Unmatched value for the money: Decathlon's Triban RC 520 reviewed

Triban has brought a high spec to an affordable price point but does the ride quality hold up?

Triban 520 road bike
(Image credit: Future)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Triban RC520 is undoubtedly one of the best-value-for-money road bikes on the market. An alloy frame, carbon fork and cable-actuated hydraulic disc brakes all at a sub-£900 price point is unrivalled. The ride quality might not quite hold up to Triban's more established competitors such as Cannondale or Specialized but they won't be beaten on price.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Brilliant value for spec

  • +

    Stable, comfortable geometry

  • +

    Significantly undercuts rivals on price

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Harsher ride quality than rivals

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If you are in the market for a road bike under $1000/£1000, you will quickly find that there is little choice, especially when you're hoping to find a disc brake-equipped bike. In fact, bike brands the likes of Specialized and Trek don't offer a 2024 disc brake road bike below this threshold.

Triban, owned by sports retail giant Decathlon, has long been known for offering great value products, and the Triban RC500 is no different. £849.99 gets you 3 more speeds than the equivalent Trek and Specialized options but does it have the frame pedigree to be considered one of the best value road bikes on the market?

Triban RC500 : Construction

The new Triban Evo frameset is constructed from 6061 T6 aluminium with a comfort-oriented geometry. The frame alone comes in at a claimed 1780 grams for a size medium, which isn't the lightest. For comparison, the new Specialized Allez frameset weighs a claimed 1375 grams painted. The frame is also laden with the full complement of rack and mudguard mounts which greatly increases the versatility of the bike — from commuting to exploration.

Triban's Evo fork is a multi-material affair. Two carbon blades adjoin an alloy 1"1/8 steerer, which Triban says provides good lateral rigidity whilst filtering frontal vibrations. The 680-gram fork is once again heavier than the competition but does come with a claimed weight capacity of 9kg, which for those looking to commute with mudguards and panniers, is good news.

triban 520

Triban's Evo fork is a multi-material affair. Two carbon blades adjoin an alloy 1"1/8 steerer, for a total weight of 680 grams.

(Image credit: Future)

Where Triban closes this gap though is in the geometry. The new frameset has a chainstay length of 425mm across all sizes, as well as a 569mm stack in a size medium, both of these are identical to the new Specialized Allez. This should help create a stable, confidence-inspiring ride quality, perfect for newer riders and those who value comfort over all-out performance.

Tyre clearance is great, too. Triban gives you 28mm tyres out of the box, but the frame is rated for rubber up to 36mm in width, which is generally enough for some light gravel riding — although Triban doesn't advertise this bike for use off the beaten track.

Triban 520 road bike

As for the groupset, Triban trounces the competition on value.

(Image credit: Future)

As for the groupset, Triban once again trounces the competition on value. Shimano's 105 11 speed derailleurs are in charge of shifting, which provides a great range of gearing. More gears also allows for better cadence choice, and when compared to other brands' use of Claris 8 speed, this really is an upgrade.

The brakes too are of interest. Triban has opted for cable TRP HY/RD cable operated Hydraulic disc brakes. This means the hydraulic reservoir is housed on the caliper itself, meaning you can still achieve the power of hydraulic disc brakes but use lower-cost cable shifters. These don't match the performance of true hydraulic disc brakes, but they certainly beat rim brakes, which most of the competition at this price point uses.

Triban 520 road bike

Wheels and finishing kits are all alloy affairs produced in-house.

(Image credit: Future)

Wheels and finishing kits are all alloy affairs produced in-house. Once again, the wheels aren't the lightest, coming in at a claimed 2300 grams, but they are tubeless ready which is great, especially for those looking to adopt wider tyres. 

Triban RC520 : The ride

The distinct pattern that has formed with the Triban RC520 is that the spec, for the money, is great.  But what really makes or breaks a bike is the ride quality. Ride feel and handling characteristics can hide behind a spec sheet, so how does the bike really feel?

Well, out on the road the bike performs pretty well but it isn't perfect. My riding consisted of a local test loop which I shake down every test bike on. Full of punchy climbs, twisty roads and fast descents this really helped me get a great feel for the bike from the off. The Triban RC520 is overwhelmingly easy to get along with, and I was able to feel comfortable on the bike with in the first few kilometres.

Triban 520 road bike

The Triban RC520 is overwhelmingly easy to get along with.

(Image credit: Future)

On the climbs, I did notice the extra weight compared to the Triban's rivals but it held up respectably. At higher speeds, descending and cornering the bike felt stable too, although I would certainly consider switching out the stock tyres. At 55 TPI, they aren't the most supple of tyres and through the corners this was noticeable. Both for comfort and cornering performance, an upgraded tyre would be a welcome change at a not particularly high cost.

The brakes also performed well, though as I mentioned above, they don't have comparable modulation to full hydraulic setups, the extra power over cable disc brakes is noticeable. My best advice for anyone purchasing this bike though is to keep on top of cable maintenance as when the cables become old and corroded, braking performance can be greatly reduced.

Triban 520 road bike

Better than rim brakes, the cable-actuated brakes performed well albeit not as good as full hydraulic disc brakes.

(Image credit: Future)

On longer rides, I did notice that the frame is also a little harsher than other alloy road bikes on the market. Dropped seatstays certainly helped, but there was a distinct road buzz that more supple frames such as the Cannondale Optimo managed to mitigate. Saying this though, the aforementioned tyre change is certainly something that could go a long way to helping improve comfort.

Another major difference between the Triban RC520 and the upmarket competition is the lack of internal cable routing, but this is a double-edged sword. The bike's aesthetics are certainly busier than the classic clean look of internal cable routing, but for anyone wanting to save money at the bike shop, this is a plus. Internal cable routing is more expensive to service, oftentimes by as much as 50% — definitely something to consider when comparing similar bikes on the market.

Triban RC520 : Value and conclusion

The real question then: do all spec bumps on the new Triban RC520 really make this a good value bike when the ride quality is concerned too?

I think yes, absolutely. No, this bike isn't quite as refined as the new Specialized Allez, netiher is it as lightweight, but the Triban undercuts both these bikes by as much as £300 for an equivalent spec. Furthermore, this bike won't by any means hold you back when getting into riding. It is plenty efficient enough and the 11-speed gearing allows for a whole range of riding.

Couple all this with the bikes tyre clearance and mounting point versatility and the Triban RC520 should be of serious consideration for those in the market for a new road bike.

Triban RC520 : Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Weight10.5kg (M)
FrameNew Triban Evo frame in 6061 T6 aluminium, comfort-oriented geometry with adapted sloping Weight: 1780 g in size M.Strong, versatile frame: can be fitted with a mudguard and pannier rack Compatible with tyres up to 700x36 or 650x40
ForkTriban Evo fork with carbon blades and aluminium 1"1/8 Aheadset steerer tube. This fork combines comfort, low weight (680g), and precision. The carbon has been machined to provide good lateral rigidity and good filtering of frontal vibrations. Inserts on blades for mounting a front pannier rack. Maximum load on the fork: 9kg
WheelsetTriban Tubeless ready* wheels 6063T6 aluminium
DrivetrainShimano 105 R7000 shifters Shimano 105 R7000 front derailleur Shimano 105 R7000 rear derailleur with 11 speeds and long screed
BrakesTRP HY/RD disc brakes. Cable-operated hydraulic pistons
SaddleTriban ErgoFit saddle
HandlebarErgonomic aluminium Triban handlebars
StemAluminium Triban seat post 27.2mm

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