Btwin, Rockrider, Triban, Van Rysel… Decathlon is expanding its brand portfolio, offering bikes across all uses and terrains. The Riverside range expands this even further with dedicated adventure bikes, of which they loaned us a prototype of their 920 model.
There is some scepticism towards sport store bikes, so what is the 920 really worth?
Even if we are fans of steel bikes, handmade by matcha-latte drinking local builders, it’s a niche that the general public isn’t really interested in or has the means to invest in the price of a Jazzmaster ’63 or a small car.
After having entered the gravel market with the Triban RC520, the Decathlon group is launching its adventure bikes. Large wheels, a multitude of fixing points, a riding position designed for long days in the saddle, an extra wide bar… The Riverside Touring 920 looks nothing like the former Riverside range, which was just cheap “daddy’s sunday ride” bikes.
Unpacking: a nice surprise
Even before swinging leg over, the most surprising aspect was the supplied kit.
You can usually guarantee some pretty significant concessions to keep the price low (though some have been made with the gear) but otherwise the kit is good quality:
- Brooks C15 Carved saddle
- Carbon/alluminium fork with triple eyelets
- Dynamo hub,
- Hydraulic brakes,
- Serious tyres,
- Even a USB charger!
There aren’t many complete bikes out there supplied with such kit, for just under 1500€.
Leaping into this market, the RT 920 appears to be a cut above the rest.
Now that everyone is doing their bit for the planet, like replacing plastic bidons for metal ones, digging a hole for toileting or moving to mineral based sun cream, hopefully we can build on that for some really significant efforts!
These gestures are really about a better conscience than actually saving the planet.
What can we do to really reduce climate change?
According to the 2019 CITEPA report, transport emits 29.7% of the GHG in France. And what do you think is the most polluting along those 30%? Aviation, trucks?
French trucks contribute around 6.3% of GHG emissions. National flights less than 1%. Who would have thought?
Les camions contribuent à 6.3% des émissions de GES. Les vols nationaux : moins d’1%. Qui l’eût cru ?
With 15.7% of total emissions of CO2, cars are the most polluting form of transport! On top of that, they contribute 6.5 million deaths per annum due to respiratory or cardiac illness, they are a fatality risk.
The good news however, is the car is the form of transport for which there exists the highest number of alternatives!
The bicycle of course, but also public transport, the tram, walking, scooters, roller skates etc… Ways to really minimise car use are numerous.
Sometimes though of course, there is no alternative but to use the car. In these cases, try to optimize journeys and to use it as little as possible. A bit of forward planning isn’t a bad thing.
Through limiting car use, we are encouraging less polluting options. We are investing in our health, in our future and reducing traffic on our streets. We are contributing to an overall better well being.
As always, no financial gain has been afforded to Evanoui.cc for this test, it is 100% independent.
The Riverside 920 is clearly a true adventure bike, ready to travel the world, straight from the store.
One frameset, 3 models
The 6061 alloy frame of the Riverside touring is the same for all 3 models, from the touring to the full adventure bike.
Each offers a different equipment, the 920 is their highest model.
RT 520 : Family adventure, bike paths
RT : World tours, fully loaded touring
RT 920: Offroad adventure, bikepacking
This is fully billed as an adventure bike. If you’re coming from a performance gravel bike with 35mm tyres, the 920 -as any monstergravel- is going to be a bit of shock.
The position is tall, the 29er wheels are obviously heavier, especially compared to my usual 650b Switchback Hill ones.
Even with its stiff oversize alloy tubeset, especially for a welterweight rider like me, it handles well off road and rides over obstacles with ease.
The RT920 in a prototype colour. Public sage/black paintjob will be back in stock in march.
We heard people scoff at the 920’s weight, but don’t dismiss it. They make it sound like at 13kg, it’s 12kg heavier than their gravel bike!
At 13kg, its build is at the top end of what most of us would consider to be acceptable.
But it has to be put in context:
- The RT 920 is not a gravel bike. Does your gravel bike take 29x2,4 tyres?
- The usual weight limit for a frameset is 100kg, the Riverside touring is 170kg. It’s certainly robust!
So robust Decathlon offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, fork, bars and stem!
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Loading capacity: Spoilt for choice
With its plethora of eyelets, the Touring 920 offers many options for loading your bags.
• 3 eyelets carbon fork lets you install a cargo cage or pannier rack, with an extra eyelet on the inside for a mudguard.
• The 62cm wide flared handlebars -also designed by Riverside- lets you store a tent for approximately 8 scouts!
• Main triangle and top tube are direct-mount ready, with and extra bottle/tool cage mount under the down tube.
• Seatstays were drilled to fit the proprietary rack (somewhat like the Trek 1120) or anything that crosses your mind: bottle cages, cargo cages etc… Screws are vertical, which is mechanically better and increases the load capacity. Clever!
• The optional pannier rack is certified 40kg when the standard is 25! You can also fit any other usual rack. We appreciate the fact that the team did not impose their proprietary format.
Pannier racks come stock on models 520 and 900. The 920 being bikepacking-oriented, it does not come with one, but you can buy one as spare early 2021.
Initially designed for the Riverside rack, these eyelets can fit a bottle cage or cargo cage.
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As a true adventure bike, the 920 was clearly made for rougher tracks.
With some luggage added, the frame seems less shaky. Maybe I’ve just got used to the bike? Does the extra weight increase the frame’s vertical compliance? Or do the bags simply dampen vibrations?
Photo: Steven Segal (Not the one you’re thinking of!)
When the Riverside Touring 900 comes with a 3*10 transmission, the 920 runs a 1*11 with a 32t chainring and a 11-42 cassette.
Uphill, although its gear development is similar to my usual 650b bike, the RT920 needs more effort.
