Trek Madone 2.1 at £1,000 is a solid dependable road bike for commuting and sportives
Trek’s Madone 2.1 is likely to be anathema to some cyclists, a welcome entry point into the world of Madone for others. Madone series bikes are made from carbon fibre, typically expensive and usually high-performance — or that was the case, at least, until this, the Madone 2.1, came along.
Made from aluminium and costing a mere £1,000, it breaks the Madone mould somewhat. The Madone model name covers a range of bikes up to the Madone 7 series, which is fully customisable, hand-built, and the go-to bike for the Trek Factory Racing team. At the other end of the spectrum is this bike, the Madone 2.1, which Trek says is “a refined aluminium road bike worthy of the Madone name”.
Thanks to advances in manufacturing techniques, you can now get the carbon bikes’ tube shape in aluminium instead. Though there may be similarities in the technology and methods used to create all the bikes in the Madone range, inevitably, given the £9k difference in price, some of the top-end model’s features have been sacrificed.
Frame and fork
The frame is made from 200 Series Alpha aluminium, Trek’s premium road alloy, while the forks are made from carbon fibre. A running theme in the Madone range is the use of Trek’s KVF (Kammtail Virtual Foil) tube shape, a deep aerodynamic design that’s been truncated to give maximum strength for minimum weight. In the 2.1, this KVF shaping appears on the down tube and fork legs.
Further stiffness is added to the frame in the head tube, where it is tapered from a 1.5in lower bearing to a 1 1/8in bearing up top, giving extra strength for negligible weight. Mudguard mounts are tucked discreetly away on the frame and fork, plus one on the back of the seat tube.
As you’d hope with a bike of this price, the groupset is the very reliable and roadworthy mid-range Shimano 105 double 10-speed with internally routed cables (nice touch). Shifting is smooth and fast, and with a little maintenance the 105 should look after you for years. Where the 2.1 deviates from the norm is with its chainset, which is the Shimano R565 compact option, giving you 50-tooth and 39-tooth chainrings and a great lower set of ratios for a helping hand up the hills — but a dent in top-end speeds when hooning down them. Personally, I’d happily take the assistance uphill at the expense of a little velocity on the descents.
The wheels are a straightforward set of Trek’s in-house component brand Bontrager, which feel solid and dependable once up to speed. The tyres are Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lites, which were fine but didn’t fill me with confidence that they’d last long on the debris-strewn streets of London. The saddle is a Bontrager Affinity 1, which I would swap for something harder.
The Madone 2.1 is supplied in Trek’s H2 geometry, the middle of Trek’s three fit options. Not as aggressive as the H1, H2 has a slightly higher head tube but it by no means feels that you’re sitting upright in the wind. As a 5ft 4in woman riding the 52cm frame size, the geometry didn’t quite work for me — the bars were too wide and the reach for the brakes too far, but that can be easily adjusted. Even so, that didn’t take away from the feeling of power and strength I got from the Madone 2.1.
Quick to get up to speed, the 2.1 glides along serenely, in true states(wo)manlike fashion. Pleasingly, it felt powerful and responsive when I needed it to be, yet light and agile enough for weaving through back streets and along lumpy country lanes.
If you can get over the fact this Madone is not made from carbon fibre, it does a good job of living up to its illustrious name — these are high-performance bikes. For the price, it’s a solid and dependable ride that’s not going to throw up any great surprises. And whether you’re commuting or on a leisurely ride, a lack of bike-related surprises is generally a good thing.