Sports megastore Decathlon has earned a solid reputation for delivering great value budget bikes, but there is more to the firm’s offering than that. As well as the super-popular Triban models, the Van Rysel range caters for those looking for superior performance.
We've reviewed and ridden loads of Decathlon road bikes over the years. Here's our pick of the best 10.
As the Decathlon chain has grown in the UK over the last few years their bikes have become a very common sight on our roads. That they're usually excellent value for money hasn't hurt.
Decathlon road bikes range in price from £300 for the Triban RC100, up to £5,000 for the top-of-the range Van Rysel EDR 940 CF.
Decathlon usually (but not always) 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:
Look out for bargains marked 'Second Life' on the Decathlon website — these are returned bikes that can't be sold as new, at big discounts
There are seven models in this range, billed as super-comfortable road bikes for commuting, day rides and light touring. The more recent models feature an entirely new frame in 6061 aluminium and fork with carbon fibre blades. We took a closer look here.
The entry-level model in Decathlon’s road bikes range, the RC100 is built around a 6061 aluminium frame with a geometry that’s designed for comfort. The top tube is shorter than that of a traditional road bike and the head tube is longer so the ride position is a little more relaxed, putting less strain on your back and neck. A sloping top tube reduces the standover height.
The fork is high tensile steel rather than lighter weight aluminium or carbon, although you have to expect that on a bike of this price.
The RC100 comes with a single chainring and a 7-speed Shimano cassette. You don’t get the range of gears that you do with the more expensive models in the Triban range but the Shimano A050 rocker shifter mounted next to the stem provides easy, reliable changes.
The B'Twin 700 wheels are fitted with 32mm-wide tyres that are designed to provide plenty of comfort both on road and on smoother paths, and you get eyelets for fitting mudguards and a rear rack which could come in handy if you want to use the bike for commuting.
For the same price there's also a woman's version, dubbed the Women's Starter Road Bike, with a woman's saddle, shorter stem on the smallest size and extra brake levers on the tops of the handlebar.
Buy if: You’re looking for a no-frills entry-level road bike.
This is the base model Triban RC (it stands for 'road cycling' but as far as we can tell it's really only there to differentiate the new Tribans from the old B'Twin Tribans with similar model numbers). You don't get disc brakes at this level, but you do get eight-speed MicroShift gears with a very low bottom gear from the combination of an 11-34 cassette and 50/34 chainset. That'll make it straightforward to tackle just about any climb you'll find in the UK.
Like the other Triban RC bikes it has mounts for a rack and mudguards so you can easily set it up for commuting or touring.
Buy if: You want a budget all-rounder for commuting, fitness riding and weekend touring.
This is the cheapest of Decathlon's road bikes with disc brakes, and one of the cheapest disc-brake road bikes around. As well as the improved brakes, it gets better wheels than the rim-braked RC120. They're tubeless-ready, so you can run them with compatible tyres and sealant for a better ride and fewer punctures.
Tester Matt writes: "With almost faultless ride manners, a perfectly practical spec and the extra incentive of that enhanced stopping power, the RC120 Disc has more potential as a high-mileage road machine than its price might suggest.
"Hopping aboard the Triban RC120 Disc was like reconnecting with an old friend. That's great news for the new or lapsed road cyclists who this entry-level bike is aimed at. Handling is absolutely secure with very little upsetting the Triban's progress. It's comfortable too, both in terms of position and in its ability to filter out the worst of your route's road surfaces.
"For relatively inexperienced riders, it's a very safe welcome to the world of fast drop-bar bikes. With rack mounts front and back, it could also be a high-speed commuter. And for more experienced hands, with that potential to go tubeless, it could make for a surprisingly effective aluminium winter training bike too.
"It also unquestionably upholds its forebears' honour as an entry-level option that offers a real road-bike ride experience. If you prefer long-ride comfort, stability and efficiency to occasional short blasts, it would be hard to better the Triban RC120 Disc at this price."
Buy if: You want a budget all-rounder with the all-weather stopping power of disc brakes.
A new model in the Triban range, the RC 120 Gravel has an intriguing mix of features that make it suitable for just about any kind of cycling other than racing, as well as its stated job of exploring dirt tracks and back lanes.
The key spec here is the combination of a single, 38-tooth chainring with an 11-42 ten-speed cassette. That gives a wide gear range and, most importantly, some very low gears for winching yourself up hills.
