One of the most technologically advanced road bikes in the world, the new Trek Madone has arrived at Cycling Weekly, and we've been putting it through its paces.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

Trek Madone 9.9

Pros:

  • Astonishingly fast
  • Lightening acceleration
  • Very smooth ride
  • Top-level spec

Cons:

  • Upright position
  • Fiddly cable routing

Product:

Trek Madone 9.9

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£8,500.00

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The Trek Madone might have had controversial origins, with its name coming from Lance Armstrong’s favourite training climb, but Trek has forged ahead with the updated model, which breaks new ground for aero road bikes.

Frame

The Trek Madone is right up there with the Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS when it comes to integration. The gear and brake cables are all routed through the bars, stem and frame, which makes them tricky for home mechanics, but means they only see the slightest hint of wind when they exit the frame to join up with their respective components. And on this Di2-equipped Trek Madone 9.9, there is also a port in the down tube to allow access to the junction box.

trak madone brake flap

All that integration might be fast, but it’s also rattly and makes maintenance fiddly

Although this is all very aero, it also means that maintenance is very fiddly, and setting up this bike took much longer that with standard road bikes. It also means that this is a very loud bike, with the cables and the flaps above the fork rattling when riding over anything but the smoothest of road surfaces.

>>> Aero bikes: a complete buyer’s guide

The Madone’s foundation is Trek’s own successful OCLV carbon. The carbon has been moulded into Trek’s new Kammtail Virtual Foil (KVF) tube profiles. These tube profiles are similar to that seen on the Merida Reacto Team E, although the Madone doesn’t feature the dropped seatstays that have become a common feature of other aero bikes, such as the Scott Foil.

trek madone front end head tube

The tall 17cm head tube gave quite an upright position

However, one thing that isn’t very racy is the geometry. The Trek Madone is actually available in three geometries – H1 (Trek’s most aggressive racing geometry), H2 (which is the optimal position for most riders – including some of Trek’s pros), and a women’s specific design (WSD). The Madone 9.9 you see here comes in the H2 geometry.

>>> How to set your handlebar height (video)

This means a relatively relaxed position with a 17cm head tube. If you intend to use this bike to race, which doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, then you’ll probably want to upgrade (at a cost of £750) to a frame with a H1 fit which will mean a 14cm head tube.

Specification

trek madone shimano dura-ace di2 chainset

Out test bike came with a compact chainset, but this can be swapped for something bigger when buying the bike

With an £8,500 price tag, you wouldn’t expect anything other than pro-level components, and that’s exactly what you get with the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset that offers immaculate shifting, and Bontrager Aeolus 5 wheels that hold their speed very well and are light for their 50mm depth. The 23mm tyres could be a negative on paper, but chunky Aeolus rims help bump up their width.

>>> Are wider tyres really faster?

One big negative on our test bike was the 50/34t chainset, which looks a bit out of pace on an ‘ultimate race bike’. However, this can be changed depending on your personal preference when you buy this bike through a Trek dealer, so you can have a semi-compact or standard double chainset equipped for not extra cost.


Watch: which is faster an – an aero bike or a lightweight bike?


Ride

trek madone isospeed decoupler

The Isospeed decoupler gave a very smooth ride for an aero bike

However, once in the saddle, my disappointment about the gearing and geometry quickly disappeared. The Trek Madone is quite simply an incredible bike to ride. The super-stiff bottom bracket and relatively nimble Bontrager wheels make accelerations astonishingly swift, and once you’re up to speed — especially beyond 25mph — it’s almost embarrassingly easy to hold it there, giving a casual nod to other riders as you cruise past them accompanied only by your gentle breathing and the hum of carbon-fibre.

>>> How to be more aero on your road bike (video)

But the Trek Madone is a comfortable bike too. Trek has carried over its IsoSpeed decoupler technology from the cobble-munching Domane, meaning that the seat tube and top tube/seatstays are allowed to rotate independently, damping down vibrations. That might sound like a gimmick, but it actually works incredibly well, making for a bike that is both fast and compliant, almost floating over rough tarmac if you’re going quickly enough.

Value

Yes, it’s £8,500, but what a bike you’re getting. The Trek Madone sits at the pinnacle of bicycle engineering and rides like a dream — if you want a cutting-edge machine then unfortunately you’re always going to have to pay for it.

That said, if you’re racing, then unfortunately you’re probably going to have to shell out an extra £750 on the H1 fit of the Race Shop Limited version with its higher modulus carbon-fibre and the a lower front end, which seems a little steep to me.

