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Van Rysel RR 920 CF road bike review

21 Feb 2020
Verdict:

Superb spec for the price, although the ride quality is not great on UK roads

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Superb spec for the price
Against 
Over-geared • Noticeable road buzz

Decathlon sells a number of sharply priced road bikes, with the Van Rysel RR 920 CF sitting mid-range. For its £2000 pricetag it comes with a carbon frameset, an impressive spec and a weight for a size medium of 7.6kg.

A couple of years ago, Decathlon took the decision to drop its former B’Twin name in favour of Van Rysel and the majority of its higher end road bikes are so badged; the Triban name continues for its lower priced machines.

he frame of the Van Rysel RR 920 CF predates the name change though and its UCI sticker reflects the older B'Twin designation. The frameset is raced by the AG2R La Mondiale under-19 team - hence the need for UCI approval.

Decathlon says that its engineers have designed the RR 920 CF for competition, with a blend of high mod and intermediate modulus carbon and a claimed frame weight of 850g, that would stand comparison to much more expensive framesets from flashier brands. As befits such a bike, there are no facilities to fit mudguards.

But you do get full internal cable routing. Before the Van Rysel, I’d been riding an older bike with external cabling. The fairly trivial change to internal cabling has to be one of the best features of modern bikes, leading to much better shifting and lower maintenance in winter conditions.

The Van Rysel’s cabling runs through deep grooves under the bottom bracket however, so you still need to keep them clean and well lubricated to preserve Shimano Ultegra’s sweet shifting.

Buy the Van Rysel RR 920 CF from Decathlon here.

A range of spec options

The test Van Rysel RR 920 CF is kitted out with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset. For £100 more, the Campagnolo aficionado can have Potenza, while the same frameset badged the RR940 CF and decked out with either Ultegra Di2 or mechanical Dura-Ace, both with all-carbon Mavic Cosmic Pro wheels, comes in at £3500.

The RR 920 CF - like all Van Rysel’s current range - is rim brake only, bucking the increasing prevalence of disc brakes. But whereas the rear calliper is a standard single point mount, the front brake uses a direct mount to the fork, providing extra leverage and stopping power.

With the front brake taking the brunt of braking effort, it’s a wise choice, helping to bridge the performance gap to disc braking and I found stopping power more than adequate in damp winter conditions.

High gear ratios

Van Rysel fits a semi-compact 52/36 chainset. It’s a choice that I usually prefer to a 50/34 compact on a performance-orientated bike, giving a little more high-end for faster descents. But in the RR 920 CF, that’s coupled to an 11-28 cassette, shifting the gearing to higher ratios, without taking advantage of the wide range offered by Shimano’s latest generation groupsets.

On my first few rides, rising roads found me trying to downshift, but finding I’d run out of sprockets. Once I’d got used to the higher gearing, there was a temptation to tough it out in the big ring on undulating roads - a good strength building exercise, but leading to a dose of DOMS once home. The same was true of steeper climbs, where grinding out-of-saddle efforts were the norm.

Adding range to the bike shouldn’t be an issue though. Van Rysel has fitted a medium cage rear mech, which Shimano rates for sprockets up to 34 teeth. So you’d only need to swap out the cassette to provide a much wider range for less exertion when conquering hills. It’s probably a cost saving measure by Van Rysel to give you such high gears when you buy the bike.

Carbon wheelset

But the narrower range cassette aside, the rest of the spec is high value, not just stopping with Ultegra. The Van Rysel RR 920 CF comes with mid-section Mavic Cosmic Carbon wheels - another impressive choice that you’d be unlikely to find on mainstream manufacturers’ machines at this price.

The Cosmic Carbon rather belies its name though. It belongs to Mavic’s first generation carbon wheelsets, where the carbon section comprises a fairing attached to an alloy rim. That’s no bad thing, however, as the alloy brake track gives good wet weather stopping.

Mavic chose this construction method for good heat dissipation using rim brakes on longer descents, as it was concerned about degradation or failure of an all-carbon rim. So the 45mm deep carbon section is non-structural and quite easy to deform with hand pressure. But its elliptical section is designed to provide aero benefits and the wheelset weight is claimed at 1650g, so there’s not too much extra mass.

Unlike the majority of Mavic’s wheelsets, the Cosmic Carbon wheels are not designed to be set up tubeless. It’s another facet of the older tech Mavic has used in the wheels. Despite these drawbacks, Mavic’s wheels have an excellent reputation for durability however and any form of carbon wheelset is impressive to see at the RR 920 CF’s £2000 price.

The Cosmic Carbon wheels come with 25mm Mavic Yksion tyres, with different front and rear tread patterns. Although not the liveliest, they feel robust and have impressive grip. Tackling climbs on wet, grimy winter back roads, grinding it out in that 36/28 lowest gear, there was very little tendency to slippage.

The rest of the Van Rysel’s finishing kit is name brand too. There’s a Deda bar and stem, which provide a comfortable cockpit with a shallow drop. I find the Fizik Antares saddle fitted on the Van Rysel among the most comfortable out there. It’s paired with a custom D-shaped carbon seatpost, which is held by a concealed clamp in the top tube.

A rather buzzy ride

It’s not just the stiff gearing that points to the RR 920 CF’s performance orientation. There’s a direct quality to the ride, with the precision to rail descents and fast corners. The frame feels taut and there’s the stiffness in the wide PF86 bottom bracket to handle power delivery on climbs and sprints.

But that’s somewhat at the expense of ride comfort: there’s quite a lot of road buzz transmitted through the frame to you as you ride. Larger hits are well managed though, thanks to the significant flex in the carbon seatpost.

For a bike aimed at the novice rider, or those looking to keep to a budget, the Van Rysel RR 920 CF offers an impressive package - just don’t expect too much comfort from this performance-focused machine.

Buy the Van Rysel RR 920 CF from Decathlon here.

Spec

Frame Van Rysel Ultra Evo Dynamic
Groupset Shimano Ultegra
Brakes Shimano Ultegra, direct mount to fork
Chainset Shimano Ultegra, 53/36
Cassette Shimano Ultegra, 11-28
Bars Deda Zero 2
Stem Deda Zero 2
Seatpost Van Rysel D-shaped carbon
Saddle Fizik Antares
Wheels Mavic Cosmic Carbon, Mavic Yksion 25mm tyres  
Weight 7.6kg (medium)
Contact decathlon.com
Price: 
£1999.99 (currently discounted to £1799.99)

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