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The 2015 Trek Domane 6.9 Endurance Race Bike

2015 Trek Domane 6.9 Endurance Race Bike

The 2015 Trek Domane 6.9 Carbon Fiber Endurance Race Bike

Two years ago I purchased a Trek Domane 5.9 Carbon Fiber Endurance Race Bike and after just one ride I thought there was no way possible for Trek to improve on that bike! One of the biggest selling points for the bike was that Fabian Cancellara (a.k.a. Spartacus) used this bike for the most painful pro bike race in Europe, the Paris–Roubaix (a.k.a. The Hell of the North). The Paris–Roubaix is a 157 mile race that takes place in northern France and large sections of the race is over cobble stones—making it a ride that can tear apart both cyclists and their machines. Trek developed the Domane as an endurance bike—it is a race bike that can help you endure rough roads, even cobble stones, with ease. I live between Chicago and Milwaukee and the roads in our area are horrible (like most of the upper Midwest). Our brutal winters cause even a new blacktop road to crack, crumble and disappear during the spring thaw—and the Trek Domane is the perfect road bike to ride over this mess.

As I mentioned in my last article, my 2013 Trek Domane frame was damaged by a component failure and Trek was kind enough to give me a new frame under their fairly generous warranty program. However, since my frame was two years old Trek did not have that exact frame available, so they upgraded me to a much more expensive 2015 Domane 6.9 Disc frame (thank you Trek!). I rarely take a stock bike home from the local bike shop—so in this article I would like to tell you about some of the upgrades I made. All of these changes were suggested to me by Grant Mullen, mechanic extraordinaire at Zion Cyclery in Zion, Illinois.

grant-mullen-zion-cyclery

Master Mechanic Grant Mullen From Zion Cyclery

The most expensive part of this project was the new wheelset (rims, hubs, spokes). Since the new frame was designed for disc brakes I was going to have to buy a new wheelset. I would have been very happy with the standard Bontrager Affinity Elite Disc wheelset (142×12 rear, 15mm front), but unfortunately it was out of stock. In fact, at this time of the year it was rather difficult to find anyone who had a compatible wheelset in stock. Fortunately, we were able to obtain a much lighter (i.e., more expensive) wheelset from Industry Nine Components. Their i25TL Disc wheelset comes with Torch Road system disc hubs laced with 24 Sapim CX Ray straight pull spokes. For the “weight weenies” among us, this wheelset weighs a mere 1455 grams!

Spyre SLC Dual Piston Mechanical Disc Brakes

Spyre SLC Dual Piston Mechanical Disc Brakes

Since my new frame was designed for disc brakes we decided to forego the standard Shimano RS785 hydraulic disc brakes and go with the Spyre SLC dual piston mechanical disc brakes (with a 160mm rotor). This set has Carbon actuation arms for maximum weight savings (156g per caliper). I wanted disc brakes for two reasons: First, I often get caught out in the rain and standard caliper brakes don’t stop too well when wet. Second, I am a big guy (borderline Clydesdale) and a fast descent from the hills can be downright scary—disc brakes provide a lot more stopping power for larger cyclists!

My two-year old bike had the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groupset (front and rear derailleur, shifters, crank) were still in great shape, so we kept them. This groupset provides the smoothest shifting you’ve ever experienced on a bike—even while climbing. In addition to smooth shifting, this unit also provides automatic trimming on the front derailleur. Since the bike was in the shop anyway, a new cassette sprocket (11-28T) and chain were also installed.

I live in an area where there is a lot of broken glass on the road so I had a new pair of Continental Gatorskin tires installed (700x25c with a 180 tpi carcass). However, Grant suggested I use their hardcase tires for even better protection. These tires offer triple flat protection: a Kevlar belt provides puncture resistance, anti-pinch ribs stop pinch flats, and bead to bead woven construction dramatically reduce your chances of cutting your sidewalls.

Bontrager DuoTrap Digital Speed And Cadence Sensor

Bontrager DuoTrap Digital Speed And Cadence Sensor

The Trek Domane has a cut-out in the frame so you can add a Bontrager DuoTrap Digital Speed And Cadence Sensor—since the sensor fits into the frame there is no added aerodynamic drag (and no ugly cable ties). Two years ago I bought the older DuoTrap sensor which was ANT+ compatible, but a few months ago I upgraded to the new Bluetooth model (I will review this product in the near future). The Bluetooth model is compatible with the Wahoo RFLKT Bike Computer and the Cyclemeter iPhone app (the greatest iPhone app ever made).

