American brand Trek has launched the new Trek Madone SLR and you’ve guessed it, it has disc brakes

It certainly seems like the year of the aero bike as Trek becomes the next major bike brand to launch an updated version of its wind-cheating machine. I went along to Trek’s home in America to get the lowdown on what’s new.

>>> Year of the aero bikes: new Specialized Venge

This is the sixth Madone in existence, the first being launched back in 2003 and although a lot of you might be crying out that it looks exactly like the fifth Trek Madone launched in 2015, it has in fact received many updates despite that similar silhouette.

The main thing you see here is of course the disc brakes for the new Madone, but you’ll have a rim-brake version to choose from if you so wish, something that other major brands have chosen to avoid. This is because the American brand believes the customer should have options and, truly, the jury is still out on disc brakes.

>>> Year of the aero bikes: new BMC Timemachine 01

I won’t talk about the new rim brake much here but there is change, and you’ll see the front brake move from the front to between the forks to help aerodynamics. We are yet to see how this affects servicing, but we hope that it improves on last year! It also means you lose the annoying vector wings.

Trek Madone SLR

Rim brake is now hidden in the forks to help aerodynamics

The Trek Madone SLR bike

Weight-wise, we’re looking at around 1,000g for a 56cm frameset according to Trek, which is competitive for an aero bike and is in large part thanks to the use of the high-end and much respected OCLV 700 carbon, the American brand’s highest-grade carbon.

During our own in-house testing with the last model of the Madone, we found it to be the fastest bike aerodynamically, closely followed by the Specialized Venge Vias.

The new bike might have two options for slowing it down, but is the new bike faster? Yes, according to Trek: between 10 and 20g of drag has been saved when comparing last year’s rim-brake with the new disc version, but this is a fairly negligible, representing a watt or two of savings at most. The rim version offers a similar saving.

Although it follows the same silhouette of the last years Madone, the new Trek Madone SLR utilises a new geometry fit. Last year, Trek provided its H1 geometry for the racer, with a low down, aggressive front end and H2 for the slightly more relaxed rider.

Trek Madone SLR

My ride on the launch and man it is quick!

2018 sees a stab in the middle in terms of shape, and H1.5 is born, something that Trek says was asked for by the riders and was developed with  the women’s pro team, Trek-Drops. It means more riders can fit the Trek Madone SLR and with a choice of low or high-stack stems you can get a similar fit to the older geo. Low stack can achieve the same as the H1 fit and high stack can simulate H2.

Sticking with bike fits Trek, like many brands, has said that it believes male and female riders should ride the same bikes geometry wise and only need contact point changes.

>>> Is women’s specific geometry still relevant in 2018?

With this you get a new two-piece handlebar that offers full cable integration but also versatility. The most impressive thing is that you can get a 5° tilt on the handlebar, something I’ve wanted to see on aero handlebars for a while now. Being two-piece means you can get the right stem length to match the right handlebar width, very important for all us fussy cyclists.

Trek Madone SLR

New two-piece handlebar and stem is adjustable and versatile

IsoSpeed added to the Madone

The biggest bit of tech added to the Trek Madone SLR is the IsoSpeed decoupler that you’d usually find on the Domane. This is fitted to the top tube so that aerodynamics isn’t hindered but ride quality is improved and it also means that riders can tune their experience.

So, instead of deflection in the seat tube at a pivot point, there’s a new tube underneath the top tube that deflects. An adjuster underneath allows you to modify your compliance according to terrain, rider weight or rider preference. This will need to be adjusted when stationary and requires an Allen key, but fortunately it is super easy to do.

In its softest setting it yields 17 per cent more compliance than the older Madone, and in the hardest setting it is 21 per cent stiffer. A damper has been added around the seatpost to help reduces rebound by around 13 per cent.

Trek Madone SLR

The new Trek Madone SLR has an ISO Speed decoupler hidden under the top tube – it also has this really cool P1 Trek-Segefredo pain job

Jordan Roessingh, Trek director of road bikes explains why the IsoSpeed is there:

“We put the IsoSpeed in the top tube to supply a more consistent compliance experience independent of frame size so that the member that is deflecting doesn’t change with frame size and allows small and big riders to get the same compliance experience overall.”

The new Trek Madone SLR was born out of testing back at Trek’s HQ in Waterloo. It started its life being tested on the computer using CFD. 1000’s of hours of computer engineering went into the frameset before it even made it out for a real test or even a wind tunnel test.

Once a ridable version was made Trek stuck the bike on its own state-of-the-art rolling road and using slowmo motion capture figured out that the IsoSpeed system would work well over rough terrain.

This machine can replicate any road surface and the team even copied cobbled sections of the famous Spring Classics using silicone. Using lasers they plotted the section onto its machine and sent out the stunt man to test.

This is how Trek knows how the compliance works and much of the idea for the new Madone was born here in this test lab.

Trek Madone SLR

In house testing allowed for compliance overhaul

Riding the new Trek Madone SLR

I took the new Madone SLR out for a four-hour ride and it’s an amazing machine that’s super fast. I actually used the IsoSpeed adjuster once I was out on the road, opting for a very soft setting at the start, and halfway through I changed it to the stiffest setting.

At that point it was very similar to the likes of the Giant Propel in terms of rear-end feel – a little uncomfortable and I needed the odd out-of-the-saddle break.

It’s a great handling bike, super fast on the descents and flats and undoubtedly aerodynamic, although that’s hard to quantify on the smoother, faster roads of Wisconsin. We’re looking forward to getting it back to Farnborough and finding out how the adjustable IsoSpeed works on our much heavier roads.

The Trek Madone SLR: range and pricing

The new Madone will be offered as the SLR range (700 OCLV carbon) with men’s and women’s models based on the same frame but with different contact points from £4,050 up to £11,250 or the SL6 (500 OCLV) with a single Shimano Ultegra equipped model at £3,600.

Madone SL 6


Madone SLR 6 Disc


Madone SLR 6 Disc P1


Madone SLR 6 Disc WSD


Madone SLR 6 Disc WSD P1


Madone SLR 8


Madone SLR 8 P1


Madone SLR 9 Disc


Madone SLR 9 Disc P1


Madone SLR Disc Frameset


Madone SLR Frameset