

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