Duwayne Moss

Duwayne Moss Putting The Finishing Touches On The Bike

It took Grant nearly four hours to put my new bike together, but before he was done he had fellow mechanic Duwayne Moss wrap my handlebars. Duwayne has a reputation for turning bar tape into a work of art (when I try to wrap my handlebars it always looks like it was done by a three-year-old with ADD who had been drinking Red Bull). My favorite tape is the Lizard Skins DSP Bar Tape—this 3.2mm tape is made with DuraSoft Polymer (DSP) and provides a comfortable surface for your hands even on Century rides. It also allows you to keep a grip on your handlebars during a rainstorm!

The 2015 Trek Domane 6.9 Endurance Race Bike with disc brakes retails for around $8,300 and is only sold by authorized Trek dealers. I know that is a lot of money for a bike, but if you ride on rough roads you will never regret buying one.

As I left home to watch Grant put my bike together my dear wife suggested that I wear a T-shirt that she had bought me at Christmas (but had not yet worn). The front of the shirt, in very bold type, says, “I promise honey, this is my last bike.” The back of the shirt has a photo of a hand with the fingers crossed. My wife knows me very well.

 

 

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The Trek Frame Warranty—Good As Gold

Trek Domane 6.9 Bike Frame

A Trek Domane 6.9 Bike Frame

Fourteen years ago I wondered into the local bike shop, Zion Cyclery in Zion, Illinois, to purchase my first “shop built” bike. The owner of the shop, Don Daisy, showed me several entry level bikes, but he suggested that I get a Trek bike because it was well built and had a great warranty. Well, I took his advice and bought my first Trek bike, a 4300 Alpha Mountain Bike. A few years later I bought a Trek 1200 Road Bike, then a Gary Fisher Big Sur mountain bike (made by Trek). In 2007 I bought my first Carbon fiber road bike, a Trek Madone 5.2. When my youngest son came back from Iraq I bought him a new road bike to help him adjust to civilian life—a Trek bike, of course. Two years ago this month I dropped a major chunk of change on a Trek Domane 5.9 Carbon Fiber Endurance Race Bike. Due to family medical problems and two brutal winters this bike has only been on the road for a total of eleven months (but I was able to get over 6,800 miles on this bike alone during that time). Unfortunately, last week a faulty component damaged the frame and the local bike shop told me  the frame was going to have to be replaced!

Replacing a bike frame is not something any cyclist looks forward to, but this experience has really caused me to appreciate how Trek takes care of their customers! The local bike shop shipped of my damaged frame to Trek for inspection on a Thursday and by the following Friday I had a new (and improved) bike frame. I’ve had friends who’ve had warranty repairs with other brands of bikes and their experience was not nearly as pleasant as mine (their replacement took several weeks to arrive).

The Trek Care Limited Warranty gives the original retail purchaser of nearly all Trek bikes a lifetime warranty on the frame. This warranty is against factory defects, not accidents or stupidity (misuse, abuse, or neglect). However, if you damage your bike frame by trying to do a somersault off the roof of your house (obviously not a factory defect), Trek has the Trek Care Loyalty Program that will help you replace a non-warranty damaged bike frame at a discount.

The damage to my bike frame was caused by the BB90 bottom bracket—either the ball bearings were faulty or the bottom bracket was incorrectly installed at the factory. Regardless of the original cause, the bottom bracket got chewed up and damaged my Carbon fiber frame. I am convinced that what happened to my bike frame was a fluke—I’ve searched a lot of bike forums trying to find someone else with the same problem and couldn’t find one. Technically, this problem is not covered under the warranty—the bike frame did not have a “factory defect.” Here is where having a good local bike shop pays off! Grant Mullen, mechanic extraordinaire at Zion Cyclery, spent a good deal of time on the phone with Trek pleading my case. While the frame damage was not due to a factory defect, it was caused by a factory installed part. I was on “pins and needles” waiting for Trek’s decision. Thankfully, Trek went above and beyond what most companies would be willing to do and sent me a new bike frame (and fork to match). Since my damaged frame was two years old Trek could not give me an exact replacement, so they graciously offered to send me a much more expensive frame at no charge—a 2015 Trek Domane 6.9 frame (a much more expensive fame).

I think it is very important to point out that your local bike shop does not make any money while they are on the phone talking to the factory rep about your bike. Any extra time on the phone is pulling profit out of their business—they do it to provide customer service, not to fatten their bottom line. This is one of the reasons that when I need a new bike I never shop around for a lower price—I always go directly to Zion Cyclery because I know that they take care of their customers after the sale (and that can’t be said about a lot of bike shops).

In my next article I will tell you more about the 2015 Trek Domane 6.9 and how I had it spec’d out.

