In 1947, a man named Chuck Yeager broke the aviation sound barrier in the Bell X-1, what amounted to a rickety soda can strapped to a rocket engine. 30 years later, the famous Concorde supersonic airliner was taking passengers between New York and London at the same speed in leather seating with beverage service. Less the legendary economic infeasibility of the Concorde, speed had become comfortable – attainable by the layperson, no longer the exclusive realm of fighter pilots and daredevils. In much the same way the Concorde made aerial speed accessible, so too does Trek’s Madone when it comes to pedaling on two wheels.
Until the Madone’s introduction in 2016, pure aero bikes, by and large, were exercises in painful compromise. Ride quality, functionality, and weight were always distant tertiary objectives in pursuit of out-and-out speed for the aerodynamic road subset. Familiar ride characteristics included such derisive terms like “wooden”, “noodly”, “bone-jarring”, and “brakes that don’t work”. It seemed then, that aero road was always going to be the realm of the racer or group ride royalty willing to sacrifice everything in exchange for a few less grams of drag.
That changes now. Thanks to Trek’s infinitely deep well of carbon engineering expertise, we have entered the Concorde-era of aero road. The Madone is their pièce de résistance, possibly the quickest road bike available, and yet incredibly comfortable. How has Trek achieved such a harmony of seemingly juxtaposed qualities? A little technology they’ve dubbed “IsoSpeed”. Essentially, the seat tube the saddle is mounted to is a carbon leaf spring, independent of the top tube and seatstays, slipped inside the frame’s structural (and aero) seat tube. This gives the Madone an extremely smooth ride feel at the saddle, without sacrificing any of the frame’s aerodynamics or stiffness. On the braking side, Trek has foregone standard-mount calipers in favor of a center pull arrangement that has changed our perceptions about proprietary braking. Confident, smooth, and powerful brakes that offer quite a bit of precision adjustability. An added bonus? Massive amounts of tire clearance – we were able to mount cushy 28mm Vittoria tubulars on the bike with plenty of room to spare.
We could wax on and on about the Madone’s aero numbers, its truncated Kamm Tail technology, and how slippery it is in the tunnel, but we won’t bore you. Instead, we offer up our own testament to its speed on the flats when we’ve ridden two-up in block headwinds with it and a “non-aero” bike. The power difference between two similarly-sized riders is quite remarkable (we anecdotally noticed about 15-30 watts at 23mph), and noticeable. There is a definite, visceral feeling of speed on the Madone. Even with its flat-out speed, the Madone isn’t burdened by excessive weight. Our house SRAM Red eTap build, with Zipp 454 NSW wheels, tipped the scales a bit over 15lbs, and the size 56cm RSL frame comes in at 950g of USA-made carbon.
Geometry of the Madone is what we’d characterize as “sensible race”. With longer chainstays than most carbon bikes, it drives a bit more confidently at speed, and proves a capable descender. Additionally, Trek has made it available in two fits – the low/long H1, followed by the taller, shorter H2 for a more upright fit, making it easy to tailor to the individual. This becomes even more critical, as the Madone uses an integrated stem/bar configuration.
Above Category specializes in Trek’s custom paint system, Project One, rapid-turnaround bespoke paintwork completed at Trek in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Every Trek is custom-built from the ground up by AC, and finished with our trademark pursuit of aesthetic perfection.
- 700 Series OCLV Carbon (H1 Fit) - Made in the USA
- Rear ISOSpeed Decoupler
- Project One Custom Paint Available
- Integrated Brakeset
- Integrated XXX Cockpit
- BB90 Bottom Bracket
- 950g Frame Weight (H1 Fit)
- Tapered “democratic” cut, between race and club
- Designed to be worn in riding position without bunching
- Similar fit to Rapha Pro Team
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