Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women’s Road Bike review£3,000.00

A road-smoothing endurance bike that's fast on climbs too

BikeRadar score5/5

The Domane is one of three bikes that make up the racing triptych of the Trek fleet and is a sibling to the Madone and Emonda. While the Madone is all about aerodynamic optimisation and the Emonda is focused on low weight and climbing ability, the Domane has been built for comfort over long distances, and it really does deliver.

  • The Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women’s Road Bike is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
The Trek Domane SL 6 wins Women's Road Bike of the Year 2018

Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women’s frame

Trek has recently committed to unisex frame design with women’s specific finishing kit. This means the men’s and women’s Domane SL 6 Disc share the same frame with sex-specific finishing kit such as saddles.

Built for comfort, the Domane still excels at smooth, efficient speed
Built for comfort, the Domane still excels at smooth, efficient speed

Both the Domane frame and forks are carbon (a standard material at this price point), and come with internal cable routing.

Trek’s IsoSpeed technology has been around for some years now, offering a decoupling device that allows the carbon tubes to make tiny movements independent of each other. This innovation offers relief from bumps in the road without resulting in a flexible, speed-sapping ride.

Trek has used this for some years to help aid compliance around the seatpost, essentially allowing it to flex independently of the top tube and seatstay, without compromising the structural integrity of those units, and it’s remarkably effective.

The recent addition of IsoSpeed to the front of the bike is a stroke of genius and creates a road-smoothing ride quality, while keeping the frame’s tubing stiff enough to transfer every bit of power in the back end, and the steering sharp and predictable.

IsoSpeed at the front decouples the headset from the frame of the bike, helping isolate the hands and arms of the rider from road chatter
IsoSpeed at the front decouples the headset from the frame of the bike, helping isolate the hands and arms of the rider from road chatter

Having tried almost every kind of comfort gimmick in the endurance cycling world, I can confidently say this is the best on offer, mainly because it performs without sacrificing the important things, such as steering, control or pedal power for the privilege.

Getting the right bits soft and the right bits hard is somewhat of a dark art in bike design, but Trek has pulled it out of the bag. This was most notable on climbs, with every inch of my efforts noticeably driving the bike forward.

In fact, I managed to grab a few personal bests on my local hills, even after testing a lighter bike early that morning — proof that weight isn’t everything.

Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women’s spec

The Domane SL 6 offers a full Shimano Ultegra 2×11-speed build, including Shimano’s Ultegra flat mount hydraulic disc brakes, which are a punchy set of stoppers. The Bontrager Paradigm Disc wheels are a clean and aesthetically pleasing set.

Cables are routed internally for a clean, neat look
Cables are routed internally for a clean, neat look

However, the real talking point is the Bontrager R2 Hard-Case tyres in a whopping 32mm.

Not only do they offer excellent grip on corners, but they made every road feel like I was riding on freshly laid tarmac.

The fatter 32mm tyres allow for low and comfortable air pressures without sacrificing rolling resistance. Within reason, the lower pressures decrease rolling resistance and reduce fatigue by absorbing small bumps and vibrations.

The Domane frame even comes with hidden mudguard mounts, a chainkeeper, and the RideTuned seatmast where the seatpost topper slides over the frame’s seat tube, instead of into it.

The last in that list means you really need to make sure you buy the right size, otherwise there won’t be enough saddle-height adjustment range. It’s worth taking your time at your local bike dealer/Trek stockist.

Trek Domane SL 6 Women’s Disc overall

On climbs, the compliance keeps you fresh while the efficiency helps you power on up
On climbs, the compliance keeps you fresh while the efficiency helps you power on up

When Trek says the Domane offers “blistering speed” as well as “comfort and stability”, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this must be marketing bull, or that something would have to give somewhere, but you’d be wrong. Trek has accomplished the Holy Grail of endurance bikes with the Domane, demonstrating both compliance and power transfer in the frame and phenomenal climbing to boot.

The Domane is not the lightest of bikes, with my 54cm test bike coming in at just over 8kg, but I'm not talking much here, perhaps the weight of a spare tube and some CO2 canisters.

If weight is a deal-breaker, then I’d say the extra cost is worth every penny, but frankly, the Domane SL is so good at climbing and accelerating that it will almost certainly beat lighter competition anyway.

It’s never going to be a criterium sprinter, but it’s not designed to be, so for this reason I can’t bring myself to mark the Domane down on anything.

It’s not just a great endurance bike, or women’s bike for that matter, it’s just a great bike, full stop.

Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women’s price, sizes and availability

The Trek Domane SL 6 Disc Women’s is available for £3,000 / $3,499 / AU$4,499 and comes in five sizes: 47, 50, 52, 54 and 56, covering a rider height range of 153cm to 181cm, or 4ft 11.5in to 5ft9in, making it one of the most extensive height-range offerings on the market.

As the frame is unisex, taller riders can opt for the 58 and above frame sizes, though may wish to swap over the finishing kit such as the saddle to suit personal preference.

Also consider...

If you're in the market for a bike and want to know what else is on offer, have a look at the following list of tried, tested and reviewed options.

Want more? BikeRadar Women has loads of women's cycling news, reviews, interviews and advice and more.

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