The third incarnation of Trek’s most versatile bike, the Domane, promises a faster and smoother ride but it’s not all about performance. The Domane is also more versatile and better equipped to handle routes both direct and off the beaten path.
Words: Alex Malone
In a season where speed is everything but versatility and ride quality is King (and Queen), the third generation Trek Domane puts its IsoSpeed head tube in front with an offering that leaves little untouched.
Bigger is better with the Domane and while geometry remains untouched from the previous ensemble – available in both Endurance and H1.5 fit – the all-new variety comes equipped to swallow tyres up to and potentially beyond 38mm. Stock models come with 32mm rubber and for the majority of us, the evidence suggests we will experience a faster and more efficient ride with larger tyres. Given the versatile nature of the current Domane, we’re not going to argue.
All-important ride quality is taken care of with the front and rear IsoSpeed decoupler system for improved damping and control. Two levels of Domane remain in the range; SL and SLR with the high-end SLR model receiving the revised top-tube adjustable IsoSpeed as found on the latest Trek Madone. And because size-specific tubing is standard these days, Trek goes one step further with the IsoSpeed system to ensure each size provides a consistent ride feel with a reported 27% increase in compliance over the previous year model.
Tidying up the front end is done thanks to a revised semi-integrated cable management system that does away with proprietary parts and instead opts for a more traditional bar and stem configuration. Brake and gear cables or wires tuck neatly into specific ports behind the steerer and with improvements made to tubing shapes, the new Domane shaves around a minute per hour off its predecessor. The details behind the claim are a little light on tech but Trek says the Domane is absolutely quicker, saving around 12 watts at 40km/h. That’s the most important aspect, according to Trek.
With riders from Trek-Segafredo frequently choosing the Domane platform for races across the cobbles and gravel, including Strade Bianche – where it’s taken victory previously under the legs of Fabian Cancellara – any advantage in the speed department is welcome.
With all that speed there’s little surprise the Domane isn’t challenging the UCI limit, even with the OCLV 700 tubing found on the SLR model (SL uses OCLV 500). That said, from our first impressions you also won’t find yourself off the back due to any additional gravitational pull, despite still to hang one off the scales. Rest assured, it’s around the mark for bikes of this calibre and we’ll be getting the real numbers from a review bike in the coming months. Until then, just take our word for it that it doesn’t feel light to lift but on the road, or trail, it moves along just fine. In similar style to Trek’s road lineup, the Domane will come into Australia to meet an extremely wide budget with a SL 5, SL 6, , SL 7, SL 7 eTap, SLR 9 and SLR 9 eTap available from today.
“This is by far the fastest Domane we’ve ever made,” says Jordan Roessingh, Trek’s Director of Product for road bikes. “The new design improves on all the best-loved parts of the previous generations. It’s smoother, more integrated, and more capable than ever, and it brings better performance to a broader audience.”
Don’t call me gravel
Stocked with 32mm as standard (excluding the race spec Domane SLR 9 eTap, which comes with 28c tyres), versatility is the detail that stands out when taking a glance over the new offering. Given the identical angles, Trek suggest that 28mm is the narrowest tyre you’ll want to consider (that was previously standard) and if that’s still too wide, you’re probably after something more like a Madone or Emonda. If you’re already the sort of rider who prefers the plushness of wider rubber, start with the Domane.
Scrolling through the imagery for the Domane, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a speedy gravel weapon. Well, it is but it’s not, if that makes sense? Sure, it’s got hidden fender mounts and could, at a pinch, probably take you deep off the beaten path without a hiccup but for true gravel riding and cyclo-cross racing, there’s the Checkpoint. The Checkpoint is built to withstand the toughest adventures and is equipped with a more basic Rear IsoSpeed decoupler. We’ve spent hours aboard the Checkpoint and taken it to a number of locations for sealed and unsealed riding but for the do-it-all rider, the Domane does it all pretty well.
To contradict ourselves a little it’s worth pointing out that those with a true need for speed may be eyeing off the Domane closely. For the type of rider who sees little drop in average speed across tarmac and gravel alike, the Dome is quite likely to become the racer’s weapon of choice – with a few caveats. First off, you’re going to be limited by tyre width and the subsequent conditions experienced out on course, let’s say ‘race track’. In dry and smooth conditions, the Domane will is at home but if things get chunky and wet, clearance will undoubtedly be your downfall. The Domane doesn’t include the Checkpoint’s burly underside carbon armour either which, with all-new Project One Icon colours available from today, will likely end in tears.
If you are the sort of rider who wants one bike to do it all, across any season and nearly any terrain, comfortable and quickly, the Domane comes to the party. With minuscule fender mounts integrated into the forks and frame, the Domane can promptly transform into a wet weather or winter crusher and still accomodate 35mm tyres while the revised T47 threaded bottom bracket shell is said to provide a more reliable (read; quiet) drivetrain interface while still providing compatibility with all cranksets. Did we mention the Domane is disc only? If you’re the sort of rider who wants wider rubber and lives for a little off-piste action, discs don’t even come into the equation. They are a given.
Bits and bobs
Now for the really fun part: the integrated storage solution found inside the downtime. Trek call this feature BITS with the Domane featuring a handy and extremely accessible storage zone under the down tube bottle cage. Flick a lever, lift and voila! The BITS Tool Roll is revealed. Sadly, the space in here is just a little too small to fit a can of refreshing ale but it will happily store a tube, tyre levers, Co2 head and canister and potentially a few more items. We’re yet to push the storage zone to its limit just yet but rest assured, we’ll return soon with a list of things you can store inside this compartment.
Those crafty Trek engineers may have made your Bontrager saddle bag obsolete with BITS but the space leftover now allows for an integrated Flare R taillight to sit, according to Trek, in the “perfect” position. We’ve been using the Flare R for a little while now and we’ll say that while it’s conveniently opened a place for the light to sit uninterrupted, it’s ability to keep you visible during the day and night makes us approve it’s inclusion. There’s also a revised seat post mast which now slides inside the seat tube, rather than over it. With more fit options and a revamped saddle clamp configuration, it doesn’t hurt that we think it also looks far cleaner too.
And while we got to spend a little time aboard the new Domane prior to its release, we are holding back a touch until getting one (or two) under foot for an upcoming Big Ride. You’ll also find a full review of the all-new Trek Domane in an upcoming issue of Cyclist.
Head to Trek Bicycles Australia for full details including specification options and pricing.