Radical new pave-busting Trek Madone breaks cover with a win at the Strade Bianchi

Was that a new Madone Fabian Cancellara was riding on Sunday? We think it was +links to pics & video

by Tony Farrelly   March 6, 2012  

Spartacus rides full gas through the streets of Siena (2012 Strade Bianche, © Philip Gale)

Did the latest incarnation of the 'winningest bike ever' - the Trek Madone - make an unheralded debut last weekend, piloted to victory in the Strade Bianchi by Fabian Cancellara for Radioshack Nissan Trek? We think it did and judging by the pics on Italian website www.ciclonline this bike is so different that it won't be the only new Madone coming our way this year.

There has never been an equivalent of the Specialized Roubaix or the Cannondale Synapse in the Trek range… until now it would seem. In the past when pressed on why that was Trek executives always said, with some justification, that the Madone was a comfortable all-round bike in its own right so there was no need for a feather bed version. When pressed though, some Trek types will admit that latterly the most comfortable Madones were those at the very top of the tree - which suggests there's a gap at the mid-point of Trek's range (which happily coincides with where a lot of bike riders budgets are) for something performance-oriented and comfortable… a bit like a Specialized Roubaix, but different. If this bike does what the pictures we've seen suggest this IS different.

So, let's look at the evidence courtesy of Phil Gale's excellent pic up top plus some video and and a whole gallery of pics shot by the enterprising chaps at Italian website www.ciclonline.com.

Starting at the front, there's definitely a hint more rake to the fork on the bike Cancellara rode at the weekend than on a 6.9SSL (see pic below) and that fork looks a touch more slender, too. Check out also those almost reversed dropouts - reminiscent of an old fashioned steel fork. That lot should add up to a lot more fore aft bump absorbing movement than the current E2 Madone fork. Trek make great play of the strength-to-weight ratio of their  military grade, "only available in NATO countries", only available to Trek, 700 Series OCLV carbon so we're guessing any extra fore-aft cush conferred is not at the expense of lateral stiffness and the ability to track over bumpy roads - Spartacus didn't seem to be have any trouble at the Strade Bianchi that's for sure.


Standard team issue Radioshack Nissan Trek Madone 6.9SSL frameset

 

My eyes could well be deceiving me, cos not everyone in these parts is convinced but the headtube looks different too, not so much the profile - although we wouldn't be surprised if the taper has gone in a bit from 1 1/2 back to an inch and a quarter (at least one manufacturers has moved back to a slightly narrower bottom race citing better handling characteristics as the reason). Where the head tube does appear to differ from the 6.9SSL is that it is deeper front to back - which might help compensate for a narrower bottom race - it should certainly add strength and stiffness. Oh yes,  and the downtube cable entry port has moved up on to the headtube - so both front and rear mech cables appear to enter the top tube at the same point on the left hand side. The downtube profile on this bike looks to be a slightly more angular affair rather than more organic profile on the 6.9SSL. The top tube also looks to be slightly wider, but less deep.

However it's at the back that where all the real the action is, the already skinny seat stays look to have become skinnier still (almost invisible in the Radioshack Nissan Trek paintjob) and the seat tube junction is a more fluid affair. Gone it would seem is what I liked to think of (mainly because I'm a stirrer) as the last trace of the Trek designer's homage to the Orbea Orca seat clamp and in it's place something very different indeed.

Take a gander at that seat tube in the Cicleonline gallery. That seat tube looks like it moves. Check out the pic, second row on the right hand side of the Cicleonline gallery - the top tube appears to wrap around the seatpost at this point - while that rubber band suggests either it's there to offer some form of damping or simply to stop the seat tube bashing the top tube where the two intersect. You'd suspect that there must be something going on at the bottom bracket to possibly add in some extra strength - it certainly looks a burly affair, but the pics don't really tell us any more. Check out the chainstays though - they are different in profile from the 6.9SSL with a square section as they go back to meet the dropouts - that's very much the flavour of the month with everyone from Boardman to Cervelo and suggests that whatever fore/aft flex is built in there isn't going to be any problem when it comes to delivering power to the back wheel as effectively as possible. Let's face it, if there was Cancellara wouldn't have been riding it and he did pretty well to blowing apart the field to win in style

Which brings us to the next question, why a new Madone now if it isn't aimed at comfort over cobbles? Trek have enjoyed a lot of success over the last decade with their various incarnations of the Madone - which pedants might argue should be called the winningest bike name ever - either way every version bar one (and that bagged the other two Grand Tours) has been ridden to a Tour de France victory and a lot more - even if the latest version; the 6.9SSL took it courtesy of a dodgy steak and the judges at CAS.