The frame is based on the aluminium frame Decathlon launched with the RC520, though the firm says it's been adjusted for clearance for the Hutchinson 38mm tyres it sports.
Buy if: You fancy playing in the dirt and don't want to spend a fortune
The RC 500 is one of the best value for money bikes around, because unlike other budget road bikes it comes with Shimano's 9-speed Sora groupset. Other significant features include tubeless-ready wheels and Decathlon's own Resist+ 28mm tyres.
Decathlon clearly played a blinder with this bike. The first batch to arrive in the UK was supposed to keep Decathlon shops stocked for six months. It sold out in three months.
Tester John writes: "The remarkable Triban RC 500 is better than any £650 bike has any right to be. Unless you have serious go-faster ambitions, it's hard to see why you'd buy any other drop-handlebar bike in its price range.
"For all practical purposes the ride of the Triban RC500 and RC520 is indistinguishable. Like its big brother, the Triban RC 500 bowls merrily along when you feed it even relatively modest effort. There's a pleasant, floaty feeling to both bikes. They demand very little in the way of concentration even at significant downhill speeds, and they cruise uphill with aplomb.
"The upright riding position inspires a generally unhurried attitude; this is very much a bike for sitting up and admiring the scenery. The position on the drops is deep enough to be useful for fighting a headwind or getting down to bomb a descent, but it's by no means a Mark Cavendish flat-back super-tuck, even with the stem slammed. I usually like a stretched, go-fast position, but I enjoyed the upright stance of the Triban RCs. It forces you to relax and smell the spring flowers, and we could all do with a bit of that."
Buy if: You want a great-value pothole-basher with the stopping assurance of disc brakes
Built around the same frame as the RC 500, the RC 520 gives you most of a Shimano 105 R7000 groupset for your extra £200, and TRP HY/RD disc brake calipers. These have a hydraulic stage to do the tricky bit of turning the braking force though 90° and are significantly more powerful and easier to modulate than cable-only disc brakes.
The Triban RC 520 also has upgraded, lighter wheels compared to the Triban RC 500 and shares that bike's puncture-resistant rubber.
Tester Ashley writes: "With a super-tall head tube and compact top tube, the bike sits you upright relative to your general entry-level race bike, or even a fair chunk of the endurance-specific market too. It fully justifies its do-it-all tag – aside from the budding racers, who will be better off opting for an equivalently priced Specialized Allez or similar, even with the downgrade of kit that comes with it.
"What surprises most about the Triban 520 is just how accessible the ride is; how easy it is to pedal the bike at moderate speeds and feel like you're just cruising along. It was a consistent characteristic whether I was using the bike for a 5km commute down one of Bath's hills to the road.cc offices, an ascent back home, or a 40km spin around the country – in each situation, it's a supremely easy bike to get on with.
"It leaves potential competitors from mainstream brands in the dust in terms of value for money, while packing in plenty of multi-use ability, and those are just two of the main reasons why you should consider it if it matches your budget."
Buy if: You want perhaps the best-value all-rounder on the market.
Is the combination of smaller wheels and bigger air cushion found in a bike with 650B wheels the way to go for gravel riding? Here's a relatively inexpensive way to find out for yourself. The Triban GRVL 520 is built around Decathlon's Triban EvoG frame in 6061 aluminium, with tubeless-ready wheels and tyres. To keep things simple, you get a single chainring and a wide-range 11-speed cassette.
Buy if: You want a modern gravel bike at a reasonable price
There are four women-specific bikes in the Triban range, .
This bike is essentially the women's version of the men's Triban RC100, with details tweaked to accommodate a female anatomy. There's a woman's saddle, shorter stem and narrow bars, plus extra levers on the tops of the handlebar for braking from an upright position. Its name's not exactly imaginative, but it's excellent value for money
Buy if: You’re a woman (or a small man) looking for a no-frills entry-level road bike.
With a similar frame to the men's RC120, and Shimano's excellent nine-speed Sora components, this might just be the best-value women's bike available. Like the beginner bike, above, it has a woman's saddle, shorter stem and narrow bars, and the reach-adjustable brake levers provide easier stopping for a woman's smaller hands.
Buy if: You're a woman or a small man wanting a great-value bike for commuting or weekend riding
The women's equivalent of the men's RC 120 Gravel has a narrower handlebar, shorter stem, brake levers closer to the handlebar, and a women-specific saddle.
