B’Twin Triban 520 review£499.00

The best road bike you can buy for £500

BikeRadar score5/5

Bikes from B’Twin have been under some of the pro WorldTour peloton, but where they really win is delivering awesome value at an affordable level. That’s the case here with the Triban 520 delivering a package that doesn’t just kill on price but performance too.

The fact that it comes with a full Shimano Sora transmission is the immediate headline, but there’s a lot to savour before you even ride it.

The choice of a triple chainset might seem odd to more experienced riders, but having a wide range of closely spaced gears is no bad thing for less trained or less experienced riders who might struggle on climbs without them.

The Sora crankset is a thing of high stiffness beauty, with lightweight, hard-wearing and slick shifting chainrings that sit flush with the four-arm spider. It has a built-in axle for extra stiffness as well as external bottom bracket bearings, which also add broad stance rigidity when you’re grinding out the revs. Crank arm lengths are matched to frame size, which is a great touch at this price.

Full Shimano Sora is an amazing find at this price
Full Shimano Sora is an amazing find at this price

The B’Twin labelled Tektro brakes come with upgraded TRP (Tektro Racing Products) cartridge pads for sharper, more easily controlled stopping power. The ‘Aero’ rims have an angular coffin profile rather than anything obviously drag-reducing but they do have eyelets to spread stress.

The Michelin Dynamic Sport tyres are fast rolling, slightly fatter than the stated 25mm and grippier in grim weather than you might expect for a totally slick tread.

The two-tone bar tape gives an eye-catching look while the saddle is a dead ringer for the classic Selle Italia SLR, with a thin skin over a pressure-relieving cutaway section.

B’Twin clearly hasn’t skimped on frame quality. The head tube is straight gauge rather than tapered but the 12K carbon-legged fork features bosses for both mudguards and ‘Low Rider’ pannier racks, matching the ’guard and rack points out back.

Lively, comfortable and practical
Lively, comfortable and practical

The angular squared to hex down-tube and rectangular top tube use external cables with built-in tension adjusters to keep servicing simple, so you’re looking at a very practical package.

A skinny 27.2mm seatpost keeps life in the saddle smooth, while tapering D-shaped chainstays and shelved dropouts holding the rear wheel promise decent performance.

It’s a promise that the Triban 520 is keen to deliver on. Handling is keen and usefully precise, and all this encouraging acceleration and accuracy sits on a backdrop of surface-smoothing buoyancy that a bike double the price would be proud of.

The fork received a lot of praise from our test team for its compliant yet confident character, even down sketchy wet and twisty descents on the North York Moors. As well as great performance and kit value, seven frame sizes mean a finely graded fit, you get a choice of black/white or grey colours and frame, fork and cockpit come with a lifetime warranty.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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