Just in: B'Twin Triban 500 SE

Decathlon's £379.99 alloy road bike looks to offer excellent value

by Steve Worland   March 14, 2014  

On paper this B'Twin Triban 500 SE - which launches in April - looks to be one of the best value entry-level road bikes we have ever had in for test, costing as it does £379.99 It's light, it certainly looks the part and it gets a carbon fork and a 3x8 drivetrain. We'll be putting it through its paces over the next few weeks to see how well it rides.

Decathlon's instore brand B'Twin wins fans with more than just prices. The French superstore's B'Twin bikes appear to be thoughtfully designed, well specced and very easily mistaken for something that would cost an awful lot more money.

The Triban 500 comes in two guises... this SE (Special Edition) UK-exclusive version with a  3x8 Microshift drivetrain and a 'standard' £429.99 500 which gets a 3x9 Shimano Sora drivetrain. We doubt you'll find a cheaper Shimano Sora equipped bike anywhere. But the Triban bike family is about more than drivetrains. The SE weighs 22.4lb (10.08kg), there are no obvious shortcuts in the finishing parts and a first brief ride suggests that it rides more like a race-bred bike than a bike aimed purely at beginners. There are other bikes in the range designed for those looking for a more casual ride posture.

OK, at £370 you're obviously not going to score a bike that can be seriously competitive and durable enough for an amateur racing career. But the 500 SE comes closer than most. The triple (30/39/50) Prowheel Ounce crankset and close ratio 8-speed cassette gives a range of gears that will suit average sportif riders, pannier tourists, commuters and weekend warriors alike and the B'Twin own brand brakes, with metal shoes and separate pads, appear to be far better than average on bikes at this price.

Our experiences with Microshift gear shifters and mechs have generally been good, although it takes a couple of rides to get used to the twin auxiliary levers outward to inward shifting. The combined brake and shift levers are very comfy on the hoods.

The wheels are far better than average for a bike at this price. Eyeletted rims with a wear line are strongly laced, with 32 spokes, to B'Twin's house brand hubs and the tyres are Hutchinson's Equinox 23mm slicks... again a welcome choice on such a cheap bike. The remainder of the componentry... a compact short drop handlebar, stem, seat post and saddle... are simple black coated affairs but again better than average, and there's lots of bar height adjustment potential via a 40mm washer stack and the either way up stem.

The 6061 T6 heat treated aluminium frame tubes appear to be shaped in all the right ways to achieve an ideal blend of stiffness and vibration absorption and there's enough room for slightly bigger tyres and mudguards. There's one set of threaded eyelets on the rear dropouts and the fork, plus rack eyelets on the seat stays and two sets of bottle cage bosses.

The fork is a straight blade carbon offering with an alu steerer and dropouts, again surprising at the price. We measured the geometry as 71.5 degrees at the head and 73.5 degrees at the seat, and our 57cm test bike has a 57cm hrizontal top tube reach and a 52cm seat tube (BB centre to top).

Full test in a few weeks when we've put some decent distance into it. More at www.decathlon.co.uk

20 user comments

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Nice!

What is that thing under the stem, bottom of the stack of spacers, just above the headset? The thing which looks like a seat post clamp?

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [580 posts]
14th March 2014 - 13:53

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I have a T5 (Sora) which has the same clamp on the stem.
As far as I can see it essentially does the same thing as a well fitted stem (and as such is surplus to requirements). Probably a belt and braces approach.
Got to also say I love the T5. Great bike and it's fantastic value.

posted by davegreen70 [19 posts]
14th March 2014 - 14:05

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Give that chainset and gears a good hammering, then look forward to the report!

KEVIN

posted by kairey1964 [11 posts]
14th March 2014 - 14:05

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The headset clamp is brilliant, makes switching out stems a faster job, but also works well if your puting the bike in a small car, just take the bars of the fork and dont worry about it all falling apart.

I....if I havent said it 1000 times... think BTWIN are realy putting out some decent bikes for the price, but the frames are brilliant, even after the groupset falls apart you have a decent frame for a sexy 105 groupo.

I did about 3000 miles on my T3 before I changed the drive train, and that want out of necessity, its now on an old bommer and going fairly strong for what it is

posted by jason.timothy.jones [290 posts]
14th March 2014 - 14:12

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davegreen70 wrote:
I have a T5 (Sora) which has the same clamp on the stem.
As far as I can see it essentially does the same thing as a well fitted stem (and as such is surplus to requirements). Probably a belt and braces approach.
Got to also say I love the T5. Great bike and it's fantastic value.

My mate's got last year's T5, which he bought for 400 quid. He's hammered it for 5,000 miles so far; everything still works fine and the wheels are still true.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
14th March 2014 - 14:46

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jason.timothy.jones wrote:
The headset clamp is brilliant, makes switching out stems a faster job, but also works well if your puting the bike in a small car, just take the bars of the fork and dont worry about it all falling apart.

I....if I havent said it 1000 times... think BTWIN are realy putting out some decent bikes for the price, but the frames are brilliant, even after the groupset falls apart you have a decent frame for a sexy 105 groupo.

I did about 3000 miles on my T3 before I changed the drive train, and that want out of necessity, its now on an old bommer and going fairly strong for what it is

I think the frames are extremely basic and harsh. Absolutely still great value for money, but the seatstays are just straight tubes that hammer every lump and bump into your backside.

There is a reason why more expensive bikes are nicer to ride, and this is just one of them. Again, I am not faulting this bike at the price it's offered at, but the frame IS very basic.

posted by MrGear [84 posts]
14th March 2014 - 14:47

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MrGear wrote:
jason.timothy.jones wrote:
The headset clamp is brilliant, makes switching out stems a faster job, but also works well if your puting the bike in a small car, just take the bars of the fork and dont worry about it all falling apart.

