£1000 › Alu­minium Do­mane in­her­its Trek’s com­fort-boost­ing elas­tomer

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

Trek has been us­ing IsoSpeed elas­tomers in its car­bon bikes for years. But in the world of trick­le­down tech­nol­ogy it was in­evitable this ac­ces­sory would turn up in its alu­minium frames – and Trek’s 2018 Do­manes are some of the first bikes to get it. You get less for your money than the sim­i­larly priced Spe­cial­ized Allez, but it might be a worth­while trade-off if IsoSpeed brings some of the com­fort it de­liv­ers in the car­bon Do­manes.

The Do­mane ALR3 looks fan­tas­tic in a rich pil­lar-box red, but IsoSpeed is the bike’s real USP. Trek says, this “‘de­cou­ples’ the seat-tube from the top-tube, al­low­ing the seat-tube to flex… The bike moves with the road while main­tain­ing the feel and ef­fi­ciency of the tra­di­tional road bike de­sign”. But it’s not smoke and mir­rors, as Trek’s pal­marès on the pavé of Paris-Roubaix and the gravel-heavy Strade Bianche shows, which are just some of the races won on IsoSpeed-equipped Treks since 2012. It has been in­flu­en­tial too, with Lapierre and Wilier among brands with elas­tomer-equipped road bikes.

The flip­side of IsoSpeed is cost, as it’s more com­pli­cated and more ex­pen­sive to man­u­fac­ture. This means you don’t get Shi­mano 105 or Tiagra, but nine-speed Sora. But it’s an ef­fec­tive groupset with de­cent er­gonomics, and it does have a pleas­ingly wide range of gears, which our tester feels is the right choice on a £1000 bike, where it will ap­peal to the newer rider and the older cy­clist re­turn­ing to the sport. Our tester, with his knack­ered foot­baller’s knees, ap­pre­ci­ated the small­est 32-tooth sprocket on hil­lier test rides. It’s no­tice­ably lower than a bike with a 28-tooth bot­tom gear, and eas­ily worth the price of big­ger jumps be­tween gears, which only be­comes an is­sue if you’re com­pet­ing. One de­vi­a­tion from Sora is the brakes, but the di­rect-mount

Tek­tro 731s with car­tridge blocks proved very ef­fec­tive.

So, are alu­minium and IsoSpeed com­pat­i­ble? Yes. The Do­mane’s ride is smooth, though this isn’t purely down to IsoSpeed. The wide, tube­less-ready rims and slick 28mm Bon­trager rub­ber con­trib­ute their own share of sur­face-smooth­ing road-rid­ing good­ness. Might 28mm just be­come the new de facto stan­dard on non-rac­ing road bike? Well, you can run them at lower pres­sures for greater com­fort, there’s lit­tle dis­tor­tion, and no dis­cernible loss in per­for­mance. Through the sad­dle, this is prob­a­bly the most com­fort­able alu­minium frame at this price that we’ve rid­den, and com­pa­ra­ble with car­bon. But it’s so sub­tle that you don’t re­ally no­tice it; there’s no un­wanted flex, no bob­bling or weav­ing, but hit a pot­hole, scarred tar­mac, small or large road bumps and it takes rough edges off very, very ef­fec­tively, and with­out ham­per­ing the han­dling.

The ge­om­e­try, with its slightly re­laxed head an­gle and longer wheel­base, shows that this is a bike built for en­durance rather than all­out speed, and com­pared with the other £1000 bikes here the Do­mane is car­ry­ing a lit­tle ex­tra weight. But it car­ries this very well. And though it hasn’t got rack mounts, its neat, dis­creet eye­lets al­low you to fit mud­guards, which’ll just about squeeze in with 28mm tyres. The re­sult is a su­perb sportive ma­chine or cen­tury rider, well geared for the hills and great for poor qual­ity roads.

Be­low Trek’s IsoSpeed de­cou­pler boosts com­fort Bot­tom The Bon­trager rims and 28mm tyres also con­trib­ute to the Do­mane’s smooth ride

The Do­mane ALR3 looks fan­tas­tic in a rich pil­lar-box red

This is a bike built for en­durance rather than all-out speed

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