Trek Domane SLR – one of the best bikes of 2016
The Trek Domane SLR was launched to considerable fanfare earlier in 2016, in time for the fabled Cobbled Classics in Northern Europe. Trek claimed that with front and rear IsoSpeed, the Trek Domane SLR had it all; blistering speed, smooth race comfort and superior balance for precision handling and (according to Trek) all day domination. That’s quite a set of claims. So as we enter the second half of 2016 and with 4 months of the Trek Domane SLR in the real world, how’s it shaping up?
Well, it certainly started very well. Fabian Cancellara, leader of the Trek-Segafredo Racing team took it to the fabled Stade Bianche race in March and went on to win it, his third victory in that particular race, edging out 2015 winner Zdenek Stybar in a thrilling finish. Unfortunately, Cancellara (or Spartacus as he is known to his legion of fans) couldn’t quite repeat the feat in Paris – Roubaix in April after a fairly dramatic crash but the Trek Domane SLR was nevertheless firmly established as a serious contender.
Trek Domane SLR – Technology
So why is the Trek Domane SLR so good? That’s partly because the core platform from which it was developed, the original Trek Domane, was already a very, very good bike. The IsoSpeed decoupler first seen on the original Trek Domane is an amazing piece of technology that helps smooth the roughest of roads by providing a dynamic link between the seat post and top tube. The result? A dramatic level of vibration cancelling that allowed riders to spend much longer in the saddle without suffering the ill-effects that vibration normally brings. Adding Trek’s proprietary BB90 bottom bracket and Trek’s power transfer technology which optimises the head tube / down tube / bottom bracket / rear wheel connection meant riders got more out of every pedal stroke meaning more power, more speed and all without shattering your spine in the process.
So how to improve it? Whilst there are many features in the Domane SLR, the three big technology innovations are an Adjustable Rear IsoSpeed Decoupler, Front IsoSpeed and Bontrager’s proprietary IsoCore bar.
Adjustable Read IsoSpeed Decoupler
allows the rider to fine tune the level of compliance in the frame to suit riding style and terrain. It works by the slider adjusting the space between the two halves of the twin seat tube which allows the seat mast to deflect rearwards to a greater or lesser degree. With the slider towards the bottom, the rider experiences greater compliance because of the greater vacant space that allows the lower seat mast to deflect more. Unsurprisingly, with the slider at the top, there is less compliance because the slider is limiting deflection in the vacant space below it. Trek claim Adjustable Rear IsoSpeed delivers a 14% increase in overall compliance when the slider is in the lowest setting making it as stiff as a Trek Emonda.
Check out the video on how to adjust the adjustable rear IsoSpeed
Addresses the problem felt by many riders on the original Domane that the front end feels much stiffer than the rear. Although Trek describes front IsoSpeed as a decoupler it is in practice a pivoting collar that allows the top of the head tube to move back and forth by a small amount. This deflection allows the front of the bike to smooth out the bumps with a similar beneficial effect to the Rear IsoSpeed decoupler.
The third key development is the new IsoCore handlebar which also contributes to front end compliance and dampening. According to Trek, the carbon fibre layers incorporate a “thermoplastic elastomer” that is designed to mitigate vibrations by, according to Trek, 20% throughout the whole bar set up.
Riding the Trek Domane SLR
At Criterium Cycles, we have had a Trek Domane SLR on our Demo Fleet for some time now. In fact, Paul Bowker, one of our Directors, has ridden the Trek Domane SLR for almost 600 km and his summary is pretty succinct and clear. In Paul’s words:
“After riding a Domane 5 series for the past three years, the new Domane SLR definitely takes things to the next level. Trek have achieved a great balance – the new features have made the bike more comfortable and more compliant without blunting any of the previous Domane’s performance characteristics. After really long rides, it is the fact that you wake up the next day with no fatigue and the first thing you want to do is ride again that is so incredible – no bike has ever made me feel like that before.”
The Trek Domane SLR has probably been the No 1 selling bike at Criterium Cycles over the last 3 months and it is easy to see why. It looks gorgeous, has incredible technology that also has extremely practical real world applications. What is particularly good about this bike is whether you are Fabian Cancellara or not (and let’s face it, most of us fall into the ‘not’ camp) there is plenty about this bike to make you feel very special. It will smooth out the worst excesses of British roads but it’s not just a smooth cruiser – it’s super fast so on that club sportive or weekly ride out, you are going to make a serious impression.
We have a Trek Domane SLR on long term test at Criterium Cycles and we will be writing further blogs in due course as we clock up more miles on the bike. But so far, the signs are that Trek have delivered an absolute stunner that more than lives up to the hype and the hyperbole. If you are looking for a racing endurance bike that can cope with the rigours of average to poor British road, the Domane SLR is well worth checking out.