Everything's so expensive these days. Wait! Luckily, not everything: here's a fully fledged road bike with a decent groupset and a carbon fork for £450. The B'Twin Triban 520, available exclusively at Decathlon.
The Triban range has been around a good few years and the bikes, in various guises, have always been excellent value. They've not always been as versatile as they might have been, but that all changes here: the Triban 520 gets full rack and mudguard mounts and clearance for bigger tyres, while retaining a reasonably racy geometry. So it's a proper year-rounder.
The frame is 6061 Aluminium alloy with a big box-section down tube, a squared off top tube and fairly deep chain stays that promise to keep everything nice and rigid when you're putting the power down. The welds are chunky but clean, and the bike is finished in a smart matt black and red livery. You get a lifetime warranty on the frame, so it's built to last. It's certainly not the lightest at a claimed 1.9kg for the 57cm frame; overall our bike tipped the scales at 10.04kg which is about what you'd expect for the money.
The carbon-bladed fork not only has mudguard eyelets but a low-rider mounting point too. That, and the fact that there are double eyelets at the rear dropout, means you can set the Triban up in full touring mode if you so choose. There's easily room for a 28mm tyre and given the right mudguard setup you'd probably squeeze them in too under the non-series Shimano long-drop brakes.
The shift/brake levers, chainset and derailleurs are all Shimano Sora. Sora is now 9-speed and functionally the same as the last incarnation of Tiagra, with proper STI levers where the downshift is a paddle behind the brake lever rather than a button on the inside of the hood. We've tested the Sora groupset and found it to be an excellent performer. The Triban 520 comes with a triple chainset. The 12-25 Sunrace cassette gives it a similar range to a compact and 11-28 but with closer ratio gears and the option of fitting a wider cassette for dealing with hills or loaded touring, or both.
The frame is quite compact with a significant slope on the top tube, which means that our XL frame (58cm effective top tube) is only 53cm at the seat tube. That means you'll run more seatpost, which should help with comfort at the rear. The Triban is fairly tall at the front, and the extra clearance makes it a bit longer and higher than a race bike, but overall the position is certainly sportive rather than touring.
B'Twin supply the wheels, which are a fairly standard 32-spoke pair with box section rims (with an incongruous 'aero' sticker on) and standard hubs. Tyres are 25mm Hutchinson Equinox, and we were pleased to see that they're a folding bead rather than a heavier wire bead. B'Twin also supply the finishing kit: alloy seatpost, bar and stem, a decent looking saddle and some two-tone bar tape. You even get some Look Kéo-compatible pedals and cleats so you're good to go straight out of the box. Assuming you have the requisite shoes.
All in all there's very little in the way of compromise to get down to the £450 price tag: it's all decent equipment and the bike looks well put together. We'll subject it to a range of riding over the next few weeks and let you know how it fares.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.