Trek Domane 5.2 Review

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to ride a demo bike, a Trek Domane 5.2 which I rented from Wheat Ridge Cyclery. Over three consecutive days of riding, one in a downpour, I got a very good feeling for the bike.

The Domane is a newish (released in 2012) road frame Trek produces as more upright and relaxed than their racer, the Madone. In order to achieve this, they fitted it with 25 millimeter road tyres, as opposed to 23 millimeter, and designed the frame to set the rider in a slightly more upright position. The 5.2 is a mid range Domane (they start at 2.2 and go up to 6.9) with a 5 series carbon frame and full Shimano Ultegra drivetrain.

The standout feature of the Domane is the “isospeed decoupler” which causes the bike to be noticeably more comfortable over bumps. In traditional road bikes, the seat tube is more or less welded to the top tube of the bike, it has been this way for years.

_LLC3962-seat-tube,std

Take a look at this seat tube (the vertical tube), it connects to the top tube (the horizontal tube) seamlessly. This is a traditional set up and is probably the way your bike is constructed. On the Domane, they took a different approach.

 

 2013 Trek Domane 6.9 IsoSpeed Decoupler

If you look at this picture, you will notice that the seat tube connects to the top tube by a notch which is held in (if you removed the little cover) by a bold. There are some bearings in there which allow the tube to move about a little bit. As a result, movement in the seat tube does not necessarily translate to the rest of the frame and visa versa. In real life riding it almost feels like you are sitting on a comfort bike. In fact, you can feel the seat flexing a little bit when you sit down on it. Over the course of many miles, the stress it inflicts on your body is significantly less than regular road bikes.

Every model of Domane has this technology but not every Domane has the 5 series carbon, which seemed more than sufficient in lightness and stiffness. The bike comes equipped with a full Ultegra setup which includes an Ultegra 50/34 crankset and a 11 speed 11-27 cog cassette. The brakes are Ultegra as well. This particular model retails for about $3400. That is a lot to pay for a bike and other endurance road bikes may be a little less expensive for a similar frame. I noticed that other brands that are slightly less expensive are a similar frame, but they only run Ultegra shifters, derailleurs, and cassette; often substituting the crank with a FSA crank and brakes – thus not an entire Ultegra setup.  

Riding the bike was very pleasurable. As well as being comfortable, it was springy and fast – I had no trouble keeping up with people on proper race bikes. The Shimano group was buttoned down, reliable, and quiet. I didn’t miss any shifts on the cassette or the crank. The throw on the Ultegra is a little long but not obnoxious, if you are used to the 105 or Tiagra it will be familiar but sharper. Riding position was very slightly taller than I was used too, which wasn’t a problem. It made it much more comfortable to ride on the drops. If this represents a problem, it did come with three spacers on the head tube which could be removed to lower the handlebar position. I can’t comment on the saddle because I ride a Specialized Romin Evo which I mounted in the place of the Bontrager saddle that comes with it.

I am buying a new bike soon to replace my 2011 Gary Fisher aluminum road bike and this one is a very strong contender. The Specialized Roubaix SL4 Compact is another bike I will look at as is the Orbea Orca and the Cervelo R3. The latter two being proper race bikes. At this point; one of those bikes would have to be bloody fantastic to unseat the Domane.

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