Decathlon introduced new brands for its cycling products in 2019. The premium end of the road range will carry the Van Rysel label, these bikes and cycling accessories will cater primarily for the performance oriented road rider.
In previous years the name B’twin became synonymous with cycling. Few in number are not aware of this brand or its linkage to the French sport equipment giant. However, as of this year the management at Decathlon decided to segment its product range, each sport receiving a specific brand identity. Not only the specific labels undergo a change, but the structure of the company will follow suite. Consequently each branch of sport will have its own dedicated team within Decathlon. The members of the teams will be chosen according to their preferred sport, harnessing their expertise and motivation in the field.
Cycling is not considered one sport by Decathlon. It’s been separated into three main segments: road cycling, MTB and leisure riding. The mountain bike segment will run under the Rockrider brand name which has been used extensively in previous years. The leisure division will carry the Triban marque which also includes the entry level road market. The performance segment of the road biking range gets completely new branding: Van Rysel. Not a French name by the sound of it, in fact it comes from Flemish denoting the expression “from Lille”. As we have previously reported, the Northern French city of Lille is where the cycling headquarters of Decathlon is based.
The breakdown of its sports range signals a change in attitude at Decathlon. The rebranding provides greater focus on the given branch of sport, with similar shift in attitude in product development. The consumer is the greatest beneficiary of the change, since products will be designed by members of the organization who have extensive experience in the given sport. Just think of how much difference it makes when a road bike has been the work of an engineer who regularly takes on the tarmac roads, and conversely MTB equipment has been developed by an avid mountain biker!
The Van Rysel brand was introduced at the Velofollies bike exhibition in Belgium early this year. We had the opportunity to take part at the event which turned out to be a great spectacle. In the first year, Decathlon aims to communicate the new image and design through clothing and various cycling equipment. This came with quite kick despite the fact that the top-of-the-line bike models remain technically unchanged from the previous season, receiving by and large a new paint finish to reflect the Van Rysel design concept. On the other hand, a new concept bike was also revealed at the event, which served to demonstrate where the brand would like grow in the coming years.
Taking a glance at the concept bike was a bewildering experience for most visitors. It’s hard to associate such futuristic design to the present Decathlon image. There are more than a few truly innovative technologies found on this display model, such novelties are generally in the ballpark of major cycling brands with vast R&D background. We were told that most of the technology is not yet production-ready, nevertheless we could certainly expect such level of innovation from Van Rysel bikes in the near future.
It’s also interesting to note how Decathlon envisages the future of performance road bikes. The French company places great emphasis on aerodynamics: every single aspect on this concept bike reflects this objective. The handlebar is fully integrated, the cables are well-concealed, and a computer developed in house is built into the “cockpit”. Furthermore, the bottle cages seem to be integrated into the frame, which we cannot recall ever having seen on production road bikes. Personally I’m very curious how many of these features will be retained in the final production version. If the majority of these innovation make it to the market, Decathlon will have a truly spectacular bike in its range!
Turning our attention to the other Van Rysel bikes on display, we instantly recalled what we’ve written in the review the B’Twin Ultra 900 CF last year. The bike turned out to be a great up-to-date road rig offering an incredible bang for the buck, but we had to observe the fact that: “we only get a B’Twin logo on the frame and not an established big brand name with a long-standing tradition in road bikes.”
From now on the humble finish and the divisive B’Twin brand image is gone, we get a much better looking modern road bike with a new fresh image, and a name that sound so much better than the previous one.
In accordance with the Van Rysel bike range a new clothing collection was launched, offering a coherent esthetic design at a very competitive price. Decathlon finally abandoned the previously seen dreadful colors, replacing them with a truly elegant, trendy look. The outcome speaks for itself!
We’ve also seen the Van Rysel logo on some astonishing new road helmets and shoes. The latter could be considered the real big shot, a top-of-the-line road footwear presenting the most advanced features of current shoe design. It has a full carbon sole, a turning dial closure and a very competitive price tag. In fact, this very model was worn by the winner of a stage at the 2019 Giro d’Italia!
Next to the previously mentioned concept bike stood a manikin dressed in a stunning hi-tech kit. Similar to the bike, Decathlon was showing us where it would like progress regarding cycling wear in the coming years. Thus we may see an aerodynamic skinsuit with biosensor technology, a time trial helmet and aero shoe design in the near future. The French big box store may be cutting off more than it can chew, but who are we to critique such ambitious deeds!
Van Rysel will have a full collection of bikes and cycling wear designed especially for women. The collection will have the same technical level and quality of the rest of the range, the only difference being the target audience. The bikes will feature women-specific frame geometry, equipment best suited to the female anatomy and clothing that most women would enjoy wearing while out on a ride. On the rather frugal cycle-wear market in Hungary, women are especially advised to visit a Decathlon store to find a proper selection of outfit. In the next installment we’ll take a closer look at the women’s range.