For the past six years my main road bike has been a Trek Madone carbon fiber racing bike—I bought it in 2007 on the same day that Alberto Contador won the Tour de France while riding for the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. However, since I am a distance cyclist instead of a racer I’ve finally decided that I needed to switch to an endurance bike instead of a racing bike. I tried out a Felt Z2 and while it is an excellent endurance bike, I finally decided to buy a 2013 Trek Domane 5.9 with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset.
Like the Specialized Roubaix and Felt Z2, the Trek Domane is an endurance bike designed for very long rides on rough roads. These are all high-quality carbon fiber machines and engineered to absorb some of the bumps that can wear you down on Century rides. All of these bikes are in the same price range, but after careful consideration I decided the Trek Domane was the best value and suited my needs the best. After all, if it’s good enough for World Champion Fabian Cancellara, it’s good enough for me.
Like the last eight bikes I’ve bought, I got this one from the local bike shop (Zion Cyclery in Zion, Illinois). It’s not just that they have great prices, but they also have the best mechanics you will find anywhere. As I mentioned in a previous article, they have six full-time mechanics who work all-year long (that is very rare in our part of the country). Most bike shops in the Upper Midwest lay their mechanics off in the fall and usually start with a new crew the following spring. I really don’t want the kid who was putting bikes together at Toys “R” Us last Christmas working on my bikes!
In addition the OCLV Carbon frame which does a great job of reducing road vibration, the Trek Domane has a few other features to give you a comfortable ride without negatively impacting your speed. If you peel back the bar tape from the handlebars you will see a pair of red IsoZone handlebar pads that reduce vibration displacement by 20% (according to Trek).
One of the most unusual (and innovative) design features of this bike is the “IsoSpeed decoupler” that isolates the movement of the seat tube from the rest of the frame. The bottom line is that you can maintain a smooth cadence even over very rough roads!
The Trek Domane 5.2 comes with a standard Shimano Ultegra groupset (front and rear derailleur, shifters, crank, but for some unknown reason a Shimano 105 cassette). However, for around $1,200 more the Trek Domane 5.9 comes with a Shimano Ultregra Di2 groupset—a battery operated groupset! This means you are going to have 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.
The Shimano Ultregra Di2 shifters look a lot like standard Shimano STI levers, but they offer digital push button shifting and an ergonomically designed hood (it is very comfortable). With no more effort than clicking the button on a computer mouse you can shift gears! Is it worth the extra cost? Give me a few weeks to decide.
This Shimano Ultregra Di2 groupset runs on a high-performance lithium-ion battery (7.4 V). This battery should run for about 1,200 miles between charges and it can be recharged in only 90 minutes (with the included charger). The battery weighs 71 grams and is mounted under the bottom bracket. This groupset comes with a compact chainring set (50T–34T) and a high-performance Ultegra chain.
While the Trek Domane is nearly perfect as is, but I did make a few changes for my comfort. First, I had the Bontrager handlebar tape swapped out for Lizard Skins DSP Bar Tape—this tape is made with DuraSoft Polymer (DSP) and provides a comfortable surface for your hands even on Century rides or longer. Next, because I live in an area where there is a lot of broken glass on the road I had a pair of Continental Gatorskin tires installed before I left the shop. The Trek Domane has a cut-out in the frame so you can add a Bontrager DuoTrap speed and cadence sensor with no added aerodynamic drag, so I had one installed and hooked it up with a Bontrager Node 2.1 (this display includes a heart monitor). I also took off the stock Bontrager Affinity 3 saddle and put on the Planet Bike ARS Standard Anatomic Relief Saddle.
The 2013 Trek Domane 5.9 retails for $5,150 and is only available from an authorized Trek dealer (a WSD model is also available). Yeah, that is a lot of money for a bicycle—but I don’t gamble, drink, smoke or chase women (except my wife). I could have just put the money in the bank and saved it for retirement, but the truth is that I will probably never retire. I enjoy my vocation and as long as I have my health I want to continue working—it seems to me that the quickest way to die is to retire! By the way, if you are in the market for a gently used Trek Madone (54cm) drop me a note—I am putting it on Craig’s List next week.