Summary

We test four bikes that cost £900, £700, £500 and £300 to see if you really do get what you pay for

Products

Verdict

You don?t need the deductive powers of Bikelock Holmes to realise that the old maxim ?You get what you pay for? still stands true in the new bike market. But, then again, every rule is there to be broken.

As we headed down through the price points, there was an obvious tailing-off of virtues. However ? and this is common to all the tests we do, I find ? perhaps more interesting than outright quality is the way different bikes have differing abilities. So, as the price decreases, while groupsets might grow less efficient, brakes less assured, and components less ritzy, it?s the behaviour of the frame that is more likely to define the overall product and how it performs.

To that end, the Vitus Decium is a fine bike that will handle all your sports cycling goals with ease. It?s a good companion in whose saddle to spend a day, whether that?s just pottering along, training, doing a sportive or even a club run. It?s also sufficiently exciting to enjoy a quick burn round your local loop. Moreover, the build quality and selection of components is immensely impressive.

I initially said the Vitus had a slightly racy air about it, but that was only relative to a typical sportive-friendly machine; next to GT?s GTR Series 4, the Decium is the cycling equivalent of a pair of slippers. The Series 4 is a full-on, rigid speed machine, which is fine; if you stick purely to smooth, flat roads, you?ll love it, but in my opinion this specificity is limiting. I wasn?t enamoured with some of GT?s choices of kit, either, although it certainly looks great.

If any bike here conformed to our initial expectations, it was the Pinnacle Dolomite. It?s a decent performer that will let you enjoy a varied range of road cycling experiences. OK, it would serve better as a commuter and winter training bike than sports machine, and the ride was a tad firmer than I would have hoped, but at £500 you get a lot of bike for your money.

Best bike in the world?
When it comes to giving bikes scores, we have to tread a fine line between relative quality and absolute quality. Is the Triban 3 the best bike in the world? Next to a top-end model from a big-name manufacturer, no, of course not. But is it the best bike at this price point? Yes, and by a country mile.

We know from the CA readers we meet out on the road that a lot of you are keen on your hybrids, and that?s fine. But if you?ve never ridden a drop-bar bike, I urge you to beg, borrow or steal £300 and head to your nearest Decathlon store [if you get caught stealing, we?re not taking the rap ? Ed].

The Triban 3 handles beautifully securely, it?s well above average in terms of comfort, and it all works very well. In fact, as I was testing it, I felt there was only one problem: it wasn?t my own. Had I paid my own cash to own this bike, I?d have been wallowing in a distinct sense of smugness. So, to prove I?m happy to put my money where my mouth is, I?ve already handed over my credit card details and bought the machine you see in these pictures. For the next 12 months, it?ll be one of our longtermers, and we?ll see just what kind of fun a 210lb man can have on
a £299 bike.

So the Vitus Decium is the best bike here in terms of outright quality, but in terms of value, nothing comes close to the B?Twin Triban 3. In fact, I?d go as far as to say it?s probably the best bike, on a pound-for-pound basis, available anywhere.

  • Adrian

    Purchased new Triban 3 last week, old Red 63m frame and it has lived up to expectations. Fantastic value for money it was badly set up on purchase but with a few tweaks of the Allan key and some lube it rides really well. Over the last week travelled over 70 miles with no problems. Told there are still a few more left in the country if anyone is interested. Get yourselv a real bargain this one is not to be missed!

  • Daz

    I have been riding a Red Triban 3 for 6 months now and have racked up over 2000 miles. In that time I have also got some worthy KOMs on Strava segments on it. Sure, there better light weight bikes out there and I have upgraded some of parts which have worn out but after some Hill Climbs, Time Trails and century rides I know my buddies have had to replace similar parts. Now it is slowly being equiped with better parts namely 105, It stills cost less than a similar spec (albeit the higher spec) from the likes of Ribble. Its a shame B Twin have now introduced the slightly less equiped White. But the Reds are the best value I have seen.

