Sports megastore Decathlon has earned a solid reputation for delivering great value budget bikes under the B’Twin brand name – we named the Triban 500 SE our Budget Bike of the Year for 2014/15 . But there is more to the firm’s offering than that. As well as other versions of the Triban, the various setups of the B’Twin Mach and Ultra also cater for those looking for superior performance.
At the time of writing, Decathlon road bike prices range from £280 for the standard Triban 500 (or even £260 for the flat handlebar version), up to £2,500 for the top-of-the range Ultra 740.
Seemingly overlapping price ranges for different-named bikes can make life confusing, particularly when you throw in the occasional whopping great discount for an end-of-the-line model. Fortunately, Decathlon generally abides by the time-honoured naming convention of ‘bigger number, better bike,’ so this can give you a general idea of the hierarchy.
In simple terms:
- The Triban is the entry-level model and Decathlon’s best-selling bike by a country mile
- An aluminium version of the Ultra has replaced the Alur a notch above that
- The Mach is built to be stiff and efficient for big powerful types bashing out the miles in spring classics type conditions
- The Ultra is the Grand Tour all-rounder or Ardennes classics specialist – designed to be smooth, light and responsive
The Triban range comprises the 500, 500 SE, 520 and 540 – all of which are also available with flat handlebars.
The entry level bike boasts an aluminium frame, a triple chainset and eight-speed MicroShift gears, which are said by Decathlon to have proven more reliable than Shimano’s similarly-priced entry-level options. It retains a reasonably racy geometry, but has full rack and mudguard mounts. It's usually £280, but as of November 2016 it's on sale, though not all sizes are available.
A special edition for the UK. As above, but with a carbon fork.
Still a triple but with Shimano Sora gears instead of MicroShift, which means nine-speed instead of eight. We've tested the Sora groupset and found it to be an excellent performer. Unlike the 500, both the 520 and 540 will also accommodate 28mm tyres with mudguards, or 32mm without.
Recently updated, the 540 boasts 11-speed Shimano 105 with a compact double chainset. This version also features Mavic Aksium wheels.
B’Twin Ultra AF
Not to be confused with the top of the range carbon-fibre Ultra, the Ultra AF is an aluminium framed bike with a carbon fork which has replaced the Alur.
Featuring Shimano's 11-speed 105 groupset, the Ultra 700 AF features full internal cable routing in a UCI-approved racing frame. The bike as a whole weighs in at 8.9kg. Interestingly, it also has the rear brake positioned under the chainstay.
This version of the bike is upgraded to feature an 11-speed Shimano Ultegra 6800 compact drivetrain and Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels
The Mach bikes have a UCI approved carbon-fibre frame that has been developed with, and is raced by, B’Twin’s under-19 racing team. It has its own look and when we had the 720 here at road.cc, we described it as the most angular looking frame we’ve had in for test. Like the Ultra, it features internal cable routing. Unlike the Ultra, it has conventionally-positioned brakes.
The main drawback with a carbon fibre bike at this price is the downgraded components compared to an aluminium bike, to account for the higher cost tied up in the frame. An aluminium bike still looks to offer the best value at this price, but it’s impressive that B’Twin manages to offer such a well-equipped carbon bike for a grand. The Mach 720 features Shimano’s 11-speed 105 groupset with B'Twin wheels. The bike weighs 8.3kg, according to Decathlon.
Usually £1,000, the Mach 720 is currently on special, in limited sizes.
B’Twin Ultra CF
The Ultra is a carbon-fibre road bike which is available with both mechanical and electronic gears. It is a stiff, light performance bike with internal cabling and the rear brake positioned behind the bottom bracket for improved aerodynamics. Decathlon claims the B'Twin Ultra Evo Dynamic carbon fibre frame weighs just 850g in a size Medium, and the fork 320g. Those are impressive numbers for the frame of bikes in this price range.
The 700 CF has a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset hung on its carbon fibre frame, with Mavic Aksium wheels. Decathlon claims a 7.8kg weight without pedals, which aren't included.
The 920 has a Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset and Mavic Ksyrium Elite S wheels with Mavic tyres. The frame's the same lightweight unit as the other Ultra CF bikes, which keeps the weihght down to a claimed 7.2kg without pedals.
There are quite a few carbon fibre framed bikes with Shimano Ultegra Di2 available for about this price, but this is the only one we're aware of that comes with full carbon fibre wheels, in this case Mavic's Cosmic C40 Elites which typically retail for over £1,000.