Buy if: You're a woman wanting a budget entry to dirt road and trail riding
Built around the same Triban Evo frame as the men's RC520, the women's version has a narrower handlebar, shorter stem and shorter cranks for any given size, plus a woman's saddle.
Tester Emma writes: "The Triban RC 520 Women's Disc road bike is incredibly versatile, offers a comfortable ride on our increasingly rough roads and is quite simply serious value for money. If you're looking for a bike that can handle the daily commute as well as take on some gravel trails and a bit of touring, the Triban is well worth considering. Just be aware that there are limitations with its geometry; it's not a racing machine.
"I must confess I wasn't screaming with excitement at the prospect of riding the 10.5kg Triban. When I got it out on the road, though, I was genuinely surprised. It rolls along really well once up to speed, and getting it there isn't as arduous as you might expect, with gearing to help on the hills. The 28mm tyres help hugely with the comfort of the ride. I ran them at 70psi and found them to be pretty forgiving on the rough lanes and potholed roads around the Cotswolds.
"The Triban RC 520 is well specced, versatile and affordable. Whether you are commuting, road riding, touring or hitting the towpaths or gravel tracks, the Triban is up to it all. You'll love the ride, and so will your wallet."
Buy if: you're a woman and want one of the best-value endurance, touring and general-purpose bikes around.
Van Rysel — the name means 'from Lille' after the location of Decathlon's global headquarters — is Decathlon's performance range. There are two main ranges: the AF series are aluminium framed bikes with carbon forks while the CF bikes have carbon fibre frames.
Both carbon fibre and aluminium bikes split further into endurance and racing orientated families, dubbed EDR for endurance bikes and RCR or Ultra for race bikes.
For the fairly modest prices, the CF bikes have a surprisingly nice frame. Decathlon's Ultra Evo Dynamic carbon fibre frame, which Decathlon claims weighs just 850g in a size Medium, and the fork 320g, builds into stiff, light performance bikes with internal cabling. Those frame and fork weights are impressive for bikes in this price range.
The most eye-catching part of the carbon-fibre frame is the large and angular down tube. The head tube is tapered, the bottom bracket is Press Fit 86, and the carbon seatpost is held in place by an integrated wedge-style clamp.
The carbon fibre EDR frame is relatively new and features dropped seatstays and a disc brake option on some models. It weighs a claimed 890g in a size M and features a shorter reach and higher handlebar position than the Ultra CF frame.
Decathlon bills this model in its Van Rysel range of sporty bikes as an endurance bike, with a newly-designed aluminium frame, and a full Shimano 105 groupset including the brakes and chainset, components that are often swapped out for cheaper models.
It rolls on Fulcrum Racing 6 wheels shod with Michelin's highly-regarded Lithion training tyres, and overall looks like a good deal.
Buy if: You want a great-value bike for sportives, training and long days out
For the more expensive of the brace of new aluminium-framed Van Rysel bikes, Decathlon has taken the unusual step of using a full Ultegra groupset, a spec most manufacturers reserve for their carbon fibre bikes these days.
Along with Fulcrum Racing 4 wheels and Hutchinson HDF>5.2 tyres, this should be a fine machine for eating the miles.
Buy if: You want the value and performance of Shimano's Ultegra groupset at a very sensible price
When we first rode Decathlon's carbon fibre platform we described it as “a performance-orientated road bike that really impresses in combining frame rigidity with a comfortable ride”.
The design has changed a little since then but the Ultra CF is still focused on fast road riding: racing, if that’s your thing, sportives maybe, or just ragging it around the roads with your mates. The geometry is race-orientated – head-down and stretched rather than sit-up-and-beg, which is entirely appropriate for a bike like this.
Rather than the Shimano Ultegra-based spec of the Ultra CF Ultegra, the Ultra CF Potenza is decked out in Potenza components, Campagnolo's answer to Shimano Ultegra.
The wheels are from the Campagnolo lineup too: Zondas with aluminium rims. You’re getting excellent value here.
Buy if: You want a stiff and light performance-orientated bike with a great spec for the cash.
There are three disc-equipped bikes in the EDR CF range, the first time Decathlon has offered carbon fibre road bikes with discs. This is the cheapest, with a full Shimano 105 groupset.
It may be part of Decathjlon's endurance range, but don't go thinking that it has some kind of relaxed, upright, soft riding style about it. This bike still focuses on performance, and thanks to some well-sorted geometry you end up with a machine that can be ridden hard and fast regardless of your skill level.
