Ever since John took the B'Twin Triban 520 Disc road bike for a first ride in London in early October, we've been keen to see if it could stand up to his first impressions, as well as the great value legacy of previous Triban road bikes we've tested. I can confirm that it really does, although riders used to or wanting a racier geometry should look elsewhere.
- Pros: Awesome value, competent and easygoing handling, practicality
- Cons: Relaxed geometry won't be to all tastes, not hugely responsive
The geometry thing is a really important point here, because it forms the basis of your entire ride experience. It defines the position range that you can attain, as well as having a fair impact on the handling. With the Triban 520, it's all about a functional position aimed right at tourers and regular commuters at one end of the spectrum, and endurance roadies at the other.
With a super-tall head tube and compact top tube (more details on those below), 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.
However, for first time bike buyers after an optimum blend of build and price, or experienced riders after a great value winter bike or commuter, at £729 direct from French sports megastore Decathlon, it's hard to look past the Triban 520, it really is.
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.
In fact, I'd describe it as almost lazy. If you want sharp and direct responses above all else, this aluminium-framed bike most certainly isn't the one for you, but the easygoing manner lends itself to almost any other kind of road rider this side of a gravel specialist.
Over longer rides, I found the position an odd strain on my arms and lower back that are used to a more aggressive position, but there's no doubting the Triban's ability to provide an easy-riding position for commuters and those just exploring road riding for the first time.
Cornering in any situation is confidence-inspiring, and it rolls incredibly smoothly too. It takes poor road surfaces in its stride, with a good amount of all-round compliance keeping things comfortable, and as long as you stay in the saddle it climbs moderately well too – especially for a bike weighing in at a fairly hefty 10.8kg.
Okay, it's a bike so it can't be 'lazy', but try to climb or ride out of the saddle and put the hammer down, and the frame's weight begins to pendulum around a little, while the finishing kit isn't exactly geared towards lightweight performance.
John reported that the steady handling allowed him to have a lot of fun on descents when he had a first spin on it in London. I'd agree with that. Around hilly Bath, what goes up inevitably must come down, and the Triban is able to make technical and sometimes fast descents feel very docile and uneventful.
Push the limit of adhesion and I started to find myself wanting a more 'tactile' and direct-feeling front end for a little added confidence, but in truth that's probably down to the geometry more than anything else – especially the very tall head tube, which doesn't exactly encourage you to get low and swing the bike through bends with aggression.
Frame and fork
The frame is certainly geared towards those who commute or want to use it as a winter bike and save their best machine for summer.
A comfort/endurance-orientated geometry sees to that, with a 1 1/8in headset married to a very tall head tube and plenty of additional stack height to sit you upright at the front end, and a suitably compact top tube to make that possible too.
In the large on test, it has a 185mm head tube and 56.4cm top tube. The chainstays are consistent across the sizes at 425mm – on the money for a sharpish-handling road bike – and there's 385mm reach. All in, it tips the scales at 10.8kg.
The 6061-T6 aluminium frame weighs a claimed 1,780g in a size medium, and while those with an eye on the scales will say that that's heavy, that kind of bulk actually lends itself to a bike that's undeterred by poorly surfaced British roads.
The plethora of eyelets and mounts for mudguards and pannier racks are plain to see, while there's clearance here for 36mm tyres if you choose not to fit guards, or do what I did and fit a removable Zefal one instead.
For established simplicity, the dropouts feature quick releases rather than thru-axles – and brackets for the disc brake callipers have been effectively welded onto the stays. This means the callipers stand very proud of both the frame and fork, examples of which you can see in the photos.
The fork blades are made of carbon, while the crown and steerer tube are aluminium. So, not a full carbon fork, but B'Twin says that the blades are designed to provide good stiffness while absorbing a fair amount of road buzz. I wouldn't disagree with that, but the decent 28mm tyres go a long way to mask any potential deficiencies in this area, I think.
The frame and fork features external cable routing, which at this price is to be expected. It makes servicing that bit easier for both home and professional mechanics (saving time and potentially money in the process), while also making the frame cheaper to manufacture. It looks a little untidy to my eye – especially as I'm used to internal routing at the fork at least – but there's nothing wrong with keeping things simple.
Don't think that this is some low-quality budget frame, though – B'Twin stands by its frames (and its stems and bars) by offering a lifetime guarantee on them.
