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