The newly redesigned Trek Madone is a lightweight and very fast race machine that’s smooth-riding with it.
We told you about the tech features of the bike when we went to the launch in Belgium last week. We got the chance to ride it the following day and here are our initial impressions. We’ve brought a 6 Series bike home with us to ride for a while so we’ll have a full review shortly too.
One of the key frame features that’s included on the 5, 6 and 7 Series Madones is the positioning of the rear brake. Rather than attaching to a bridge between the seatstays, Trek have moved it down to sit behind and below the bottom bracket. Why? It reduces aerodynamic drag and removes the braking forces from the seatstays, allowing Trek to use less material.
Of course, locating the brake at the BB isn’t a new idea. You’ll find similar on many time trial bikes and countless traditional bikes stretching back years and years. It works just fine. In terms of braking performance, there’s no difference and there are no sticky out bit where mud or water will collect on damp rides.
With the previous Madone design (and it remains on the 4, 3 and 2 Series bikes), the whole of the area between the brake bridge up to the seat tube was filled in. In other words, the seatstays joined at the brake bridge and stayed joined from then on. The new design is very different. The seatstays don’t join at all; they remain separate right up to the seat tube junction.
Visually, that takes some getting used to. It looks odd on a road bike. But in terms of performance, you really wouldn’t notice. The lack of that big wedge of material at the top of the seatstays makes no discernible difference to rear-end stiffness. The back of the bike still feels fully locked into place.
The biggest change of all to the frame design is the shape of the tubing. As we said in our write up from the launch, Trek have taken the Kammtail Virtual Foil (KVF) tube profiles from their Speed Concept time trial bike and incorporated them into a road bike design. Essentially, it’s an aerodynamically shaped tube with the tail cut off square. The idea is that the air behaves in virtually the same way as if the tail was still there, but the design sticks within the UCI’s rules on frame design, saves weight, and improves handling.
Trek reckon the new Madone has 330g less drag than the previous model. Their figures say that riding at 40kph/25mph (with a wind at 10° yaw) takes 25W less power than before. Or, for the same effort, a ride that would have taken 1hr now takes 57:56mins.
That’s a tricky one to verify without the benefit of a wind tunnel and it’s pretty much impossible to take a view on while riding on unfamiliar Belgian roads so, sorry, we’re going to pass on the question of aerodynamics.
We can tell you, though that the new Madone accelerates beautifully. It’s a really punchy bike that picks up speed ridiculously easily. We have the 6-Series frame with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and Bontrager’s Aeolus 3 wheels) in a 58cm model and it weighs in at 6.8kg (14.96lb) without pedals. That’s bang on the UCI’s minimum weight limit for racing which is good news if you’re thinking of taking part in the Tour de France. The newly introduced 7 Series is a little lighter still.
Fire up your muscles and the Madone responds in a nanosecond. We were out on a big group ride in Belgium and inevitably the testosterone kicked in and someone tried to jump off the front. It always happens. And then it keeps on happening. The Madone springs into life and is up to speed instantly.
It’s an excellent climber too, as you’d expect of a sub 7kg bike. That chunky front end is very stiff so there’s no hint of flex when you’re rocking it about and the bike is very pingable on the descents. You can chuck it about in confidence and end up exactly where you need to go. Lovely!
As for the new-design Bontrager brakes… well, we were using them on unfamiliar carbon rims so we’ll reserve judgment for the time being. Initial feelings are positive but we’ll swap the pads and fit some alloy-rimmed wheels before we write our full test.
All in all, the immediate impression is that this is a superb bike. It feels light and airy but it’s solid too; Trek haven’t sacrificed any stiffness in the quest for weight saving. We’ll be back with a proper review soon but, in the meantime, if you’re after a high-level performance machine you need to take a good look.
The 2013 6 Series Madones start at £3,800 with the 7 Series bikes costing from £6,860. The 5 Series bikes, with the same frame features, are £2,000 and upwards. Go to www.trekbikes.com for more details.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.