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I'm looking for my first road bike after spending the last 4 or 5 years swearing frequently at a Carrera Subway hybrid from Halfords.  I'm mainly a runner and have been using the Carrera as infequent cross-training or more frequently when injured.  As I now seem to have long term achilles issues in both feet I'm looking to get a decent road bike as it may be several months before I can even attempt to run again.   After then I'm hoping to split my efforts more 50/50 between running and cycling to try to reduce the injury scenarios...

So, that's the background.  The two bikes I always seem to keep coming back to as options to buy are the BTwin Triban 540 (well reviewed and bike of the year under £1000 etc etc) at £650 or the more expensive BTwin Ultra 900AF at £799.  The 900AF has full Shimano 105 as opposed to partial on the 540 but I'm wondering whether people thing the Ultra 900AF is worth the extra £150 ?

On chatting to a guy at Decathlon the other day he said that the Ultra was a bit more race geometry than the 540 but I shouln't have a problem with either.  I honestly don't know if I would or not. As this is a bike I'm looking to keep for a good few years I'm just not sure if one is better than the other or they are both so close as to just picking one.

Thoughts would be welcome.  I really can't find a lot online about the Ultra 900AF although the frame is the same as a few other of the Ultra models that seem to get decent reviews.

I'm not looking to do any competitive cycling.  It'll either be solo rides of anything between 1-3 hours top or possibly joining the local cycling club for more social rides.

Thanks!

Andrew

11 comments

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kil0ran [1192 posts] 1 year ago
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Buy the 540 and spend the difference on pedals/shoes/kit. The wheelset is the same so you're paying an extra £150 for a stiffer frame with internal routing, and some extra bits of 105.

Not sure the 900 is that great value (they've got a carbon bike cheaper than that in the range). The frame is the same as the other AFs (starting with the green and black 700AF) and is well regarded. Not a fan of the chainstay rear brake though, not for British roads.

Are you likely to do your own maintenance? 540 is easier to work on than the 900 as cables are external. 540 is more versatile as it will take mudguards and from memory some decently wide tyres.

On bikes of this level/price range the thing that makes the biggest difference to performance is the wheelset and as its the same on both bikes I'd go with the cheaper one, particularly as you say you won't be racing.

 

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astilla [2 posts] 1 year ago
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Thanks Killran, very helpful. I wasn't sure if the 900 could take mudguards or not so that may be an issue if I ever wanted to join a club. I'm doubtful to do my own maintenance immediately, but maybe one day. Neither model are in stock in a medium right now anyway but it looks like I may swing back towards the 540 after quite fancying the 900.

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kieren_lon [45 posts] 1 year ago
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I'm a runner and I was out for 2 months with achillies problems due to cycling.  I would be extemely careful if you are injured and looking to cycling as a way to exercise through that.

My particular problem was right where the achillies connects to the heel.  My saddle was about 1cm too high which meant my foot was plantarflexed for most of the pedal stroke.  Your achillies is strongest under tension (tendon / tension - get it?).   When compressed you get wobble and, like running, are exposed to classic overuse injury.   The thing is, it's the kind of injury that build and builds over weeks and you don't notice it until it pops doing something mundane like getting out of the bath.   I strongly advise you see a physio and see what they have to say and if cycling is OK, get fitted by someone with some experience.

As for the bike,  I was about to buy the 900 AF.  I think it is great value and will take 28mm tyres.  The 540 is a more relaxed ride and can take wider tyres and mudguards.   Btwin also have an £800 carbon triban (560?) that seems good.  Decathlon should let you test ride the bikes assuming you live close to a store?

I had decided on the 900 as the frame is a bit better and I am used to the geometry.  In the end, I picked up a reduced canondale CAAD12 for £999.  I don't cycle race but might in the future.  Being a runner, I do like to put the hammer down a bit now and again and find (for better or worse) I can push harder on the bike.

Apart from the brand name snobs, I got the impresssion that decathlon bikes are well regarded for value.   I think get the 900.   If you've been running in the past, I'm not sure I belive that you wont be competitive on the bike, so that might a better fit  3

August is bicyce sale season so keep your eyes peeled for other brands.  You are shopping at the best time of year

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mtbtomo [274 posts] 1 year ago
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If you're going to race then I'd go for the AF, for normal club riding the 540 due to normal seat stay rear brake and mudguard mounts

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astilla [2 posts] 1 year ago
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kieren_lon wrote:

;I strongly advise you see a physio and see what they have to say and if cycling is OK, get fitted by someone with some experience.<

Thanks for the really helpful post. I've been seeing a physio for about 10 weeks and she happens to be a triathlete also. She's advised me to cycle and so far so good on that front. I'm not doing anything crazy though. Just trying to get some cardio work in as the elliptical machine at the gym is sapping my soul!

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Roadie_john [85 posts] 1 year ago
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mtbtomo wrote:

If you're going to race then I'd go for the AF, for normal club riding the 540 due to normal seat stay rear brake and mudguard mounts

usual advice is to get the best frame/forks you can afford and compromise on the components as they wear out and can be upgraded as they are replaced...

there is a good argument for a first bike being one you can 'winterise' with mudguards lights and the rest and then getting a better bike for racing next summer if the bug bites this year...

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P3t3 [429 posts] 1 year ago
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The more relaxed geometry for the 540 is probably a better idea from an injuries point of view and its a much more versatile machine.   

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TypeVertigo [428 posts] 1 year ago
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The usual omissions from a full groupset are the crank and brakes.

If you're going with rim brake calipers, they're a very cheap item to upgrade.

For cranks...I've used Shimano's non-series cranks (the older FC-R565 and more current FC-RS500) and they're basically 105-level cranks with some more weight, due to the hollow manufacturing methods not being used. As long as you're happy with the gearing (these cranks usually come in 50/34T and 46/36T flavors), they're dependable workhorses that shouldn't let you down.

Needless to say, I'd pick the Triban 540. Good luck

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kil0ran [1192 posts] 1 year ago
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TypeVertigo wrote:

The usual omissions from a full groupset are the crank and brakes.

If you're going with rim brake calipers, they're a very cheap item to upgrade.

For cranks...I've used Shimano's non-series cranks (the older FC-R565 and more current FC-RS500) and they're basically 105-level cranks with some more weight, due to the hollow manufacturing methods not being used. As long as you're happy with the gearing (these cranks usually come in 50/34T and 46/36T flavors), they're dependable workhorses that shouldn't let you down.

Needless to say, I'd pick the Triban 540. Good luck

Agree re the non-series kit, I've got an a RS500 chainset on my CX bike. Personally prefer the looks to the 105 version.

The 105 brakes are the absolute best in terms of price/performance and a very cheap and easy upgrade to fit. If you don't want to change the calipers immediately at least go for some better pads. The Ultegra and Dura-Ace versions are basically same performance with added lightness/cost.

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mikepridmorewood [50 posts] 1 year ago
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Go with the 540. You'll end up getting a lighter/faster/carbon bike next summer and the 540 will be a better winter bike thereafter! 

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Craigus Farticus [21 posts] 6 months ago
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I test rode both of these models today. They felt worlds apart. The Triban felt so much more heavy and rigid and the slight difference in geometry made a big difference for my riding style. The lighter 900 was very quick off of the mark and felt very agile. I would probably change the cassette a few months in as the standard set up is more mountain bike than racing bike. Can't go wrong with Mavic wheels either! Personally I'm definately going for the 900 on the Bike To Work scheme.  1