The bike is built up with a seriously competent set of bits that, actually, you might expect to find on a bike costing much closer to the £1,000 mark.
Shimano 105 R7000 derailleurs are at the heart of the drivetrain, and it's arguably the best value-for-money proposition out there when it comes to shifting performance. Sure, the chainset is a Shimano non-series RS510 model, but as it shares a similar four-arm design to the standard R7000 version it's still a premium-looking chainset, unlike non-series parts of old.
It's stiff and reliable, too, and you also get 105-spec levers. These share the same ergonomics as both Ultegra and Dura-Ace, and naturally they feel precisely the same to hold in the hand. I'm a practised user of the latest versions of both Ultegra and Dura-Ace, and while I think shifting feels a touch crisper respectively in both of the more premium mechanical groupsets, there's really no faulting the efficiency of the system itself.
Remember, this is a bike that costs £729. As a point of comparison, you could have a Specialized Allez or entry-level Diverge for £70 more, and you'd still only be getting 9-speed Sora or 8-speed Claris respectively for your money.
For the record, the ratio is well thought out too. You get compact 50/34t rings, married to an 11-32t Microshift cassette, and there's potential for even easier gearing if you swap out the cassette, because it's a long cage rear derailleur that's been fitted. That said, the supplied combination is ideal for the entry-level or steady commuter, and it's been a breeze to use on the hills of Bath.
The brakes are TRP's HY/RD open hydraulic system with 160mm rotors, which uses a mechanical interface with the levers (hence the mechanical versions of 105 levers) and hydraulics at the calliper itself. So, you're working a hydraulic brakeset, but through a mechanical actuation.
The best of both worlds? Well, the Jagwire cable takes the strain of the force you put through the lever, and are bound to need adjusting soon, though that's pretty straightforward with this system. That means they feel awfully like cable-actuated rim brakes on application, but you do get the same high level of performance come rain or shine, wet or dry weather.
Ultimately, I think that's what you want them for, and the system makes setting them up theoretically easier, with a simple cable swap or hydraulic reservoir replacement the key benefits.
The wheelset and tyres have impressed me too. You'd expect the rolling stock to be pretty basic even in this most premium Triban bike, but the fact is that the 6106-T6 aluminium rims, 28 steel spokes apiece and sealed cartridge bearing hubs come together to produce a remarkably smooth ride. No, they don't feel light or particularly sprightly, but given the almost bombproof nature of the frame, they're in-keeping with the bike and once you have them up to speed they genuinely glide along.
Triban's Resist+ clincher tyres are included, and despite the 55tpi carcass (very much on the endurance side of things) and 410g bulk on each wheel, they're surprisingly pleasurable to ride on a day-to-day workhorse basis. They're grippy in wet or dry, and the 28mm width offers the comfort benefits of running lower pressures.
It's also worth noting that the wheels can be run tubeless if you buy a conversion kit, which is almost unheard of at this price point.
Finally, you also get solid B'Twin finishing kit including an alloy bar, stem and 27.2mm seatpost. There's not a lot to say about this – it's all good quality – other than to say the bar is nicely shaped, with a drop that allows easy access if you decide you want to tuck in as far as the geometry allows.
The ErgoFit saddle is also a pleasant surprise: a comfortable shape with a good amount of padding.
The Triban 520 is a value-packed endurance bike that has bags of reliable quality and flexibility. You can use it as a very decently specced entry-level road bike, an everyday commuter and general workhorse, and it'll get on with the job with minimal fuss.
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.
Downsides? It is heavy for a road bike at 10.8kg and, with the best will in the world, the relaxed geometry won't be for everyone, especially if you're a newcomer and think you might like to try racing or something similar. But for everyone else, it's a winner.
A superb value, fully competent workhorse road bike with plenty of practicality thrown in
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Triban 520
Size tested: L
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
From Decathlon's website:
Frame - New Triban Evo 6061 T6 aluminium frame, comfort-oriented geometry with adapted slope
Fork - New Triban Evo fork with carbon blades and aluminium 1"1/8 headset steerer tube
Cockpit - Ergonomic aluminium Triban handlebars, new Triban stem
Drivetrain - Shimano 105 R7000 shifters, Shimano 105 R7000 front derailleur, Shimano 105 R7000 rear derailleur with 11 speeds, Microshift CS-H110 11S 11/32 cassette, Shimano RS 510 compact bottom bracket chainset in 50/34
Brakes - TRP HY/RD disc brakes, 160mm rotors
Wheelset - Triban Tubeless Ready Light wheels
Tyres - Triban Resist+ tyres
Saddle/seatpost - New Triban ErgoFit saddle, aluminium Triban 27.2mm seat post
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?
