Takeaway: The Van Rysel EDR AF 105 is a budget-friendly aluminum road bike that gets the small details right.
External cables, threaded bottom bracket, and no proprietary parts make it easy to service
Complete Shimano 105 11-speed groupset
Aggressive fit that doesn’t alienate riders who prefer a more upright riding position
Weight: 19.5 lb. (M)
Readers who live in North America may be unfamiliar with Decathlon, a French sporting goods Goliath with over 1,600 locations in 69 countries. Van Rysel is its cycling-specific house brand. The EDR AF 105 is a budget-minded aluminum road bike that exemplifies the high-quality, price-conscious ethos of the company. Hung with a complete Shimano 105 11-speed groupset and rolling on Fulcrum Racing 6 wheels, this $1,500 machine warrants serious consideration from anyone shopping for a high-quality yet cheap road bike.
5 Things We Love About the Van Rysel EDR AF 105
The elephant in the room is that the rim brakes and quick release levers leave the bike looking decidedly old-fashioned. If thru-axles, big tire clearance, and the more consistent all-weather performance of disc brakes are important to you, look elsewhere. But there’s a trade-off. At this price, disc brake-equipped bikes are heavier than the EDR AF 105 and use cheaper components. They also tend to be the more comfort-oriented endurance road bikes.
But Rim Brakes!
The Specialized Allez Elite and Cannondale CAAD Optimo 1 are outfitted and priced similar to our EDR AF 105. However, both swap Shimano brakes and cranks for cheaper third-party products, while the Van Rysel retains Shimano’s extremely good rim brakes. This brand may, for now, elicit quizzical looks and questioning glances from those unfamiliar with it, but this bike has the chops to go toe-to-toe with similarly priced products from the biggest manufacturers in the world.
The frame can fit up to 28mm rubber, and upgrading to tubeless tires (with the help of a conversion kit) would add even more compliance. Still, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the EDR AF to disc brake-equipped road bikes that can fit tires up to 32mm (or more), but those bikes also tend to be priced well above the EDR AF 105. For riders prioritizing more of a race-inspired ride over larger tire clearance and comfort, this bike offers a ton of value.
Out on the road it had that classic, lively feel of a quality aluminum bike: snappy and stiff without being overly harsh. Carbon bikes are beautiful in the way they can make you feel as though you’re gliding over pavement, but a good aluminum bike like the EDR AF 105 gives an altogether different feeling: snappy and stiff, with a lively and invigorating connection to the road. This is a performance-oriented rig with high-quality components that’s a compelling choice for riders who want a no-frills road bike suitable for a wide range of uses from daily driver to fast group rides, and even some racing.
Van Rysel EDR AF 105 Details
Wheel Size: 700c
Fork: Carbon and aluminium Van Rysel
Drivetrain: Shimano 105 R7000 11-speed
Cranks: Shimano 105 R7000
Chainring: 50 x 34
Cassette: Shimano 105 11 x 32
Brakes: Shimano 105 R7000
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing 6
Tires: 25mm Michelin Lithion
Saddle: Van Rysel Sport 900
Seatpost: Van Rysel racing, aluminum
Handlebar: Van Rysel 6061 T6 aluminum compact handlebar
Stem: Van Rysel oversize aluminum stem
Tire Clearance: 700c x 28mm
EDR Family—a Home for Rim-Brake Diehards
It’s unclear which models Decathlon plans to bring to the U.S., and prices have yet to be finalized. Because of this, the prices you see here are listed in GBP as found on the Decathlon UK website. One thing is clear, however: The Van Rysel EDR family is a safe haven for those still mourning the death of rim brakes.
Of the nine models, five still sport the dying style of brake. Two, our EDR AF 105 and the EDR AF Ultegra (GBP 1,500) roll on aluminum frames, while the EDR CF Centaur (GBP 2,000), EDR CF Ultegra (GBP 2,800), and the lovely EDR 940 CF Dura-Ace (GBP 5,000) are carbon.
To those who are aghast at the prospect of buying a bike in 2021 with rim brakes, there are some bikes for you: the EDR Carbon Disc 105 Women’s (GBP 1,800), the EDR CF 105 Disc (GBP 2,300), and the EDR CF Ultegra Disc (GBP 3,000).
There’s even a gravel bike, the EDF CF Carbon Gravel GRX (GBP 1,900).
Aggressive but Accommodating Fit
In many ways the EDR AF is a bike with a simple formula: take what works well and don’t mess with it. My medium test bike had 392mm of reach. That’s on the long side for this size, but the relatively short 100mm stem made up for it. Combined with a 551mm stack it gives riders the ability to find a very aggressive riding position. However, those riders will need to ditch the 20mm headset cap for a flat one. The short stem and tall headset cap are a nice way to balance out an otherwise aggressive fit, making the bike a decent option for riders who prefer both comfort and race-oriented riding positions.
Snappy, Lively, and Exciting to Ride
I really loved the sporty feel of the EDR AF 105. It felt as though every watt of every pedal stroke went right down through the drivetrain and into the wheels to propel me forward. I never found the bike to be overly harsh, and thought it was as smooth as one could expect from an aluminum rig rolling on skinny tires. The combination of 50/34 chainrings and an 11-32 cassette made it easy to find my rhythm on rolling terrain, and never left me looking for more on the steepest climbs. Under full power while out of the saddle the EDR AF 105 matched my effort with lively eagerness and no perceptible flex in the frame. The only weak spot was the Fulcrum Racing 6 wheels. I find it hard to fault stock wheels on a $1,500 bike for not being exceptionally stiff, but with such a solid platform it stood out.
The Shimano 105 groupset was another high point. It just plain works. The shifting was crisp and precise, with particularly smooth and pleasant shifts from the front derailleur. The inclusion of the complete 105 groupset, namely the brakes, is something rarely seen at this price. This bike may have rim brakes, but they are damn good ones.
Great Value If You Can Live Without Disc Brakes
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a big fan of aluminum bikes. They’re light, offer an engaging and efficient ride, and the frames tend to be more durable than carbon. They aren’t as light or smooth as their fibrous counterparts, but the price break can, for many riders, more than make up for the performance differences. The Van Rysel EDR AF 105 deserves serious consideration from anyone looking to spend less than $2,000 on a road bike.
You Might Also Like