After a three year lull preceded by bringing out new versions of the Madone in successive years - we're at the point in the Trek product cycle when the latest incarnation of their world-beating bike is due, except of course it should be in July. Usually Trek launch the new Madone in the run up to the Tour de France - this time there are strong rumours that Trek are already heavily into launch mode with bike tech journos primed to accept an invite to a launch hyped to be somewhere in the low countries in the next few weeks… where there are some quite big races coming up apparently.

The fact that Trek had a new bike tearing it up on the Strade Bianchi last weekend and no doubt soon to be unleashed on the cobbles of Flanders and Roubaix says to us that this is that this is a whole new branch of the Madone family rather than a new range topping road bike; the Madone 6 Series Strade perhaps (if you're still looking for a name chaps, you can have that one on us). It's been a long time coming but you have to hand it to the outfit from Madison, Wisconsin; if this new bike works the way we think it does this looks like a very interesting machine, indeed. A performance bike for rough roads - should do well in these parts then - and in true Madone tradition it's off to a winning start too.

Finally, a couple of other things to ponder: Trek traditionally like to have their bikes ready in the shops at the moment they unleash their media blitz - quite often too they'll have quietly stuck the new machine in some big races beforehand as well - for a Tour launch that'll usually be the Tour de Suisse or the Dauphinee. So Spartacus on the Madone 7 (that's what we're calling it just for practice) in the Strade Bianchi would certainly fit the MO. We're guessing there some big container shipments out on the water right now. And the second point of ponderation? Where's that mystery bike's UCI sticker - presumably it has passed the UCI certification process even it it doesn't appear on the latest update from the blazers of Lausanne published on the 14th of February - we'll keep an eye out for it on the list this month.

All of which suggests that if Trek are launching a new bike now aimed at the cobbles, there's still a place to fill in their production roster for a range topping race machine and that come Tour de France time Trek we can expect the launch of a new Madone Seven Series road bike. Nice.

24 user comments

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@tony the top web link is broken - needs the e removing

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [693 posts]
6th March 2012 - 21:21

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posted by londonbrick [24 posts]
6th March 2012 - 21:25

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Thanks joemmo, should be sorted now.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4111 posts]
6th March 2012 - 21:37

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The area around the seat tube, as likely to be access for a Di2 internally mounted battery as anything else? I can't see the battery elsewhere on the bike, unless Fabs is running mechanical as is his wont on occasion.

http://www.chasingwheels.com - Chasing Wheels, the journal of Britain's least competitive cyclist

posted by leguape [33 posts]
6th March 2012 - 22:10

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still looks plain and understated (read boring). trek will never get access to my wallet thats for sure

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
6th March 2012 - 22:17

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leguape wrote:
The area around the seat tube, as likely to be access for a Di2 internally mounted battery as anything else? I can't see the battery elsewhere on the bike, unless Fabs is running mechanical as is his wont on occasion.

Fabian's bike is certainly running mechanical DA, although that doesn't rule out an internal battery for Di2 of course

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7034 posts]
6th March 2012 - 22:57

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leguape wrote:
The area around the seat tube, as likely to be access for a Di2 internally mounted battery as anything else? I can't see the battery elsewhere on the bike, unless Fabs is running mechanical as is his wont on occasion.

The Di2 battery goes under the bottom bracket, and while the top tube is wide, I don't think it is wide enough to accommodate the current size of Di2 battery. I think if you were going to stick the battery inside the bike the easiest place for it currently would be somewhere in the downtube - plenty of room in there.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4111 posts]
6th March 2012 - 23:07

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Is that Nice, France or just nice. Paris Nice arrives in Nice this week, not but a few miles from the Col de La 'Madone"??????

posted by simoncon [52 posts]
6th March 2012 - 23:22

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In contrast to russyparkin I like plain and understated, not that I can afford a bike like this.

Like to let my legs do the talking Wink

Just show's how difficult it is for companies to please everybody.

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posted by Blackhound [434 posts]
7th March 2012 - 9:25

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I love some of the paintjobs that you can choose (understated or flashy) on the Trek Project One website, but they do seem overly expensive compared to some alternatives.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
7th March 2012 - 9:42

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im really not a great fan of trek for a few other reasons so im always going to look at them in a bad light, still never forgiven for buying two of the finest bike brands and then destroying them, but then again maybe if Gary and Keith cared they wouldnt have let them go so easily

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
7th March 2012 - 10:22

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russyparkin wrote:
im really not a great fan of trek for a few other reasons so im always going to look at them in a bad light, still never forgiven for buying two of the finest bike brands and then destroying them, but then again maybe if Gary and Keith cared they wouldnt have let them go so easily

I was a huge Fisher fan. Still have my 1990 one.

