Van Rysel NCR Tiagra review: Premium performance on a budget

Decathlon redefines value with its carbon fibre road bike that delivers premium performance for less

Van Rysel NCR Tiagra review
(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)
T3 Verdict

Affordable as it might be, the Van Rysel NCR Tiagra outperforms most carbon fibre road bikes in its price category. It offers a comfortable, endurance-focused ride but lacks responsiveness when you get out of the saddle.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Full carbon frame and fork

  • +

    Mavic wheels

  • +

    Sub-10kg weight

  • +

    Room for wide tyres and mounts for mudguards

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Carbon frame could be more responsive

  • -

    Sluggish tyres

Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Van Rysel NCR Tiagra review TL;DR: Decathlon’s cheapest carbon fibre road bike is one of the best value models on the market, featuring a premium frame and fork material. It doesn’t skimp on the components either, and the Tiagra-level Shimano groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels create a fun, fast ride that feels like a more premium package.

The NCR (Neo Racer) carbon fibre range is Van Rysel’s answer to an all-round road bike. It has performance-focused flourishes, as evidenced by its aerodynamically-optimised head- and downtube, but at heart, this a bike aimed at those wanting a comfortable, reliable ride without breaking the bank.

A carbon fibre frame, a fork, wide, 35mm tyre clearance, and tubeless capabilities are designed to take the sting out of road chatter, while its endurance-focused geometry is easier on your back during longer rides.

Van Rysel NCR Tiagra review

Price and availability

The Van Rysel NCR Tiagra is available to buy now directly from Decathlon, with prices from £1,600. It comes in six different sizes – from 2XS to XL – which Van Rysel claims will fit anyone from <155cm to 196cm in height, and is finished in graphite grey or electric blue.

The Shimano Tiagra-spec’d NCR is the cheapest model in the range (which tops out at the £2,800 SRAM Rival AXS eTap), but all NCR bikes are built around the same carbon fibre frame and fork and come with the same finishing kit.

Design and build quality

Van Rysel NCR Tiagra review

(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)

Decathlon has built a reputation for producing great bikes at reasonable prices, with the only real sacrifice being the lack of a ‘big name’ on the frame. But don’t let that put you off. Van Rysel is its latest range of performance-focused bikes, succeeding B’Twin at the top of the in-house brand tree, and takes development just as seriously as any other major manufacturer – in fact, it even supplies bikes to a team in the professional peloton.

This insight and knowledge has trickled down to the NCR, which is evident in the aerodynamic flourishes between the frame’s headtube and downtube, the varying shapes of its carbon fibre tubing and its integrated cables.

At its heart, though, the NCR's geometry is designed for comfort over competition. Its 73° headtube angle (71° in 2XS and 72° in XS) is made for long-distance training rides and sportives, with a slightly more relaxed positioning than an aggressive all-out racing machine.

The build quality was impressive at this price point. The carbon fibre frame and fork didn’t feel cheap or substandard at all, and only some of the finishing kit (tyres, handlebar tape) were on the budget side. These are easy and relatively inexpensive to replace, though, so they shouldn’t detract from what is a solid investment if you’re looking for a pocket-friendly carbon fibre road bike.


Van Rysel NCR Tiagra review

(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)

Aside from its carbon fibre frame and fork, the NCR Tiagra included a smattering of branded and own-name components, making it feel like more than the sum of its parts.

Shimano’s Tiagra handled propulsion and braking, and overall, I was impressed by the lower-tier groupset’s performance. The 20-speed drivetrain had a good range without too many noticeable gaps, enabling me to hold speeds over 20mph on the flat and inch up the steepest inclines Hertfordshire and Essex have to offer.

The mechanical shifting was noticeably more sluggish than a Shimano Di2 electronic set-up – particularly when switching between the big and small ring at the front – but the premium option would add a significant amount to the bike’s overall cost, taking it firmly out of the sub-£2,000 market. The hydraulic brakes were confidence-inspiring and kept me in control, whatever weather spring could throw at me.

Most carbon fibre road bikes in this price bracket will feature unbranded wheels to help keep the price down, but the NCR comes with a Mavic Aksium wheelset as standard. They’d set you back almost £300 alone if buying separately, making them a great inclusion on a £1,600 complete bike.

The wheels themselves felt durable and agile. If you want to eschew inner tubes and say goodbye to the majority of punctures, the box includes tubeless tape pre-installed onto the rim and valves.

Not all of its components were great, though. The Hutchinson Fusion tyres ticked the robustness and puncture resistance boxes, but they did so at the sacrifice of comfort and performance and felt sluggish whatever tyre pressure I ran them at. The handlebar tape was also on the thin side, but this is easy to rectify.

Ride performance

Van Rysel NCR Tiagra review

(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)

I rode the NCR Tiagra for a month, averaging 100km of riding per week – my longest ride five hours in total. For the most part, I thought that the bike rode very well. At the end of my five-hour training session, I still felt relatively fresh and wasn’t suffering from any soreness on my hands, bottom or lower back that can arise when you’re sat in the saddle for that long. 

The NCR Tiagra was quite happy to churn through the miles at a consistent, steady pace, but was lightweight and nimble when out of the saddle – even helping me beat some Strava segment PBs that I’d set on a bike more than twice as expensive.

The only flaw I could find was its responsiveness. More premium carbon fibre road bikes have an almost fidgety ride feel, and react as soon as you lay down the power. The NCR was a marginally slower burn and it almost felt like the top-end of an effort was being lost and not transferred completely to the road.


Van Rysel NCR Tiagra review

(Image credit: Charlie Allenby)

The Van Rysel NCR Tiagra is a solid investment for someone looking to get their first carbon fibre road bike or even a second, cheaper training bike to use throughout the winter months, saving your other one for best.

Its design and build quality compensate for its lack of a big-name label, while its ride performance is hard to beat at this price point. It’s not without its flaws, but you’d do well to get a more capable and comfortable bike for your money.

Also consider

If you’re after a carbon fibre bike in this price range, there are fewer options than even a few years ago, but similar offerings are still available.

The Canyon Endurace CF 7 (all retailer links in this section) is £1,949 and includes a Shimano 105 groupset (the tier above Tiagra) and a Fulcrum wheelset.

A Tiagra-spec’d Ribble 872 Disc is a hair cheaper than the Van Rysel at £1,599, and although slightly outdated, the Boardman SLR 8.9 Disc can be picked up for £1,750.

Charlie Allenby
Freelance Journalist

Charlie Allenby is a journalist with a passion for pedalling, and his first book, Bike London, the definitive guide to cycling in the UK's capital, is out now. He’s got a decade of experience in print and digital journalism and has worked as a writer and editor for many consumer and content marketing publications, including  The GuardianThe IndependentBikeRadar and others.