After a long week of waiting and subsequently, not riding, my new bike has finally arrived! Before the big reveal, I thought I’d go through my process of elimination in deciding what my next ride was going to be.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I began searching for my new bike in earnest about a month ago. The shear number of bike builders making exceptional road bikes was rather overwhelming. As with just about everything, the performance road bike category has specialized into two basic families, the aero road bike and the classics or roubaix style bike. Sure there are other categories like time trial/TT bikes, extremely lightweight and stiff climbing bikes, and highly maneuverable crit style bikes to name a few, but the main evolutionary split is between the aero and roubaix camps.
For those not familiar with these two categories, the aero road bike is, as it’s name implies, a more aerodynamic/streamlined bike designed to cheat the wind as much as possible while still providing great overall performance, while the roubaix bike is a no compromise performance race machine offering comfort and stability, even on the most punishing of surfaces.
I’ve always categorized myself as a long distance/endurance style cyclist. Sure I like speed and friendly competitions (commonly known as hammerfests), but I’ve never really been a “boy racer” so the hard edged, rough riding, yet extremely tossable crit style bike was not high on my wish list. The idea of an aero road bike was particularly appealing, especially with all the crazy cross winds we get here in Florida. Anything that helps cheat the wind is a definite plus, but typically the more aero the bike is, the less compliant it is…or in other words, the rougher it rides.
Rougher rides are the exact opposite of what you look for when spending extended hours in the saddle, but at the same time, you don’t want the bike to be so plush that it detracts from it’s performance. So although there were many aero bikes that elicited a Pavlovian response from me, including the Cervelo S5, Felt AR, Orbea Orca, and the new Trek Madone, to name a few, I knew well the roubaix style bike was a better fit for me. So, with the category narrowed down, and the all important budget set, I focused my search to the classics/roubaix bikes (by the way, this category of road bike gets its name from the professional races known as the “spring classics” which include the brutally tough Paris-Roubaix and Tour de Flanders races which are held on ancient, extremely rough and uneven, cobbled roads).
Specialized has been a pioneer in making roubaix bikes, particularly with it’s appropriately named “roubaix series”. These are excellent bikes with a race proven heritage (Tom Boonen won this years Paris-Roubaix and Tours de Flanders on this bike). The bikes are extremely popular, in fact I personally know a number of cyclists who ride and recommend them wholeheartedly. Cannondale and Giant also have a good roubaix bikes in their lineup, with the Synapse and Defy, as well as many other smaller builders, but what really caught my eye was the work Trek was doing with it’s all new Domane series.
The Domane was engineered by and for perhaps the greatest classics rider of the day, the one and only Fabian Cancellara. He’s a self described “millimeter man” that can work with engineers to produce absolute marvels in technology, while providing an absolutely punishing human test bed to put those marvels to the call, after all, this is a man that can easily put out more than a thousands watts of power when stomping on his pedals!
The technology of the Domane intrigued me. On paper it made a ton of sense, and it was proving to be a very worthy competitor in the classics. What really tipped the scale for me was watching Cancellara elect to ride the Domane over the new aero Madone’s at the Tour de France…and defend his yellow jersey for a week on it!
I had to give the bike a test ride. My friends at the local Trek store set me up with a 4 series bike to test. Although it was slightly larger than I am accustomed to (52cm vs 50cm) I immediately noticed the ride difference, which can only be defined as being “sublime”. It was soaking up all the imperfections and vibrations of the road all the while staying completely planted and incredibly stiff. I think this is the closest any builder has come to delivering on the promise of stiffness and compliance…the holy grail of cycling. Frankly, nothing I have ever ridden rides like a Domane.
To make absolutely sure that this was the bike for me, the guys at Trek were able to get their hands on a 50cm bike for me to test. Not only did they manage to obtain this bike (50cm frames are way to the left of the bell curve and are not very common, especially on a new model), but they also went out of their way to tweak it to fit me better. the ride on the 50cm bike was even better. I think it was the first time ever I actually went out of my way to ride over imperfections and bumps in the road.
So with all due fanfare, I present to you my new stealthy Trek Project One Domane 6.9!
By the way, I just wanted to mention that if all things were equal, which in my humble opinion are not, as the Domane is unmatched, I still would have chosen to ride a Trek over all others. It’s not that the other bikes are subpar or bad in any way, quite the opposite as they are all excellent bikes, but it’s the level of service, support and commitment from our local Trek store that really sets the brand apart. Having a Trek concept store nearby is an intangible asset no other brand could match. Kudos to all the great staff at Trek Estero including, Doug, Karen, Paul, Justin, Elio, Gina and all the rest!
Route: Three Oaks/Airport Loop
Ride Time: 1:56:40
Stopped Time: 27:29
Distance: 35.22 miles
Average: 18.11 mph
Fastest Speed: 24.77 mph
Ascent: 159 feet
Descent: 263 feet