Gallic sporting hypermarket Decathlon offers its B’Twin Triban 5 Black at a price that almost defies belief. It has a carbon fork and Shimano’s Sora groupset – but have compromises been made elsewhere to hit this improbable price?
- Highs: Excellent spec, confident performance, ridiculous price tag
- Lows: May be tricky to get hold of
The Triban’s aluminium frame incorporates oversized, sculpted chainstays and an external bearing bottom bracket, both usually the preserve of more expensive bikes. With an eye on the utility role that entry-level steeds are likely to take, it’s fully kitted with rack and front/rear mudguard eyelets. It’s worth noting though that clearances are on the tight side – you’ll be able to fit ’guards without any problem, but not with wider tyres.
B’Twin also makes the marginally pricier Triban 5 White, which is identical to the Black other than having carbon seatstays for extra comfort. But our test model’s carbon fork is still a great achievement at this price, and it does add smoothness to the front while also shaving a little weight.
Triple chainsets, as featured on the Triban, are all the rage in mainland Europe while being the subject of much more ambivalent opinion in other markets. True, they add a little weight, which might make a difference on a 6kg bike, but it’s neither here nor there on a 10kg machine. Moreover, the combination of the Triban’s 50/39/30 chainset and 12-25 cassette gives highly competitive top and bottom options, and a huge range of usable gears with smaller jumps in between than rivals with double chainsets.
The Triban scores again when it comes to the brakes, its B’Twin callipers having cartridge pads that offer greater power and control than non-cartridge options. Although labelled B’Twin, these have all the hallmarks of having come out of the same Tektro factory as many other bikes’ brakes.
As with the budget Tourney option favoured on most machines at this price, the Triban’s Sora does without the gear-change paddle lever inside the brake lever that more expensive setups offer. Instead, the right-hand lever has a small thumb-operated shifter on the inside of the brake hoods for changing up to a smaller sprocket/higher gear, while the left-hand thumb shifter moves the front mech to the big ring.
Despite the bargain-basement price, b’twin’s triban 5 doesn’t compromise on ride quality: Robert Smith
Despite the bargain-basement price, B’Twin’s Triban 5 doesn’t compromise on ride quality
Consequently it’s nigh-on impossible to shift the rear derailleur up while you’re riding in the drops, as you’re likely to fancy doing while heading downhill. Sora scores points over the more modest Tourney in terms of looks, feel and weight, though.
Defying our expectations, the Triban’s ride quality compares well with that of more expensive machines, probably because it’s not significantly heavier than bikes costing around £750.
Despite having narrow tyres and an oversize seatpost, it doesn’t compromise on comfort – the carbon fork helps – and its lower weight always seems to give it a slight performance edge over budget rivals such as Scott’s Speedster 60 and Revolution’s Sabre. We did get some rear tyre slip on a 12 percent climb with a wet and greasy surface, and there was a suspicion of flex from the skinny wheels under hard cranking, but those were the only blips.
All in all, this B’Twin has superb kit for the price, with that carbon fork and Sora groupset being the highlights – and its sub-10kg weight would be fine at £750.
It’s light, comfortable and versatile. Want to tackle your first century or sportive? Perfect. Riding to work or need a winter trainer? Spot on.
We really do think it will be love at first ride. Indeed, the only problem might be buying one – these bikes fly off the shelves as soon as Decathlon gets them, and we can see why.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.