“Affordability” and “Cycling” are two words rarely used in the same sentence. A short walk through the ‘entry-level’ bike section of any local bike shop or bike manufacturer’s website can give you sticker shock. If your budget for a new bike is limited to under $1000 dollars, you’re typically limited to single speed or townie bikes with lower tier components or older drivetrains. This is one reason we’re particularly excited to be reviewing the Decathlon Triban Disc 105 RC 520 today. Although the model name is a mouthful, the RC 520 has one of the highest specs for Decathlon’s Triban bike line.
Equipped with 11-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain, TRP HY/RD disc brakes and a retail price of $899 the RC 520 is easily one of the best values for a new bike on the market today. Unlike the typical 8 or 9 speed drivetrains available at this price range, the Shimano 105 R7000 series components offer crisp and responsive shifting.
The Decathlon Triban Disc 105 RC 520 is one of the best value road bikes on the market today. By leveraging their scale, Decathlon is able to offer the RC 520 at a budget friendly price under a $1000 with higher grade components that are typically only available on bikes that cost double the price.
If you’re located in the United States and have not heard of Decathlon before, it is one of the world’s largest sporting goods retailers. Headquartered in France, Decathlon has over 1500 stores worldwide and an impressive range of products.
The RC 520 is Decathlon’s house brand bike but don’t write it off just yet because of it. Department store bikes like the $80 specials in Walmart or Target have a bad rap due to their bargain bin parts and lack of reliability. However, Decathlon’s line of bikes are different as they offer proper components, transparent specifications (each component is listed on their website) and are designed and tested by actual cyclists. Let’s go into the details of the RC 520 to see if the impressive specs are more than skin deep.
|Rating||Design: A- |
|Measured Weight (in kg)||11.1 (size Large)|
|Likes|| + Affordable price|
+ Shimano 105 components
+ Tubeless-Ready wheels
+ Lifetime warranty on frame, stem, and handlebars
|Dislikes||– Heavy for the specs |
– Externally routed cables
– Lacks thru-axle
|Where to Buy (US)||Decathlon|
There are two ways to buy a bike from Decathlon – you can either pick it up from one of the 1500+ stores worldwide, or have it shipped to your home. For either option, Decathlon ships the bike almost completely assembled. Only the handlebars and pedals need to be attached, along with removing the protective covering.
We picked up the bike from the recently opened San Francisco store. If picked up from the store, Decathlon assembles the bike for you and even offers a free tuneup within the first 6 months to ensure everything is properly setup. Otherwise, this is a simple bike to setup on your own with minimal effort. In our case, we chose the large frame Triban which is close to a 56cm frame size. Note, for a 6’ 1” male with longer legs the large frame size fits with a longer seat post. If you are taller, we’d recommend considering the XL frame size.
FIT & FINISH
The RC 520 has an aluminium frame that is only offered in a single color scheme. A majority of the bike is a matte dark navy blue, while the upper portions (upper half of head tube, top tube, and part of seat stay) is a slightly lighter blue for a subtle two-tone design. The model, “Triban” on the downtube is also colored with the lighter blue for a ghosted effect. Speaking of branding, as with other Decathlon products, the branding on this is very minimal unlike the other in-your-face brands with Decathlon printed on the front of the headtube with a black outline which you almost miss if you don’t look for it.
There are also orange accents on the seat stays near the navy blue/light blue transition point as well as RC 520 product name on the top of the top tube. Overall the design of the bike is clean and minimal while being modern. The bike is only offered in a single color scheme but color options would have been nice to have. Note that Decathlon sells the same bike as a gravel version with different tires and handlebar for $100 more in a different color.
The RC 520 is offered in alphabet sizes (S/M/L/XL) instead of numeric sizing like other major brands. In terms of geometry, the RC 520 can be classified as a Comfort/Endurance bike. With a large headtube and more upright position it’s designed for anything from urban commuting, gravel riding, to soaking miles during long century rides. There are several modern touches with the frame design as well. The seats stays feature a dropped design, as they are offset downward from the top tube. This is a design element that has become more common with bike manufacturers and claims to improve aerodynamics and ride compliance. Also the butted aluminium tubing in the bike has variable thickness to improve the overall ride and handling. Unlike a smooth carbon fiber frame, there are visible welds at each junction on the frame. Although the welds look consistent and clean, it does give the bike a more budget appearance.
What really makes the RC 520 stand out from the crowd is the professional level drivetrain. Rather than the typical 8 or 9 speed entry-level components, the RC 520 comes with the latest 11-speed Shimano 105 R7000 series. With each release, Shimano trickles down the advancements from the Dura-ace and Ultegra series down to the 105. As a result the latest R7000 Shimano 105 is crisp and responsive which is a big step up from the previous generation. If you’re new to cycling you think an extra gear or two isn’t worth the cost, but as you ride more miles you’ll come to appreciate the wider gear range and reliability the 105 and higher-tier components offer. Also, the fact that it is a modern 11-speed drivetrain means future upgrades or replacements will be readily available.
