During an exclusive launch in Italy, Trek revealed the third generation of its Domane platform. Rife with clever features, the new Domane is designed not only to be the fastest but also the most versatile bike in the portfolio of the Wisconsin-based brand. We were able to take the Trek Domane SLR 2020 out for a first ride. You can find all the details and information here!
A defining element of the Domane range has always been its IsoSpeed technology, which is designed to improve comfort without sacrificing performance. The first Domane model, launched in 2012, saw the technology integrated into the rear of the bike, effectively decoupling the seat tube from the top tube, allowing it to flex more and so improve comfort. In 2016, the second generation was updated with an adjustable IsoSpeed system at the rear, allowing you to tune compliance for your riding and weight. It also saw the introduction of the IsoSpeed system in the head tube for increased comfort at the front end. With the third-generation Trek has moved yet another step further forward.
What’s new with the Trek Domane SLR 2020?
The development goal for the new Trek Domane SLR was to combine race performance with all-round versatility. That meant combining the seemingly conflicting requirements of more comfort, more speed, more tire clearance and more gravelling abilities!
Comfort: Up until now, the rear IsoSpeed on the Domane was adjusted on the seat tube. For the new model, the Trek engineers have moved this to the top tube, just like the current Madone. What’s the advantage? The compliance and adjustment range can be tuned individually for each frame size and an additional elastomer integrated into the design is claimed to offer even more damping and shock absorption.
Trek Domane Hidden Storage: A true highlight on the new Trek Domane 2020 is the Hidden Storage compartment in the down tube where you can stash the Bontrager BITS tool roll containing a multi-tool, spare tube and CO2 cartridge. A small lever by the bottle cage actuates the mechanism to open the compartment and get inside.
Aerodynamics and integration: There are some definite similarities between the new Trek Domane SLR and Trek’s dedicated aero race machine, the Madone. Indeed, the new Domane borrows quite a few features from its sibling. Not only the IsoSpeed design but also similar tube shapes for improved aerodynamics. That results in a wind tunnel tested gain in speed of one minute over an hour at 40 km/h compared with the previous Domane – a saving of about 12 watts. That puts the new Domane right in the middle between the previous Domane and current Madone.
The seat mast doesn’t only look extremely good but allows you to adjust your saddle height and angle independently via separate bolts. In addition, it allows you to mount a Bontrager Flare R rear light in a way so that it is positioned for optimal visibility.
Due to the space taken up by the front IsoSpeed assembly, the integrated cables enter on the top of the top tube. Rather than use an integrated or semi-integrated cockpit, the bike is fitted with a standard bar and stem, though the cable runs are routed on the underside of the stem. Both the Bontrager Pro IsoCore VR-CF bars and semi-integrated gel pads under the bar tape are intended to add additional vibration damping.
Versatility: Tires have a huge influence on speed, comfort and where a bike can be ridden. It’s no longer a secret that larger tires generally roll faster while offering more grip as well as more comfort. No surprise then that Trek has fitted larger rubber here too. All the new Domane models will come with 32c Bontrager tires as standard. Only the € 10,499 top model we tested, the Domane SLR 9, is fitted with 28c rubber. Officially, the new frame has clearances for 38 mm tires, though even then there’s still around 4 mm room to spare on all sides, meaning you could theoretically run even larger ones. If you want to fit mudguards to the minimal, hidden mounts, you’ll have enough space for up to 35 mm tires.
Another new feature is Trek’s take on the T47 bottom bracket, offered as an open standard, that first featured on Trek’s new Crockett cyclocross bike. The threaded bottom bracket shells, similar to a standard BSA design though significantly larger, is intended to make both maintenance and servicing easier. The bearing spacing is supposed to increase stiffness and result in enhanced durability. That means that Pressfit bottom brackets are consigned to history for this model. The T47 bottom bracket wasn’t invented by Trek, but was introduced in 2015 by Chris King and Argonaut cycles. However, Trek’s version uses a slightly narrower bottom bracket shell, allowing the splines for installation on the bottom bracket cups to be wider and making them easier to deal with in a mass assembly environment.
Trek Domane SLR 2020: pricing, weights, models, geometry and availability
The new Trek Domane 2020 will be available only with disc brakes and in two geometry options: the more aggressive H1.5 geometry for racers and the more upright H2 Endurance fit with a longer head tube. That geometry remains identical to the outgoing model.
|Seat tube||390 mm||420 mm||450 mm||475 mm||500 mm||525 mm||548 mm||567 mm||586 mm|
|Top tube||501 mm||509 mm||519 mm||530 mm||542 mm||554 mm||567 mm||579 mm||593 mm|
|Head tube||95 mm||110 mm||130 mm||145 mm||160 mm||175 mm||195 mm||220 mm||245 mm|
|Chainstay||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm|
|BB Drop||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||78 mm||78 mm||75 mm||75 mm|
|Wheelbase||983 mm||986 mm||996 mm||1003 mm||1010 mm||1008 mm||1022 mm||1032 mm||1042 mm|
|Reach||360 mm||364 mm||368 mm||371 mm||374 mm||377 mm||380 mm||383 mm||386 mm|
|Stack||510 mm||527 mm||546 mm||561 mm||575 mm||591 mm||611 mm||632 mm||656 mm|
The new Trek Domane models are all available immediately from your local dealer or at trekbikes.com. You’ll also be able to order the bike through Trek’s Project One customisation programme, which will allow you to individualise your bike with custom components and paint scheme. Our rather sexy looking test bike is available through the Project One programme.