  • Cheshire Cat

    Great bike, just bought a 60cm red Triban 3 from Stockport Decathlon so these machines are still available if you hunt them down. Staff are saying the white one has better equipment but no carbon fork so it’s comparable…no way! I’m now deciding how to lose 1kg from it to make it a real legit 9kg road bike….seat post, wheels and crankset/BB should easily achieve that.

  • tj

    I’ve just picked up two 57cm reds at Decathlon Nottingham. There is at least one other there and possibly another 2 on the 15th July (2013). There are two 57cm at the Stockport store. Move fast people!

  • Gary Coler

    Which store Philip Haslem? Website shows sold out and I finally decided on the Red Triban 3 but they d/cd it.

  • Philip Haslem

    I was looking at all the reviews and i thought it was time to retire my old Dawes Scorpio ,just like a previous comment the new white one is incredibly lower spec and i was very disappointed.I started looking at the Full Carbon but the helpful staff told me that the other local store has just received 5 red 57 cm triban 3 .I hot tailed it to the said store and made a mad grab for nearest one i saw,Fantastic Staff set the saddle height and everything else i was out of the door and in the saddle within the hour fantastic bike pity that my fitness is not the same

  • John Prew

    Got my T3 on Saturday – guy at Decathalon very helpful. Did my first 10 mile plus ride tonight to get used to a first road bike experience.
    Absolute dream cannot wait to get back on and so pleased I did not waste my money on a more expensive bike as I have no previous road bike experience.

    All the reviews I read were good so I thought go for it and at £330 its a real no brainer!!

  • Erik

    Bought the white Triban 3 as my first road bike, to enter Ride London 100. Fantastic value for money, looks good and rides great. I haven’t changed any components at all, and am fully confident that it is up for the task. Free service within 6 months is good, but was quoted that it needs to be off the road for a week! Can’t lose that much training, just love being on it!

  • Jeremy

    I managed to get one of the last of the red Triban 3’s a few months ago just before they brought in the white 2013 model (which has been really down spec’d).

    Because I was new to road cycling having come from a mtb background I didn’t have anything to compare it with but one my 1st ride I couldn’t understand why you’d need to spend any more on a road bike. This this was awesome.

    Anyway, a few months and many hundreds of miles on and the only changes I’ve made are a new set of wheels, tyres, cassette and a saddle. I ride approx 120 miles a week both on my own for training and also group rides and the Triban has taken everything in it’s stride regularly running along side bikes at £2000+. A few of the guys have even come to realise they have wasted many thousands of pounds over the years. In saying that though their bikes do have a different name so I suppose that’s worth an extra few hundred!!!

  • tony

    bought this bike 2weeks ago and loving it ,,,my cycling has improved with this bike, which i thought was impossible.. for £300.. this bike is fantastic…. triban 3..

  • Ed

    This is a fantastic bike for the money but needed quite a bit of tinkering when I got it home to set it up properly. It has a full carbon fork, not carbon wrap. Its stability is confidence inspiring. As other reviewers have said you’ll want to swap out the awful saddle, and pedals too. I found it too long for my liking so swapped the 100mm stem for an 80mm which is much better for me and hasn’t changed the handling for the worse. This is on a 54 size bike, I think – the next size down drops to 650c wheel size. There are two sets of brake lever reach inserts provided with the bike which is helpful (these are the rubber bits in the envelope that the cd rom comes in). Mudguard and rack mounts make it a good commuter/winter bike candidate, although mudguard clearance is very tight, even with the stock 23mm tyres.

    The bike wasn’t assembled/set up well after it had been worked on by staff and given to me as ready to ride – the brake lever/shifter units were mounted way too high on the bar curves which gave a very awkward and uncomfortable wrist angle to use the brakes from the hoods, and making it a very long reach to the levers from the drops. Fixing this entailed repositioning the levers on the bars as changing the bar tilt alone would not have solved the reach from the drops issue. This also meant removing and re-winding the bar tape, which was a bit of a hassle. The gears did not index well and the front derraileur was mounted too high. The front hub bearings were very tight and wouldn’t have lasted long if left. I looked at a few of the bikes in 54 size in the store and most had wheels that were out of true. Once all of this stuff had been sorted the bike worked fine – the quality of the components is great for the money, the frame and fork are fantastic, and it’s light for the price.