These big 32 spokes wheels are perfect for carrying all your heavy luggage. Downside is you have to drag them…
Still, this isn’t a big deal, but considering the targetted customer, one can expect to see that bike being hiked more than once.
I would have enjoyed a more versatile 2*10 transmission or a wider range cassette.
Development aside, Sram Rival shifters are true to their reputation of reliability. Gearing is crisp and the hydraulic braking is progressive and powerful.
Descending, its weakness becomes its force:
The important wheel diameter, the grip of the 2.25″ tyres and the wide bars allow to to hover rougher sections with ease.
Davide & his RT 920
The one who made this test possible: Davide test rides a prototype on the 2019 Torino-Nice Rally.
A great guy who took the time to take photos halfway up the Col Agnel.
Was it sheer generosity or just a welcome break? Only he knows!
• Frame is a size S: a 750ml bottle is a snug fit, but it works. (Photo 3)
• Note the internal cable routing, including dynamo, in the down tube. The wide opening at the bottom will be appreciated by mechanics! (Photos 5, 11)
• With the evolution of its design, some eyelets disappeared (i.e. cable bosses on the headtube, photo 6)
The Riverside team designed their own handlebars, and it’s not bad at all!
Although the 62cm wide (58 on size S), 24° flared bars feel like you are driving a tractor at first, they bring comfort and stability when it gets technical, even with your hands in the drops.
The 920 comes stock with a Shimano Deore XT dynamo hub and a Cycle2Charge USB charger instead of the usual headset top cap.
This is exceptional for a bike that cheap!
One thing that could be perfected though is only cosmetic: the dynamo cable runs in a cable hose on the outside of the fork blade. It is a pity to display what looks like amateur work, especially when all the other cables are internally routed.
But we easily understand how much more expensive a fork with internal routing would be, and Riverside knows their priority: make this bike affordable!
(Tip: This bike was meant to be loaded, the cable will be hidden by fork bags!)
• Top tube: With its 595mm long top tube (size M), this bike appears pretty long!
- Stem is only 70mm long in size M (60 in S, 80 in L)
- Handlebar reach is very short: a mere 52.6mm when most bars are around 75mm.
• Saddle to bar drop: With its slopping geometry, the saddle is almost level with the cockpit, even below for some! This shortens the distance a less upright bike would have. Position remains comfortable even with the hands down in the drops.
• Wheelbase is pretty long but stays within standards with 458mm chainstays. (A Salsa Fargo for example has sliding dropouts from 445 to 462mm)
The higher bottom bracket offers an impressive clearance without making the bike unstable.
A bikepacking bike built on a touring frame: No wonder it has a kickstand plate.
What about ethics?
Decathlon is in 58 different countries, making them the biggest sports goods retailer in the world.
With their 12.4 billion Euros turnover in 2019, 200 millions Euros dividends to their shareholders and their underpaid part-time employees, I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of testing their bike. Plus it was made across the planet…
Besides, Decathlon is a Heaven of plastic and disposable. There sure are a few gems of durability and this bike is one. But generally speaking, they are far from the values we at Evanoui defend: craftsmanship, durability and local production.
Still, about both environmental and social issues, Decathlon regularly commits to improve their impact and their employees’ living conditions, including their subcontractors’. (More in their Declaration of Extra Financial Performance.)
Eventually, the vast majority of bikes sold worldwide are made in Asia. Thus, the distance argument isn’t valid.
That’s a chance, we would have missed that nice discovery here!
Riverside Touring 920
Frame: Riverside Touring, aluminium 6061
Fork: Carbone, alloy steerer
Bars: RT Adventure Dropbar
Saddle: Brooks Cambium C15 Carved
Brifters: Sram Rival hydraulic
Brakes: Sram Rival hydraulic
Cranks: Truvativ Stylo
Chainring: Sram Eagle 32t
Derailler: Sram Rival
Cassette: Sram PG1130 11v 11-42
Rims: Sun Ringlé Duroc 39 29″
Tyres: Schwalbe Thunder Burt 2.25*29
Axles: Thru axles 10/142
Front hub: Deore XT dynamo
Rear hub: Deore XT
USB charger: Cycle2Charge
Max tyre width: 2.4*29″
Weight: 12,8kg (size M)
Price : 1499€
With its big tyres, its solid construction, its plethora of loading options and its equipment, the RT 920 ranks as one of the best entry-level Divide bikes.
- QUALITY KIT, sturdy and reliable
- UTILITY CARBON FORK, a bikepacker’s Graal!
- PLENTY EYELETS for bottle and cargo cages
- COMPATIBILITY with existing pannier racks
- CAPABILITY on rougher terrain
- VALUE FOR MONEY
- LIFETIME WARRANTY
- WHEELS could be lighter
- DYNAMO CABLE EXTERNAL ROUTING
- TROLLS dissing Decathlon without trying
The Riverside 920 was made for adventure and it shows. Components are exceptional for a 1500€ price tag. Of course it isn’t for weight weenies, but everything was pondered to be efficient and reliable on the long term.
If you dream about going on a tour, all you need is a set of bags (Riverside will soon offer some!), no need to tweak anything. What we have here is a robust bike that may outperform some 2000€ bikes!
The Riverside 920 is a cheaper yet honorable member of the monster gravel family, a very decent entry-level bike that won’t blush compared to a Salsa Fargo, Kona Sutra, Mason ISO or Trek 920.
Adventure bikes were long reserved for a fistful of passionate riders and Divide lovers. This afforable new range will without a doubt introduce them to the general public.
Decathlon strikes a blow to a niche market with a quality product. Some might not appreciate that a popular brand comes desecrate what they enjoy considering an elitist sport.
We consider that every effort in favor of eco-friendly transportation and adventure are worth being supported.