£10,000 › Lat­est evo­lu­tion of Trek’s flag­ship aero bike

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

Be­fore we delve into the Madone’s phe­nom­e­nal qual­ity, let’s just look at that price. Yes, that’s right – its five fig­ures. For the same (or less) you could buy a brand-new Du­cati Scram­bler or Kawasaki Z900RS, or a brand-new car like the Smart Fortwo. If you opt for used, a 2005 Maserati Qu­at­tro­porte or 2007 Porsche Boxster. The Madone SLR9 is a se­ri­ous amount of money, but it’s a se­ri­ous amount of bike.

The new bike looks sim­i­lar to its fore­run­ner. With the same gen­tle arch to the top-tube, deep aero­sec­tion tubes and ag­gres­sive stance it’s one of the best look­ing of the cur­rent crop of aero bikes, yet still looks quite tra­di­tional. That’s down to its use of con­ven­tion­ally placed rear seat­stays and no wheel cut-outs on the seat-tube or down-tube.

As soon as you start ped­alling, it’s ob­vi­ous the SLR is some­thing spe­cial. Pick-up is in­stan­ta­neous and the ac­cel­er­a­tion is ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect from a su­per­bike.

The equip­ment is su­perb with the Ae­o­lus XXX 6 wheels the stars of the show. They’re deep at 60mm, and 28mm wide, so not the sort of wheel we’d ex­pect to use daily, but they’re light for their depth and the slick DT Swiss in­ter­nals mean they run smooth. In ad­verse con­di­tions they are truly im­pres­sive. In some fairly stiff cross­winds we could feel a lit­tle pres­sure on the front wheel but noth­ing we couldn’t eas­ily counter with a lit­tle weight shift or grip­ping a lit­tle more on the bar. They wear Bon­trager’s equally im­pres­sive R4 tyres with sup­ple 320TPI cas­ing.

Trek has man­aged to hit the heights with the driv­e­train. Shi­mano’s lat­est Dura-Ace Di2 is bril­liant. Gear shifts are slick and ac­cu­rate and the brake feel is what you want from a disc sys­tem – pow­er­ful yet pre­cise.

Trek’s new in­te­grated VR-CF bar/ stem is just right. It’s smoothly

The equip­ment is su­perb with the Ae­o­lus XXX wheels the stars of the show

shaped, with built-in ad­justa­bil­ity to be adapt­able to your ride po­si­tion. The slight back­sweep to the tops and an­gled tran­si­tion to­wards the hoods means plenty of clear­ance when down in the drops, and the flat tops are com­fort­able to hold.

The Mon­trose sad­dle is qual­ity and com­fort­able, but we felt that the SLR would ben­e­fit from a short sad­dle, as on aero bikes you tend to be in a more ag­gres­sive rid­ing po­si­tion and the ex­tra nose on the Mon­trose oc­ca­sion­ally feels like it’s in the way.

The Madone’s ge­om­e­try is race­bike stuff. Our 58cm test bike has an ef­fec­tive top tube of 57.4cm and short 99cm wheel­base. The steep 73-de­gree seat an­gle is matched to a 73.8-de­gree head an­gle, mak­ing the Madone han­dle with cri­terium-bike agility. Com­bine this sharp­ness with the amaz­ing ride qual­ity that re­ally is com­fort re­de­fined thanks to the ad­justable IsoSpeed.

Tak­ing the SLR as a whole, and for­get­ting the price for a mo­ment, it’s a mon­u­men­tally ca­pa­ble bike – the speed, sharp­ness and han­dling prow­ess we’d want from a pro-level bike but with the com­pli­ance we’d ex­pect of the best en­durance bikes.

But we can’t ig­nore the price and for this we want ab­so­lute per­fec­tion. We’d change the sad­dle and would like to see the in­clu­sion of Shi­mano’s BW-WU111 wire­less an­tenna in the Di2 setup, which al­lows the use of Shi­mano’s E-tube project app (IOS and An­droid) so you can cus­tomise the Di2 op­er­a­tion and setup com­pli­ance with a Garmin.

Be­low Trek’s new in­te­grated VR-CF bar/stem is just right Bot­tom The ge­om­e­try is race-bike stuff with an ef­fec­tive top tube of 57.4cm

The Madone fea­tures the speed of a race bike but with the com­pli­ance of an en­durance bike

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