The Triban RC120 is the best road bike you can buy for under £400 at Decathlon and is one of the very best cheap road bikes that I have ever tested.
Even at just £349.99 / €450 / $499 / AU$599, the Triban RC120 looks, feels and rides like a proper road bike. It has everything you’d expect on a bike costing much, much more, with few obvious cost-cutting measures, certainly when it comes to the overall performance of the bike.
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It’s worth stressing that this is not an internet-only price either, because you can buy the bike from any branch of the French sports superstore, Decathlon, in the UK, Europe and now the USA.
Confusingly, in America, Decathlon calls the RC120 the RC100, which is not the same as the European version of the RC100.
The bike is built around a compact 6061 aluminium frame with a shortish top-tube, which makes it ideal for endurance riding, commuting and even light touring. The upright riding position also puts less strain on your lower back.
The fork is 12k carbon with an 1 1/8in aluminium steerer. In addition to the expected mudguard/fender eyelets, it also has fittings for a front rack. Very neat.
The RC120’s most unusual component is the gearing, which comes courtesy of Taiwan’s rarely-seen Microshift. This is paired with Shimano’s Tourney compact chainset and bottom bracket.
I’m a long-time fan of Shimano-compatible Microshift on budget machines, as is our workshop manager Will.
Its three-lever setup does take a little getting used to — the right has a brake lever, a large paddle for downshifts and a small pad for upshifts and the left’s paddle shifts the chain to the big ring — but the shifting is accurate and comes with a nice, resounding click and good feedback through the lever.
What it also delivers is a pleasingly wide range of gears. Microshift’s 8-speed 11-34 cassette (not a freewheel, as is commonly seen on some budget bikes) provides both a steep-climb-friendly 34×34 bottom end and a crank-it-to-the-max 50×11 top end.
The lower gears are probably the most crucial. Yes, there are largish gaps between gears but, for my money, this compromise is worth it.
There are a few other features that are rarely seen on budget bikes.
A near-universal criticism I level at bikes of this price is the typically poor quality braking. However, the RC120 has cartridge brake blocks (rather than one-piece blocks), which contribute massively to positive, well-controlled braking.
It’s odd that so many companies economise on brakes — surely this should be the most important component? Top marks to Triban for not skimping out here.
The Triban RC120’s handlebar is also a cut above average, with the ergonomically-shaped bar ovalised on the tops for greater comfort. The tops are also very slightly swept-back, which also improves comfort.
Triban also follows the (welcome) trend of going for comfort-boosting 28mm tyres. Mudguards can still be fitted with tyres of this size.
My test bike came with Hutchinson’s Nitro 2 tyres rather than the Triban Protect on Decathlon’s website. I’d replace these with higher-quality rubber when they’re worn because the bike deserves better.
Triban has also paid attention to detail when it comes to sizing the bar and cranks, being width- and length-specific respectively among the five-size range. The final touch I appreciated? The 27.2mm seatpost has measurements on it to ease fitting. Again, very neat.
The combination of relaxed geometry, ergo handlebar and wide tyres makes Triban’s RC120 a poised and polished performer. Its handling is neutral rather than super-lively — the tallish head-tube and metre-plus wheelbase keeping everything reassuringly stable.
If you’re a wannabe fast-man or -woman, then look elsewhere, but for an all-round machine to introduce you to the world of road bikes, this is very, very hard to beat.
Long days out, century rides, urban commuter with rack and mudguards, year-round trainer… all these and more are easily within the Triban RC120’s remit.
In 20-plus years testing bikes (from at least 120 different brands and counting) I rarely award five stars — in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I gave top marks. But this Triban deserves it and is the best sub-£400 bike I’ve ever ridden.
|Price||AUD $599.00EUR €450.00GBP £349.99USD $499.00|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Brakes||Unbranded callipers, cartridge brake blocks|
|Cranks||Shimano Tourney 50/34|
|Tyres||28mm Hutchinson Nitro 2|
|Wheels||Triban 700, Aero 28 hubs|