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The Triban RC 520 Women's Disc road bike is incredibly versatile, offers a comfortable ride on our increasingly rough roads and is quite simply serious value for money. If you're looking for a bike that can handle the daily commute as well as take on some gravel trails and a bit of touring, the Triban is well worth considering. Just be aware that there are limitations with its geometry; it's not a racing machine.
I must confess I wasn't screaming with excitement at the prospect of riding the 10.5kg Triban. I'm not averse to a bit of weight – I ride an aluminium Dolan Preffisio to work that's similar on the scales – but I started testing the Triban during the worst of the floods earlier in the year, and it was absolutely necessary to fit mudguards, adding on a few more grams and some wind resistance – though who's counting when you get above 10kg…
When I got it out on the road, though, I was genuinely surprised. It rolls along really well once up to speed, and getting it there isn't as arduous as you might expect, with gearing to help on the hills.
The more upright riding position might take away an element of fun on road descents that some seasoned roadies are used to, and cornering felt a little compromised in comparison to something that offers a low, race position, but it's unlikely to be an issue for the Triban's target market.
The 28mm tyres help hugely with the comfort of the ride. I ran them at 70psi and found them to be pretty forgiving on the rough lanes and potholed roads around the Cotswolds.
I also switched them out for some 32mm Hutchinson Gravel tubeless tyres and took the Triban off the tarmac. This bike isn't designed specifically for gravel – for that you'll want the Women's RC 120 Gravel Adventure Bike (when in stock) or the Triban RC 520 Gravel which Stu tested last year (also currently out of stock) – but on the stony tracks and broken lanes that I rode it on it certainly wasn't uncomfortable. It's fully capable of handling the tame stuff, making it a good choice if you want to experiment in all sorts of riding.
I took it on some off-road trails too, though it really needs more than 32mm tyres to handle any boggy terrain confidently. That it's compatible with tyres up to 36mm certainly adds to its versatility.
I am 173cm tall, which according to Decathlon's size guide puts me on the medium Triban. There are no details about frame geometry on the website, but that's not that surprising – the commuters, entry-level club riders, and first time buyers it's targeted at will probably be happy to pick a size based solely on their height and inside leg measurement.
No frame geometry numbers does mean it's difficult to tell what sets the women's Triban RC 520 apart from the men's. Without the two models next to each, a tape measure and plumb bob to hand, I can't say if there are significant differences. The paint job is virtually identical.
On this medium size the effective top tube is 51.5cm and the head tube almost 160mm, which makes for a more compact and upright riding position than my preferred low, race position. That's fine: what you have is a position that's perfect for commuting, endurance rides and adventures away from asphalt.
It makes the Triban a versatile bike that will appeal to a very wide market. I've used it for wet rides, commuting, gravel riding and touring. Aside from road racing, there's not much it can't cope with.
The aluminium frame is well up to dealing with the roughest roads, and comes with a lifetime guarantee (as do the bar and stem).
The fork blades are carbon, while the crown and steerer are aluminium. The fork is stiff enough, and the 28mm tyres, run at a lower pressure, go some way to make up for it not being full carbon, though going tubeless and running the tyres at even lower pressures helps even more.
The welding isn't the tidiest, and for the price it's not surprising that it has external cable routing. It doesn't look as sleek as internal cabling – and if you don't ensure the silicone sleeves are seated correctly, you can damage the paint work – but if you are planning on maintaining the bike yourself then external cables are far less faff and fiddle than internal – it also has to be said that far more expensive externally cable routed adventure/gravel bikes than this come without any such paintwork protecting sleeves.
Up front, there are rack eyelets halfway up the fork leg, but no eyelets forward of the dropouts, which are also required for a front rack to be fitted.
There are standard mudguard eyelets at the ends of the fork behind the dropouts, but Triban's decision to use post-mount TRP HY/RD brake callipers, despite the fork clearly having been designed for flat-mount callipers and flat-mount versions of the HY/RD callipers being available, which makes fitting standard mudguards harder than it could be.
All this means having to use the rather cumbersome looking flat-mount to post-mount converter, which results in a lot of brake calliper and bracketry to get your mudguard stays around, though it's not impossible.
