Trek have just launched their third generation Domane. This bike has pushed the envelope since its inception, way back in 2012. It was originally built for the Cobbled Classics, with the thought of absorbing the impacts of rather rough terrain whilst still being an agile race bike. Trek's road-smoothing Front and Rear IsoSpeed was launched with the first Domane platform back in 2012 – which was quite revolutionary at the time. Of course, since then, the goal posts have shifted somewhat. Trek wanted to ensure it was coming to market with not only new innovations, but closer alignment to everyday rider needs. It’s now here and I travelled a long way to cover the launch in Italy (my air travel aside). Here’s our first impressions:
On board the all-new Domane, the first thing that comes to mind is fluidity – it just has an ease of pedal efficiency. Secondly, the supreme smoothness – it was like riding whilst sitting on a couch. Thirdly, the great geometry – it’s got a race feel without having the soreness of getting into an aggressive position. Lastly, the overall feel – it doesn’t have the certain snappiness you’d expect from a race whippet, but it does offer stability and all-day comfort.
This is all backed up by Trek’s claim to make their all-new Domane SLR and SL faster, smoother, and more versatile than its predecessor. Domane now features an all-new aerodynamic frame with internal cable routing, clearance for tyres up to 38c, and a proven endurance geometry that's right for most road riders. Both versions of the Domane will come equipped with 32c tyres - the trend of bigger is better (and faster) is gaining traction. I think having the capability of getting 38c tyres into the frame makes it very versatile and appealing to today’s rider, as more and more cyclists search for routes on and off the tarmac.
I should note there are two key standouts: Domane SLR models feature the same damped Adjustable Top Tube IsoSpeed as Trek's newest Madone models, which allows riders to fine-tune compliance to their preference and terrain. I have used it on the Madone and have been impressed with how it performs, not only with comfort, but ease of use. And, the addition of the new integrated storage system - it’s hidden into the frame behind the top bottle cage. This includes a multi-tool and a new Bontrager BITS (Bontrager Integrated Tools and Storage), which is a storage bag that securely holds flat kit essentials and integrates cleanly inside Trek bikes equipped with BITS internal storage capabilities.
On one of the test rides we (another editor and myself) got to explore some gravel roads whilst the sun was going down in the late evening. Before we jumped onto the Italian dirt farm roads, I adjusted the IsoSpeed to be more compliant, which took less than five minutes. The instant comfort wasn’t immediately noticeable, however once the dirt got under my tyres it was. The ruts and potholes (I rode over them purposefully) seemed to be easily absorbed. Of course, this needs more long-term testing on our rougher gravel roads, but my first impressions were good.
Another addition that I like is the new internal storage compartment. I know, this company is not the first to market with something like this, but it’s a good innovation that I think more companies should adopt. I like to ride long, and frankly I hate loading up my pockets and bike with the tubes and tools required. Having a handy spot inside the frame to hide all this is really good. Plus there’s room for lollies, which we found out on the launch as the Trek staff hid Haribo packets in there. The ideal treat when going long!
Overall, first impressions are good - it’s comfortable and capable. It feels fluid but does lack a little zest when out-of-the-saddle. However, this could be down to it being more pointed towards an endurance bike and a larger crankset (not standard) that was fitted to the media bikes. We’ll need more time on this bike to give it some thorough rides and will bring an in-depth review to our upcoming print edition.
Words: Liam Friary
Photography: Geoff Waugh & Dylan Remis
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