Trek Domane launch: Pave-busting road bike with… suspension + video

Told you so moment as Trek reveal the IsoSpeed Decoupler… suspension comes to the performance road bike

by Tony Farrelly   March 30, 2012  

Hey, we told you so. Back when we were speculating on the sneak peek shots of Trek's new Domane underneath Fabian Cancellara at the Strade Bianche, we conjectured (is that a word?) that the seatpost and the main frame were separate. And they are. Spartacus himself has been heavily involved with the design process, and the bike "specifically addresses the challenges of rough road conditions found throughout the spring classics courses with a collection of key innovations unlike any available before today", according to Trek.

The Domane (That's Do-MAH-nee, apparently, which is latin for "King's crown" as well as being an anagram of Madone) features a technology which Trek have christened IsoSpeed. It's a "functional decoupler that separates the ride-tuned seat mast from the top tube". So effectively the the seat tube isn't attached to the top tube and seatstays like you'd normally expect, but instead is held in place by a pivot and some kind of elastomer coupling that acts as a buffer between the seat mast and the top tube. Did we say 'elastomer' at first that what we thought that piece of rubber was - going on fantasise about possbily tuning the ride and such like and fretting about getting it out… turns out it isn't an elastomer. No, Trek tell us, that piece of rubber is… a piece of rubber a simple seal designed to keep the IsoSpeed clean and dry all the action comes courtesy of the carbon layup and the decoupler itself. Shame I'd already worked myself up for the next generation air shock version with a weeny pump the size of an Argos biro, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

 

 

IsoSpeed means lots more compliance, say Trek. Twice the vertical compliance of the nearest competition is their claim. Not only that but they reckon that it's even stiffer laterally than the Madone. A bike that's got a bit more give should be a boon over long rides and difficult surfaces, with the IsoSpeed coupling allowing more fore-aft movement as well as in the vertical plane.

So it moves twice as much vertically as it's nearest competitor and half as much again as the Madone, but just how much is that? Well Trek have provided us with some figures.  According to Trek the current Madone has 23mm of compliance - which to my mind is quite a lot, it's as near as dammit an inch (0.905 of an inch to be exact). The Domane has 35mm of flex at the back end - Trek's distinction in terminology and the distinction is probably easier to grasp (for som of us at least) if you substitute the fancy word compliance for 'give'. Basically the Madone can give up to 23mm at the back whereas the Domane will move up to 35mm - the action of the back end we are supposing being more 'active' although again that's going to be a relative term - we're not talking MTB suspension here. If I've got any of this wrong I'm sure Trek will let us know. Hope so anyway.

When it comes to the front end Trek say there's less of a difference - not surprising perhaps given that there's less of an actual difference between the two frames anyway - Trek haven't supplied us with an actual amount of compliance for the front but they have said that the Domane is 10 per cent more compliant. It'll be interesting to see how the new Madone, when it comes out, shapes up against the Domane in terms of compliance front and rear.

Cancellara's certainly happy with his new bike. “When you work with Trek and the engineers it’s a combination that lets you examine every detail and the details that it takes to win the races that this bike is made for are bigger than any other,” he gushed. “The end result of all that work is the Domane and after competing on this bike, winning on this bike, it’s going to be hard to get me on anything else,” he said, although that didn't stop him swapping back to the Madone for the smooth tarmac of Milan-San Remo.

In the end it's a comfort bike. A performance-led one. Trek have always maintained that they didn't need a comfort bike because the Madone was comfy enough and available in different geometries, but they've inevitably lost out in sales against the likes of the Specialized Roubaix, Cannondale Synapse and Giant Defy Advanced, and more and more manufacturers are producing performance-comfort bikes now; BMC's launch of the cobble-friendly GF01 is next week.

