We've always been fans of the Trek Madone, from the early Lance days to more recently as it went all aerodynamic and borrowed the IsoSpeed decoupler from the Domane for a silky smooth ride that set it apart from most other aero bikes. If you missed it you can read our review here.
But progress doesn't halt for anything in the bike industry, especially in the field of aerodynamics, and today Trek has unveiled a brand new Madone. We always get sit up and take notice whenever Trek launches a new bike because it usually releases something exciting and technologically interesting.
Aerodynamics, and reducing drag, is an obvious focus for the new bike, but Trek's aim has actually been to maintain the aerodynamic performance of the previous Madone whilst adding new features such as the IsoSpeed decoupler, disc brakes and all whilst keeping the weight down.
Even so, Trek validated its development of the new bike in the San Diego Wind Tunnel and tested it at an average -12.5° to 12.5° yaw sweep, which it reckons it the most common range of wind angles a cyclist has to contend with. The new bike produces 3,216g of drag compared to 3,203g for the Madone 9 Series. The new bike produces more drag, but Trek explains this as a "14g difference that is within Trek's project goal and within a wind tunnel's experimental error band."
It also tested the new Madone against its nearest rival, the Venge ViAS, and Trek claims its new bike produces less drag.
(This data is slightly tempered by the fact that Specialized has just launched the new Venge which is claimed to be 8 seconds faster than the Venge ViAS it replaces. How the Trek Madone compares to the new Venge will be an interesting comparison.
But Trek says what really sets the new Madone apart is how it combines advanced aerodynamics, superior ride quality and ultra-lightweight into the best race bike available today.
We're seeing a lot of uptake with disc brakes, but unlike Specialized and Cannondale who have fully committed to disc brakes, Trek is aiming to keep all of its customers happy by offering the choice of rim or discs. Which you choose comes down to personal preference, and we like that. Choice is a good thing.
Disc brakes have their advantages, and they are gradually winning us over, they aren't without their drawbacks. Trek has worked to ensure the new Madone with discs offers no aerodynamic penalty compared to the rim brake Madone.
Adding disc brakes has an impact on the aerodynamic performance, and addressing this was pivotal to the new Madone, as Trek explains.
"Disc brake adoption was a critical pillar during the research and development phase of the new Madone. Aerodynamics and brake hose routing were two areas that needed to be addressed and carefully considered."
"On the aerodynamic side, disc brakes become a concern when considering wind at yaw on the non-drive side of the bike. Maintaining fully internal hose routing required Trek to explore unique ways to route both the rim and disc brakes through the lower head tube bearing.
"To overcome this obstacle, Trek bonds in a routing tube to easily push brake hose from the fork leg up to the steer tube for a trouble and tool free experience."
Disc brakes usually mean increased tyre clearance, and the Madone is designed around a 28mm tyre.
Aero bikes commonly come with a noticeable weight penalty compared to regular lightweight road bikes. A Tarmac or Emonda builds into a much lighter bike than a Venge or Madone.
"Trek went to great lengths to ensure the new Madone frame could aid in reducing or maintaining bike weight from the current Madone," it explains.
"The effort resulted in a bike that has additional features that benefit the rider, and is as fast and light as the current Madone."
That means the rim brake Madone weighs the same 7.1kg as the previous model, but with the extra features of adjustable IsoSpeed. For the disc brake Madone the company set a 7.5kg target which it achieved.
"Bike weight is a tangible feature that athletes and consumers greatly care about. Creating one of the best all-around aero race bikes requires a delicate balance of aerodynamics, frame stiffness and by extension of those two, the bike's weight," says Trek.
The IsoSpeed decoupler has become a key technology of Trek road bikes. First seen on the Domane many years ago designed to provide a smoother ride over the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, it has since found its way onto other models in Trek's range, from the Madone to the Boone and the ProCaliber mountain bike.