 

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Bontrager LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

A few months ago I bought a new Felt F65X Cyclocross bike and it came stock with Vittoria Cross XG Pro 700×32 tires (150tpi). Those tires looked like they would shed mud extremely well, but I was concerned about how well they would handle glass and road debris (I live in the Chicago area and broken glass is everywhere). After looking at several cyclocross tires I finally settled on a new set of Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires.

Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

Bontrager LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

The Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tire is lightweight and has “triple flat protection.” Since I live in an area with a lot of broken glass on the roads I used to get a lot of flat tires, but that problem has almost entirely ceased since I put Bontrager Hardcase tires on several of my bikes. This tire is intended for use on paved streets and packed light trails. While not a true cyclocross tire, it does shed mud fairly well. Bontrager claims that the tread on this tire will last 50% longer than standard tire treads—I have put over 1,000 miles on this tires and they still look like brand new!

Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

Bontrager LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

The recommended tire pressure for the 700x35c tire is between 60 and 80psi. I am a larger rider so I keep the tires at 80psi when I’m on the road and 75psi when I’m on the trails. I am sure there are other tires on the market that would work just as well as these, but I have to tell you that I love these tires! One of my favorite off-road rides is a 60-mile route on the Des Plaines River Trail in Lake County, Illinois. The trail follows the Des Plaines River and is mainly crushed limestone—but when it rains it gets pretty muddy. In the past few months I’ve set several new personal time records on this trail and I think the Bontrager tires are part of the reason (the new Felt F65X didn’t hurt either).

The Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tire retails for around $45 and is covered by Bontrager’s unconditional 30-day performance guarantee (you’ll be satisfied, or they’ll take it back).

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2013 in Bicycle Tires, Product Reviews

 

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Bontrager Unisex Balaclava

Even though I own several different brands of balaclavas, I am always on the lookout for one with better features. A few weeks ago the owner of the local bike shop showed me the Bontrager Balaclava and I decided to try it out on a few cold weather rides.

Bontrager Unisex Balaclava

Bontrager Balaclava

The feature that appealed to me most about the Bontrager Balaclava is the way the front folds down so you can get a drink or eat a carbohydrate gel. The Bontrager Balaclava fits well and offers full head, face and neck protection. It is thin enough to easily fit under your helmet, but thick enough to provide real warmth. The flatlock seams on this headpiece means that, unlike some balaclavas, you won’t have the imprint of a seam on your forehead for several hours after your ride is finished.

Some balaclavas are so thick that they restrict your ability to breathe (not a good thing during aerobic exercise). I had absolutely no problem breathing while riding with this balaclava. However, the fabric around the mouth held moisture like you wouldn’t believe! All of the balaclavas I own hold moisture to some degree, but this one held a lot more than most. One other negative with this item is that because it holds moisture it will also fog up your glasses every time you stop. On the other hand, the way this balaclava folds down in front makes me love it anyway.

While Bontrager does not usually have “top of the line” clothing, I do think their products are reasonably priced and offer a decent value for the cost. In addition, Bontrager offers one of the best guarantees you will find anywhere for cycling product: “If for any reason you’re not satisfied with the comfort of your Bontrager saddle, shoes, or technical apparel, return the item(s)—along with the original sales receipt—to the place of purchase within 30 days of purchase date for exchange or store credit.”

The Bontrager Balaclava retails for $25 and should be available at any bike shop that sells Trek bikes. If there is not a Trek dealer in your area you can order it online from hundreds of different Trek bike shops. This balaclava only comes in one size and one color (black).

If you are looking for a higher quality balaclava I would suggest the Seirus Combo Clava—it is lightweight, extremely warm, quick drying and highly breathable. The main body of this clava is made of Polartec fleece and the smaller face mask part is made of contoured Neofleece. Neofleece is really five layers rolled into one. The first layer is the outer shell, the second is a waterproof liner, and under that is fleece lined Neoprene, followed by Thermolite insulation and finally a wicking Microfleece lining next to your skin.

 

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Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey

I can read the calendar and I realize that mid-November is not the time most cyclists are looking to buy another short sleeve jersey. However, you know that you are going to by a jersey or two next year, so why not shop for them now when most bikes shops have them on sale? Bontrager cycling clothing, found at your local Trek dealer, is moderately priced and decent quality (but not on the same level as Pearl Izumi). The Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey is a comfortable cycling jersey that should be more than adequate for most cyclists.

Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey

Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey

The Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey is a semi-fitted jersey made with %100 polyester, a moisture-wicking, fast-drying fabric. This jersey has a 1/4 length zipper and the elastic band around the hem is covered so the hem stays in place.

Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey

Three Back Pockets With Reflective Piping And Logo

On the back of this jersey you will find three standard storage pockets. One very nice touch on this jersey is the reflective piping—there is a vertical stripe on each end of the pockets, along with a reflective logo on both front and back. I wish every jersey came with at least this much reflective piping!

This jersey is available in three colors (Black, White, Red). Why would anyone buy a black cycling jersey? I would never wear a black jersey on the road—I bought this jersey for off-road trail use only. Do you know why? I live in an area where one of the local bike clubs likes to ride on the same off-road trails I use. In my experience most of the guys in this particular club are simply obnoxious (just like their loud jerseys)—they are rude to walkers, joggers and other cyclists on the trail. I wanted a black jersey so no one who confuse me with one of these jerks. The good news is that during the winter these guys are all riding their bikes on a trainer down in their basement so those of us with Fat Bikes can have a good time playing in the snow.

The Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey retails for $35, but it is no longer listed on the Bontrager Website. However, you have a very good chance of finding it at your local Trek dealer. Any local bike shop will probably have this jersey on closeout with at least 20% off. It is also still listed at numerous online retailers (sometimes for as low as $20). This jersey is made in China.

 
 

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Bontrager Solstice Cycling Helmet

This past spring one of my sons decided to take up cycling and in the process of getting him ready for hitting the road I gave him my favorite cycling helmet (a beautiful Giro road helmet). He liked the Giro helmet because it was so lightweight (certainly lighter than the Kevlar helmet he wore in Iraq). Since I have several other helmets for special uses (night, rain, MTB) I decided to replace the Giro with an inexpensive Bontrager Solstice Cycling Helmet.

Bontrager Solstice Cycling Helmet

Bontrager Solstice Cycling Helmet

The Bontrager Solsctice is a durable, lightweight helmet that provides excellent airflow due to the large air vents. This helmet is a “one size fits most” and unless you are either very petite or have a large head it should fit you well. Bontrager’s propriety “Micro-Manager Fit System” make this helmet very easy to adjust.

Since I planned on using this helmet for riding on the road I took off the “removable snap-on visor” that comes pre-installed on the helmet. Unfortunately, the plastic pins that hold the visor on place broke while I was taking it off the first time—which means I will never be able to put it back on the helmet. Several “wicking pads” on the inside of the helmet not only make the helmet comfortable, but dry as well. These wicking pads are held in place with Velcro and are both removable and washable.

The Bontrager Solstice cycling helmet comes in four different color combinations and retails for $45. You should be available to find this helmet at any bike shop that carries Trek or Bontrager products. If you can’t find a dealer in your area, you can always buy it online from the Trek Store. If you are looking for a helmet that will make it easier for motorists to see you, please see the review I wrote for the Hardnutz Hi-Vis Yellow Bicycle Helmet.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Bicycle Safety, Product Reviews

 

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Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Bicycle Tires

Sometimes it is pretty easy to figure out what kind of tire you need for your bike. If you spend all your time riding on paved roads then you get a smooth road tire that will greatly reduce rolling resistance. If you spend your time on off-road trails then you buy a knobby tire so you get great traction. However, what type of tire do you get if you have to ride on a paved road just to get to the off-road trail? My favorite tire for this type of situation is the Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Bicycle Tire.

Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Bicycle Tire

Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Tire

The Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Tire has a semi-slick center tread that offers minimal rolling resistance while you are on the road, and slightly aggressive outer stability knobs on the sides so you get great cornering, even in wet weather. The 26×2.0 tire weighs 750 grams and is listed as having 60 TPI (threads per inch).

As an added bonus, this tire has Bontrager’s Hardcase triple puncture protection. First, there is an aramid (a strong heat-resistant synthetic fiber) belt that helps prevent tread punctures caused from glass or stone. Second, there is an anti-cut casing that also resists cuts from glass and other sharp objects. And third, it has an anti-pinch sidewall to prevent snake-bite punctures (this is the type of puncture you get from hitting hard objects like railroad ties or potholes).

Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Bicycle Tire Close-up

Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Tire

I have used this tire on one of my mountain bikes for a long time and would highly recommend it to anyone who rides a hybrid bike or uses their mountain bike for both road and off-road riding.

As a final note, Bontrager tires come with an unbelievable guarantee: “All aftermarket Bontrager tires are unconditionally satisfaction guaranteed for 30 days from the date of purchase. If you—for any reason—don’t like your new Bontrager tire, return it (along with your original sales receipt) back to the place of purchase within 30 days of purchase date for full refund or exchange.”

The Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Tire is available in two sizes—the 26×1.5 tire retails for $40, and 26×2.0 retails for $45. This tire is available at local bike shops all over the United States and Europe, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them in stock at a dealer near you.

 

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