While it takes some brands several years to trickle down their latest technologies to lower priced bikes, Trek have introduced their radical IsoSpeed decoupler design right through their new Domane range. The result is an outstandingly smooth and enjoyable high-miler.
Highs: A new level of smooth cruising, sweet handling and surefootedness but responsive under power
Lows: Tall position and weight mean it’s not the fastest climber, and you only get Tiagra
Buy if: You want the ultimate in high-speed cruising comfort
Instead of a fixed connection between top tube, seatstays and seat tube, Trek’s ‘IsoSpeed decoupler’ pivots let the seat tube bow back and forth in response to road or rider loads. A slimmed down pivot section at the top of the tube also means you get a more flexible skinny seatpost, while the Affinity saddle is generously padded too. Add broad rimmed Bontrager wheels and Trek really are declaring war on belligerent backroads and bad backs alike.
Being naturally cynical we headed for the nearest heavily potholed country lane we could find. But any hopes of exploding hype were dashed immediately, as the Domane genuinely soaks up a startling amount of surface abuse without knocking you off your stride.
The slim fork blades and rolled back dropouts do a similar – if not as dramatic – job up front. Add a tall ride position and chunky taped compact bars and the Trek breezes over the roughest sections that would blow other bikes all over the place. The fixed plane movement keeps tracking reliably predictable too, syncing with Trek’s confident, relaxed handling plus traction-enhancing ‘suspension’ to make the Domane an outstandingly assured descender.
It’s great to see trek’s effective decoupler on a bike at this price: Russell Burton/Future Publishing
It’s great to see Trek’s effective decoupler on a bike at this price
What’s really remarkable is how good it feels under power. Despite fat, thick walled tyres, low wheel weight keeps rotating responsiveness reasonable and even with the decoupler our large size frame still wasn’t that heavy. But the Tiagra means extra weight too, so it’s not the most avid climber or speedster.
Once you’re rolling, however, the limousine-like smoothness sustains speed very well and there’s no shortage of stiffness through cranks and chainstays to keep the speed topped up with a burst of torque either.
Finally, while you can get it to ‘row’ backwards and forwards if you really try, the triple chainset means you’ll never struggle to spin rather than stomp. Neat little touches such as the screw-in guard and rack mounts make it a practical choice too.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.