    The issues with set up don’t detract from the amazing value and quality of the bike overall, just be aware that you may have to do a bit of work on it yourself as I did, or point things out to staff that aren’t right or that you want changing.

  • paul

    After using the btwin Forme 1 for a few weeks i needed something with a bit more speed and faster gearset . Id been mighty impressed by their fitness bike so didnt think twice about forking out the £329 for the triban 3.
    apparently they are now in short supply in the original spec and i was almost going to get the new white model ( lower spec model) when they didnt have a size 60. but after trying out the 63 size round the shop i bought it straight away. although the stem is a little long for my liking i can easily change it from a 120mm right down to a 50mm if i want but realistically i`ll probably opt for an 80 off ebay for under a tenner.
    if your thinking of rushing out to buy one then make it quick, i think decathalon have twigged on to the success of the triban 3 and are now switching round the specs on the range. i doubt you,ll get better value in future if you miss out now.
    the bike rides like a dream after so long on mountain and fitness bikes, light enough and quick enough for anything i,ll need in the next few months, well chuffed and the helpful staff make it a pleasure.

  • nick

    I bought myself one of these in October 2012, I’ve not had a road bike for some years now having been seduced by mtb’s and off roading for a long time, but last years abysmal summer got me thinking about a road bike for when the Essex mud’s just too gloopy. I budgeted around £500 for something useable so £300 was good : ) and I thought I’d go see , I’m not image concious at all and ride mainly alone, just to get away from it all, so having a brand name with kudos didn’t concern me. I came across the Triban 3 in various online tests and reviews and went down to Decathlon in Lakeside and was pleasantly surprised that I could try a couple of sizes ready assembled and ride them around the store. I bought one then and there! A quibble about the buying process- they insist on assembling, now I don’t like to see someone screwing pedals on without using a smear of copper grease on the threads, makes me cringe and I redid them at home, but other than that it was well set up, even though as a matter of course I did dissasemble the hubs to check that they were greased properly- they were, but always wise to check.

    It rides very well- my previous roadbike experience has been on steel frames and I’ve never had a carbon fork before but it is nice to have and takes a lot of the harshness of alloy away, and as someone else has said the tyres are pretty tough- most of my miles have been on unlisted countryside roads and no punctures yet. The wheels are also pretty tough, and come back into line easily with a bit of spoke key attention after the odd pothole. The lights they chuck in are crap, but other than that for 300 notes I realy have no complaints- I don’t doubt that I could have spent £600 or £700 and not got a great deal more- I might have been able to buy 500 grammes less weight but not a lot more- go for it I say, a real bargain for the none badge concious!

  • Mike

    I have got to disagree somewhat with all the glowing reports, I bought this and have rode it to work four times a week. I did the first service, and had pros do the second at about 1000 miles. Three days after the service I noticed the gears jumping, I tried to adjust them myself and it didn’t seem to work, so I thought ‘right a strip down and grease’ it was then that I noticed the rear hub is wobbling and not turning smoothly. so between this and the bottom bracket knocking you can see there are issues. I am impressed with this bike and genuinely love it but please lets not pretend it is an all singing all dancing solid bike the above reviews claim it to be.

  • James

    I’ve had my T3 for about a month now. I read all of the reviews before buying it. They were the deciding factor. I’ve been commuting to work on a hybrid for a while. It’s quite a good light hybrid but when I got on the T3 and took it for a spin I was amazed. The difference was amazing. I’m going to join a cycling club soon and look forward to clocking up some mileage. A great buy. My young lad wants one now. How can I refuse!