The original IsoSpeed was fixed, you can't change it, but the second generation Domane introduced the first adjustable IsoSpeed, allowing you to determine how smooth a ride you want depending on the road quality and personal preference. And this adjustability comes to the new Madone.
The IsoSpeed decoupler is integrated into the top tube and provides a 17% increase in compliance in the softest setting and a 21% stiffer ride in the firmest setting. That's a huge difference and really ensures it's going to appeal to a much broader user base than before.
I didn't find the original Madone too soft, in fact, a softer ride would have been nice, but my demands are very different to the Trek factory team who probably, like most racers, want it as stiff as possible! That's the big appeal of the revised IsoSpeed, it suits a wider set of ride preferences than before.
The other interesting change is improved motion control. An elastomer damper has been added to provide rebound control from impacts, a 13% reduction compared to the old Madone. That should contribute to increased stability.
Trek also adds that a side benefit of the relocated IsoSpeed is more closely matched vertical compliance across all the frame sizes since the top tube seat mast is of a similar length.
"Subjective test riding, instrumented test riding, and lab testing were among the validation procedures to inform Trek that this new method of Adjustable Compliance Technology was performing as expected and allowing a rider to adjust the vertical compliance at the saddle," says Trek.
Trek is novel in the bike industry in offering a choice of geometries that reflect the differences in demands between the pro racers and real-world amateur cyclists. Its previous H2 fit had a taller stack that suited cyclists that didn't need the aggressive position of the pro-favoured H1 fit.
The new Madone SLR is now only available in a new H1.5 geometry which splits the difference between the two.
Trek says it "hits the sweet spot for a wide range of sizes as it balances a traditional aggressive race geometry with a position that more athletes can hold longer with more comfort."
The Madone SL will only be offered in the more relaxed H2 fit.
The Madone SLR is offered in men and women's versions, using the same frame and fork but built with different saddles, handlebar widths and stem lengths.
Of course here at Bespoke Cycling, we can help you to customise the fit of your new Madone to your exact requirements, and when you buy from us - even if you opt for an "off the peg" complete bike, we will swap any contact points as required for the perfect fit, at no extra cost.
We are also specialists in Trek's Project One programme, allowing you to choose every last detail of your Madone build, from the huge range of custom paint schemes, through component choices, right down to the colour of the bar tape.
Integration is everything with an aero bike. Hiding components out of the airflow decreases drag helping you to ride faster. The Madone rim brakes were already a work of art, but it has now moved the front brake to the rear of the fork to improve the aero performance.
The brakes have also been worked on to provide easier setup and maintenance. They're compatible with up to 28mm tyres and the spacing screws allow easier tyre and rim width adjustment.
The last neat detail is that a Bontrager Flare RT rear light can be attached directly to the seat mast below the saddle.
The final piece in the aero road bike jigsaw is an aerodynamic handlebar, to reduce the frontal surface area and also to maximise the integration by tucking all the cables out of the wind.
Trek designed a beautiful one-piece carbon handlebar and stem for the previous Madone, but the downside was you couldn't easily adjust bar width or stem length.
Trek has addressed this by developing a new two-piece handlebar and stem, so the Madone can now offer a much broader range of bar widths and stem lengths making it easier to dial in your fit.
Trek have also introduced a special ICON range of Project One paint schemes, exclusive to the Madone SLR.
These stunning special edition colour schemes really set the Madone apart, and have to be seen to be believed.
Take a look at the full range of ICON options in our overview here.
The Madone SLR 9 Disc with Dura-Ace Di2 and Bontrager Aeolus XXX 6 TLR wheels costs £10,000.
The Madone SLR 8 with Dura-Ace Di2 and Bontrager Aeolus Pro 5 TLR wheels costs £6,750.
The Madone SL range, which uses OCLV 500 over 700 carbon, costs from £3,600.
If you're interested in the new Trek Madone and want to find out more, please get in touch and we'll be happy to discuss the options.
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