Bye-bye Pink: Women’s specific models have been all the rage for many years – at Trek as well. However, for model year 2020 Trek has the new mantra of “Awesome bikes for everyone” which means more sizes, more colours and more options for all models. That means that rather than women’s specific models, there will be bikes specific to differently sized riders and riding types. That’s what equality looks like! It’s not only Trek going in this direction – during the announcement of the Roubaix 2020, Specialized also revealed a new approach to size- and gender-specific bikes.
The models in the range
Trek Domane SL
Along with the two more expensive SLR models and the custom Project One option, the more affordable SL range is constructed with OCLV 500 carbon and uses the “old” IsoSpeed system found on the current Domane model. All other features are identical to the more expensive model. Pricing for the Domane SL 4 starts at € 2,299 and goes up to € 5,799 for the Domane SL eTap.
Trek Domane SLR 2020 first ride review on Italian roads
We admit it: choosing our test bike during the press launch in Italy was incredibly tricky! They might all have been the same Trek Domane SLR 2020 model, but also, not really. In front of us stood a fleet of bikes adorned in different Project One paint schemes. Should we choose NEW MOLTEN MARBLE with a hypnotising mix of pearly red lava, smoky chrome and molten marble? Or instead, NEW COSMOS with a galactic swirl of metallic black, purple and dark blue highlighted with hand-painted constellations. Or BRUSHED LIQUID METAL and REFLIPTIVE, shaded with amethyst and bright green details, which change their appearance based on the light. Thankfully, the decision ended up easier than we thought, as we realised that each paint job corresponded to a particular size for the launch. With that, we ended up on NEW MOLTEN MARBLE, a 56 cm frame (in the Endurance fit) with a rider measuring 178 cm tall. One thing to note: that put us right at the lower limit of the height adjustment for the seat mast.
However, it’s not just the paint that is special – the new Trek Domane also has a brand new design. You’ll quickly recognise elements that have been adapted from the Madone aero-machine to suit this model. That has resulted in a sexier, more purposeful and faster-looking bike. We like! The only faux pas in our view is the cable routing around the cockpit. The external cables are a little untidy and we feel an integrated cockpit would be significantly prettier.
How does the new Trek Domane 2020 handle?
In terms of handling the Trek Domane 2020 has hardly changed and keeps the good-natured endurance character of the previous model. Overall, the Trek Domane offers secure, stable, confident and nigh-on unflappable handling. The straight-line stability, longer rear and high front end make for a perfect companion during long days in the saddle. That said, the acceleration of our 8.3 kg Trek Domane SLR 2020 during sprints and starts is anything but bad. The quick engaging Aeolus 3 wheels and their wind-cheating profile urge you onwards, though you shouldn’t expect top-end racing performance from the Bontrager R3 tires. Indeed, given that their large volume makes them suitable for the occasional gravel outing, they still roll well enough on the tarmac but definitely aren’t designed for racing. If you enjoy flying fleetly uphill like Alberto Contador, you’ll likely wish for a more agile and direct bike. In that case, it may be worth taking a closer look at the Emonda, because the Domane is all about staying calm and keeping its cool. On the downhills, the Domane offers lots of security, though riding it on the edge, sportier riders will find they miss a little precision and direct handling from the front. That’s why we feel the H1.5 geometry would likely be better for the ambitioned endurance rider. That said, let’s stay grounded in reality: the Domane SLR 2020 with Endurance Fit geometry is likely the best choice for 90% of us mere mortals!
Does the IsoSpeed system really do anything?
No doubt about it – the IsoSpeed system is impressive. That said, we question whether so much technology (and compromises in terms of cable routing) are needed to improve comfort. On balance and purely in comfort terms, the answer is probably no. After all, there are other bikes that offer the same or even better comfort levels. However, in terms of individualisation and tuning it to the rider’s weight, the IsoSpeed system offers an effective solution and will wow tech enthusiasts who appreciate the packaging of complex technology into a classic and inconspicuous design. Set up correctly, it results in well-balanced comfort between the front and rear and convincing vibration damping!
How practical is the Hidden Storage compartment?
The Hidden Storage compartment in the down tube is well executed and provides space for tools and a spare tube, meaning you won’t need a saddle bag nor need to stuff a small snack in your jersey pocket anymore. If you use the Bontrager BITS tool roll, everything is held in place securely with no rattling in the down tube. However, on our test bike, while carrying a full bottle of water, one of the bottle cages rattled when riding on rough surfaces. Trek say that this was due to a problem with the bonding of the fastening on the first test bikes. We hope this will be rectified for the production models as the idea is brilliant and it would be very annoying to have to put up with rattling as a result! Nonetheless, the hidden compartment is easy to open and access!
The new Trek Domane 2020 marks a new highlight in the American brand’s portfolio: seductive design language is combined with clever but useful details which improve safety, handling and comfort. Of course, the bike also offers high-end riding performance for all long-distance and all-round riders who need a bike for (almost) any terrain. Endurance bikes have hardly ever been more attractive than this! We also commend the new gender-neutral design ethos! Oh, and did we mention the Project One paint jobs?!
- predictable, confident and secure all-round handling
- design language inspired by the aero Madone
- functional Hidden Storage tool compartment
- adjustability of the IsoSpeed system
- stability in crosswinds
- rattling of the Hidden Storage compartment (on our pre-production model)
- cable routing around the cockpit
For more information head to trekbikes.com
Words & Photos: Robin Schmitt