In a country where “awesome” and “amazing” are standard vocabulary, how are you supposed to pick the right superlative to describe an extraordinary bike? That’s when it’s time to rely on the cold, hard facts. But are they enough to leave us entranced with the Trek Madone 9.9?

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Trek aren’t known for their tunnel-vision so they’ve expanded their horizons (and ours) by not exclusively offering the Madone as a race-ready bike, but also offering it in the more upright and comfy H2 geometry. In fact, we can testify to the comfort of the H2 variant.

Trek Madone 9.9 | 7.05 kg | € 12,999 €
Trek Madone 9.9 | 7.05 kg | € 12,999 €

Over in the land of opportunity, the bike developers at Trek’s HQ in Waterloo, Wisconsin, have created a veritable piece of art that goes by the name of the Trek Madone 9.9. By its own claims, it unites the elements of power, aerodynamics, performance and integration to the max, so we were curious to discover the truth in these assertions.

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True to its word, no other bike in this group has achieved such a holistically perfect system integration. The list of its technical finesses is a long one. It has an IsoSpeed decoupler that creates vertical compliance by decoupling the seatpost from the top tube and seatstays for added comfort. The components are well chosen, and include an integrated bar and stem, shaped for aerodynamic performance. The front brake is integrated with the fork and headtube. Despite this integration, so-called “vector wings”, hidden beneath a cover at the bottom of the headtube, allow 65 degrees of turn to comply with government regulation. With a spec that’s unlikely to give room for complaint, the Madone appears to be onto a winner.

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Even away from the stand, the Madone doesn’t disappoint, knowing the exact definition of a great ride. Thanks to its high levels of rigidity, the Madone is ultra efficient. Road chatter leaves the bike unfazed, and comfort showed no deterioration over the course of a long day (thanks IsoSpeed!). Super precise, it’s a bike that can take any amount of lean on a corner, any strength side winds as well as any pace and still come out shining. The Madone is a surprisingly good climber, although the wide bars aren’t the comfiest to grip.

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It’s definite: Trek have achieved full integration, but integration can come at the cost of fine-tuning and fixing. However, if you’ve got the budget for this bike, who wouldn’t trust its care to a reputable service centre?

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Details dof the Trek Madone 9.9

Comfortable: The IsoSpeed decoupler allows the seat tube to move independently of the top tube, improving vertical compliance for better comfort without sacrificing efficiency.
Comfortable: The IsoSpeed decoupler allows the seat tube to move independently of the top tube, improving vertical compliance for better comfort without sacrificing efficiency.
Clean: The cockpit is incredibly clean and aerodynamic thanks to fully integrated cables.
Clean: The cockpit is incredibly clean and aerodynamic thanks to fully integrated cables.
Elaborate: The fascinating Vector Wings cover the leading cables and the front brake caliper.
Elaborate: The fascinating Vector Wings cover the leading cables and the front brake caliper.
Sensitive: Take care if you change your seat height. The clamp leaves unpleasant marks on the seat tube. In contrast to our testing process with a lot of different riders, you won’t adjust the seat height that often.
Sensitive: Take care if you change your seat height. The clamp leaves unpleasant marks on the seat tube. In contrast to our testing process with a lot of different riders, you won’t adjust the seat height that often.
Old School: Cork brake pads show fast wear.
Old School: Cork brake pads show fast wear.

Specifications of the Trek Madone 9.9

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Dura Ace Di2 2×11 SP
  • Gears: Chainrings: 50/34 | Cassette: 11-28
  • Brakes:Madone Aero
  • Tyres: Bontrager R4 Hard-Case Lite
  • Wheelset: Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3
  • Weight: 7.05 kg
  • Price: € 12,999
The Geometry of the Trek Madone 9.9
The Geometry of the Trek Madone 9.9

The spec list reads equally as well, and the compact cranks offer enough range to play in the high mountains. It might sound paradoxical for an aero race bike, but it’s the truth: in Trek’s mind the Madone was designed as the ultimate bike for amateurs with high standards, and they have succeeded. Of course, to the delight of many (and the anguish of many others), the Madone can also be customized in their pretty pricey Project One configurator.

Conclusion

Who is the Trek Madone 9.9 made for? Depending on spec and geometry choice, the answer is much like a pendulum: from the pro peloton to those further back, from design-savvy riders to technological-feature hunters and those who’re after the best of the best. In short: everyone, and that’s exactly why it comes as no surprise that the Trek Madone won the GOLD Award at the internationally renowned Design & Innovation Award 2016.

Strength

  • Exclusive design with flawless integration and great spec
  • Masses of room for customization thanks to Project One
  • Superb handling

Weaknesses

  • Complex by nature so potentially not the cheapest for repairs

For more information check the Trek website.

About the test

With 10 test riders descending on Barcelona from across the globe, we dedicated 9 days to pushing this season’s most exclusive and exciting and exciting bikes to their limits in a one-of-a-kind group test. Each rider brought his or her own specific experience to the process, with a test team comprised of four women and six men, including former Tour de France riders, biomechanics, bike shop owners, tour guides and amateur riders. In short: a gathering of highly experienced and well-versed road riding enthusiasts. Our goal was a simple one, to give you all the information needed to make you a winner: Why? Becuase life’s too short to ride the wrong bikes.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: The 10 most exclusive and exciting bikes in Test



All bikes in test: Storck Aernario Platinum G1 | Specialized S-Works Venge | Ritte Ace | Focus Izalco Max Disc“ | Festka One LT Dazzle | Crema Doma | Cervelo C5 | Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 | Bianchi Specialissima

Words: Markus Ybanez, Robin Schmitt, Emmie Collinge Photos: Constantin Gerlach, Klaus Kneist, Christoph Bayer