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Trek launches radically redesigned Madone

Peter Stuart
6 Jul 2015

Aerodynamics meets rideability in the new flagship Trek Madone.

The Madone has a long history at Trek, introduced during the height of Lance Armstrong’s Tour success and named after his favourite training climb. Despite a decade of numerous redesigns, this new Madone 9 series has been the most drastic revision so far.

Having introduced the super lightweight Emonda last season, focus has drifted away from Trek’s previous flagship racer, and many speculated that it may disappear from the range altogether. Rather than stiffening up chainstays and reducing a few grams of weight, Trek has redefined the goals for an aerodynamic race bike with comfort and handling being prized just as much as wind tunnel analysis.

Trek Madone 9 series decoupler

The most striking redesign compared to the previous design of the Madone is the addition of the IsoSpeed decoupler system, only previously used with the cobble-bashing Trek Domane frame. The IsoSpeed system uses a bearing to allow some free movement between the seattube and toptube. ‘You get a whole bunch of the compliance out of the seat mast of the Madone,’ explains Ben Coates, Trek Road Product Manager, ‘The most complaint aero bike on the market at the moment is the Giant Propel which has around 13mm of deflection on the standard industry test of 300lb of load, but the new Madone has nearly 20mm of deflection – nearly double.’

The engineering has been complex, with a concealed skinny internal tube attached to the IsoSpeed that creates more flex at the seatmast, while an external tube creates the stiffness and aerodynamic advantage needed for the bike’s racey purposes. The Madone also employs new proprietary technology to take the edge off aero tube shapes, but continues to use Trek’s OCLV range of carbon.

When it comes to the performance against the wind, the frame has a lot to live up to. The previous Madone, despite its understated conventional tubes, was one of the industry leaders in the wind tunnel. For this frame, though, Trek has clearly taken a more drastic approach to the design but also integrated the entire bike into an aerodynamic system.

Trek Madone 9 series Bontrager integrated bars

‘For this bike, everything was about integration, and at Trek we can do that to a much greater level because of our link with Bontrager,’ Coates explains. It’s no surprise then that the bike is specced with Bontrager Aeolus D3 wheels and an integrated bar and stem, and Trek used these components throughout the design process to optimise the performance as a package – so much so that the frame is only compatible with this model of handlebar. The bike was tested as a whole and even with bottles in place – the only road bike to be tested and designed for use with two water bottles. Trek claims to have experimented with 140 different frame designs and water bottle positions before settling on the fixed positions that are now set on the bike to create the lowest drag.

It’s no surprise that the bike has been through rounds of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and wind tunnel analysis, with Trek using a dummy rider throughout to accurately simulate the nature of real world riding. Unsurprisingly, Trek argue that the bike is the most aerodynamic on the market, but only in a range of yaw angles (the angle at which the wind hits the rider and frame) outside of 0° and 5°.

Strikingly, the Madone has no exposed wires at the front of the bike, and only a single 5cm rear brake cable at the back. ‘Standard cable housing externals add up to 40g of drag [roughly 5 watts at 50 kph],’ explains Coates. ‘If you hide those cables you actually free that up. Everything was focused on performance and integration.’

Trek Madone 9 series front brake

The brakes, which are of Trek’s own design, are both concealed from the wind. It’s the front brake, though, where the most exceptional engineering has been employed. With the top of the front brake’s mechanics concealed within the headtube, Trek has had to design extendable flaps on either side of the headtube that open to accommodate CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) regulation on the range of fork movement. Coates explains that the range of movement exceeds that normally experienced in riding, but it will play an important role in allowing low speed maneuvering.

Trek also invested heavily in the other performance criteria of the bike – specifically the handling. Using 14 strain gauges throughout the frame and three tri-axial accelerometers, Trek claims to have quantified the handling and cornering ability of the Madone in a way that the currently popular industry standards do not fully measure. After experimenting with a variety of different lay-up options, Trek claims that the Madone corners with all the same character as its lightweight Emonda frame and promises to lead the aero market when it comes to cornering and handling ability.

Despite all of the innovations and aerodynamic features, the bike comes in just a shade above the UCI minimum weight and our 56cm frame with rear light and Garmin mounts weighed exactly 7kgs.

Trek Madone 9 series riding

The frame will come with two basic options for geometry, with an H1 for an aggressive race setup and a more relaxed H2 design geared more at the endurance market. The H1 will be made entirely in Trek’s Wisconsin factory.

The Madone has already been put to use by the Trek Factory Racing Team, and will be likely the bike of choice for the Tour de France next week. UK pricing has been confirmed, with the top end Dura Ace Di2 equipped Race Shop Limited edition (identical to the Pro team bike) costing £9,750. The frame alone will be £4,100 for the H1 design and £3,350 for the H2, the price difference being attributable to the H2 being produced in the Far East and using 600 series carbon fibre rather than the stiffer 700 series. The entry-level frame will cost £4,500 with Shimano Ultegra mechanical and Bontrager Paradigm Elite wheels.

Contact: Trek

Our early impressions of riding the bike are very positive, and stay tuned for a full review in Cyclist magazine.

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