Review: 2013 Trek Domane Endurance Road Bike

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

Announced in March for the Classics, the Trek Domane 6-Series carbon endurance road bike line increased with 5-, 4- and 2-series models recently.

Aimed at the cobblestone races in Europe, the Domane uses a unique IsoSpeed Decoupler at the seat tube/top tube junction to separate the rider from bumps. Up front, the IsoSpeed fork uses thinner legs with rearward-set dropouts to absorb vibrations and bumps without sacrificing steering precision. Combined, they do an admirable job of smoothing out rough roads, gravel paths and cracks in the pavement.

We borrowed a Project One build from our local Trek Store Greensboro (thanks Chris!) for a few rides. While we had it, we also de-coupled the decoupler just to see what was inside, weighed it and put about 150 miles on it in both rain and blazing heat…

FRAME DETAILS

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

We tested a size 60 with a complete Bontrager cockpit, saddle, tires and Aeolus5 aero wheels with Dura-Ace Di2 (first gen). It also came equipped with the DuoTrap speed/cadence sensor and a rather nice Bontrager computer.

The Domane’s frame is big. For a bike that claims to be comfortable over the rough stuff, all of the tubes have substantial diameters and shaping that looks to favor stiffness over flex. Indeed, the entire lower half of the bike from the head tube through the downtube/BB/chainstays to the rear dropouts is called Power Transfer Construction and is designed to maximize, um, power transfer and keep the frame laterally stiff.

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

Part of the stiffness, and, we suspect, steering precision, comes from the ridges and shaping of the down- and top tubes combined with the tapered headtube. What you can’t see is Trek’s E2 asymmetric steerer tube, which is wider side-to-side than front to back. The frame is the same whether you’re running a mechanical or electronic drivetrain, you simply use different plugs.

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

Bottom bracket is PF92, which is essentially the widest internal bearing set up you’ll find. Non-driveside crank arm sits flush against the frame, and the seat tube comes all the way to the edge. On the driveside, there’s room for the front derailleur and Trek’s built-in chainguide.

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

Behind the BB is a small fender mount bolt. The ANT+ DuoTrap speed/cadence sensor is cleverly integrated into the chainstay.

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

At the back, small fender/rack bolts are all but invisible. These debuted on the Gary Fisher road bikes and we’re glad to see they’ve continued on. A large opening at the rear of the chainstay makes routing cables and wires to the rear derailleur easy.

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

At the heart of the Domane’s USP is the IsoSpeed Decoupler. The top tube splits just in front of the seat tube and continues around it to become the seat stays. The seat tube floats between them, pivoting on an axle:

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

Remove the cover (top left) and you’ll see two sealed cartridge bearings (top right, bottom left), which separate the frame from the axle. The axle serves as a pivot point for the seat tube, which allows it to essentially act as a leaf spring. Combine that with a good amount of flex built into the seatmast and seat stays and you have the makings of a very comfy bike. Here, we made a video:

 

Pedaling is intentionally high cadence with an exaggerated bounce. The first part of the video really shows the seatmast flex. Once it zooms in, you can notice subtle flex in the seat tube. Once pedaling stops and I bounce on it, notice the wide range of flex in both the seat tube and seat stays. Hit HD and full screen for best viewing results, and if you really wanna geek out, hold the edge of a paper inline with the seat tube and watch the magic happen.

Under normal pedaling in a cadence of 80-102rpm, my usual range, I didn’t feel any unwanted “bounce”. Get the cadence up a bit higher and you’ll notice it a bit, but it’s actually more pleasant than the usual bouncing up and down on the saddle that occurs when cadence gets abnormally high. Also note the lack of frame flex when I stand up and bounce, which is by design. There are no concessions for flex when the riders’ weight isn’t on the saddle. Except at the fork, it’ll do it’s job regardless.

ACTUAL WEIGHT

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

Actual weight is 15lbs 15oz on our scale with uncut steerer tube, computer and Bontrager XXL bottle cage. Pretty good considering a) it’s a size 60, b) it has aero wheels and c) it’s holding a two-bearing-equipped axle that no other road bike has.

RIDE REVIEWS

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

Tyler – I did four rides on the Domane – one 45 minute sprint interval workout, one 55 minute time trial in the rain and two normal rides, each about three hours. The sprint workout showed the bike could get up and go. It’s plenty stiff when you stand up and crank. It doesn’t feel as light and tight as a pure race bike, but it doesn’t really leave you wanting either.

On my rainy time trial, there were sections of John Anderson (part of the famous Loop ride) in Ormond Beach with an inch or so of standing water, which tend to hide that road’s abundant cracks and ridges. Where most bikes would keep a wider line away from the side of the road to avoid the chatter, the Domane plowed through rough patches seen and unseen without breaking stride. And I could absolutely power through it all, which, I like to imagine, is how Cancellara felt aboard the Domane training for this year’s Spring Classics (before he broke his collarbone).

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

There are three things I really like about the Domane. First, it perfectly smooths over any bump or crack under half an inch, and up to an inch is entirely manageable. Where a crit bike would skip and hop over every bump, requiring constant attention, the Domane lets you relax and just point it where you want to go. Second, you can rail into sketchy corners and maintain both traction and your desired line. Third, it just rides really well.

The result is a bike that I could ride fast all day, over any type of road, and still feel relatively fresh.

Colin – I only took the Trek out on one ride, a blistering hot 35 miler, and wish I had more time to get to know the bike better. But all in all, on a short ride, the first thing that’s noticed is the sponginess (in a good way) in ride quality. Trek’s IsoSpeed Technology in the seat tube absorbs bumps to a huge extent. There’s a serious “wow” factor on hitting potholes and such. Jarring terrain becomes very manageable. Although I was concerned of energy dissipation from this feature, I don’t feel like the frame robbed any of my power.

The Domane’s handling is relaxed and stable. It’s big, built for cobblestones, and handles that way. But I wouldn’t limit the Domane to pavé. When on the streets it rides the same as many road bikes while slightly more relaxed. Surprisingly light at sub-16lbs, I’m not sure what else I’d ask for in a weekend rider. Durability, stability, ability to ride on rough terrain, racy, light. Trek packs a ton of awesome features into the Domane that might make it a worthy investment even if you don’t race the Classics, particularly with the design already trickling down to models that should start well under two grand.

2013 Trek Domane endurance road bike review weights and detail photos

Comments

Salty - 07/03/12 - 3:09pm

You’ve gotta be joking. This really is a joke, cyclist need to HTFU and just pedal.

Second, the cyclist in the video has horrible cadence, drop those damn heels.

JT - 07/03/12 - 3:40pm

Yea, what Salty said! Who needs all those advances that produce a more comfortable and smoother ride! HTFU indeed! I want my rides to be as uncomfortable as possible, dangit! How about STFU?

Hungry4Shht - 07/03/12 - 4:36pm

Triathlete.

me@home - 07/03/12 - 5:08pm

Some ppl really has problems in their life… Anyway this is pretty amazing I wish to try this on my terrible local roads

Androo - 07/03/12 - 7:07pm

I’m actually impressed. This may be the first time a company has actually delivered on the “laterally stiff, vertically compliant” trope. (Hint: this cannot be done with a traditionally diamond frame without any degrees of freedom, no matter whether it’s steel or titanium or magic)

jaas - 07/03/12 - 7:40pm

haters gonna hate

BBB - 07/03/12 - 7:48pm

The best suspension system for road bikes (and not only) are the PNEUMATIC TYRES.
If road road frames had sensible clearance for 35mm tyres and manufacturers offered high performance tyres in 28-35mm range, we wouldn’t need fancy OTT designs.

Re: Salty – 07/03/12 – 3:09pm
“You’ve gotta be joking. This really is a joke, cyclist need to HTFU and just pedal.”

Comfort gives you just that. You can just get on with pedalling instead of unnecessarily engaging your whole body in a fight against cobbles, potholes and other imperfections of the road. In most of cases a comfortable bike is faster due to reduced “suspension losses” and rider’s fatigue.

Curious - 07/03/12 - 9:08pm

Any thought on the battery placement? Seems like under the BB wouldn’t exactly be the best option…but maybe I’m wrong. Also don’t get other manufacturers who put it just in front on the BB on the outside of the down tube. Wouldn’t putting it inside the main triangle keep it the cleanest and least likely to get banged up? (Asking as a serious question btw)

RED - 07/03/12 - 9:34pm

Any possible issues with the flex affecting the alignment of the front derailleur?
…probably unlikely that you shift if you’re bouncing all over the place, but what if you hit that 1″ crack? What if you’re Fabian on some cobbles just as you drop the down to the little ring for a berg? Ok maybe not Fabian, but some lesser (sportive) rider! ;)

wigs - 07/03/12 - 10:50pm

i have 2 rides on one and the Domane is just awesome. we have terrible roads here and the Domane is just the answer.

RacerX29 - 07/04/12 - 12:08am

Anyone seen any info on how wide a tire you can run on the Domane?

mkrs - 07/04/12 - 2:10am

@RED – that is no problem as the frame has an integrated chain catcher!

Gotta say I used to hate Trek for many years as I felt they presented no real innovation in their road bikes. Oh how wrong I was… Now I’m hooked – Speed Concept and Domane just seem to be amazing machines!

Bikerumor - 07/04/12 - 8:56am

RED, I wondered that too, but I could see the derailleur move only a couple millimeters fore/aft under the hardest bouncing , and it essentially rotated in plane with the chainring. I don’t imagine it would be an issue, it never affected shifting for me, and the chain keeper is there just in case.

Salty - 07/04/12 - 10:19am

Bunch of whinny roadie trash, thats all. Always stuck with what’s “new” and “mainstream”–kinda like listening to radio rock.

Open your eyes, get out of your “box” that you live in and explore other, non-mainstream, options.

Haters gonna hate.

Forrest - 07/04/12 - 12:02pm

The Domane will run a 28mm tire easily. They come stock with 25′s

twerp - 07/05/12 - 9:19am

i cant really say how i feel about this bike unless i can actually ride it, i also feel like we will be seeing ALOT of these break in the next year.

Tommy Nickels - 07/05/12 - 3:56pm

Salty, you’re the only one here I see spewing whiny roadie trash.
If the bike is not for you, that’s fine. It isn’t my cup of tea either. However, I am not perpetually bashing it because I know that for some people, this is exactly what they want.

Leven - 07/05/12 - 10:15pm

@twerp What’s your reasoning? Seems as if breakage would have already occurred on European shit roads under Fabian’s 1000+ watt efforts.

ultegra - 07/06/12 - 2:40pm

Why did you have to borrow one from a shop?

Tyler (Editor) - 07/08/12 - 9:42pm

ultegra – It was the quickest way for us to throw a leg over the bike and get some miles on it, and the local Trek Store’s owner and shop guys are stellar…they usually get the new bikes in the second they’re available.

Big Dude - 07/10/12 - 3:50pm

Saw it, loved it, bought it nuff said. To the synics; what Wiggins said in the bleeped out part of his post Tour winning interview. Just ride man an feel the difference. Nice one Trek, kicking ass and taking numbers! Again

G1000 - 07/18/12 - 2:00pm

Twerp, remember that you will see a lot of Treks break compared with other brands for precisely the same reason that you see more Toyotas broken down on the side of the road that Maseratis.

RickH - 07/25/12 - 4:44am

Brilliant concept for those on the roads less travelled.
Audax and Randonneur riders will love this bike so they can ride all day, night and have mudguards.
I will be getting one as soon as they’re available in my shop.

shins - 08/11/12 - 3:18am

rode one. loved it.

bought one. love it.

Morris Eagleman - 08/27/12 - 12:41am

I purchased the Domane 5.2 and have found it to be as advertised. It absorbs the rough roads in the mountainous town where I live. The riding position is relaxed and comfortable. I feel as if I could ride it all day long. It feels as if I am riding at a slower pace, but when I look at my average speed I am slightly faster than the Madone I replaced. As a 60 year old rider I am happy with the more relaxed position and softer ride. For me it is a big win for Trek and a great bike for me.

RCMcoach - 09/28/12 - 11:43am

I am competing in the 508 this year, a RAAM qualifier and I’m looking at RAW(Race Across the West) for next year to build up for RAAM. Is this going to be a durable bike? I like what I’m hearing about the ride, but with all the miles I put on a bike, is it going to hold up? Any comments are appreciated. Looking to purchase a bike soon and still looking at CR1, Roubaix, & Domane. Anyone doing any of these races on this bike have thoughts on it too?

JR 60+ - 09/30/12 - 9:36pm

Can someone please comment on the benefits of the E2 asymmetric steerer tube…how well does it isolate the road defects from the riders upper body? Aside from this sniping, does anyone know why Mr. Cancellara fell…umm…ah..well… could the bike have predisposed him to take a fall in spite of his known skill level?

Neil L - 10/03/12 - 5:37pm

I got my Domane 4.0 a couple of weeks ago. It isn’t light but given that isn’t a high end model that is to be expected. @JR 60+ it is really comfortable…like insanely comfy! Although most of the focus is on the decoupler I really notice the front end absorbtion the most. Yes you notice some ‘bounce’ but that sensation didn’t last for me but I always notice the lack of vibration coming through the bars. Comfort wise it does what all the hype says it does.

However, although the Domane frame has the very neat lugs for mudguard mounts the mudguard clearances are insanely tight, even if fitting Bontrager’s ‘approved’ guards. No way will a third party SKS or even Cruds fit with enough clearance if you use the stock 25mm tyres. The issues isn’t just the clearance between tyre and brake caliper it is really tight on the frame and fork. There appears to be less clearance than i have on my Cube Litening!

I wasn’t happy about this being as that was a major feature for me…serves me right for not checking I guess. My LBS were even scratching their heads as to what guards to use, the ‘approved’ guards arrive this weekend and I am leaving it to my LBS to fit them if only to prove a point! I understand this is a bit of trend where manufacturers make a claim but miss out the bit that says ‘only when purchasing approved acessories’…

It was almost a deal breaker for me, it certainly shortens my big smile when looking at it but the bike does ride nice and is brilliant for the long hauls on the rubbish UK roads. As I said the comfort is great and the ride and handling is reassuringly stable. I haven’t been riding for long enough to experience the disconnected feel as described by some reviews but it certainly feels connected enough for me without my eyeballs being shaken. A carbon frame with the Trek warranty, along with the ride quality are pure win at the £1,500 price point. Higher spec machines will be lovely bikes I have no doubt!

Otto Bozart - 10/07/12 - 9:27pm

I picked up my Domane 6.2 around a month ago. I tried various tire pressure combinations and settle in on 105 front and 110 rear. I’m 174 lbs. and the bike is plush and transfers power perfectly. In the past, I always stayed away from the main stream manufacturers but after riding most of the endurance bikes available, I’m totally satisfied with my decision to buy the Trek Domane.

Ric - 11/06/12 - 1:37am

When I first saw the Domane, I went looking for reviews (by actual owners). I never saw one, but I bought mine anyway (6.2). Now I see a lot of owner reviews on this page. I will add mine as well. The comfort level in the seat post is extreme. You can feel the road through the bars and pedels but you can handle that.
I have gotten to the point where I sink into the saddle when I see a rough spot coming. The hype Trek puts on the Domane is really understated. The ride is even BETTER then advertized. Avg. speed is up as well.
The relaxed postition dose take a bit to get used to.
But in the end I was on a group ride, and my riding buddy and I were crusing at 24 miles per hour when we hit some really rough pavement. I kept right on at 24 mph and he fell away in an instant. Just like he hit a wall that I missed.

Jackie - 02/18/13 - 2:37pm

I purchased this bike about a year ago and find it very comfortable and effective . i I was very impressed by the performance in 100 mile bike ride .
this year my partner purchase the bike and also loves it what a wonderful bike track

Rob - 04/01/13 - 12:53pm

Just wish they offered a “race,” model Madone geometry.

Robert - 05/16/13 - 8:27am

I purchased my Domane 5.2 a few weeks ago. I am 57 and have ridden bikes my entire life. I commute, I mountain bike, do centuries, and weekend rides with our local club. I have owned numerous bikes over the years, everything from basic department store brands in my youth to high end road bikes. I have to say that the Domane is everything its advertized and more. Its comfortable, responsive, fast and truly a bike I can ride all day. For me Trek hit a home run with this bike.

Paul - 05/26/13 - 12:24am

So, I just wrote a review of the Domane 5.2 and definitely agree with Tyler’s and Colin’s takes. Even with the less-than-stellarly spec’d 5.2 (compared to the P1 6.9 reviewed above), I really enjoyed the comfortable, yet capable feel of the Domane. It could very well be my next road bike. You can read the full review here, but just to warn, it’s not as good as the one above: http://tubelessready.blogspot.com/2013/05/review-trek-domane.html.

Conrad - 06/30/13 - 6:33pm

Potential problem if you are planning to ship the Domane 5.2 in a Trico Iron Case: Be advised that the seat post extends HIGHER than other bikes. So when you place the disassembled bike in the case, the seat post AND the big ring BOTH TOUCH the inside of the case.

This could be a MAJOR problem if the case is bumped during transit. The carbon seat post is liable to be DAMAGED. Or the big ring could be damaged.

I am shipping my bike now and will provide feedback after my trip. Wish me luck.

terri poston - 07/15/13 - 4:52pm

There is an apparent known issue with the iso-speed decoupler. I have a Trek 5.2 Domane and first noticed that the shifting was extremely rough. Had it adjusted, felt great but very quickly became rough again (I have upgraded to Dura Ace cassette and Ultegra chain when first purchased in March 2013). Apparenlty the known issue is resolved by installing an o-ring in the decoupler. The flexing of the bike can cause flexing of the bottom bracket. I can attest to the fact that the entire bike feels a bit squirrely and am riding my old Giant until the part arrives. I hope this part will be a permanant fix, but I am a bit concerned.

Sony - 08/25/13 - 6:56am

After an accident which caused me my bike, I’m considering Trek Domane 5.2 for my next purchase. Would appreciate if somebody is able to give comparison between Cervelo R3 against this one. Thanks.

baris - 12/05/13 - 2:29pm

If somebody can give comparison between 2014 trek domane 5.2 C vs 2014 giant defy advanced 1, I would really appreciate that. thanks in advance. 

Aaron - 01/28/14 - 11:16am

Man, you guys are right, Cancellara needs to HTFU. Obviously Spartecus is quite a weenie, I mean the Spring Classics, how hard can that be to what all of us ride. I think you are missing the point, the Domane was not designed to be a “comfort bike”, it was designed to keep your body fresh while suffering and enduring long punishing rides. Unless you are riding a 60s steel frame downtube shifting leather seat 7 speed while wearing wool kit, I do not think embracing an excellent piece of engineering with input from a great classics rider makes you soft. Thanks Spartecus!

Phil Johnson - 02/26/14 - 8:12pm

Just ordered a Domane 6.2 this week. This after renting a brand new bike for $65 at LBS. Let me just say the experience was great. Bike is incredibly stable, very sure and fast downhill. I like what someone else said: “it feels more like you ride _in_ it than on it”. Check it out, it really is amazing. The one change I made was CF bars over the stock aluminum.

Sebo - 05/02/14 - 2:45pm

Great bike from Crits to long 200km+ rides, just great, stiff and comfortable. If you have problems with your back, no more, most of vibrations are removed and back feels much better.

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