Trek Road Bikes - the ULTIMATE review 2017
by Andrew Culture
Trek Road Bikes: The Best You Can Buy, In Almost Any Price Range
Trek Road Bikes are everywhere. Even casual riders are familiar with Trek, whether it’s from the company’s pioneering work in the field of carbon-fibre frames, the brand’s many celebrated racing successes, or the glowing reviews of these exquisite machines that make every rider dream of owning one.
What many don’t realise is that it isn’t necessary to be a world-class cyclist, or spend between £8500 and £10,500 for an Émonda SLR 9, a Madone 9.9 or a Domane SLR 9 Disc, to experience the exhilaration of owning a Trek. The company makes exceptional lines of road bikes built for every type of riding – racing, adventure and pleasure – in very reasonable price ranges that almost any cycling devotee can afford.
What Makes a Trek Road Bike So Special?
Start with engineering. Trek, of course, pioneered carbon-fibre frames using patented OCLV (Optimum Compaction, Low Void) technology; they utilized a special resin developed by NASA for the Space Shuttle to create the world’s lightest commercial bike framesets. OCLV limits the air bubbles inside the frame, making it faster and lighter than the TCT process used by many competitors to make carbon frames. And unlike those competitors, Trek still uses this technology today (at its own manufacturing facility, not outsourced to China or elsewhere), refined for even more speed and performance.
Trek’s higher-end road bikes all feature these industry-leading carbon-fibre frames. Many of the company’s more affordable models have aluminum frames, but it’s not the same inexpensive aluminum commonly seen on competitive bikes. Trek’s research and development team, along with experts in metallurgy, have created a new standard: Alpha Aluminum frames, not only light and surprisingly strong, but able to deliver performance comparable to some of the most popular carbon-fibre bikes on the market.
The Trek model number will tell you what combination of carbon-fibre and aluminium is used for the model; SL and SLR bikes have full carbon frames and forks, S bikes have the same but with an aluminium steerer, and ALR bikes have carbon forks and aluminium frames. All are exceptional choices in their respective price ranges.
The other engineering breakthrough that makes Trek the leader in road bikes is its development of IsoSpeed decouplers, in cooperation with Classics champion Fabian Cancellara. IsoSpeed is why Trek models are so compliant on rough and challenging terrain, yet more comfortable to ride over distances.
In a nutshell, Trek’s IsoSpeed goes in a different direction than the supposedly-improved suspensions or vibration dampers seen on competitors. The process decouples the top tube and seat tube, allowing the seat assembly to flex independently while the frame remains stiff and “one” with the road. That means a smoother and easier ride, since the fatigue of road riding isn’t transmitted to the rider. A Trek bike maintains the handling and power transfer a rider expects, but increases compliance dramatically.
The company continues to improve its IsoSpeed technology, adding IsoSpeed decouplers to the front of higher-level Domane models, while making the rear decouplers adjustable and adding IsoZone padding to its industry-leading E2 asymmetric steering handlebars. This makes these bikes even more balanced and comfortable to ride, and it’s another example of how Trek’s engineering is so far ahead of the competition.
Trek also meticulously selects the rest of the components on each of its road bikes, from Shimano derailleurs, shifters and chains, to its own highly-praised Bontrager Race handlebars, tubeless ready wheels and tyres. When combined the advanced design of these machines, shifting is flawless, handling and acceleration are outstanding and the ride is virtually effortless. It’s hard to believe how lightweight – and gorgeous – the whole package can be.
Choosing a Trek Road Bike
Trek makes three series of road bikes, all widely praised by reviewers and favoured by professionals. Before we take a closer look at each of the Trek road bike series let’s have a look at how these bikes perform in reviews. To make the table below we looked at the reviews for comparable, or very nearly comparable models on each website.
Trek Road Bike reviews
|Bike Radar||Road.cc||Cyclist||Cycling Weekly|
** Madone** The Madone is designed for racing, pure and simple. It’s designed for aerodynamic perfection and independent testing has shown it to be the fastest road bike available, yet it’s incredibly comfortable whether you’re in the middle of a difficult race stage or just out challenging your friends.
Trek Madone 9.5 H2 2018 Road Bike
Since this is Trek’s signature racing line, you won’t find many models available that might be considered “reasonably-priced” for weekend warriors. The least expensive is the Madone 9.0, at £3500 – but oh, what a bike. The 600 OCLV carbon-fibre frame and fork, along with the IsoSpeed decoupler, provide the ultimate balance of weight, compliance and efficiency you won’t find in any other racing bike in its price range.
