Stiffer, lighter, more compliant... ring any bells?

To much fanfare Trek have unveiled the new series 6 Madone, the bike that the Astana team will be riding in this year's tour. There's been some speculation (see this forum thread) about the new Madone but now all the details are available, and you can read all about it on Trek's website. But let's go through a few of the tech changes from the last bike.

Firstly, it's lighter. Trek have managed to shave 100g off the frame weight and 150g off the frameset as a whole. This is mostly through the tidying up of manufacturing processes and a few innovations. One clever new trick is the OCLV joints. Previously the joints were made by reducing the diameter of one section to fit inside the other, then overwrapping the joint with Carbon. The new system uses a stepped joint; the Carbon gradually thins and the two pieces mate together, meaning there's no extra wall thickness at the joint.

Trek are also trumpeting their Resin Right™ system which allows for better control of the resin during forming. You'll never see the neater internal walls of your frame (we hope) but rest assured you've saved a few grams there too, says Trek.

Trek are sticking with their wider 90mm bottom bracket standard, which uses push-fit bearings instead of screw-in external units. The bearing cups are created as part of the Carbon moulding process, so there's no bottom bracket shell to speak of.

Cabling on the 6 series has been completely revamped, with the cables now running inside the down tube. There's been plenty of thought for Shimano's Di2 electric shifters too: cable stops are placed to accommodate it and there's a different insert for the down tube that's specifically for the electronic cabling. Trek have added a battery mount as well.

Trek were one of the first brands to use an asymmetric head tube with a 1 1/8" top bearing and a 1 1/4" bottom race, and they've done a bit of work on it for 2010. The profile of the steerer was ovalised last year but we're back to round again, which Trek claim will save a bit of weight as well as tweaking the ride properties for the better. The crown race is part of the fork moulding, as per last year.

Trek have been making sensor ports in their forks for a while now, but the new Madone features a new system with both speed and cadence from a port on the chainstay. Trek have named it DuoTrap, and it will work with any system that uses the ANT+ wireless standard; that includes Garmin, PowerTap, Cateye and SRM among others.

Like last year the frames are going to be available in three fits: Pro, which is the race geometry, as used by Astana; Performance, which gives a slightly more upright position; and WSD for the ladies.

All this theory is well and good, but what's it like to ride? We had a road.cc spy at the Monaco launch, and he gave us the following brief report on the new bike:

"Have a guess...Stiffer, lighter, more vertical compliance!! One day, I'll go on a launch and they'll say: this year we've decided to make it heavier and handle like wet spaghetti! Trek have pretty much nailed this one, from what I could tell. There are some interesting features, and it does ride really well, it feels very light. I Did about 60 miles or something and it felt great. Some of the guys at the back of the ride ran into Lance and the Astana team today but I missed 'em – too quick for my own good!

"Better than last year's? Yeah. The new 6 series is better all-round, I'd say.

"The 5 series is unchanged for this year, most likely because Trek want to squeeze a bit more value out of all those expensive moulds, which is understandable. They're probably using the savings there to push the 6 series forward, and it's not like there was a lot wrong with last year's bike"

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.


cat1commuter [1421 posts] 8 years ago

Isn't it funny how every manufacturer manages to make their new frames both stiffer and more compliant?

Barry Fry-up [188 posts] 8 years ago

it's the washing powder effect. whites have been getting whiter for sixty years now, with no end in sight...

to be fair, while there's very little new in the world of washing powders there's plenty to discover in the world of carbon moulding, it's a very new science. so there's no reason to suspect that manufacturers can't make gains. but you'd expect the increments to get smaller... i've not done any comparative analysis  1

cat1commuter [1421 posts] 8 years ago

But I'm sceptical that they can make it both stiffer AND more compliant. How compliant is a stiff racing carbon frame? It's not going to make as much difference to the ride as running 25mm tyres instead of 23mm.

dave atkinson [6353 posts] 8 years ago

The figure Trek are quoting is a 47% increase in vertical compliance from last year. But you're right in that a 47% increase in what is a very small amount of compliance is not going to be easy to notice.

How compliant is a stiff racing frame? they vary, but the differences *are* noticeable. We put a standard set of wheels on pro bikes so we can better judge the differences in the frames, although other factors (saddle, bars, etc) also come into play.