Like the Madone 6 Series the Domane boasts an OCLV carbon frame with a super-wide BB90 bottom bracket and internal cable routing. There's a new Bontrager RXL fork to go with the frame, too. Trek call the cable routing 'race-optimised' and interestingly the cables on the Domane all enter the headtube on the same side (something we noticed when we spotted the bike at the Strade Bianche). We'll be looking to see if that is an innovation that makes it's way on to the next generation of the Madone - surely due for launch any time now.

The Domane's geometry is different from that of the Madone. The head tube is just a little taller than you'll get on an H2 fit Madone - Trek do three different fits, the H1 being the most aggressive, the H3 being the most relaxed. The Domane's head tube is 17.5cm compared to 17cm on an H2 fit Madone. The top tube is slightly shorter too. You get a slacker head tube angle, an increased fork offset, longer chainstays, a longer wheelbase and more of a bottom bracket drop on the Domane too, which should translate into a more planted, stable ride which is especially useful on rough roads where hitting something hard and jagged on a standard road bike can knock you completely off-line.

Cancellara doesn't ride with electronic gears; if he did you'd have seen the battery mounted at the bottom of the down tube, basically in the middle of the bottom bracket. For a bike that's designed to be ridden over the rough stuff that seems like an odd placing to us, being a bit more vulnerable to debris kicking up from the front wheel than the current favourite position of underneath the chainstay.

 

Other pave-beating touches include super skinny seatstays and an integrated chain catcher; some of the RadioShack Nissan Trek boys would undoubtedly find that useful on the Madone too. Hopefully then the new integrated chain catcher on SRAM Red is detachable - how many chain catchers does a boy really need? Actually, we're guessing that the one on the Damone is detatchable for those who can change gear without dropping the chain.

The new Domane is available right now in two versions (there's three on the UCI list), and in another break from the usual the Custom version is cheaper than the Team Edition. quite a bit cheaper as it turns out. You can have a Custom Domane 6 for a mere £3,700 (although you can pay more if you want) while the Domane 6 Series Team Edition can be yours for £8,290. There must be some Unobtanium knocking about in that one. Well, do you want to beat the cobbles or not?

That's it for now. But if that isn't enough, we've got a man in the area: VecchioJo is currently hot-footing his way across the low countries to ride the Flanders sportive, and he's even now diverting to Kortijk (picture one of those Union Jack arrows from the start of Dad's Army) where Trek are currently showcasing the new machine. He should be able to swing a leg over it too, so stay tuned for a first ride soon… if he doesn't get lost.

38 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Sadly Biggins wrote:
Sorry to be dull, but "Domane" is not Latin for "king's crown". In addition to it being an anagram of "Madone", it will sound like the Italian for "tomorrow" when pronounced so perhaps Trek chose the name to sound futuristic (if you're Italian). Perhaps not though...

Yes, Simon pointed that out about the pronunciation sounding like the Italian for tomorrow - mainly because he wanted us to try and squeeze this Nerd in to the article and now we can Smile

@JonMack Oops! Well, we had it right later on, one out of two plus we've fixed the first one now as well. Simon has told us off for that as well.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
30th March 2012 - 16:08

18 Likes

And I thought that every roadie was fluent enough in Italian not to confuse "tomorrow" with "king's crown".

Anyway, just as it happened in MTB's when they started to have moving parts on the frame, expect a few broken frames here and there the first year.

posted by warpo [8 posts]
30th March 2012 - 18:05

23 Likes

How long before UCI add rules banning it? Surely this gives anyone on a Trek an advantage

posted by shot18 [55 posts]
30th March 2012 - 18:06

21 Likes

Sadly Biggins wrote:
Sorry to be dull, but "Domane" is not Latin for "king's crown".

you want to tell google that

http://mymemory.translated.net/t/Latin/English/domane

i can't speak latin, so can't comment Thinking

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7498 posts]
30th March 2012 - 19:00

13 Likes

shot18 wrote:
How long before UCI add rules banning it? Surely this gives anyone on a Trek an advantage

already approved by the blazers of aigle, otherwise cancellara wouldn't have been able to pilot it on the strade bianchi [sic]

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7498 posts]
30th March 2012 - 19:02

20 Likes

seems like exactly the same as Canyon's new seatpost, but you have to buy a whole new bike...

posted by jamjam [61 posts]
30th March 2012 - 19:07

16 Likes

dave_atkinson wrote:
Sadly Biggins wrote:
Sorry to be dull, but "Domane" is not Latin for "king's crown".

you want to tell google that

http://mymemory.translated.net/t/Latin/English/domane

i can't speak latin, so can't comment Thinking

Note that that page has "No human translation has been found" on it. Any other references?