The imaginative design, from the KVF tube and fork (with carbon E2 steerer) to the positioning of the components (including brake cables that are run internally) make the handling and aerodynamics of the Madone nearly perfect. The drivetrain is Shimano Ultegra, the caliper brakes and tyres are Bontrager, the ride is soft, fast and responsive, and this beautiful machine looks like it belongs at the front of the pack. As we’ve already said – oh, what a bike. Find out more about the Trek Madone range…
** Émonda** The Émonda is many pros’ bike of choice for hilly terrain since it’s the lightest road bike that Trek produces. It rides like a dream on flatter terrain, but it climbs and descends as if you were simply tackling gradual inclines.
Trek Emonda SL 5 2018 Road Bike
You’ll find eight models (not counting the ones designed specifically for women and children) of the Émonda in what might be called a “reasonable” price range for most amateur riders, £500 to £2000. At the low end is the £1000 Émonda ALR 4 and the ALR 6 is at the high end at £2000; each has an elegant look and performance that will amaze you. The framesets are 300 Series Alpha Aluminum with carbon E2 steerers, Shimano drivetrains and brakesets (Tiagra for the ALR 4, Ultegra for the ALR 6) and Bontrager rims, tyres (R1s for the ALR 4 and R2s for the ALR 6) and components.
The extras on the ALR 6, including a carbon seatpost and an Elite stem, improve the ride even more than on the ALR 4, but make no mistake: you’ve never taken steep hills as easily and comfortably as you will on an Émonda. Find out more about the Emonda range of Trek Road Bikes…
The Trek Émonda was ridden by none other than the recently retired Alberto Contador, here’s what he had to say about his favourite bike. The video is in Spanish, but has English subtitles, and it is well worth watching.
** Domane** The Domane is also fast and able to tackle hills with confidence, but it is Trek’s best bike for endurance challenges. Combining IsoSpeed with Trek’s Endurance Geometry technology (for example, a head tube that’s slightly higher to increase stability), Domanes are able to glide over bumps, ruts and potholes without hesitation and they turn a ride over difficult terrain into a real pleasure, instead of a rider’s worst nightmare.
Trek Domane AL 2 2018 Road Bike
This Trek road bike series is considered by some to be the company’s “middle of the road” bike because it performs well for all types of riding, and it’s also the most accessible for those on a budget. There are nine models in our “reasonable” price range, from the £650 Domane AL 2 with a 100 Alpha Aluminum frame, to the £1900 Domane SL 5 fully loaded with a 500 Series OCLV carbon-fibre frame and front and rear IsoSpeed decouplers.
Despite the 8-speed AL 2’s low price, it’s still a great example of Trek’s technological know-how. It’s lightweight yet completely stable, featuring Shimano Claris and Bontrager components, dual-pivot brakes and a ride that will let you keep going comfortably for hours on any terrain. It’s an ideal “entry level” road bike.
In addition to IsoSpeed and the carbon frame and steerer of the 11-speed SL 5, the higher-level model includes many extra design feature you wouldn’t expect at anywhere near its price. An E2 tapered head tube, direct mount brakes with internal cabling, a Shimano 105 drivetrain and brakeset, flawless Bontrager components, a Ride Tuned seatmast, and even extra tyre clearance to accommodate the terrain you may encounter on a tough course. One more thing: whether you choose the SL 5 in matte dark blue with sky blue accents, or in charcoal with viper red accents, you’ll turn heads. Find out more about the Trek Domane range of bikes…
Trek Road Bikes – why you can’t go wrong
Trek has meticulously crafted a lightweight machine for every preferred type of road biking, with the very latest and advanced technology as well as striking good looks. Racing, climbing, endurance – there’s no question why world-class riders choose Trek, year after year.