Verdict

It’s a big statement, but one I feel that the Trek Madone deserves it: this is one of the best bikes I’ve ever ridden. Uphill, downhill, or on the flat, it’s an astonishingly fast bike that did nothing but flatter me, making the most of every last watt my legs could produce. What’s more, this speed was married with comfort, especially the back end which has plush without being flexy, gliding across all but the most pot-holed of surfaces that the south of England could throw at it. Surely then, your usual British crit or road race circuit would be no match for the Madone? Well it would be, were it not for the whopping 17cm head tube, which you can only shorten by spending another £750.

Details

Frame:600 Series OCLV Carbon, KVF
Sizes:50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62cm
Bottom Bracket:BB90
Shifters:Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Deraileurs:Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Chainset:Shimano Dura-Ace, 50-34t
Cassette:Shimano Dura-Ace, 11-28t
Chain:Shimano Dura-Ace
Wheels:Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 Tubeless Ready
Tyres:Bontrager R4 Hard-Case Lite, 220tpi, aramid bead, 700x23c
Bars + Stem:Madone XXX Integrated Bar/Stem, KVF profile, Invisible cable routing, OCLV carbon, VR-CF
Saddle:Bontrager Paradigm XXX, carbon rails
Brakes:Madone aero, integrated, direct mount
Colour:Black, as shown (project one customisation available)
Contact:www.trekbikes.com
  • Gábor Rácz

    Build your own Project One edition, w/ any equipment and colour.

  • grandantipathes

    I love it when you read this review, it sounds like the bike, is going on his own..:
    “once you’re up to speed — especially beyond 25mph — it’s almost embarrassingly easy to hold it there, giving a casual nod to other riders as you cruise past them accompanied only by your gentle breathing and the hum of carbon-fibre”

    This is such a distortion of reality…

  • achilles2140

    Why the video is always a video of some Asian alligator tainor…

  • Jonathan Theyers

    I read this article when it was first published and thought the bike looked OK. Having actually had a close look at one today at a Trek dealer I really, really want one. It makes anything else look last-generation and the quality of finish was A-grade plus. An expensive bike, but you can see that massive amounts of cash has gone into R&D. Definitely a Formula 1 bike.

  • Dan

    I read somewhere that they’re actually there so that the bike conforms to some US regulation that dictates the minimum angle that a bike’s front end can turn. Before they added them the brake prevented it from turning this amount so it just wasn’t legal! Makes you question whether integration really should trump everyday practicality…

  • Gmeg

    Much want!

  • Roger

    Waste of a perfectly good chainset, being put on a monstrosity like this.

  • Crydda

    Depends where you ride it.

  • Fergus Nash

    Those Vector Wings sure make the bike into a bit of a joke, so they flap open and closed like pin ball flippers as you ride along turning the bars. Hilarious stuff

  • Crydda

    i think the problem is with the aestheitics of Shimano – their kit works, undeniably excellently, but it has always looked ugly, compared to Campaq or Sran and now looks old fashioned too, particularly on something as innovative as this new Trek.

  • Tom Sharp

    As a lowly student there is little chance of that happening anytime soon! Aesthetically speaking I think aero bikes like this need dinner plate chainrings to complete the look. Of course, we can expect to see this pottering around sportives piloted by wealthy MAMILs too so I can see where trek are coming from

  • maddog

    tom… write a check for this bike, and i’m sure the shop will be happy to fit up a taller gearset for you.

  • maddog

    this isn’t a bicycle… it’s a work of art…. Mona Lisa, move over. Nice work, Trek…….

  • Tom Sharp

    The compact chainset is sacrilege on a bike like this!

  • Joel

    Ah see, the genius is that they only do a short ride to the Coffee shop and park up.

    In all seriousness, a lot of the time a super long and low position isn’t optimal for breathing efficiency, even for fit cyclists.

  • Vespertine

    Posers who are going to have back ache very quickly.

  • Joel

    “I don’t understand the following either, just who exactly needs a more aggressive fit than a Pro Racer ?”

    Posers.

  • Tony Short

    I tend to agree. How many of these super light, super aero, super stiff carbon bikes with slammed stems are going to be ridden by people who are actually capable of exploiting their full potential? I’m all for freedom of choice but I do chuckle when I see guys weighing 230 pounds wobbling around on 7 grand bikes and averaging 15 mph.

  • Vespertine

    This is all getting really silly in my opinion. It is like dishwasher tablets, or laundry detergent “All New” “Best Ever” “Now with added” … added marketing pop swankery, that’s about it … I don’t understand the following either, just who exactly needs a more aggressive fit than a Pro Racer ? – The Madone is available in several fits- H1 (Trek’s most aggressive fit), H2 (which is the optimal position for most riders-including Trek’s pros) –