Which celebrity was it who had a Google latin sentence tattooed on her? I recall that "almost every word was wrong".

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
30th March 2012 - 21:19

20 Likes

so what is the latin for 'king's crown' then? i'm curious is all.

like i said, i don't speak latin. personally whether domane means king's crown in latin is a matter of supreme indifference to me. personally i think they rearranged the letters of madone and went with the best back story they could. but hey, i'm a cynic Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7498 posts]
30th March 2012 - 22:01

17 Likes

the nomade will be next. you mark my words

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7498 posts]
30th March 2012 - 22:08

19 Likes

I like hpw Trek just calls Cancellara for "world champion"...

I do, however like the straight tube and straight lines of the Treks and none of that.. err.. Ridley Noah mess (sorry, but I think Noah looks messy)

seabass89's picture

posted by seabass89 [235 posts]
30th March 2012 - 22:23

16 Likes

Still a trek though. Crying

posted by Vinerman [40 posts]
31st March 2012 - 7:30

24 Likes

They'll never let VecchioJo ride it through a muddy field.

I think it looks great: the spiffy paint job certainly helps. But the suspension will add weight, I imagine.

I was surprised that Cancellara doesn't use electronic transmission, but then I remembered that nonsense about a hidden motor a few years ago and wondered if that had something to do with it.

Noli porcum linguere

captain_slog's picture

posted by captain_slog [282 posts]
31st March 2012 - 8:31

24 Likes

They've got the arse end sorted then, but what about the front? Cobbles/pave play 'navvies and road drills' with hands, shoulders and everything in between. There's no mention of shock absorbing carbon construction or anything like an elastomer element anywhere near the fork or steerer. The head tube angle and fork rake is mentioned in passing, but no figures or analysis.

I agree with Joemmo on 'compliance': it's about time we had some actual measurements, independent testing and figures for it, otherwise manufacturers can blather a load of sales rubbish at us and we have no way of knowing what's what.

posted by bikeylikey [173 posts]
31st March 2012 - 10:22

13 Likes

Nothing against Trek I like their bikes but when do we call a stop to modifcations.A Road bike should be a rigid frame structure, I prefer to see who is the best rider or team and minimise the advantage that "tools of the trade" can do to mask this.
Trek Noname would be a more appropriate title.

posted by chromo1990 [43 posts]
31st March 2012 - 10:39

18 Likes

Latin for Crown is (duh!) "Corona"... yup, like the Mexican Beer.

King is something like "rex", like the dinosaur.

I don't know how Google related "Domane" with "king's Crown" as I don't speak Latin.

How good will this new frame do? You still need wider tyres which kind of gets the same effect. Or not? Confused

posted by warpo [8 posts]
31st March 2012 - 11:34

14 Likes

joemmo wrote:
interesting - have they quoted an actual amount of 'compliance'? For example in the number of millimetres travel that the elastomeric bit allows or is it just 'twice x unknown number'. I think people would be less cynical of the whole axial compliance / rigidity thing if someone had the gumption to say 'this fork allows the axle to deflect a maximum of 4mm in the vertical plane. Otherwise it just looks like pseudo-engineering twaddle.

What you seem to be asking for is the elastic limit, although this would be useful I would really hope that you would never get near this during normal usage, otherwise you'd end up irreversibly bending the frame in not-so-extreme usage.

