We loved last year’s top-ﬂight 6 series Trek Madone, describing the Project One as ‘highly technical, super-light, super-stiff but above all incredibly comfortable’, and awarding the 6.9 Radioshack 10 out of 10.
So we were pleased to hear that the 2011 second-tier 5 series is based on the ﬂagship frame. Compared to last year’s beefy, oversized tubeset, the new 5 series Madone has a classy, minimalist look, and Trek claim this diet has reduced frame weight by more than 150g.
While the top-of-the-range Madone is still built in the USA with Trek’s OCLV technology, production of the 5 series has moved to Asia and uses TCT – Trek Carbon Technology – a process that, according to Trek, has made the Madone 5.9 15 percent stiffer than 2010 frames.
Unfortunately, that extra stiffness has turned what was a sublimely cushioned ride into something more neutral. It feels much more of a racer’s tool – it’s great whipping it up to a sprint, but when climbing or riding along on the ﬂat the overriding feeling is of rigidity.
Our demo model came with a mixture of Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra – a Dura-Ace chainset and rear mech combined with Ultegra front mech, brakes and levers. The remainder of the bike is ﬁnished with in-house Bontrager kit, including Race Lite RX wheels, a carbon seatpost, and aluminium bar and stem.
The wheels are simple, solid and not too weighty, while the bar and stem combo keeps the front end sharp with no real ﬂex to be felt except on the roughest surfaces. The new frame has fully internal routed cabling which gives the bike a much neater look, but will make maintenance something best left to your local bike shop.
Overall, the Trek 5.9 seems less of a sportive machine and more an out-and-out race weapon, more about efﬁciency and less about being a nice place to be. Ultimately, we’re a little disappointed by that.