The entry-level machine in Trek's famous Madone line, but just because it's the baby does that mean it can't perform like a grown up?
Ride & handling: stiff & taut
The Trek Madone 4.5 delivers taut, responsive handling that excels on smooth Continental road surfaces. But its light frame and fork combination falls short of setting any new benchmarks in tackling the sort of broken surfaces you tend to encounter on UK roads.
That said, we noticed a marked improvement in comfort by swapping out to wider 25mm tyres.
Trek claims its pricer OCLV frames have stiffer bottom brackets than the Madone 4.5 but we didn’t notice any chain rubbing problems with the standard Shimano two-piece cranks on this baseline Madone.
Most of our test riders felt that the Madone's handling made it a good choice for group rides.
With its comfort/stiffness sportive balance deﬁnitely leaning towards the stiff end of the scale, the Trek is especially recommended for medium to heavy riders. It would be well suited to those who like to mix sportives with the odd road race.
Frame: entry level Trek carbon
The Madone 4.5gets the name from seven times Tour de France winner, and Trek rider, Lance Armstrong’s favourite training run, and the 4.5 is the entry level model. It uses an unspeciﬁed grade of TCT carbon manufactured in Asia and is distinct from the rest of the Madone range that use OCLV frames built in its Wisconsin plant in the States.
Though most of the Madone range is available in both racer-oriented Pro ﬁt or Performance ﬁt geometry for sportives, the 4.5 is available only in the latter version.
Trek’s trademark ControlCore construction is, in essence, size-speciﬁc tube wall thicknesses so that all frame sizes have the same level of shock absorbency and handling characteristics.
It may lack its more expensive brethren's 90mm bottom bracket axle but only the heaviest riders will notice the difference.
Equipment: light parts keep overall weight down
The Madone is well specified for the money with Bontrager and Shimano 105 components. There's an optional triple chainset for those who aren't sure that they would have enough gears with a compact chainset.
From every angle the Trek’s radically shaped tubing looks impressively fast. Closer inspection reveals the absence of the dedicated, press-ﬁtted, stiffer bottom bracket axle bearings that mark out the more expensive bikes in the Madone range but we don’t feel this is detrimental to the bike.
The Select VR 44cm bars have a relatively shallow bend that encourages the use of the drops, while the Bontrager Race saddle has padding in all the right places.
The combined weight of the Madone's drivetrain and ﬁnishing kit is lighter than you'll find on some more expensive bikes.
This all adds up to a great level of kit for the money and there’s the beneﬁt of the triple chainset option.
Wheels: light but strong
The Bontrager Race wheels, tyres and cassette are impressively light for a bike of this price, and lighter than you'll find on substantially more expensive bikes. Nevertheless, they are still strong enough for even the heaviest of riders.