Trek Domane RSL: First Impressions

Month 1: Getting to know each other

One of the very best bikes I rode over the last two years was the original Domane RSL, so when the newest version came out I was keen to try it. From memory the Domane does not blow you away on an initial ride, rather it takes a while to get under your skin but the more you ride it the more you appreciate its qualities.

RSL stands for Race Shop Limited and is a model developed for Trek's World Tour team. UCI rules mean that the bikes Pros ride have to be available to us mortals - as such it's low, stiff, aggressive and fast !
This is a limited run bike - and a very special one at that.

You can see why the Domane has been so successful in the UK. What was designed as a bike for the classics is really code for a bike designed for rubbish roads, and we fit that bill in the UK. The ability to easily take 28mm tyres (32mm as stock on the disc version) is a massive advantage; bigger tyres mean a smoother ride, give more traction and will puncture less.

In 2016 the Domane was updated and the rear IsoSpeed technology (in effect a de-coupler) now has a slider so you can adjust the settings - apparently you can make it as stiff as an Emonda or 30% more compliant than the previous Domane.
I must admit - I am not a tinkerer, and hate the choice as I am always convinced my spec will be the wrong one!
So I have left it pretty stiff so far: it's meant to be a race bike right?

The biggest change to Domane Mk 2 has been the fact that the IsoSpeed has now been brought to the front end of the bike as well.
I think it works, but its hard to tell, especially as this bike has massive 28mm tubulars on and these really cushion the ride feel already.

The Spec:

This is a £10,500 super bike, and as such it has all the best toys.

The aim is to run this bike for 4 months and do some proper testing on it. This is also a great chance to play with the new Di2 9150. I used to be a massive Di2 fan, but have increasingly [re] fallen in love with the purity of Dura Ace mechanical. So this will be a great test of how electronic groupsets have moved on…

The wheels are Aelous D5 tubulars; light, stiff and aero. What more do you need?

Saddle - normally I ride the Fizik Antares; but this shape seems quite similar.

First impressions:

On the limited riding I have done so far, this is another cracker from the RSL family. It feels very stiff when needed, but also much more compliant than most bikes on the Kent roads I train on.

New Di2 is a joy. The ability to drop down multiple gears is a welcome addition. The whole thing just seems crisp.

I love the geometry as well. The RSL has what's called 'Pro Endurance' geometry which is very aggressive. The bike also has a much more level top tube than the standard geometry Domane. I think it looks cool. And its red - there are not enough red bikes out there. If you ride this bike, people will stop and look at you, so you need to get used to that !

I have a triathlon next week, so have done most of my riding on my TT bike recently. Once that's out of the way it's back to a road riding focus and the Domane SLR will be my weapon of choice. Looking forward to it immensely!

See more photos on the Build Gallery. Please contact us for more details on the Domane RSL