Tester Stu writes: "The Van Rysel designers have taken the EDR as close as they can to a full-on race bike without letting it cross over into becoming too extreme or a handful from a steering point of view. The handling is quick but not over the top, so when I'm barrelling downhill in the drops, the Van Rysel never feels out of control, or like it is dictating you through the bends when the road surface or camber isn't perfect.
"The stiff frame and fork provide plenty of feedback without road vibration or harshness muting the signals, which I found gave me plenty of confidence to push on and find the EDR's handling limits."
Buy if: You want bike for long rides with the reassurance of hydraulic disc brakes
High-spec bikes with rim brakes are getting rarer, but Decathlon clearly believes there's still a market for them with this version of the EDR.
Buy if: You're a fan of rim brakes
Just another couple of hundred quid gets you Ultegra disc brakes. The EDR CF Ultegra Disc rolls on Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels with Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance tyres.
Buy if: You want a high-spec bike for big rides
The top-end Van Rysel Ultra CF comes in two variants: this one, with Shimano's electronic Ultegra Di2 gear shifting, and the mechanical Dura-Ace version, below. Aside from the groupset they're identical, with Mavic's Pro Carbon SL UST wheels and tyres and Yksion Pro tyres, and a Deda carbon handlebar on both bikes. A recent price drop means this is now one of the best value Di2-equipped bikes, especially when you take into account the carbon fibre wheels and handlebar.
Buy if: You want a great package with whirr-clicky electronic gear shifting
The first carbon fibre bike in Decathlon's Van Rysel EDR endurance line looks like a winner, with a claimed 890g frame (size M) and a tasty suite of carbon fibre components alongside the Dura-Ace components. Rather than following the disc-brake herd, Decathlon has equipped the Van Rysel EDR 940 CF with direct-mount rim brakes, which not only saves a little weight but also swerves the price premium of hydraulic stoppers. The upshot is that with a carbon fibre saddle, seat post and handlebar, plus Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon wheels the Van Rysel EDR 940 CF is excellent value for money and weighs a claimed 6.6kg without pedals. It's gone up a bit since launch on the UK Decathlon site; but as one owner points out in the reviews, it's still quite a bit cheaper on the French Decathlon website... and the difference is greater than a return train ticket to France, if you catch our drift!
Buy if: You want a good-value high-end package for long days out
Decathlon offers a brace of off-road-capable carbon bikes in the Van Rysel EDR CF and RCX CF. Decathlon is claiming a 1,020g frame and 340g fork in a size M for the new platform, which is respectably light.
The EDR designation suggests this bike sits at the top of the recently-launched Van Rysel endurance series, and that's how it's set up, with Shimano GRX 600 and 800 components in a 1 x 11 configuration.
It's shod with Hutchinson Black Mamba tubeless-ready tyres on 21.6mm tubeless-ready wheels so it looks all ready for hitting the trails and back roads.
Its gearing and 33mm tyres indicate that Decathlon has cyclocross racing in mind for the Van Rysel RCX CF and that's confirmed by the description: "Van Rysel has designed this carbon cyclo x bike for budding racers. … All you're missing is your race number."
It'll take 38mm tyres for versatility and you could swap out the 11-32 cassette for an 11-42 to get wider gears for riding away from the race course.
Like the Ultra AF Women's, the carbon fibre version gets women-specific contact points — saddle, stem and handlebar — on its Ultra Evo Dynamic frame. It's available in three sizes, XXS, XS and S.
Buy if: You're a woman who wants a go-faster carbon fibre bargain
For this women's carbon fibre endurance bike, Decathlon equips the EDR frame with a full Shimano 105 groupset including hydraulic disc brakes, and female-friendly contact points: a VanRysel Ergofit women's saddle and narrower bars and shorter stem than the equivalent-size men's bikes.
Buy if: You're a woman looking to clock up some big miles
Finally, here's a bike that sits outside the Van Rysel and Triban ranges, but definitely deserves a place in any overview of Decathlon's drop-handlebar offerings. The Riverside RT 920 is a gravel-inclined touring bike with masses of mounting points for luggage and racks of all kinds, and 1X gearing that's pitched low with a 32-tooth chainring driving an 11-42 cassette.
Buy if: You want a thoroughly modern touring bike
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John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.