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