  • andy

    Just picked up a 57cm Triban 3 from from Decathlon, just in case anyone would be concerned about the frame origin, it is no longer sourced in italy, but made in Romania now.

    yet to give it a road test

    cheers

    andy

  • eddieeeeeeh

    well i’ve had mine since november 2012 now and covered ~2k miles commuting/riding in london(a lot of this is in central london)

    as you know central london roads are full of potholes and are really heavy on your wheels, now i try to avoid them as much as i can on my triban 3 but you do get some hard bump through the wheels once or twice in my 20mile/day commute.

    the bearings on my wheels went after 1.4k miles, this includes rain, snow and dirt( i haven’t missed a single day commuting yet) so i had to replace those and i got my self a set of r501 shimanos.

    the brakes are good but the pads wear of quickly, i already am on my 4th set :) but hey this is what you should expect with a lot of braking in traffic/downhills etc.

    shifters/shifting etc still do the job fine! :) and the bike is comfy and fast, really happy with it for 300 quid.

    mudguard clearance is really bad at the front(couldnt even fit crud road racers properly) – but i managed to fit them so they keep the muck off my feet/back so they do fit but not the way they are meant too and by that i mean the tiny nose piece doesn’t fit on the front.

    seat is also like a plank of wood! so you will want a new one here :) dunno it may be my butt that doesn’t fit it but afaik im not the first one to say this about it.

    so i do ~130 miles a week in all conditions and the bike is doing the job fine! :) bar the wheels which were a bit of a surprise.

    also the tyres that it comes with(The b’twin ones) are great, 1.9k miles later and not a single puncture(yet i have cuts on the tyres)

    over all i would rate it 8/10

    the let down is the mudguard clearance(Which may not be important for some) and wheels – surprisingly one side of the hub was properly greased and looked fine when i disassembled them and the other was empty?! as if it was some manufacturing error.

  • Douglas Poole

    Bought this as a winter training hack after reading so many positive reviews. Hard to believe that the Triban 3 is a budget bike. Came back from my first ride with a big smile on my face. Everything works a treat and it rides at least as well as my much dearer triathlon bike. The frame itself and the paint job are real quality and the whole effect is that of a much dearer machine. Only things I have replaced are the pedals and saddle and these are personal preference items anyway. Vive La France!

  • Mel Kent

    Great value for money, goes like a rocket…. although the brake blocks are on the way out after a month of Tunbridge Wells hills (or maybe I’m too chicken to really let it fly).

  • Tony Richmond

    I bought Btwin Tri 3 in October.The longest ride I have done on it is the Horshoe Pass as part of a 60 mile ride.For a £300 bike, I couldnt fault it. My other older bike has 105 running gear and only a two chain wheel crank but my Tri 3 coped with the Pass better than my more expensive bike.It has become my bike of choice for my quick weekend 2030 milers as I initially bought it to use as a cheap winter trainer,after changing the tyres but I will use this as my main summer rider and the older one as my winter bike.
    The Sora STi changers suit me as I ride mainly from the top of the bar but I think more serious riders may want to change these to tiagra or above and so use from the drop bars.

    The frame and fork alone are damn good quality will outlast any of the components as they are upgraded as and if they fail.

    A superb bike for the weekend rider.

  • Adrian Jefferies

    Bought this for my Wife who is new to Cycling and is training for her 1st Triathlon. I could use one of your Bikes she said?! filled with the Horror of her mounting my Pinarello or even my Boardman winter steed, I bought her a B-Twin Triban. Faultless and smooth and rides as good as bikes 3 x times the price. Ideal for someone getting into the Sport as a 1st bike.

  • Steven Huffer

    I’m glad B’twin bikes are getting some long-overdue coverage now. I completed the C2C on one of their inexpensive trekking bikes and used a Sport 2 for eighteen months to get into road biking. It was faultless from start to finish. Amusingly, when I bought the Sport 2, the wrench at Decathlon told me that the frames were made by Dedacciai in Italy and rebadged, which I was rather dubious about until I saw a review for a bike with the exact same frame reviewed in a magazine, selling for £1,299 and with Dedacciai splattered all over it. The frame set was available for £799 whereas the full Sport 2 was only £499! Must have been one hell of a fork!

  • Christian Barry

    Iv been riding this bike for several months and done a few thousands miles, it is well worth the buy! Set it up with a pair of cleats and its genuinely a load of fun! Perfect for road racing and quick spins around town!