At the rear things are equally awkward, mudguard-wise. If you have no intention of fitting a rack then you have a choice of which eyelets you use; if you want a rack then you need to fit it to the upper of the two eyelets, which means you have to use the lower 'recessed' eyelet for the mudguard stays.
You absolutely need to find some appropriate spacers of the right outer diameter here to space the stays away from the dropout, otherwise you won't be able to clamp the stays to the dropout successfully.
The design of the basic geometry around these lower eyelets is tight, and there isn't much room around the threaded holes to allow the mudguard stays to interface with the dropouts squarely.
Also, the eyelets for the rack on the seatstays sit quite low. I fitted a Claud Butler rack without issues, but I'd say try before you buy as neither of my other racks – a Blackburn MTN and an Axiom – were going near it.
Back to the positives... The Shimano 105 R7000 gear on the Triban really does make it an outstanding investment as a bike. Even Specialized's Allez Sport only manages Sora.
The finishing kit is very similar to that of the Men's Triban RC 520 that Ashley reviewed last year, and I'd agree with his comments on performance, quality and reliability.
The 105 derailleurs, combined with 105 levers, give a crisp, smooth and efficient shifting system. The levers share the same ergonomics as Ultegra and Dura-Ace, and just feel 'right' in the hands. Even though the chainset is a non-series RS510 model, it doesn't look like a cheap substitute and certainly doesn't reduce performance.
I've already briefly mentioned the 'considerate gearing' for the hills – to be more specific, the Triban comes with a compact 50/34-tooth chainset and an 11-32-tooth Microshift cassette. This is perfect for commuting and entry-level rides on any terrain, though you might want to go lower for loaded touring.
As mentioned, the brakes are TRP's HY/RD open hydraulic system with 160mm discs – a mechanical operation at the levers with hydraulics at the calliper.
If you are used to rim brakes, this setup isn't a bad step towards fully hydraulic discs on the road; the Jagwire cables damp the force you put through the lever, and the braking action still feels a little bit spongy and rim-like. However, the win is that performance and power is dependable in any weather. Read the review of the brakes for more detail on the simplistic maintenance if you still need winning over.
The wheelset falls in line with the Triban frame – they're heavy, but reliable and well up to the job. And weight-wise, you wouldn't be expecting much less at this price. With 28 crossed steel spokes, 6106-T6 (24mm) aluminium rims and sealed cartridge bearings, it's a 2kg pair of wheels that roll smoothly, are pretty rigid and certainly up to handling what a commuter or entry-level road rider might throw at them.
They are also tubeless ready, an absolute winner in my opinion. I'd wholeheartedly recommend throwing a conversion kit into your basket on your way to the till.
The 32mm Hutchinson tyres (available in Decathlon) that I converted them to offered outstanding grip, and a seriously smooth ride. As I've said, they've been on plenty of trails and tracks and are clearly very durable.
If going tubeless isn't for you, you're still getting a great endurance tyre with the Resist+ clinchers. They feel grippy in wet and dry conditions, I didn't have one single puncture and they weren't showing a huge amount of wear when I took them off after four weeks of daily riding.
You get solid B'Twin finishing kit including an alloy bar, stem and 27.2mm seatpost. The bar is nicely shaped if you want to tuck down into the drops, and the stem does its job, but a special mention goes to the saddle.
I am quite fussy when it comes to saddles, and the Ergofit impressed me. The cutaway is well proportioned and placed. Personally, I wouldn't select such a soft saddle, but I am certain that this will be a big plus for many riders out there.
You are going to struggle to find a bike that comes with Shimano 105, disc brakes, tubeless-ready wheels and a plethora of eyelets for less than £800.
If you want a 'racing' bike, you could forfeit versatility and consider Specialized's Allez Sport for £845, which is lighter but not female-specific, and comes with Shimano Sora. (Or there's the Shimano Claris-equipped version Stu tested for £645.)
If you are keen to stick with a female-specific model, Liv's Avail 1 is £749, again lighter, but also with Sora not 105, and Trek's Domane AL3 is £750, with a claimed weight of 9.89kg for a 52cm size, but also Sora-equipped.
Or you could look closer to home, as Decathlon also offers the Van Rysel Women's Ultra RCR AF Tiagra for £749.99.