They could go even further and give us the the Young's Modulus (stiffness) values for different types of bend, tension and compression. Of course they would need to give the force direction as well, since they are aiming for anisotropy (different values in different directions).

Since they are using an elastomer I would also wish to know the hysteresis. As an elastomer is loaded and unloaded a proportion of the energy is lost as heat. Too much energy loss is a bad idea: a) it reduces efficiency and b) it will heat the elastomer up, which may cause creep.

For now I'll assume Trek've done their homework.

*geek out ends*

posted by Henz [41 posts]
31st March 2012 - 11:55

25 Likes

Can't find anything (online at least) to link 'domane' with a crown, king's or otherwise.

If such a word does exist, then it presumably would derive from the Latin 'dominus' (lord, master, owner etc) which in turn comes from the Sanskrit 'domanus' - someone who has subdued.

Nerd

So we're very nearly there, and it isn't an inappropriate name for a Classics bike with Cancellara riding it.

I suspect the name owes more to the fact that it's an anagram of Madone than anything else and they've then tried to give it a meaning.

Too bad that some Classics fans also happen to have studied the other kind of Classics Wink

If anyone from Trek reads this and is able to point us in the direction of a credible source for 'domane' = 'king's crown' that would settle it...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8491 posts]
31st March 2012 - 12:11

13 Likes

Personally I don't see the logic of buying a comfort bike designed specifically for the cobbles when you can get a real road bike like the Cervelo R3 which has won Roubaix three times and is more versatile for other riding you'll want to do, and is lighter:
http://www.cervelo.com/en_us/bikes/2012/R3/

Also the idea of decoupling the seat stay from the top tube only to reattach it with a bolt seems counterintuitive because it would seem to create a point of weakness in the frame - over time this might become an issue.

I know Cervelo get their vertical compliance simply by designing thinner chain stays, that looks more integrated and smarter than making a floating seat stay.

posted by cpanczak [3 posts]
31st March 2012 - 12:32

18 Likes

Deleted

posted by cpanczak [3 posts]
31st March 2012 - 12:43

16 Likes

Looks nice. Don't care what it's called in English or Italian........

posted by Securivaj [49 posts]
31st March 2012 - 16:05

13 Likes

dave_atkinson wrote:
so what is the latin for 'king's crown' then? i'm curious is all.

like i said, i don't speak latin. personally whether domane means king's crown in latin is a matter of supreme indifference to me. personally i think they rearranged the letters of madone and went with the best back story they could. but hey, i'm a cynic Smile

OK, heard back from a friend with classics PhD from Cambridge. She says: "Dom is a common root in Latin for master and rule related words. King is Rex, crown is corona, diadema, various other terms. No Latin nouns end in 'ane'. It would sound like words for mastery etc, but I can't think of a way even in late Latin in which domane could 'mean' king's crown."

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
31st March 2012 - 18:19

22 Likes

cpanczak wrote:
Also the idea of decoupling the seat stay from the top tube only to reattach it with a bolt seems counterintuitive because it would seem to create a point of weakness in the frame - over time this might become an issue.

I don't think it should be an issue with a carbon fibre frame. Carbon fibre isn't supposed to have a fatigue life like metals do, aluminium in particular.

Overall I think it looks like a very neat solution, though I feel that the damping effects are likely to be subtle.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
31st March 2012 - 18:58

20 Likes

Might be a great Flanders and Roubaix winning bike and all that, but god those Trek adverts are awful. Jayzus that's some cheesy marketing BS. Apparently Trek have the exclusive use of fat downtubes and wide bottom brackets too...

posted by bikingscot [45 posts]
31st March 2012 - 23:02

14 Likes

Henz wrote:

What you seem to be asking for is the elastic limit, although this would be useful I would really hope that you would never get near this during normal usage, otherwise you'd end up irreversibly bending the frame in not-so-extreme usage. ...&c

I'm basically asking for something that equates to the travel measurements on a bike with 'real' suspension. I don't doubt that there's some kind of suspension-like effect at some level but it's so clouded in mystical claims that it's hard not to be sceptical. I mean seriously, the amount of deflection must be less than 10mm..? 5mm?

