Triban has unveiled the RC 520 Gravel, a new version of its RC 520 Disc which is the current road.cc Cycle to Work Scheme Bike of the Year. As the name suggests, this bike is designed to be capable of heading off the tarmac and on to less well surfaced roads and tracks.
When we reviewed the Triban RC 520 Disc towards the end of last year we described it as "a superb value, fully competent workhorse road bike with plenty of practicality thrown in".
That bike, still available for £729.99, is built around an aluminium frame with a carbon legged fork, a mid-level Shimano 105 groupset and TRP HyRd cable operated disc brakes.
Although it has a completely different paint job with a brushed titanium look to it, the RC 520 Gravel uses the same frame, built to what Triban calls a 'comfort-orientated geometry'. This means that the top tube is shorter than that of a race bike, and the head tube is relatively long, putting you into a ride position that's relaxed by road bike standards.
If you want the figures, we have the medium sized model here with a 500mm seat tube, 548mm top tube and 155mm head tube. The stack is 569mm and the reach is 379mm, giving a stack/reach of 1.50.
Both the frame and the fork come with rack and mudguard mounts and the cables run externally.
The shifters and derailleurs are Shimano 105 and the chainset is from Shimano too, although it's a non-series model that's heavier than a 105 equivalent.
The build is very similar to that of the Triban RC 520 Disc that we reviewed, although the tyres are different. Instead of the 28mm Triban Resist+ tyres, here you get Hutchinson Overides in a 35mm width, with a HardSkin puncture protection layer. They're tubeless ready although you'll need a conversion kit – rim strips, valves and sealant – if you want to run the wheels without tubes.
Despite being wider, the gravel bike's tyres are lighter – 350g each as opposed to 410g each, according to the official figures.
The frame and fork will accept tyres up to 36mm wide on the 700c wheels that come fitted, or 42mm if you switch to 650b wheels.
The other difference is the handlebar. Rather than the ergonomic drop handlebar of the Triban RC 520 Disc, the bar you get here has a 16° flare. In other words, the drops are positioned quite a bit further out than the hoods, the idea being to provide more comfort and control.
So the Triban RC 520 Gravel has different tyres and handlebars from the Triban RC 520 Disc, and the finish is different, but that's the sum of the changes. Even the 50/34-tooth chainset and 11-32-tooth cassette are exactly the same.
Oh, there is one other difference: the price. Whereas the Triban RC 520 Disc is £729.99, the gravel version is £849.99 – so you're paying an extra £120 for a couple of quite small changes. Fair enough, the Hutchinson Overides are good tyres but they're slick by gravel standards, and on the face of it the road model looks better value.
That said, the Triban RC 520 Gravel still offers a lot for the money. It's not exactly light at 10.3kg but you're getting a tried and tested frameset and a higher level component spec than you've a right to expect for the cash.
This bike is available from Decathlon now, but if you're willing to hold on a little longer there's a Triban RC 520 Gravel Ltd in the works with a 1x11 drivetrain. This version comes with SRAM Apex 1 derailleurs and shifters. The 44-tooth chainset is from the Apex groupset too, as is the 11-42-tooth cassette. The wheels are 650b fitted with WTB Resolute tubeless ready tyres in a 42mm width. The Triban RC 520 Gravel Ltd will be the same price as the standard version – £849.99 – when it becomes available in July.
Okay, so it's time to get this bike out on the road – both the tarmac and gravel varieties. We'll let you know how we get on in a full review soon.
Triban bikes are available through www.decathlon.co.uk.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.