Trek Domane Series Four So this is my first test of a proper road bicycle. I’ve always been a mountain bike kind of a guy. The Trek Domane Four is priced at a point, I’m reliably informed, at which things start to get serious. By that I mean that £1400.00 buys you a bicycle with pedigree and potential.
This price point is very competitive and as such it sees a lot of innovation and interesting design, of which the Domane Four has plenty. However, as I have no previous experience of road bikes above or below this price point I can only really provide you with a review of how I felt about this bike after spending some time with it. So that’s what I shall do.
As far as I can work out, road bikes like this one are about just one thing, speed. Speed achieved with the least amount of energy expended. Every element of this bike is designed to allow the rider to go further and faster. The downside to this, is that it is normally at the expense of comfort. No, that should say “any comfort whatsoever”. From the riding position and ergonomics to the shape and padding of the saddle. Nothing is designed with comfort in mind. Or so I thought. It turns out that the Trek Domane Four is a bike aimed not a the hard core competitive road rider for whom comfort is another way of saying “uneccessary weight” but at those riders who want to be able to do 50 miles on the kind of road surfaces we have in the North East (i.e. pretty damned terrible) without needing a course of physiotherapy afterwards. It is a bike suitable for winter training, club riding and probably even a bit of competitive cycling too although I wouldn’t know anything about that. After a couple of short (no more than a few miles) rides to get familiar with the bike, it’s group set and brakes, which is no straight forward thing for a flat-bar bike rider as the gear shifting is partially done by moving both brake levers. At first that was a little weird but soon became quite a natural feeling thing. Again, I’m reliably informed, that the gearing on this Domane model is referred to as ‘compact’ meaning that is has a relatively small inner cog at the front allowing for easier hill climbs. For all the technical talk on this sort of thing, look out for an up and coming review from James Ashberry (of Stay Classy cycling club and team) who knows a thing or two about bikes and is reviewing the Domane Four from a very different perspective to mine. So, once I was sure I could pedal the bike without falling off or ride it into a tree I arranged for the afore mentioned James to take me out on a proper test ride. The weather was not nice. In fact is was probably around 2 degrees on the day of the test ride but we manfully carried on regardless of this hardship. 26 miles, one stop for coffee later and with an average speed of around 15mph (rather slow in club cycling terms but I’m unfit, it was cold and James had already done over a hundred miles in the past few days so don’t judge) we were done.
My impressions: I think this is a smart looking bike. Despite the amount of lycra I was wearing I didn’t feel at all embarrassed because I felt that the bike made be look more competent and cool than I actually am. The riding position whilst certainly less comfortable than what I’m used to, did not leave me crippled. This was a pleasant and welcome surprise. The clever ‘bump absorbing’ frame design may or may not have helped me get around our route. I have no frame or reference for comparison. I did however, feel a decent level of confidence on the Trek that I wasn’t expecting. This I put down to a well designed bike for someone like me. Everything on it worked very well or better. The only slight chink in the armour is the front shifter – with the big difference in size between the inner and outer rings the derailleur has a lot of work to do in moving the chain between them. Consequently the shifting at the front was a bit clunky at times. Conversely the rear mech was slick and silent. The bike (with bog standard pedals) weighed just over 8.6 kgs. To a cyclist used to bikes weighing around twice that, I felt it was like riding on a cloud. The difference this lack of weight makes to responsiveness, acceleration, cornering speeds and putting up onto my roof rack is really quite a revelation. In short and much to my surprise I not only enjoyed the test ride but had become quite attached to the Trek Domane and was sad to see it go.
Value for money: (rrp £1400.00) Discerning cyclists may scoff at the group set provided on a bike retailing for this amount but I am not a discerning cyclist. £1400 is not an insignificant amount of money but it did feel like you’re getting a heck of good bike for that price. 4 out of 5
Design/Style: Despite being clueless about road bikes I loved the innovative frame design on this bike. I also thought it looked great. This may or may not be a good thing! 5 out of 5.
Overall opinion: I now understand why so many people willingly place their behinds on to those awful looking saddles and head out into the countryside week after week. It might not be for everyone. It might mean you end up wearing some fairly daft looking clothing but I can guarantee you’ll enjoy the sensation of speed and the impressive distances that can be covered. If you are shopping for a bike in this ‘threshold’ price point you are in for a treat as there is plenty to choose from. The Trek Domane Four Series should definitely be on your list of options for serious consideration.
Written by Henry Aarvold, family bike guy.