The Madone was one of last year’s most exciting and revelatory bikes. For 2017, it remains one of the best aero bikes money can buy. The crossroads between high performance speed and comfort lies right here, due in large part to Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler combined with exceptional stiffness and aerodynamic design.
Trek took the concept of integration and made it smart, with proprietary integrated front and rear brakes (that actually work well!), a cleverly hidden cable adjuster (where the junction box would live on a Di2-equipped model), and a one-piece handlebar and stem that is comfortable, although limiting in terms of fit. It’s a pain to build, and maintenance on this bike is sometimes trying because every cable is run internally, even through the cockpit. But once it’s set up, it’s hard to find a bike that’s sleeker in the wind.
We love the IsoSpeed Decoupler, which takes the sting out of all those aero tube shapes. And it doesn’t seem to add much weight to the overall build; our 56cm test bike tipped the scales at only 16.11 pounds. Our only complaint about the IsoSpeed system is the lack thereof in the front end, which ends up a touch harsh. It can make the Madone feel a bit unbalanced front to rear in terms of compliance. But it does not affect steering and we’ll take that in exchange for all the Madone’s confident handling.
In fact, the handling isn’t sluggish at all. Chalk it up to the 983-millimeter wheelbase, 410-millimeter chain stays, and steep 73.5-degree head tube angle that provide agility. The Madone requires little input to carve even the tightest corners.
Last year we tested the Race Shop Limited, Trek’s top of the line offering. The Madone 9.2 brings the price down by almost half with a reliable Shimano Ultegra build and less glamorous but more rugged Bontrager Aura tubeless-ready wheels. The 9.2 also takes a step down to Trek’s OCLV 600 carbon, which adds a few grams to the bike but almost negligibly so.
Aside from the complex build and limited adjustment options at the cockpit, it’s hard to find anything negative to say about the Madone. The lack of a decoupler at the front means you feel some of that characteristic aero harshness, but it’s by no means uncomfortable. It’s an uncompromising race bike with just enough comfort to keep you going long-haul.