Have the same feeling for Trek tbh. A good friend and riding buddy had the same feeling but for different reasons - his involve Lance!

posted by Super Domestique [1506 posts]
7th March 2012 - 13:10

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@Russyparking and Super Domestique: The acquisitions of Fisher, Bontrager, and Klein were not cases of Trek coming in and staging a hostile takeover of small bike brands, as you might think.

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrekUK
And Twitter @trekbikesuk

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posted by TrekBikesUK [78 posts]
7th March 2012 - 13:51

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Thanks for the feedback.

I am open to having my mind changed. I did with Spesh tbh.

I think being a fisher fan from the late 80's, then buying one in 1990, they meant a lot to me as a brand. I appreciate they lost their way somewhat as I found by breaking a '91 supercal frame.

My father has an early trek owned fisher, 94 iirc, which he loves but I bemoaned the loss of the evolution headset.

posted by Super Domestique [1506 posts]
7th March 2012 - 14:21

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russyparkin wrote:
still looks plain and understated (read boring). trek will never get access to my wallet thats for sure

By contrast, I'd prefer a plain looking bike that does the job instead of a chavtastic machine with go-faster stripes or wavy forks.

Each to their own, beauty is in the eye of the beholder etc. One more phrase I like is:

It ain't what you got, it's what you do with it.

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posted by Simon E [1778 posts]
7th March 2012 - 14:56

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simon e, i dont like the chavvy paint jobs either, i just see the treks in the lbs and they have paint jobs and graphics that look like cheap bikes. not all of them but a lot of the range is like this.

@trekbikesuk. exactly what was it then? one year Klein and bontrager bikes where there, a year later all of a sudden they were gone.

lots of us older boys, (riders from the mid 90's) wont touch trek on principle,

if i could walk into a shop and buy a beautiful steel green/red bontrager i would in a heart beat, you pulled that rug and turned them into a set of handlebars

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
7th March 2012 - 16:45

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simon e, just saw the wavy fork comment. oh god could not agree more. makes bike look like it should be on sale in poundland Smile

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
7th March 2012 - 16:54

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Older riders from mid-90s gulp! I started mtbing in 86.

I am feeling well old now! Thanks mate

posted by Super Domestique [1506 posts]
7th March 2012 - 17:59

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sorry! i am 33 but class myself as old compared to these young skinny whippets that sail past me up the hills.

maybe would should set up a cool bike brand together over the next few years and sell it to trek so they can dissolve it?

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
7th March 2012 - 22:50

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Hey russyparkin, lucky for you there are plenty of garish neon logo covered monstrosities for you to waste your money on these days! Devil Sounds like you like a bike that loudly advertises the contents of your wallet.

"Keep it simple, stupid" is how I look at it. Understated is classy, loud is... Surprise

Thanks Trek, I would have a hard time selling your brand if it were tasteless like so many others these days!

As to Trek "buying out" Gary, Keith and Greg, I'm pretty sure at least Gary and Keith are pretty stoked on the royalties and being able to hang out at home or go ride when they want Big Grin

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posted by dontcoast [21 posts]
8th March 2012 - 4:42

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And for what it's worth, I wish I could go buy an old Bontrager hardtail too...oh wait, I'm in Santa Cruz, I can!

And I bet keith cares about tending to his chickens or whatever he does at home more than framebuilding now.

So there's still Paul Sadhoff, Rick Hunter and a bunch of other talented talented framebuilders who would be more than happy to take your order...give 'em a call and I'm sure they can build you a '90s bike with a first generation rockshox Judy if that's what you want.

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posted by dontcoast [21 posts]
8th March 2012 - 4:47

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russyparkin wrote:
sorry! i am 33 but class myself as old compared to these young skinny whippets that sail past me up the hills.

maybe would should set up a cool bike brand together over the next few years and sell it to trek so they can dissolve it?

Well I might be old to you at 38 then lol.

I am genuinely interested in what trek have to say. I did, as mentioned, have a u turn on my feelings for spesh.

posted by Super Domestique [1506 posts]
8th March 2012 - 12:28

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I owned and rode a Bontrager Race OR for many years, I bumped into the man himself (Keith) at a bike show around the time of the Trek buy out. He said making frames was a labour of love, but he actually lost money on every one he ever made, and if Trek hadn't come along he'd most definetly been out of business.

posted by etc [1 posts]
8th March 2012 - 12:53

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steady on dontcoast, i have said twice in this post i dont like neon chavvy bikes. what i am saying is the treks look a bit to understated i think its the 'trek' font that is especially unpleasant on the eye. i ride a black and white cannondale and a black orbea, with no outrageous colours. and my previous frame was all black. its all personal preference though isnt it? anyway treks hostile behaviour to the cycle industry did all the damage for myself.

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
8th March 2012 - 16:33

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