I....if I havent said it 1000 times... think BTWIN are realy putting out some decent bikes for the price, but the frames are brilliant, even after the groupset falls apart you have a decent frame for a sexy 105 groupo.

I did about 3000 miles on my T3 before I changed the drive train, and that want out of necessity, its now on an old bommer and going fairly strong for what it is

I think the frames are extremely basic and harsh. Absolutely still great value for money, but the seatstays are just straight tubes that hammer every lump and bump into your backside.

There is a reason why more expensive bikes are nicer to ride, and this is just one of them. Again, I am not faulting this bike at the price it's offered at, but the frame IS very basic.

I'm not too sure about that. The designer will have taken into consideration that this will be the first "proper" bike for many purchasers, many of them will be overweight, with poor bike handling skills, and the frame must accommodate those extra loads. In other words, the one frame design must cope with some quite hefty newbies.

Apart from anything, the "factory gate" price of a top end aluminium frame made in the far East is about ten dollars, so speccing a lower "grade" of frame would save hardy any money at all.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
14th March 2014 - 15:18

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For less than £400 your getting quite a lot of bike, I can see nothing wrong with it. You (road.cc) members are probably not going to look at this bike as their main steed, but now look at it as an all weather commuter, a bike that is not going to break your heart if it gets stolen/under a car. Does it look any different?

As for comfort. Fit a suspension seat post if your that bothered by it. Big Grin

Or are your objections to it are that it is 'budget'? Thinking

posted by levermonkey [340 posts]
14th March 2014 - 16:29

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If something's expensive then something better can always be bought for less, and if it's not expensive then it's never quite going to be good enough.
FACT

posted by fatsimonstan [32 posts]
14th March 2014 - 16:44

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Doesn't it allow you to loosen off the stem so as to turn the handlebars for transport, storage etc, without affecting the headset adjustment?
(PS - as stated above Smile )

posted by youngoldbloke [71 posts]
14th March 2014 - 19:47

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I wish you'd test this in the very small sizes. Decathlon are one of the only companies that offer proportional sizing which includes going to smaller wheels on their smallest frames.

A test of this with 650 wheels, with a petite woman tester for example, would be of real interest.

posted by alexb [42 posts]
14th March 2014 - 20:00

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Neil753 wrote:

Apart from anything, the "factory gate" price of a top end aluminium frame made in the far East is about ten dollars, so speccing a lower "grade" of frame would save hardy any money at all.

Neil, where do you get these 'factory gate' prices you speak of? High-end Al for $10, I'd hire an agent that can get prices like that. That's an even better deal than the carbon bike prices you quoted : )

But all that aside, it has to be said this is a great VFM bike.

posted by james-o [188 posts]
14th March 2014 - 21:42

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james-o wrote:
Neil753 wrote:

Apart from anything, the "factory gate" price of a top end aluminium frame made in the far East is about ten dollars, so speccing a lower "grade" of frame would save hardy any money at all.

Neil, where do you get these 'factory gate' prices you speak of? High-end Al for $10, I'd hire an agent that can get prices like that. That's an even better deal than the carbon bike prices you quoted : )

But all that aside, it has to be said this is a great VFM bike.

I wouldn't take much notice of what he's saying...

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1415 posts]
14th March 2014 - 22:55

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Looks like I just found my new Winter bike.

Das's picture

posted by Das [28 posts]
15th March 2014 - 12:55

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I want one. The 8 speed groupset doesn't bother me in fact I quite like the idea that higher end NOS 8 speed stuff off ebay and out of the clearance bins will work with no major changes. I am sorely tempted to get a 26" wheeled MTB at the minute simply because good quality 26" sus forks and wheels are getting stupidly cheap as people ditch them to "upgrade". One mans trash is another mans treasure.

posted by MKultra [197 posts]
15th March 2014 - 20:31

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Bought the Triban 5 for the Heir-to-the-Throne, in my house, and it is steady and excellent VFM for a teenager new rider. Had I not had a Specialized Secteur as a winter bike, this might have tempted me.
Keep up the good work Decathlon!

Tripod16

posted by Tripod16 [109 posts]
16th March 2014 - 1:06

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Always someone along to point out the 'perceived' flaws.... is there anything better for around £400? Or even £500?

I doubt any other manufacturer offers a substantially better frameset on a £400 bike? So you may as well get one with the best kit on it surely?

posted by mtbtomo [36 posts]
16th March 2014 - 18:28

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£370 for a bike in Sky Pro colours.
Jobs a goodon

posted by gareth2510 [134 posts]
17th March 2014 - 10:38

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The 'straight tube seatstays' don't appear to be that different to the straight tubes Specialized have on the Allez frames, although that is apparently for performance reasons, and that's not an overly harsh frame considering it's apparent design brief. Just wondering whether making a judgement about the design of the frame just by looking at it might appear a little unwarranted. I rode the older model of this last year, not sure if the frame has changed much for this model, but I thought it was a good ride, admittedly it had some different wheels and tyres to standard, but couldn't believe the price of it for how well it rode. It'd be nice if it came in something other than black though.

Former Fat Lad on a Bike

posted by RobD [94 posts]
17th March 2014 - 11:24

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Das wrote:
Looks like I just found my new Winter bike.

you won't be disappointed pal - had the T5 for a winter bike myself, rides superb and turns a few heads and admiring comments from the rest of my clubmate's! Especially when you tell them how much you paid for it Big Grin

posted by Adey [98 posts]
25th March 2014 - 21:12

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