When BTwin released its new range of Triban bikes last year, Dave Arthur commented that the 540 'looks like a great bike on paper'. I'm happy to report that it lives up to expectations – it's a real joy to ride, with an incredible spec at a low price point that had me double-checking BTwin had got it right.
The triple-butted aluminium frame feels fast, comfortable and responsive, without much of the buzzy feeling you sometimes get from aluminium. The carbon fork also effectively absorbs bumps in the road. There's little to complain about, comfort-wise. It has front and rear rack and mudguard mounts, so you can load it up for weekend tours or all-year-round commuting.
The Triban 540 is a pleasure to pilot, whether you're on smooth new tarmac, decaying and rough road surfaces or, to my surprise, over some particularly toothy London cobbles. But this makes sense when you check the seat tube – proudly proclaiming that the bike was designed in Lille and tested on the (relatively close) roads and cobbles of Flanders. It shows.
BTwin hasn't gone down the route of oversizing the bottom bracket junction, keeping with a standard sized press-fit unit, but the frame doesn't seem to lack anything because of it. This equates to a tiny bit of flex in the bottom bracket at full acceleration, but not something you'd notice unless you were trying hard to.
BTwin has oversized the front end, though, using a tapered head tube – 1 1/8in at the top flaring to 1 1/4in at the bottom. It's all about adding stiffness by increasing the cross sectional area; firstly it gives you a larger weld area so you can increase the diameter of the down tube, plus the alloy steerer of the fork is bigger, with all of these tweaks allowing for better steering accuracy and resistance to braking loads.
Thanks to these design features, the bike is stiff enough to react well to bursts of power, while out of the saddle it's easy to get into a rhythm to climb, or accelerate out of a corner. It's so comfortable, and fun, rides felt shorter than they actually were.
The slim seatstays offer some flex, and while steering feels easy and relaxed when you're cruising, it's responsive when you need it to be.
Decathlon's own-brand dual-pivot rim brakes performed well, including for sudden stops – no complaints there. Although the 540 is marketed as '105' (as in the Shimano groupset), BTwin has reduced costs by putting a Tiagra 12-28 cassette and Prowheel Ounce 721 compact 50/34 chainset on the frame; gear changing was easy, if not totally effortless.
The ergo handlebar is essentially a shallow drop bar, the width being specific to each of the five frame sizes within the range. I tested the 52cm, and getting into and holding a variety of riding positions was easy. Importantly, for a person with small hands, the brake levers were easy to reach. The 52cm size is the smallest in the range, which sadly rules it out as an option for smaller riders.
The alloy handlebar, stem and seatpost are all solid choices for the price. The bike is unisex, but Decathlon provided a women-specific saddle for testing – a choice it offers to all customers. It proved comfortable even on long rides, though of course saddle choice is very much a matter of personal preference.
The 24mm-deep Mavic Aksium One wheels, with 20 front and 20 rear spokes, never felt like they were compromising the ride. The 25mm Hutchinson Equinox tyres roll well and offer decent amounts of grip, and are good enough to use until they wear out, as opposed to replacing early. When they do wear out, the frame has enough clearance for 32mm tyres (without mudguards) – which would increase comfort further.
Looks-wise, the 540's muted black and gunmetal greys are offset by BTwin's half-and-half coloured bar tape, in this case, half black, half lumo orange. The matching highlights on the frame are a nice touch. The welds aren't the smoothest, but that's hardly cause for complaint at this price.
Overall, this bike is a great buy for those new to road bikes and those looking to their next cycling challenge. And Decathlon offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, fork, stem and handlebar.
A pleasure to ride whatever the road surface, with an excellent spec for the money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTwin Triban 540
Size tested: 52
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
New Triban frame with carbon forks, Shimano 105 groupset and Mavic Aksium ONE wheels. The frame accepts up to 32mm profile tyres and full mudguards, as well as a front pannier.
New B'Twin Sport sloped frame made of 6061 T6 aluminium headtube for an integrated headset. Short frame geometry.
Weight: 1900 g in size 57.
Strong, versatile frame: mudguard and front and rear pannier racks can be mounted.
B'TWIN Sport fork with carbon blades and Aheadset aluminium 1"1/8 steerer tube.
Inserts on blades for mounting a front pannier rack.
This fork combines strength, low weight, and precision.
Shimano 105 shifters: the market benchmark.Weight: 485 g.
Shimano 105 double front derailleur.
Shimano 105 10-speed rear derailleur.
CRANKSET / CASSETTE
SHIMANO TIAGRA 10-speed 12/28 (12/13/14/15/17/19/21/23/25/28) cassette.
PROWHEEL OUNCE 721 compact, 50 x 34 chainset.
Crank length varies according to size of bike:
XS, S: 170 mm / M: 172.5 mm / L, XL: 175 mm.
B'TWIN long dual-pivot callipers: reliability and power; a mudguard with stays can be fitted.
New, ergonomic B'TWIN SPORT handlebars for better grip and excellent comfort.
Handlebar width end to end: XXXS, XXS: 380 mm / XS, S: 400 mm / M, L: 420 mm / XL, XXL: 440 mm.
New Mavic Aksium ONE wheels
ETRTO Dimension: 622 x 15 C
Height 24 mm for increased lateral rigidity.
Steel spokes (20 front and 20 rear).
Sealed cartridge bearings.
Hutchinson Equinox 700x25 folding bead tyres for higher performance and greater comfort.
SADDLE / SEAT POST
New B'TWIN ERGO FIT saddle.
B'TWIN Sport aluminium seat post.
Diameter: 27.2 mm.
Length: 350 mm.
VP 383 pedals with toe clips.
9.5 kg in size M, without pedals.
ACCESSORIES / EQUIPMENT
Comes with front and rear-lighting kit and bell.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
B'Twin calls this "the ultimate commuter and sportive bike".
It says: "With new ergo bars and saddle and a frame which accepts up to 32mm profile tyres and full mudguards, rider comfort is not forgotten."
It is well suited to commuting and sportives.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Frame is comfortable; welds are a little knobbly-looking but the ride is great.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
6061 aluminium frame, carbon fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
BTwin's Sport sloped frame with short frame geometry.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Fine – no complaints; stack height and reach (the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) were good for the stated size.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, very comfortable. The bike coped well with even very rough road surfaces – the ride still felt smooth.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness and flexibility were well balanced.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Well – there was no feeling of loss of power.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Wheels and tyres
The 24mm deep Mavic Aksium ONE wheels, with 20 front and 20 rear spokes, never felt like they were compromising the ride.
The wheels are high spec for the price.
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?
No need to change the wheels.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
The Hutchinson Equinox tyres rolled well and offered decent amounts of grip; good enough to use until they wear out, no need to replace early.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The BTwin Triban 540 is a great road bike at an incredible price, with components you'd normally find on much pricier models. The ride is comfortable, efficient and responsive; good enough for rough commuting, weekend club runs and sportives. And it's currently reduced to £450.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: I ride: I would class myself as:
I regularly do the following types of riding: