Trek Domane Road Bike Review

Expert Review

The catch phrase in the road riding scene this year is “endurance bike.” It’s the equivalent of a fat bike for roadies, and no, I don’t mean that in a derogatory tone. Fat tire mountain bikes, once slotted as slow, heavy, and only mildly useful on their intended terrain (snow) and pretty much useless in normal riding conditions, are now actually fun to ride on dirt, slickrock, sand, and of course, snow. Likewise, endurance road bikes were once simply cushier race bikes. A longer wheel base, more chainstay clearance for larger tires (25–28mm), and a slacker geometry made this genre a good option for non–racers wanting a more comfortable ride for the long haul. However, it often meant that endurance road bikes were heavier, clunkier, and made with lower-end components. The Trek Domane is an endurance bike with none of the above. Pronounced doh–mah–nay, this top–end offering from Trek is a long–distance machine with race leanings, designed to handle the cobbled classics.

RATING

Technical Features

I was lucky enough to test out the Trek Domane 4.7 WSD (women’s specific design), which is constructed of 400 series OCLV Carbon. The 4.7 (both the men’s and the women’s version) comes with a full Ultegra drivetrain, Ultegra brakes, and Bontrager Race Tubeless Ready wheels. If you know road bikes, you can already guess the the Ultegra components work exactly how you’d expect high–end Shimano shifting and braking to perform – silky smooth with punctual actuation.

The Domane stands apart from the rest of the endurance bike category due to a piece in the frame construction called the IsoSpeed decoupler. This feature divides the seat tube from the top tube/seat stay junction, allowing a small amount of vibration–dampening play.

The IsoSpeed fork is also designed for rough terrain, with a foward sweep that absorbs bumps on the front end. While the IsoSpeed fork and decoupler are made to smooth out your ride, it’s still a road bike. Don’t expect to skim over washboarded gravel roads. That said, over rough pavement, this bike pedals smooth as silk.

As far as the geometry goes, the Domane 4.7 WSD has a shorter top tube and higher head tube, allowing for a more upright and comfortable position. The wheel base is longer than that of Trek’s race bike, the Madone, also making for a smoother, more stable ride.

Close-up of road bike's decoupler
Trek’s proprietary IsoSpeed decoupler

RATING

The Ride

What does all this add up to? As I expected, it was comfortable. In fact, the Domane was so smooth that I forgot I was riding over typical Utah chipseal. There was no noticeable bob or extraneous movement from the IsoSpeed decoupler, and pedaling felt as efficient as on a race bike. That was no surprise, as the Domane’s oversized down tube houses a massive BB90 bottom bracket shell.

Although this endurance bike was designed for Fabian Cancellara to motor over European cobbles, it climbs smooth tarmac surprisingly well. I was able to get in a low, climbing position and spin up Guardsman Pass, just like on my race–oriented road bike.

Road bike on a trail
The Ultegra drivetrain and brakes complement the Domane 4.7’s smooth ride

Final Take

The Domane definitely has an intended use. It’s not a pure race bike – if you are an avid road racer, this isn’t the bike for you. The bike handles up to par, but is just slightly slower to corner, so for those high-speed mountain descents and snappy crit courses, this is not the steed to ride. Trek designed this bike to handle long, rough rides with minimal loss of efficiency, which is exactly what the machine does. Take the Domane outside its comfort zone and its performance gets a little dicey.

For recreational cycling and the occasional race, the Trek Domane 4.7 WSD is the ride to have. Race bikes might be better eye–candy, but they’re not worth the sore butt, back, arms and virtually every other body part that will get beat up on an aggressive race bike.

Experts Verdict

Road bikers looking for a non–race bike should do themselves a favor and ride comfortably on the Trek Domane 4.7.

Technical Features: 5/5 – High–quality components combined with an exceptionally engineered frame live up to the expectations we have for a top-end Trek road bike.

The Ride: 5/5 – Smooth, stable and comfortable – you don’t realize how important these features are until you get off your Domane at the end of a 60 mile ride and realize you aren’t beat up and stiff.

By Evelyn Dong, Content Writer

 

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