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [903 posts]
1st April 2012 - 19:09

17 Likes

Tony should along shortly with the info I've given him on the amount of compliance, and how it differs to the Madone.

We will have these in the demo fleet at some point. I can't tell you exactly when yet, because I don't know.

Keep in mind though, that this bike isn't just meant for cobbles. I'm sure everyone has sections of large chip-seal tarmac. Actually, this bike will benefit many of the roads we have here, which certainly don't compare to those in say, Mallorca.

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

TrekBikesUK's picture

posted by TrekBikesUK [106 posts]
3rd April 2012 - 18:03

15 Likes

TrekBikesUK wrote:
Tony should along shortly with the info I've given him on the amount of compliance, and how it differs to the Madone.

We will have these in the demo fleet at some point. I can't tell you exactly when yet, because I don't know.

Keep in mind though, that this bike isn't just meant for cobbles. I'm sure everyone has sections of large chip-seal tarmac. Actually, this bike will benefit many of the roads we have here, which certainly don't compare to those in say, Mallorca.

Okay, I hope no-one was holding their breath but I'm here now!

Fair point about the Domane being about more than cobbles too - I know we've banged on about it's reported cobble bashing capabilities but that's as much about an eye-catching headline for a bike launch that coincides with the classics - my instant thought was that it sounded like a bike that might have a lot to offer on the sort of rubbish roads the UK has in abundance.

Anyway on to the compliance/flex question.

According to Trek the current Madone has 23mm of compliance - which to my mind is quite a lot, it's as near as dammit an inch (0.905 of one to be exact). The Domane has 35mm of flex at the back end - Trek's distinction in terminology and the distinction is probably easier to grasp if your less technically minded like me if you substitute the fancy word compliance for 'give'. Basically the Madone can give up to 23mm at the back where as the Domane will move up to 35mm - the action of the back end I am supposing being more 'active' although again that's going to be a relative term - we're not talking MTB suspension here. If I've got any of this wrong I'm sure TrekUK will jump in and let us know. Hope so anyway.

When it comes to the front end Trek say there's less of a difference - not surprising I suppose given that there's less of an actual difference between the two frames anyway - Trek haven't supplied us with an actual amount of compliance for the front but they have said that the Domane is 10 per cent more compliant. It'll be interesting to see how the new Madone, when it comes out, shapes up against the Domane in terms of compliance front and rear.

(I've also stuck this in to the article for all those who don't want to wade through the latin lesson to get here)

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
3rd April 2012 - 22:29

18 Likes

I'd agree with the point about UK roads. You only need to look at the car market to see how this is handled in a more mature, expensive industry. Audi, for example, do a lot of their road testing in the UK for new products - the idea being that if it rides well here, it will ride well in most other countries. It's all very well buying the bike equivalent of an F1 car, but if it can't cope with our potholes it's rather pointless.

I'm eyeing up a Cannondale Synapse (as opposed to a supersix) for my next bike for this reason.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3465 posts]
4th April 2012 - 8:55

14 Likes

Yeah sorry I couldn't give you more compliance numbers for the front end. I don't actually have those yet. I'm still waiting to get my hands on the white paper. When I know the actually measurement, I'll pass it along to Tony. For now, all I know is the percentage difference in give between the two bikes.

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

TrekBikesUK's picture

posted by TrekBikesUK [106 posts]
4th April 2012 - 14:18

18 Likes

Man up boys!
A bicycle has two triangles that are connected by good welds

Next we'll be racing recumbents!

Alloy rules forever.

jackp30's picture

posted by jackp30 [6 posts]
5th April 2012 - 15:29

14 Likes

you want to tell Fabian Cancellara to 'man up', you be my guest Big Grin

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7498 posts]
5th April 2012 - 15:45

15 Likes