However, as with many bikes on the market, Decathlon uses a blend of components. The important parts are Shimano 105: front and rear derailleurs as well as the levers (although they are non-hydraulic versions). The crank is a compact 50/34 non-series Shimano, although with the black finish and design is very similar to the 105 crank. To complete the drivetrain, a Microshift 11/32 cassette is used, with a KMC X series chain. Combined, the compact crank and wide gearing of the cassette provide the granny gears necessary to slog up steep climbs and speed down descends with ease.
The other parts of the finishing kit for the RC 520 are less impressive. The stem, drop bars and seat post are unbranded aluminium that feel well made. Decathlon describes the seat as a new Triban ErgoFit which is surprisingly comfortable for a stock saddle. It looks good as well, but is likely too narrow for most riders’ anatomy. Another perk with the RC 520 are the tubeless-ready Triban wheels that have a listed weight of 1996 grams for the set (we weighed the wheels at 4000 grams with tires/rotors/quick releases/cassette attached). While they aren’t the lightest set on the market, for this price point it is great to see tubeless ready wheels on a stock bike.
The final component of the bike are the TRP HY/RD brakes with 160mm rotors. These are mechanically actuated hydraulic disc brakes, which allow Decathlon to use the lower cost non-hydraulic levers and still offer the excellent performance of a hydraulic setup. As someone who has ridden TRP mechanical brakes, the HY/RD brakes are a huge improvement. The brakes are powerful and yet easy to modulate under any riding condition. The downside of this setup is that they are bulkier than a true hydraulic disc brake setup. Also to accommodate the calipers, a post-mount design is used which results in additional brackets and likely contributes to the heavier weight of the bike.
The RC 520 is part of the Triban series of bikes which are strategically positioned between the entry-level B’Twin bikes and the more aggressive Van Rysel bikes. As such, the RC 520 is designed with a more endurance oriented geometry and a taller head tube. This results in a more upright position that is very approachable and well suited for rides around town or even full centuries. This results in a very neutral handling and lacks the twitchy responsiveness of more racy bikes or Decathlon’s Van Rysel series. We’d recommend taking the bike for a test ride to ensure this geometry matches what you are looking for.
Combining the geometry and the plush 28mm tires with a carbon bladed fork, results in a very comfortable overall feel. Having taken the bike on short commute rides as well as on longer rides, faster climbs as well as descends, the bike is predictable and confidence inspiring. The bike still transmits the road feel but filters out the harsher buzz that can make longer rides punishing. The heavier wheel/tire combo also means the bike doesn’t accelerate with eagerness from a stop, but makes it easy to maintain speed with little effort. We also found the prominent tread on the Triban Protect Light tires hum at higher speeds and provide great grip on or off-road. As with any entry-level bike though, a lightweight wheel/tire combination would really transform the bike.
Overall, the Decathlon Triban Disc 105 RC 520 is one of the best value road bikes on the market today. By leveraging their scale, Decathlon is able to offer the RC 520 at a budget friendly $899 with higher grade components that are typically only available on bikes that cost double the price. The Shimano105 R7000 drivetrain is smooth and responsive, while the TRP HY/RD hydraulic disc brakes provide strong stopping power. Of course the bike isn’t perfect, the endurance geometry and the heavier weight will dissuade some cyclists from considering the bike. The endurance geometry also results in a bike that simply feels less responsive than some other bikes on the market.
Even though the RC 520 lacks the style and color options of boutique manufacturer’s bikes, it’s a solid all-around performer. It’s a bike that can easily be taken off road, on long rides or just through the rigors of city commuting without the fear of damage that is usually associated with light weight carbon fiber bikes. The plentiful eyelets and fender mounts allow the RC 520 to be a true workhorse. Also Decathlon stands behind their workmanship with a lifetime warranty for the frame, stem and handlebar (2 year warranty on fork and peripheral components). Best of all, the low price point and excellent specifications of the RC 520 really lower the barrier to cycling by making it available to a wider audience.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Decathlon. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.
7 Replies to “Triban RC 520, one of the best road bikes under $1000”
Thank you that was a great review. Helped me make up my mind on what winter bike to get. Just bought one!
And how did it go since ? I would love a feedback !
Hi, thanks for the review! For a newbie cyclist, would it be worth to buy the gravel version by paying 150 euros more? What would be the main differences between RC 520 Disc and RC 520 gravel?
No problem, glad the review was helpful for you. Since we published the review the prices of the bikes have gone up with the RC 520 now $1200 and the gravel variation $1400. For the extra $200 you get a different paint scheme (I think it looks better than the navy blue), Hutchinson Override 700×35 tires and flared handlebars. If you plan on doing gravel riding I would recommend buying the gravel version as you would end up spending about that much to buy the tires/handlebars.
Great review–any recommendations for a good light weight tyre for this bike?
Thanks Chris. As far as tires, we’ve been pretty happy with the Hutchinson Sector 28 (https://thesweetcyclists.com/hutchinson-sector28-tubeless-tires/) on the bike. It’s a good balance between performance and durability. If you’re looking for faster road performance the Continental 5000s have always been our go-to tire.