Yes, I did have a few gripes, but in the grand scheme of things they are very trivial when you consider what you are getting for your money here. The Triban RC 520 is well specced, versatile and affordable. Whether you are commuting, road riding, touring or hitting the towpaths or gravel tracks, the Triban is up to it all. You'll love the ride, and so will your wallet.
Commuter, tourer, even a bit of gravel... this is a hell of a lot of bike for the money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Triban RC520 Women's Disc Road Bike
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame - New Triban Evo frame in 6061 T6 aluminium, comfort-oriented geometry with adapted sloping.
Fork - New Triban Evo fork with carbon blades and aluminium 1"1/8 Aheadset steerer tube.
Cockpit- Ergonomic aluminium Triban handlebars.
Drivetrain - Shimano 105 R7000 shifters
Shimano 105 R7000 front derailleur
Shimano 105 R7000 rear derailleur with 11 speeds and long screed
Crankset- Microshift CS-H110 11S 11/32 cassette (11/12/13/14/15/17/19/21/24/28/32).
Shimano RS 510 compact bottom bracket 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 seat post.
Pedals- Platform pedals included with the bike.
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?
Decathlon says, ' We've designed and tested this women's road bike for your regular rides. It guarantees matchless comfort for cycling further, more often.
'Cycle further and more often with the most comfortable road bike we've ever designed. Discover its hydro-mechanical disc brakes, specially-designed geometry, and the Shimano 105 groupset'
I'd say the Triban would serve any enthusiastic newbie to road riding or touring. It may also appeal to more experienced riders looking for a winter workhorse.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Welding and butting aside, which is a bit rough around the edges, it's a sound build. The frame, stem and bar come with a lifetime warranty.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame is 6061-T6 grade aluminium. The fork blades are carbon.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Not traditionally 'racy'. It offers a much more upright position, ideal for commuting or touring.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Following the size chart, I tested a medium. I found the top tube short and the head tube much longer than most race-orientated road bikes, but that's not what this bike is aimed at.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Run the 28mm tyres at about 70psi and you get a really comfortable ride. The saddle is forgiving too.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Fine for its intended purpose.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, not bad at all. Very respectable when in the saddle.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
Not for me. Even when I had mudguards on, I didn't note an issue.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It feels pretty much as you would expect a 10kg + bike to feel. It bowls along well on the flat and is stable in descents. It responds pretty well to sprint accelerations, too.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Tyres, at the correction pressure. A surprisingly comfortable saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
At this price there are no changes that could be made to improve the bike.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Not for this price. You could get stiff-soled shoes and high-end pedals if you're looking to improve its efficiency.
It rolls down descents well.
If you are a seasoned roadie using it as a winter bike, you'll notice that it's not as fluid in the corners.
As above, its high front end limits it in descending, but it's not a race bike.
Its weight goes against it here but the gearing is kind; you can find a rhythm that lets you cruise up.
Great – reliable Shimano 105, can't knock it.
You're looking at a 750 quid bike, the drivetrain's weight is not a major contributor to its overall weight.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
All works well together.
Wheels and tyres
Heavy, but true running and a smooth ride.
They've hit a fair few potholes and been on gravel, and are as true as ever.
Very comfortable with both the 28mm tyres they came with and the 32mm tubeless fitted for the second half of testing.
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?
I've ridden them over Gloucestershire's finest potholes and gravel they've been fine. I've loaded the bike and they've stood up that too.
Not the grippiest in the wet, but I've ridden on worse. They were great in dry conditions.
Resilient – not one puncture in the test period.
Weighty at 400g + per tyre.
Brilliant, but don't be tempted to taken them above 70psi.
Showing little sign of wear and no punctures.
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?
I wouldn't upgrade. They were great for commuting, touring and potentially some winter training rides.
It's Shimano 105; it all works as it should.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, absolutely.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The ones I mention in the review are all within £100 of the Triban, but don't offer the versatility of the Triban and none come with Shimano 105.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Shimano 105, disc brakes, tubeless ready tyres, mudguard and rack possibilities and a saddle that probably won't need swapping... all for less than £750. Just missing a bit of attention to detail with the eyelets and brake setup, but a minor gripe in the big picture. It's exceptional.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…