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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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Trek Domane 5.9 Carbon Fiber Endurance Race Bike

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.

Trek Domane 5.9 Carbon Fiber Endurance Race Bike

Trek Domane 5.9 Carbon Fiber Endurance Race Bike

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.

Expert Mechanic Alex Calder Assembling My New Trek Domane

Expert Mechanic Alex Calder Assembling My New Trek Domane 5.9

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!

Note the red IsoZone handlebar pads that reduce vibration

Note the red IsoZone handlebar pads that reduce vibration (the bar tape has been removed)

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).

Trek Domane's IsoSpeed Decoupler

Trek Domane’s “IsoSpeed Decoupler”

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!

Shimano Ulltregra Di2 Front Derailleur

Shimano Ulltregra Di2 Front Derailleur

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.

Shimano Ultregra Di2 shifters

Shimano Ultregra Di2 Shifters

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.

Shimano Ultegra Di2 Lithium Ion Battery

Shimano Ultegra Di2 Lithium Ion Battery

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.

 

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