Each of the three previous iterations of the Domane, Trek’s endurance/cobble machine originally designed in collaboration with Fabian Cancellara, has featured new tech aimed at creating a smoother ride quality over rough roads, from broken back roads to flying through the Forest of Arenberg at warp nine. The previous model featured IsoSpeed Decouplers front and rear, Trek’s proprietary system for adding compliance, but this latest version features only the rear system, and that appears largely simplified in comparison to systems of old.
But what exactly can we tell about the new Domane, other than what’s been omitted? Will it be a shoo-in for our guide to the best endurance road bikes, or is it heading in another direction? And what does it mean for the future of the model, and other bikes in Trek’s range?
A more holistic approach?
Taking a look at the new trek domanea task made substantially easier by the victory of Elisa Longo Borghini at Paris-Roubaix Femmes atop one, it appears the designers at Trek, as with their ever-present rivals Specialized, are embracing a more blurred design approach. Instead of having the set menu of a climbing bike, an endurance bike and an aero bike, there appears to have been an effort to improve the aerodynamics of the Domane, and perhaps even reduce the weight.
A deep Madone-esque headtube is probably the most obvious talking point now that the front IsoSpeed system has been removed; it extends rearwards in a heavily sculpted way, and while we don’t have any figures as yet, it would be a surprise to see it not claim an aero advantage over its predecessors. We don’t expect it to be better than the Madonna in a wind tunnel, but aero concessions are very much in vogue in recent times.
The removal and simplification of the IsoSpeed decouplers would also serve to reduce weight, bringing the Domane closer to Trek’s Emonda too.
While the images of the Domane at Paris Roubaix initially suggested a complete lack of adjustability, a recent patent filed by Trek would suggest that, in fact, some sense of adjustability remains. Patent 11242111, granted on February 8, is titled ‘Adjustable Compliance Bicycle’. Given the timing, it seems likely that this is connected to the new bike.
Therefore, while the easily-adjusted decoupler has clearly been done away with, it could be that there is still a degree of fine-tuning available.
Disc brake only
Trek has been committed to disc brakes on road bikes for a few years already, so we’re certain the Domane will follow suit, and the collection of disc-only bikes on show at Paris Roubaix did nothing to suggest otherwise.
Given the removal of a rim brake caliper allows the fitment of wider tyres, it may be that the disc brake’s rise to dominance is adding some large nails into the coffin of the endurance bike. Not necessarily hammering them shut, but they’re there in readiness for the hammer of industry progress to fail.
The design of road bike rim brake calipers constrained tire widths, meaning manufacturers had to come up with ways of adding compliance that were much more complex. IsoSpeed decouplers for Trek, Zerts elastomers and FutureShock headsets at Specialized, flex stays, wobbly seatposts… the list goes on. With discs, however, the only constraint comes in the design of the frame.
The outgoing Domane had tire clearance for up to 34mm, but we never saw a pro rider go that wide in a race. At this year’s Roubaix, riders tended to go for 30-32mm options, which we suspect provides more than cushy enough ride that the IsoSpeed system would be unnecessary anyway, hence why it’s been done away with upfront and simplified at the rear to allow a more standard seat post.
On the subject of the seatpost, Trek appears to have employed a D-shaped seatpost, instead of the seat mast that is employed on the previous model as well as the Emonda.
The D shaped post has become somewhat ubiquitous in top-tier road bikes in recent years, with various brands claiming it increases both compliance and aerodynamics.
The cables on the new Trek Domane enter the frame at the top of the head tube, in front of the steerer tube via an open spacer. This would appear to allow riders to run the one-piece cockpit such is offered by Trek’s component subsidiary, Bontrager, or as seen above, a more traditional separate bar and stem combo with cables running externally.
The outgoing Domane had clearance for up to 34mm tyres, which is still as wide as many of the more progressive endurance and the newly forming category of ‘all road’ bikes of today. Trek’s sponsored riders at Paris-Roubaix were predominantly aboard 30mm tyres, with a few pushing out to 32mm, so there was no evidence on the ground to suggest Trek has gone any wider than before.
What is it for?
Of course, the Domane has long been Trek’s endurance road bike, a sportive-chasing, mile-munching machine designed for comfort. However, as we’ve already pointed out (and witnessed among other brands), the lines between how we define bikes are blurring.
If we were to speculate, with many brands blending their endurance bike into an ‘all road’ bike (such as BMC Roadmachine, et al) and the proliferation of ‘race gravel’ bikes such as the Specialized Crux, the Cannonale SuperSix Evo SE, the Bianchi Impulso Pro and more, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see the new Domane sit on the blurry line between road and gravel.