What is it?
This is an example of what high-street giant Decathlon will be serving up in its stores as of this October. Once, all Decathlon’s bikes were sold under the B’Twin umbrella brand but with the company seeking to be more innovative, its bike ranges will be divided into separate brands in future with different teams working on design and development.
Triban is the first to be launched and is dedicated to Decathlon’s road bike range and this, the Triban RC500 (along with its slightly pricier big brother the Triban RC520) was one of two new machines recently showcased in London. And while we’re on the subject of price (you might want to sit down at this point) we can tell you that this little beauty can be wheeled out of a store near you in exchange for the meager sum of just £529.
How much? What’s the catch?
Erm, well there doesn’t appear to be one. Costs have been kept low due to economies of scale and, according to one Decathlon bigwig we spoke to, filleting out a number of middlemen from the production process. Or removing ‘layers from the lasagne’ as he put it! Interestingly, Decathlon’s idea behind this new range began with the question: how much can our customers reasonably afford to spend on a new road bike?
Once that was established, the Triban research and development team was then asked to come up with a list of what made the ideal road bike, before being tasked with creating a bike based on that customer-focused budget.
Interesting. So what was on that list of must-haves?
Well, top of the list was comfort and the RC500’s newly designed aluminum frame employs a relaxed geometry that leaves you sitting more upright than stretched out, and so is very much suited to all-day rides or commuting than bombing around your local crit race. The frame is nicely detailed, too. The cables run externally (which make maintenance easier) and their stops have been moved up the down tube to keep them further away from crud and mud.
The heavily worked tube profiles, meanwhile, look like they belong on a more expensive machine – which, the more you examine this bike becomes a bit of a theme. The fork, for example, is carbon, which not only helps keep the bike’s overall weight down, but adds to its stiffness and therefore handling.
How’s it specced?
The need for versatility was high on the wish list for the RC500. It’s fitted with mechanical Promax disc brakes and a Shimano’s latest Sora 9-speed groupset. With the cables running beneath the handlebar tape and employing svelte shifters, Shimano’s entry-level parts look and feel very neat in this environment. They are reassuringly definitive in their shifting, and with a compact 50/34t chainset and wide 11-32 cassette, the range of gears is huge.
The wheels are tubeless-ready, and although our bike came with the standard 28 mm tires fitted, there is space for up to 38 mm tires and mudguards as well. The Triban 700s wheels weigh in at 2,000 grams, and with quality bearings, wide rims, and that tubeless compatibility, they are a particularly impressive item at this price point. Bosses for mudguards and racks are also all present and correct throughout, including ones on the fork blades, meaning you could reasonably add bike-packing and even perhaps gravel grinding to the RC500’s list of possible uses.
What are the key differences between this and Triban’s other new bike, the RC520?
Costing exactly 200 quid more, the RC520 shares the same frame and many other features, but is fitted with Shimano’s brand-new R7000 mechanical 105 groupset as standard. With a Shadow rear derailleur design and 11-gears, it’s truly an astonishing thing to discover on a bike costing just £729. In order to keep things on budget, the Triban team has opted to fit TRP’s Hy/Rd hybrid disc brake callipers, which employ a standard mechanical cable to activate the hydraulic system. Both the RC500 and RC520 are available in a wide range of sizes (from XS to XL), with the RC520 currently available in dark blue, and the RC500 coming with either a black paintjob or this rather eye-catching turquoise.
So what’s the verdict?
Both the RC500 and RC520 represent arguably the best value-for-money machines. With some superb parts and components, impressive versatility, potential for low maintenance and easy handling, you wouldn’t be disappointed if either of these joined your bike collection. Whether you’re after a winter training bike, a workhorse for the daily commute, a mile-muncher to get you around a sportive course or just something to lark about on at the weekends or holidays, this may well be the most easily justified n+1 investment we’ve ever seen.
Weight: 10.5 kg
Frame: Triban Evo 18 aluminium frame, Triban Adept carbon fork
Groupset: Shimano Sora R3000 9-speed
Brakes: Promax 300R mechanical disc brakes
Chainset: Shimano Sora R3000, 50/34
Cassette: Microshift H092, 11-32
Bars: B’Twin Aluminium Ergo
Stem: New Alu Triban Stem
Saddle: New B’Twin Sport
Seatpost: B’Twin Aluminium
Wheels: Triban 700 17C Tubeless Ready
Tires: Triban 700×28 AntiPuncture Skin Wall