Trek Madone, Domane, Emonda Trilemma II

Which of the ground-breaking Trek 'Names' will work hardest to fit into your life?

Posted by Philip Cavell

27th February 2017

Segafredo Madone
Segafredo Domane
Segafredo Emonda

Trek Trilemma II - What's In A Name?

Our previous Trek Trilemma Journal concluded that: "Emonda and Madone are competing in overlapping arenas". But three years is a long time in Wisconsin, and Trek's Madone and Domane have both moved away from Emonda's centre-ground to more extreme versions of themselves. So it is time for us to reassess the proposition that each of these bikes offers to the performance rider. First up the most extreme bike on the planet. Trek's Madone.

Trek Madone - System Integration.

Jules Madone2

Jules brings half a century's worth of horse-power to a cutting-edge superbike. In Regents Park

“The Trek Madone is a bike that easily terrifies people - "Am I fast enough?" "Did I just make eye-contact?"”

The Trek Madone is a bike that easily terrifies people - "Am I fast enough?" "What will people think of me?" "Is it easy to ride?" "Did I just make eye-contact?" It is the bike that attracts the most attention in the room but is also the most intimidating. It looks like no other bike ever built and rides just like it looks. 

The bewildering quietness to both eye and ear when you are onboard for the first time is both stimulating and disturbing. Like the first time you ever listened to a Sony Walkman or drive an electric car. In our review last year we described the ethos and ride as a "tectonic shift" in cycling consciousness. 

A literal vertical wing designed to gently cleave air in a land-grab for watts-per-CdA saved in air-friction. And yes the Domane-derived Isospeed de-coupler will top-slice a fraction of vertical tension out of the road, but one look at the oversized seat-tube, compared to the Domane, should help you manage your expectation with respect to a 'magic-carpet' ride. All the hard-yards in Wisconsin were, we think, in the wind-tunnel and carbon labs innovating the invisible cable-routing and integrated bar/stem and Vector-brakes flaps. The code-name for this bike, we suspect  was 'integration' not 'isolation'. 

Stand-out Trek Madone SLR Features:

The world's first true 'Superbike' design

In that sense the Madone's competition are non-bicycle style-icon products

Aerodynamics, aerodynamics and, err, aerodymanics

Drag reduced is watts saved. Period.

System Integration

See above. Get everything tucked away to fight drag.

IsoSpeed DeCoupler

Yes but don't get your hopes up

Class-beating numbers

No bike saves more watts at speed. The more you give, the more it gives back. But really only north of 30 KPH

A re-concept of what a bike is

You sign up for that, or you don't. But no place for introverts. 

Made in USA

Rarer than you think. We only know of Trek of the big manufacturers, who still make high-end carbon in Wisconsin

Available in H1 & H2 geometry platforms

We take the X/Y's straight off the jig into Trek Pure Position frame-finder for precision perfection

Trek Project One

Trek Domane SLR is available through Trek Project One  - you can completely customise your own bike. 

Trek Emonda SLR - Gemini Heart

Jimmy Emonda

Jimmy Wilson from Cyclefit Covent Garden climbs in The Alps on and Emonda SLR. A role both are well qualified for. 

“Emonda is the original Gemini bike with two sides of a unified soul - stiff and light. ”

As we discussed in our Cervelo R5 v's Emonda SLR Test the Emonda is the original Gemini bike with two sides of its unified soul - stiff and light. That, in a sense, is kind of all you need to know about the Emonda - it is stiffer and lighter than any other bike you can buy. Period.  At 690 grams the Emonda frame was in 2014, and is now in 2017, the lightest bicycle frame ever made. Modern cyclery is all about data and Trek especially do data very well because they have the resources to buy wind-tunnels, aerospace engineers and enough hi-modulus carbon to keep them all happy. 

The Emonda SLR is commendably tough and resilient, especially when you consider its ridiculous weight. And the ride possesses a now legendary quality that lends confidence to anyone who has bought and rides one. Every Emonda owner speaks of  'the Emonda kick'  - that moment of pure power translation, that all high-end superbikes give - it's just that the Emonda gives more of it more of the time. We build more Emonda SLR project bikes than all the others put together. And for good reason - define the goal and you will define the bike. If the goal includes masses of climbing and descending then Emonda will be at the very top of that list. It just has to be. 

Trek Emonda SLR Stand-Out Features

Light(est) and Stiff(est)

Any questions?

Impeccable road-manners

Everyone comments how easy it is to ride Emonda fast. Everywhere.

H1 & H2 geometry

Cyclefit and Trek work very hard together to ensure perfection in set-up. There are no mistakes. 

Trek Project One

Trek Emonda SLR is available through Trek Project One  - you can completely customise your own bike. 

Available H1 and H2 geometry platform

Enabling precision fitting and positioning

Trek Domane SLR - Dolby Onboard

Domane Slr4

Trek Domane SLR in Covent Garden. Where else?

