Trek is a company I’ve struggled with at times but I think they’re on a bit of a roll at present and I wanted to note the new Madone as I genuinely believe they’re doing interesting things and want to recognise and applaud this.
Up until the launch of the Speed Concept back in 2010 (http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/trek-speed-concept-first-ride-review-26519/) , I felt Trek were a company that had rested on their laurels and had relied overly on the power of Lance to keep them at the forefront of the road market.
However, the whilst the lustre associated with Lance seems to have massively withered after his ill-fated comeback 2.0 and it’s good to see them really start to get a bit more innovative.
Even with the 2012 Madone, Trek have had a series of good reviews in the UK press. However in terms of pushing their brand forward, the recent launch of the Domane during the Spring Classics generated a lot of positive press and had many people talking about the bike at it’s launch
Whilst the Domane didn’t get the race wins it might have – it was still an innovative design and showed a willingness of the trek designers to challenge some of the assumptions of how bikes are “supposed” to be design
This leads us nicely back to the new Madone. I’ve never personally been a believer in the aerofoil/wing concept of aero road bikes pushed so hard by brands like Cervelo – it’s not intuitively made sense to me that it works when the wind is not directly in front or behind you. I personally like the concept of the Kammtail more. Trek obviously first used this on the Speed Concept and so perhaps we can consider this the second evolution of its use in the Madone. In my opinion the Kammtail allows a different but still aerodynamic profile that should also allow the ability to design in stiffness and a good ride too (it’s certainly the case on my NeilPryde Alize). When you add in the new rear brake design that puts the calipers effectively underneath the bottom bracket. Whilst this location makes me a bit nervous about wear and tear and maintenance, I’m sure Trek have done their homework here – they can’t afford to not have when this design will be in volume production bikes for 2013 as well.
Some of the ability to do the new brake layout and the more aerodynamic front fork and transition to the frame is due to Shimano’s new brake and this video is worth a look:
Additionally the reported frame weight of 750gms is exceptionally light for an aero frame and their nano paint story of 5 grammes for the paint on the frame also sounds impressive.
There are only a few first ride reports out from the press launch this week (sadly I wasn’t invited!) but here are a few samples for you to read more if you’re interested:
There’s also an interesting discussion on the new bike and the aero claims on Weightweenies:
Everytime an aero bike (or wheelset) launches the manufacturer says it’s the fastest ever and there seems to be no consistency or standard methodology followed. They can’t all be fastest – but they could all be fast.
I have to say I’m now taking Trek a lot more seriously than I have done. I applaud their new engineering approach to the Speed Concept, the Domane and now the 7 series Madone.
When you also consider the good work they’ve done with the latest Bontrager Aeolus aero wheels, I feel like the sleeping giant might just have woken up. As a very large bike company, Trek have the means to apply some cutting edge engineering to their range in a way that many smaller companies won’t be able to. I’m delighted they have and that they’re trying some new ways as I think the industry as a whole will benefit.
It’s also a great way for Trek to re-invigorate their brand and after a challenging few years in the pro peloton I think this is exactly what they need to do – go back to basics and knock out some really interesting products.
Thanks for reading