Commuters and winter bike riders, primarily. Could also be used as a first road bike.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
Top of the range of new disc-brake Triban bikes.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Given the budget price that the bike needs to meet, the build quality of the frameset is very good. Sure, the welding and butting is a little chunky, but it's still solidly made. There's a lifetime warranty on the frame, too.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made of 6061-T6 grade aluminium, and the fork blades are carbon.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
A very relaxed endurance-type geometry. This is perfect for everyday commuter use, especially if you don't want to be tucked into an aggressive position day after day.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
This is a large/56.5cm frame and I found it very compact compared to my Canyon Ultimate CF SL – with a very tall head tube and short reach. That shouldn't come as a surprise, but when I rode it it felt even more relaxed than when I tried the Specialized Diverge, which is first and foremost a gravel bike.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It was comfortable, especially with the help of the 28mm tyres run at lower pressures.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, stiff enough for its target audience.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, especially when sat in the saddle. It's not a quick accelerator, but it does repay consistent pedalling effort.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
I never noticed any that would affect me, even during low speed city manoeuvring.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Very neutral, bordering on lazy. It feeds back sensations ok so there's confidence to be had, but it's a world away from the racier bikes I usually ride.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's brilliant at giving a calm, drama-free ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The tyres are a key factor for the comfort values, and the saddle isn't half bad either, sat atop a simple alloy seatpost which won't be adding that much to the mix.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
No, at this price I'm impressed. The issue is really in the weight of the bike, if there is one.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
There's no one thing, but the overall weight has an effect on efficiency; but to hit a price point and to make it sturdy and reliable, there's reason for the 10.8kg bulk.
In the saddle, it's satisfying enough. Out of the saddle there is a little flex to be found, but it's not terrible.
It'll do for purpose, with commuters (with panniers and so on) and first timers the target.
No, it's not for sprinting.
High speed is relative on this bike, but what speed you can achieve is easy to attain and maintain, and it rolls true too.
Simply spinning along? It's brilliant at that, very easy to ride.
Very good here too, although I found the handling a little vague on occasion when I wanted it to be a little more delicate.
Good and decently confidence-inspiring despite there being some vagueness.
The high front end actually makes descending cornering feel very similar to the flat cornering.
Considering its 10.8kg, it spins up hills nicely enough.
There are some non-series parts, but it's very difficult to fault the value/excellence of Shimano 105 R7000.
No issues here, aside from that the Microshift cassette developed a little rust sooner than I'd expect. Granted, I hadn't oiled the chain after a couple of showery rides, but I was still surprised to see orange on it so quickly.
This isn't where the bike gains its bulk.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The non-series chainset and cassette worked just fine, with no issues.
Wheels and tyres
Heavy, but solid and decent rolling.
Well over 2kg for a wheelset is heavy, but remarkably they don't always feel it.
Fine, able to support 28mm tyres.
On a bike this price, it's about right.
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?
They're fit for purpose and resilient.
I've been very impressed with these. As stock own-brand tyres, they're very, very good.
Plenty of puncture protection.
Chunky at over 400g apiece, but that's not really the main concern here.
Supple, and 28mm width gives plenty of comfort too.
Good value on this bike.
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?
No need to upgrade as far as I can see.
Shimano 105 performance is extremely good, near Ultegra level.
Solid and dependable.
105 is the third-lightest in the Shimano range, behind Ultegra and Dura-Ace.
The R7000 ergonomics are top-drawer.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
See the Shimano 105 R7000 review.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, and I didn't expect to.
Would you consider buying the bike? No, the geometry is too relaxed for me.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, if this was their budget and they wanted good 11-speed kit on board, or were a first timer with no designs on racing.
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Value is stunning, frankly. As I say in the review, an equivalently priced Specialized Allez only has 9-speed Shimano Sora.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The price largely influences the overall score here. For £729 you get a LOT of practical, useful and competent bike here. With the reliability of disc braking too, it's a top bargain.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding