A comfortable well-specced ride that offers seriously good value for money, and would make a great first road bike for someone getting into the sport
- - Good spec for the price
- - Comfortable and relaxed geometry
- - Hugely versatile
- - Hybrid brakes for good stopping power and easy maintenance
- - Heavy for a road bike
For anyone looking to get into road cycling, or upgrade from a very cheap first bike, Decathlon’s Triban RC 520 road bike could be a key contender. Listed in our guides to the best budget road bikes and best women’s road bikes, this sub-£850 bike comes with an impressive build and won’t break the bank. Having used this bike as a long-termer and spent a significant amount of time riding many miles on it year-round, I’m here to break down exactly what you can expect to get if you choose this to be your first - or next - road bike.
Design and specification
The Triban RC 520 Disc is a comfort-focused road bike, as opposed to the brand’s more racy Van Rysel range. This means a relaxed geometry, which puts you in a fairly upright riding position. It’s difficult to provide exact numbers since Decathlon provides zero geometry details on its website. This also makes it impossible to distinguish between the men’s and women’s models, as I don’t have access to both to compare side by side.
However, this shouldn’t be too much of an off-putting factor, as I imagine the majority of people looking at this particular bike will be new to the sport and therefore more likely to choose their bike size based on their height and inseam, rather than poring over geometry charts. For the record, I am 156cm tall with a 78cm inseam and am comfortably riding the XS model.
Aesthetically the Triban RC 520 Disc is simple, if not a little bland, with its subtle but metallic dark blue paint, white lettering for the logo, small red-painted accents and all-black components. The aluminium frame is mated with a carbon fork to alleviate some of the weight, and overall it looks pleasant enough.
The frame comes with mounting points for mudguards and a rear rack, plus two bottle cages, which makes it a good option for year-round riding and potentially commuting. Meanwhile, the build is pretty great for the price point.
At £850 the Triban RC 520 Disc straddles the line between entry-level and mid-range for many people, and it comes complete with 11-speed Shimano 105 gearing and shifters, made possible with a bit of cost-cutting by using a non-series Shimano RS510 compact chainset, and a Microshift cassette. These offer 50/34 and 11/32 gearing, which is plenty wide enough for traversing most undulating landscapes. The lowest gear doesn’t quite reach a 1-to-1 gear ratio, but it’s low enough to cover most ascents, and part of the fun of investing in a new road bike is getting fitter and stronger with practice, right? Meanwhile, the 50/11 highest gear is enough to prevent spinning out on most descents, and the overall range of gears suits many different riding scenarios, making this quite a versatile bike.
Other specs include hybrid TRP HY/RD disc brakes, which provide an element of hydraulic stopping power combined with the simpler maintenance needs of cables. They're quite unwieldy to look at, but their performance is well regarded and the Shimano-compatible brake pads mean spares are easily obtained. Elsewhere, tubeless-ready rims that can take up to 36mm wide tyres if you want to upgrade the stock 28mm Triban slick tyres, the women’s specific ergonomic saddle is comfortable - for me at least - and the Triban finishing kit is basic but perfectly up to the task.
The ride of the RC 520 Disc is surprisingly great, considering the price of it. Geometry-wise it feels really comfortable, the reach works well for my slightly short torso and arms; something I’ve found with a lot of women’s specific bikes. This does mean, however, that if you have a longer torso and shorter legs, proportionally, then you may want to look at sizing up or increasing the length of the stem to give yourself a little more room.
Setting off, it doesn’t take long for the bike to pick up speed, and the aluminium frame feels pretty darn comfortable on our increasingly awful roads. The carbon fork definitely makes it feel a little lighter on the uphills and, combined with the 28mm tyres, helps to absorb some of the vibrations from the road.
Having ridden it off-road a few times, namely on light gravel and towpaths, and the one time I accidentally took it up some technical single track, I can say that in its stock build it’s definitely best kept to the road. However, according to Decathlon, the frame can accommodate up to 36mm wide tyres, so if you’re looking for something versatile that you can take off-road occasionally, then this could well be a strong candidate for that, though if you’re more off-road inclined, then you might prefer Decathlon’s Triban GRVL 520 instead.
It may not be the most whippy and fun road bike to ride, and it’s certainly not aggressive or race-oriented, but for a comfortable and relaxed ride that you can maintain for many hours or multiple days, the Triban RC 520 Disc delivers. I’ve ridden it on long audaxes, short but hilly loops, I’ve put mudguards and a rack on it and used it for commuting, and it holds up well to all uses I’ve thrown at it. It’s incredibly versatile and rides really well for a mid-range to entry-level bike.
The Shimano 105 gearing and shifting delivers a smooth and reliable ride, the TRP HY/RD brakes are pretty powerful, and while they are not my favourite braking option out there, I certainly can’t fault them on this particular build, at this price point, for this target market. What you’ll get is effective, powerful and modulated braking in all weather conditions, without the added complexity of hydraulic hoses and brake bleeding.
Compared to much more expensive road bikes, the Triban is definitely fairly heavy at 10.6kg, and as someone who’s ridden a variety of bikes, I can notice this on the hills especially. However, the target market for this bike - new and improving riders - will most likely not be affected by this, so it’s definitely not a reason to dismiss it.
For the price, this bike delivers huge value for money. The build is excellent, you get some really great components alongside some cheaper and non-series parts which don’t hamper the ride experience. For anyone looking to get into road cycling for the first time, or choosing to upgrade from a cheaper bike to something a bit more substantial, then I rate the Triban RC 520 Disc highly.
It’s versatile enough to perform most functions: throw some mudguards and a rack on it for daily commuting, and then head out on weekend club runs without a load of cargo. Plus you can get in some off-road fun if you’re up for swapping out for fatter tyres.
|Design and aesthetics||Simple, with a subtle metallic paint job, but there's nothing exceptional about it.||7/10|
|Components||Shimano 105 gearing and hybrid disc brakes deliver excellent performance for this price point||9/10|
|Performance, handling and geometry||Really comfortable ride, plenty stiff to accelerate fairly quickly, but nothing to write home about. Good enough for beginners and improvers.||8/10|
|Weight||Weighing 10.6kg it's on the heavy side, though this may not be that noticeable to its target audience.||6/10|
|Value for money||Superb value for money, offering up Shimano 105 gearing, hydraulic braking power with the simplicity of cable maintenance, all for under £850.||9/10|
Logbook: Triban RC 520 Disc
- Temperature: 0 to 28 degrees
- Weather: Year-round conditions from cold rain to warm and dry sun
- Road surface: Mixed surfaces
- Route: Multiple routes around Bristol and the South West
- Rides: 20+
- Mileage: ~2,000km
Tech Specs: Triban RC 520 Disc
- Price: £849.99 / $1,399.00
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
- Weight: 10.6kg
- Frame: 6061 T6 aluminium
- Fork: Carbon
- Shifters: Shimano 105 R7000
- Front derailleur: Shimano 105 R7000
- Rear derailleur: Shimano 105 R7000 11-speed
- Crankset: Shimano RS 510 compact 50/34
- Cassette: Microshift CS-H110 11S 11/32
- Brakes: TRP HY/RD disc
- Wheels: Triban Tubeless Ready Light wheels
- Tyres: Triban Resist+ tyres 700 x 28c
- Saddle: Triban ErgoFit (women’s specific model tested)
- Seatpost: Triban aluminium
- Handlebars: Compact B'Twin aluminium
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Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.
Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall.
Height: 156cm (5'2")
Rides: Stayer Groadinger UG, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Marin Larkspur, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike
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