The full range of Trek Road Bikes – massive comparison table.
|Model||Groupset||Brakes||Weight (KG)*||Price (at time of publishing)||More information|
|Trek Domane AL 2 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Claris||Alloy dual-pivot||9.92||£625||Click here…|
|Trek Domane AL 3 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Sora||Alloy dual-pivot||9.77||£750||Click here…|
|Trek Domane AL 3 2018 Womens Road Bike||Shimano Sora||Alloy dual-pivot||9.71||£750||Click here…|
|Trek Crossrip 1 2018 Adventure Road Bike||Shimano Sora||TRP Spyre C 2.0 mechanical disc||11.15||£950||Click here…|
|Trek Domane ALR 3 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Sora||Tektro T731||9.44||£1,000||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda ALR 4 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Tiagra||Shimano Tiagra||8.89||£1,000||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda ALR 5 2018 Road Bike||Shimano 105||Shimano 105||8.47||£1,350||Click here…|
|Trek Domane ALR 4 Disc 2018 Womens Road Bike||Shimano Tiagra||Shimano RS405 Flat Mount hydraulic disc||9.75||£1,400||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SL 4 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Tiagra||Shimano Tiagra||8.58||£1,500||Click here…|
|Trek Domane ALR 5 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano 105||Shimano RS505 flat mount hydraulic disc||9.48||£1,600||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SL 5 2018 Road Bike||Shimano 105||Shimano 105||8.38||£1,800||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SL 5 2018 Womens Road Bike||Shimano 105||Shimano 105||8.36||£1,800||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 5 2018 Road Bike||Shimano 105||Shimano 105||8.72||£1,900||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 5 2018 Womens Road Bike||Shimano 105||Shimano 105||8.73||£1,900||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda ALR 6 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Shimano Ultegra||8.19||£2,000||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SL 6 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Bontrager Speed Stop||7.37||£2,250||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 5 Disc 2018 Womens Road Bike||Shimano 105||Shimano RS505 Flat Mount hydraulic disc||9.18||£2,500||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 5 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano 105||Shimano RS505 Flat Mount hydraulic disc||9.17||£2,500||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 6 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Bontrager Speed Stop||7.88||£2,600||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SL 6 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Shimano Ultegra flat mount hydraulic disc||7.37||£2,650||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SL 6 Pro 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Bontrager Speed Stop||7.29||£2,850||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 6 Disc 2018 Womens Road Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Shimano Ultegra flat mount hydraulic disc||8.28||£3,000||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 6 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Shimano Ultegra flat mount hydraulic disc||8.23||£3,000||Click here…|
|Trek Madone 9.0 C H2 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Madone aero, integrated||7.81||£3,500||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SLR 6 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Bontrager Speed Stop||7.46||£3,900||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SL 7 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Bontrager Speed Stop||7.41||£4,000||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SLR 6 H2 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Bontrager Speed Stop||6.79||£4,000||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 7 2018 Womens Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Shimano Ultegra||7.76||£4,300||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 8 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Dura-Ace||Shimano Dura-Ace flat mount hydraulic disc||7.70||£4,300||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SL 7 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Bontrager Speed Stop||7.85||£4,300||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SLR 6 Disc 2018 Womens Road||Shimano Ultegra||Shimano Ultegra flat mount hydraulic disc||7.97||£4,300||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SLR 6 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Shimano Ultegra flat mount hydraulic disc||7.99||£4,300||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SL 7 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Shimano Ultegra flat mount hydraulic disc||7.80||£4,400||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SLR 6 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra||Shimano Ultegra flat mount hydraulic disc||7.22||£4,400||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SLR 8 H2 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Dura-Ace||Bontrager Speed Stop Pro||6.28||£5,200||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SLR 8 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Dura-Ace||Shimano Dura-Ace flat mount hydraulic disc||7.62||£5,200||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SLR 8 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Dura-Ace||Shimano Dura-Ace flat mount hydraulic disc||6.92||£6,000||Click here…|
|Trek Madone 9.5 H2 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Madone aero, integrated||7.32||£6,500||Click here…|
|Trek Emonda SLR 9 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||Bontrager Speed Stop Pro||5.88||£8,500||Click here…|
|Trek Madone 9.9 C 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||Madone aero, integrated||6.80||£9,500||Click here…|
|Trek Domane SLR 9 Disc 2018 Road Bike||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||Shimano Dura-Ace flat mount hydraulic disc||7.53||£9,500||Click here…|
*weight based on 56cm frame for mens’ bikes and 52cm frame for womens’ bikes
About the author
Andrew Culture is a professional writer and reviewer who has been writing about everything to do with bikes and cycling for many years. Andrew is also a musician and award-winning zine author.