The baguette, the beret, Brigitte Bardot, French icons all. But are they about to be joined by Decathlon’s Triban 520 Disc? The French sports megastore has a deserved reputation for producing quality bikes — including Tour de France-level machines — at prices that undercut just about everyone else’s out there.
- The Triban 520 Disc is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.
The newest incarnation of the Triban 520, now without the B’Twin branding, takes that and ratchets it up a notch. This is the least expensive of our sub-£1,000 Bike of the Year test bikes, though you wouldn’t know it from the Triban’s components, and it’s not an online-only purchase either.
You can actually see the Triban in the flesh, lift it up and caress it — if that’s your thing — and part with your cash at a ‘real’ bike shop, even if it is going to be a large out-of-town superstore.
Decathlon reckons this is ‘the most comfortable ride’ it has ever designed
So, has Decathlon cut corners speccing this Triban. No. The shifting and drivetrain are based around Shimano 105 — itself exceptionally good at £729 — and at this price I’ll easily forgive the non-series Shimano RS510 chainset and Microshift cassette.
The brakes, then? No. Decathlon has really gone to town here, upgrading from rim brakes to discs. The TRP HY/RD are mechanical-hydraulic hybrid, standard levers and cables actuating hydraulic pistons. This is normally the province of gravel and adventure bikes costing well over a grand.
Another distinctive feature of the Triban 520 Disc is the geometry. Even the other ‘endurance’-flavoured bikes on test have racier angles than this, and if you’re looking for an aggressive point-and-shoot racer cast your gaze elsewhere. But I racked up the miles on this in comfort, the more upright position perfect for both long-distance commuting and inner-city riding.
The head tube is taller than most, the top tube shorter, the handling less responsive than the likes of the 105-equipped Rose or Specialized bikes, but this is a very different beast. For racing? No. But for training, commuting, touring — it has all the braze-ons you need — this is an excellent choice.
The Triban 520 Disc has distinctive geometry David Caudery / Immediate Media
Decathlon reckons this is ‘the most comfortable ride’ it has ever designed, and this model features numerous comfort-boosting features. Decathlon’s designers have radically dropped the seatstays on the compact frame and finally ditched the 31.6mm seatpost in favour of the more familiar, slimmer and more comfortable 27.2mm, and with more of this exposed in the compact frame, this too adds a touch more comfort.
The 28mm tyres offer more cushioning than the previous model’s 25mm and there’s even room for 36mm rubber so you could fit gravel-specific tyres and hit the rough stuff.
Very unusually for a bike at this price, the rims are tubeless-ready and you can go down that route if you buy a conversion kit. The tyres are pretty weighty affairs but offered good grip in addition to their comfort, and their extra size allows you to drop the pressure a little too.
The brakes, levers, derailleurs and chainset alone would cost you £623 — and all this on a bike costing just £107 more than that
The handlebar and stem are pretty standard stuff, but the drops are short and easy to reach and the tops slightly ovalized for a lovely, comfortable handhold. Decent gel-backed bar tape rounds it off nicely.
All the cabling is routed externally, which makes DIY servicing easier and is fair enough at this price. And to be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference between the non-series Shimano chainset and 105, and this chainset does at least echo the new 105’s aesthetics.
In an ideal world I’d have had thru-axles too, but even with the standard quick releases there was no brake rub evident when riding out of the saddle.
The TRP hybrid disc brakes worked very well. They’re not noticeably better than the best all-mechanical systems but offer consistent power and control in all weathers and are as good as anything you’ll find on a drop-bar road bike at this price.
Yes, full hydraulics would have been nice, but this system is the next best thing and costs over £200 for the pair.
The navy blue paint job is a bit dull but that’s just nit-picking David Caudery / Immediate Media
Which brings us to the Triban 520 Disc’s astonishing value for money.
If my somewhat rusty maths is correct, the brakes, levers, derailleurs and chainset would cost you £623 — and all this on a bike costing just £107 more than that. For which Decathlon throws in a frame, carbon-bladed fork, wheels, tyres, Jagwire cables and cockpit. Oh, and the frame, stem and handlebar have a lifetime guarantee. This is a fantastic achievement in anybody’s book.
The negatives are few and minor. It’s carrying a little more weight than some of the other bikes it’s up against. But in practice you rarely notice this except on steeper climbs, when the 34/32 gearing comes to your aid.
Relaxed frame angles mean it doesn’t have the zing and dynamism of Specialized’s Allez and the Rose Pro SL2000, but what it lacks here it more than makes up for in comfort, versatility, practicality and value.
The consensus in the BikeRadar office is that Decathlon’s much less costly Triban 500 also looks better than the somewhat dull-looking navy-blue 520 Disc. But these points are really just nit-picking.
The Triban 520 Disc is a bike you can use for day-to-day riding, weekends away and more. It’s superbly specced, a lot of fun, a lot of bike and all for not that much money
Triban 520 Disc specifications
The newest incarnation of the Triban 520, minus the B’Twin branding David Caudery / Immediate Media
Sizes (*tested): XS, S, M, L*, XL
Weight: 10.77kg (L)
Frame: 6061 aluminium
Fork: Carbon, alu steerer
Shifters: Shimano 105
Mech: Shimano 105
Chainset: Shimano RS510, 50/34
Cassette: Microshift, 11-32
Brakes: TRP HY/RD cable/hydraulic discs
Wheels: Triban Tubeless Ready Light
Tyres: 28mm Triban Resist+
Bar: Triban ergonomic
Stem: Triban ergonomic
Seatpost: Triban ergonomic 27.2mm
Saddle: Triban Ergofit
BikeRadar would like to thank Stolen Goat, Lazer, Northwave and Effetto Mariposa for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.