Trek‘s innovative Domane wowed our testers last year and the flagship frames went on to race-winning success in the pro rank’s toughest races. The great news for the rest of us is that it’s the lower-tier alloy Domanes that get the biggest improvements this year.
HIGHS: ‘Decoupler’ ride is a genuine roughness-eraser without eating wattage
LOWS: The effects of the extra weight and upright ride position are unavoidable when you hit the climbs
BUY IF… You want the smoothest road ride possible without a noticeable performance trade-off
While the switch from a two-piece welded seat tube to a single hydroformed section might not seem earth-shattering, the 2014 frame is 80g lighter than 2013’s. That’s impressive because of the unique ‘Decoupler’ mechanism hidden under the top tube/seat tube junction’s neat rubber grommet.
The tubes are pinned together with a pivot, rather than a solid connection. this lets the frame flex more fluidly in response to road buzz and impacts: Russell Burton / Future Publishing
Rather than a solid connection, the tubes are pinned together with a pivot that lets the frame flex much more fluidly in response to road buzz and impacts. Add a smooth-riding fork and big 25mm tyres and the ride is limousine-like. Potholes that normally find sore fillings as surely as a dentist’s probe barely registered, and the longer the ride, the more noticeable the fatigue-reducing comfort advantage became.
What’s remarkable is that this smoothness doesn’t come with any noticeable loss of power transfer. The saddle might sway a little more than usual, but that just makes power application feel smoother – particularly on staccato surfaces – rather than soggy.
The tall head tube means a more sedate character to the ride while its overall weight tempers acceleration and climbing. That was most apparent on sharp, Strava-hunting test rides where the Trek would gradually slide off the pace as the gradient steepened. But the gaps started to lessen as riders on the other bikes began to tire over longer rides.
The tall head tube shows the trek’s less racy ambitions: Russell Burton / Future Publishing
Smooth, surefooted handling – albeit occasionally vague through the fork – meant the Domane became our go-to ride choice on days when we just fancied taking it easy or exploring battered backroads.
Features such as the screw-in mudguard eyes, rack mounts and computer sensors add an impressive practical element to a bike perfectly suited to big weekend rides after beating the bus into work and back across potholed city roads all week.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio