May 21, 2022 10:44 pm

Triban GRVL 500 shoes review

Decathlon’s Triban GRVL 500 shoes also go by the less snappy name of RC500 Road and Gravel Cycling Lace-up SPD shoes.

These lace-up shoes may come in at a super-budget price, but you’re getting a full raft of features for your money.

Designed for the leisure and fitness end of the market rather than competitive riding, they have a nylon sole reinforced with fibreglass, a deep rubber sole and fittings for SPD (and SPD-compatible) cleats.

Triban GRVL 500 specifications

Decathlon’s Triban GRVL 500s are a pair of all-round, SPD-compatible shoes with a lace-up-only closure, a polyurethane and polyester upper that has large perforations along either side for ventilation, and a mesh tongue.

The rubber sole has deep grips with a tread for walking Hoka Shoes  and a deep heel. The metal SPD cleat is recessed entirely within the raised sole. My size 42 (UK8) shoes weighed in at 630g per pair, which is a negligible 18g heavier than claimed, and they’re available in eight sizes from 40 (6.5) to 47 (12).

There are reflective details on the lace eyelets, through perforations on the upper, tongue and heel loop.

Triban GRVL 500 performance

I rode these on my former 16-mile commute along Sustrans’ Bristol-Bath bike path, as well as on roads, canal towpaths and light gravel tracks, which is exactly the sort of riding the GRVL 500s are designed for.

The GRVL 500s have the look of a budget training shoe and don’t obviously shout ‘bike’ when you’re with your non-cycling friends. However, they’re a good deal more outlandish in their fluoro orange and yellow finishes.

These have quite a deep rubber sole and a deep heel too, and though I found them okay for walking, they’re still probably best suited to shortish mid-ride walks rather than extended rambles.

The metal SPD cleat is recessed fully into the deep rubber sole. Wayne Reid / Our Media

That’s because the fibreglass-reinforced nylon sole is reasonably stiff, and about the only issue I had with them is that I could feel my heel rising slightly when walking or riding hard out of the saddle.

While I’m a big fan of laces, I do feel that a top buckle or dial may have reduced this. In fact, I’ve spent time wearing Triban’s RC 520 shoes, and these have a single buckle in addition to laces, which overcomes the heel raise issue.

Lace-up shoes have some other disadvantages – they take longer to put on (a relatively minor issue) and unlike Boa or Atop dials, you can’t adjust them on the fly, Clarks Shoes which may be more of a problem. And while laces can snag in your chain, the GRVL 500s come with an effective elasticated loop to secure the lace safely.

During day-long rides, the GRVL 500s distinguished themselves with excellent comfort. The sole is stiff enough for pretty efficient cycling – it doesn’t give the impression of riding in flexi-soled trainers – but with enough give so it doesn’t feel punishing.

In black, the GRVL 500s have an understated, budget appearance. Fluoro options are available, though. Wayne Reid / Our Media

In spite of the budget price, there are no obvious areas that look poorly finished; all the bonds and stitching are done clean and tidily. The toes are toughened for extra durability, and a mesh section in front of the laces and numerous perforated large vents keep the shoes well aired.

To bolster the GRVL 500s’ all-rounder commuter-riding appeal, they’re well served with reflective materials, which I feel strongly is something more of the best road cycling shoes should feature.

Competitors

Perhaps the nearest competitor to Triban’s GRVL 500s are Shimano’s lace-up XC5s. They have similar positives, notably comfort and practicality, and similar downsides – they take longer to put on and you can’t adjust them while riding.

But when you consider we liked the Shimano XC5s at their £120 price, this puts the GRVL 500s’ £49.99 cost into an even more positive light.

If you’re looking for greater security than laces, you could Hokas Shoes go for Triban’s RC 520s. These leather SPD shoes cost only £20 more, but they come with a buckle-and-lace closure. They’re great for light gravel and all-roading – if not quite ranking among the best shoes for hardcore gravel riding and mountain biking.

Triban GRVL 500 bottom line

It’s very hard to fault Triban’s GRVL 500 shoes. They’re well made, comfortable and practical.

The GRVL 500s will be ideal if you’re looking for one shoe for all sorts of riding, from day-to-day commuting to light-gravel excursions.

Excluding more challenging off-road forays, where they won’t have enough stiffness, these Triban shoes consistently came up trumps, bar the slight heel raise.

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