B'Twin Triban 100
Decathlon’s B’Twin Triban 100 gravel bike is the core of my current tour from Belgium to Greece. It’s their entry level road bike, but because of the geometry and the wider all-round tires it can be considered a gravel bike.
So far I’m really impressed about the amount of punishment this bike can take.
Before I started my tour a colleague at work accidentally dropped 150kg of wooden plates on the bike parking (:oops:). One bike had its rear wheel in a 90° bend, the motorcycle of the boss had a hole in the tank. Triban 100 had some scuffed handlebar tape, that’s all.
Now on my current tour I carry about 17kg of luggage, race through traffic and bomb down roads that had their last maintenance just after the war (or before, by the looks of it). I average at 100km per day, and the bike doesn’t complain at all! This tour I passed the 1000km mark already a while ago and I did a lot more at home riding to and from work.
Decathlon gives a lifetime warranty on the frame. This is what caught my eye when shopping for a new ride. It’s a bold statement you only make when you’re sure about something. It only comes in five sizes, with me right in the middle between small and medium. I chose medium and replaced the stem for a shorter one, to get a more reactive steering while not feeling cramped.
The bike did come with some issues, which give the impression that the quality-control lady called in sick the day mine rolled out of the factory. It’s quite a list actually:
- The freewheel makes a sound like a roller coaster ratcheting up. No structural problem as so far the wheel did 4000+km and is still going.
- The front brake has its bolt-hole drilled at an angle that limits toeing-in new brake shoes. Other Triban 100s in the store seemed to have this as well.
- The tires are cracking like mad. Again not a structural issue as it’s the tire’s bead that keeps it together.
- The chain had to be replaced after only 1000km.
- The rear wheel’s tire grinds square very quickly. I expected the rear tire in a vertical dropout frame to last longer than this.
The chain and the freewheel are a KMS and Shimano product, so these are not Decatlon’s fault. They still give two years warranty on all the components though. Getting the freewheel replaced seems to be quite a challenge as it only comes as part of the Triban 100 and is not sold separately.
It’s a aluminium frame with drop bars and a steel ridig fork. The components are basic, but are enough for everyday life and to ride it loaded to Greece!
The gearing is a 1x7, with a Shimano Megaring freewheel. This makes the lightest gear a sort of granny-wheel substitute. The shifter is a simple index shifter on the handlebars with a handle shaped to fit the palm of your hand. It takes some getting used to but I have to say that I love it. Simple index shifters allow you to dump all your gears at once, which is very nice on that unforeseen 10% hill starting right around the corner. The crank is a one-piece crank. The wheels are 28 spoke 15mm ID rims with 32mm mixed thread tires. They roll quite easy on asphalt and quite good on dirt-roads. All-round tires won’t shine anywhere but do perform somewhat anywhere. It comes in both drop-bar and flat-bar configuration. The drop-bar has Tektro brake handles. It has no derailleur hanger! So if you hit something with your derailleur, it can very well bend your frame. This wasn’t a problem with steel frames as you could bend those back and forth many times, but it is an issue with aluminium.
It’s a fire-and-forget kind of bike. It’s tires can do everything, the frame is tough. It handles quite well, even with a heavy load on front and back.
The shifting on this bike might take some getting used to as it’s not a type of shifter that is often seen. The 1x7 makes everything simple though.
For adding a rear rack Decathlon has some options that should go on without too much struggle. If you want to put side bags on the rack you might have to diy the rack a bit further backwards so you don’t hit the bags with your heels.
- This bike can do it all.
- 32mm tires are thin enough for some decent road performance and wide enough for quite good grip off-road.
- 1x7 is low maintenance and takes no memorizing which combinations of gears give a good chain-line. It’s just up-down.
- The frame is bomb-proof.
- The price.
- The components are cheap and low quality.
- Quality-control seems to be of a low priority when it comes to this bike. Vital components like brakes should be perfect, nothing less!
- The frame allows for 32mm tires, but these tires are now only available in 35. It will fit, but tight.
- It has no derailleur hanger. If you bust your derailleur the chance of bending the frame is real.
- Only one set of bidon bosses.
- Some older standards are used for components, complicating future upgrades.
- Warranty can be a very long process.
If I would design the version 2 of this, I’d make some changes like adding a derailleur hanger, moving the seat stay rack mounting bosses up or bringing the rear brake to inside the triangle to get access to both rack mounting bosses. Decathlon’s solution to this is to sell a rack that uses only one connection, but to me that’s just a workaround for a design flaw. The cranks I’d change into a spider and separate chain ring; even for cheap components we have to think green and changing the whole crank for the chain ring is not green at all. The handlebar could be a standard 31.8mm instead of the classic 25.4mm to make it easier to change bars without changing the stem as well. The up charge would be neglectable.
I am truly impressed by this bicycle. I expected a BSO (bike shaped object), but it turned out to be a capable bike that has no problem riding to the other side of the continent, even loaded with tons of baggage and on roads littered with potholes.
The components are cheap and the quality of those is questionable, but somewhere they must cut corners to be able to price the bike this low. Buy it for the frame, not for the components!
I hope Decathlon will continue the Triban 100 and will try to improve on it without letting the price get out of hand. If they manage, then this bike has the promise of breaking the bicycle market and flipping it upside down completely!
-edit after post-
If this review seems negative, it’s not. In total I invested 330 euros in this bike, including the replacement chain, including the racks and upgraded brake pads. €330 for a bicycle that still hasn’t let me down. I arrived in Greece a few days back. So that’s a lot of kilometers this bike is carrying me and my stuff. Now most bicycle tourers I meet on my travels ride custom built tour bikes with top notch components and a full set of brand new Ortlieb bags of bike-packing gear. That’s a total of way over €4000. Would you throw that in the back of a construction lorry together with all the materials and tools they have when a local construction crew offers a ride? Probably not. With this, well what can go wrong?
The custom built expensive stuff sure has it’s place, but I’m not sure if that would be long distance travel in Balkan countries. I love this bike. It’s a work horse and a packing mule. And it shared a lot of road side emotions already! It’s my friend.