“Trek single-handedly took the 'lateral stiffness v's vertical compliance' over-used cliche - and made it into a physical reality ”

We have been huge fans of Trek's Domane since it was released in 2012. It was a truly innovative bike that disrupted the industry and re-calibrated how we expect to feel on a bike. It must have been similar to the moment Dolby was invented in the mid-60's to deal with background noise in recorded music.

 Trek single-handedly took the 'lateral stiffness v's vertical compliance' over-used cliche - and made it into a physical reality by way of an ingenious IsoSpeed pivot. Hence we were in a hurry to review the New Domane SLR the moment it came out last summer. Because in this second Domane imagining, Trek had dealt with its most frequently quoted detraction - the rear IsoSpeed works so well it can make the front of the bike feel a little, well, imbalanced, or even too stiff. 

The solution was simple to say, but one suspects much more difficult to innovate - put an IsoSpeed in the front of the bike as well. This has made the front of the bike 10% more compliant than the old model. At the same time Trek has made the Domane SLR's rear IsoSpeed adjustable, so you can tailor the amount of damping to a particular event or ride - on its softest setting the 2017 bike moves significant 14% more. People love riding their Domane and often can't quite put their finger on why. We can the geometry is just genius. Trek were brave enough to announce a low bottom-bracket, long-chainstay, bike into a race-obsessed market. Add in sensible toptube and headtube lengths and the whole Endurance experience is even greater than the sum of its parts. If you had to take one bike sight-unseen into an expedition scenario, it would have to be a Trek Domane SLR. 

Trek Domane SLR - Stand Out Features

Industry leading geometry

So profound it created a new category of bicycle

Dolby Onboard

IsoSpeed  - is not a gimmick and never was. Now 14% more compliant on the back and 10% on the front. 

Fabian's favourite bike!

He told us. Bred on the cobbles for use anywhere on the planet.

Pro and Endurance geometry

Available with Pro Endurance geometry and 700 Series carbon as a virtual team replica - as low and aero as you could ever wish. Endurance is plug-and-play for the rest of us.

Hidden mudguard mounts

There is nothing more exciting than mudguards in the winter.

Available with disc-brakes

About 50% of clients take a  Domane's Disc option. Note disc models have clearances for 32mm tyres

Trek Project One

Trek Domane SLR is available through Trek Project One  - you can completely customise your own bike. 

Madone Med
Emonda Med
Domane Med

A Trilemma

Each of the three bikes, Madone, Emonda, Domane is a category leader - most-aero, lightest, most-versatile - so impaled upon the three horns of this particular trilemma is no bad place to be. But these bikes represent very different propositions, and so when we are working with a client consulting on their position and a new bike we are very careful to draw out all the distinctions. 

Trek Madone SLR

The most singular and extreme bike in the world. Perfect if you race or are chasing Strava times or need an edge on a bunch ride. To make this bike work well you will need to have the horsepower to get it to threshold where the Madone will pay back to you, with interest, in watts/CdA saved. That minimum threshold is above 20mph. The madone SLR, is not the perfect bike, in our humble opinion, if you only intend to have one bike. Madone is not the most versatile bike in the peloton. But given the right circumstances and engine it is the most effective. It is no bad thing in a world of fruitless messaging to actually stand for something. Madone SLR does, and that is speed.

Trek Emonda SLR

The Emonda SLR is a bike that wears its heart on its sleeve. It is versatile enough under all conditions to be your only bike. It is also stiff, fast and light enough to beat anything on the planet in the watts/kg algorithm. Emonda is a standard that its owners quickly adjust to and then never want to trade down from. Emonda SLR is generally the starting point of an ambitious riding project or event - Marmotte, Haute Route, Etape. It is a statement of intent that the best bicycling equipment is sought and secured. To be clear the US made Emonda SLR is performs at a different level than Emonda S or SL - both fine bicycles in their own right

Trek Domane SLR

The most versatile bike ever made. The original Swiss Army Bike, developed in conjunction with the Swiss power-house himself, Fabian Cancellara. The law of unintended consequences dictated that the very bike conceived to give Trek Factory Racing and Fabian, an unfair advantage over the Belgian pave, just happened to bestow a huge functional advantage to thousands of amateurs the world over. The original DNA of the team bike is cloned in the magnificent Domane SLR 10 RSL. But most of us will ride the Endurance SLR rather than the Pro Endurance models. And for those of us that do we have a bike that we can throw at any road, any weather, anywhere in the world. if you are riding sight unseen there is only really a choice of one in this trilemma and it begins with D! Add in the fact that you can add wider tyres, disc-brakes, mudguards and then tune the suspension to the job and it is a surprise anyone rides anything else frankly. The Domane gives a few hundred grams to the Emonda SLR and a few watts per CdA to the Madone - and those metrics are important to a proportion of our clients. But for many of us that glorious low-slung geometry and magic carpet ride trumps all such considerations. It is a bike for all seasons and for all people. Think very carefully before you dismiss it!  

About the Author

Philip Cavell

Co-founder, bike fitter and bike designer. Phil rides a Seven titanium disc bike. He likes dogs and fine wine. - Cyclefit Store