Coming in at way under the common £500 entry-level marker, the Triban RC 120 sells at a price that may almost seem too good to be true. It helps that Triban is one of the in-house brands for Decathlon, the world’s largest sporting goods retailer, meaning it can have frames produced and buy components in gargantuan levels of bulk, and pass on savings to us.
This mass production doesn’t usually mean lower quality, with plenty of Decathlon bikes receiving high praise from customers and reviewers alike. All frames are designed in-house, with years of work going into the development of Decathlon’s new Van Rysel carbon fibre race bikes.
The Triban range sits below Van Rysel, and consists of drop-bar road bikes and gravel/adventure builds with alu frames and entry to mid-level components, all coming in under the magic £1,000 mark. If you want to spend half that or less, the RC 120 is your only option with drop bars and disc brakes under £500 (the RC 500 costs £529.99).
To get a bike ready to go with disc brakes for £400 really is fantastic value – the RC 120 has Promax mechanical discs that are cable-actuated, as opposed to hydraulic versions you’ll see on more expensive road bikes. While not quite offering the stopping power of hydraulic, and looking messier because of the extra cables, they do offer better braking than rim brakes and are simple to tinker with via the barrel adjusters.
The 6061 aluminium frame is of high quality considering the price, and with sturdy wheels and 28mm tyres you get a plush ride that always feels comfortable, with dampened vibrations on rough tarmac. A carbon fork is a great addition and pretty much unheard of at this price, adding comfort and stiffness where you need it most. You get mudguard and rack mounts to further help with commuting and winter training, and the wheels and tyres are also tubeless-ready if you want to boost puncture protection.
The geometry is described as ‘comfort-orientated’ and is fairly relaxed. Our medium frame had a taller head tube (16.5cm) and shorter reach (37.6cm) than the other test bikes, with more relaxed seat and head angles. If you’re thinking about this bike to use for your first tri, it’s worth noting that the shorter, more upright position isn’t exactly synonymous with going fast, and you won’t be able to get quite so low on the drops, or as streamlined with clip-on tri bars as you will on the other two bikes in this test. In fact, on our test rides we found it noticeably more of an effort to get up to speed, with the 11.25kg bulk making the RC 120 feel sluggish off the mark. What you will get is predictable handling and a bike that feels manageable from the off.
Shifting is courtesy of Microshift, which is a little different in operation from Shimano and SRAM groupsets, but easy once you get the hang of it. There’s a big lever on the right for downshifts and a small one for upshifts and the levers on the left shift the chainrings, so you’ll never get confused working out which lever does what.
An 11-34t cassette with 50/34t chainrings should give you enough at the top and plenty at the bottom to tackle the steepest climbs, and the shifting is surprisingly definitive and crisp.
Got more to spend?
The Triban RC 520 comes with a Shimano 105 groupset and upgraded TRP Hydro disc brakes for £729.99.
Got less to spend?
Decathlon’s drop bar Triban road bike starts at just £250 with a 1x gearing set-up and rim brakes.
Verdict: Triban’s RC bikes are frequently cited as some of the best value ‘proper’ road bikes you can buy, and we’d certainly agree that the RC 120 is an absolute steal. 80%
Buy from www.decathlon.co.uk