This latest Domane has huge tyre clearance, and that's a
statement of intent from Trek, they're recognising that the
boundary between endurance road bikes and gravel/adventure bikes is
becoming blurred. They already have a plush endurance road machine,
why not make it more capable?
Of course this raises the question of what this means for the
Checkpoint, their gravel-specific model. That has an abundance of
mounting points for racks, bags and bottles, can take tyres up to
45mm wide (to the Domane's 38mm) but only has IsoSpeed at the rear,
and still takes a pressfit bottom bracket. It poses an interesting
choice - dedicated off-road adventurers are still likely to favour
the Checkpoint, but this new Domane is going to appeal to a lot of
roadies who encounter the occasional trail.
My main take-away from my time on the new bike is that it's
amazingly comfy - even more so than the Specialized Roubaix (which
had leapfrogged the previous generation in terms of shock absorbing
capability). It seems that Trek and Specialized are engaged in a
battle to see who can make the comfiest performance bike -
something that's of great benefit to us riders!
Trek's latest generation IsoSpeed, with the adjustable rear
damping on SLR models, is a tech tour de force, and this might well
be the smoothest riding performance bike I've ridden.
The storage compartment underneath the downtube bottle mounts is
a welcome addition, and is genuinely useful. Interestingly it also
enables Trek to bring in more of their integration, not just the
well-established DuoTap sensor in the chainstays but things like a
dedicated mounting point for their daylight running lights on the
rear of the seatpost (since you're less likely to need a seatpack
with the internal space available - although the choice is there if
you want it).
But it's a big boy; 8.5kg! I found myself thinking 'Cadillac'
plushness. This is not a bike that is focused on speed, but that
extra comfort is the key factor. If you're comfortable you're going
to be able to ride harder and longer, so for non-race situations
(or in races where the road surface may be poor quality - or
cobbled) a few extra grams is no hardship.
I have to mention, too, our test bike in ICON series paint is
absolutely stunning. The Cosmos paint scheme attracts a lot of
positive comment, and is just one of the gorgeous finishes
available via Trek's Project One programme.