Trek Domane SL5 First Ride

Trek Domane SL5 First Ride

One of the most significant developments at CBC this fall was the introduction of Trek bikes here at our flagship Carytown location. After a successful first 2 seasons of dealing Trek out of our Greengate store, the opportunity arose to stock and sell some of these awesome products here in the city. Trek bicycles and select Bontrager products have made their way into the downtown shop and it’s been exciting to see some fresh sets of wheels.

With that, I recently got the chance to get to know one of our new stock bikes, the Trek Domane SL 5. With the recent expansions of the “all road” category, the road bike market feels a bit saturated with techy innovations all claiming to make you faster and ultimately happier. We’ve been familiar with Specialized’s Roubaix for years after it shocked most of us by building a spring-based suspension system into the headtube of the bike. It definitely accomplishes what it claims and leaves you with a road bike so quiet that you start to wonder if the road you’re riding on has altogether disappeared from underneath you. However, for those of you who feel reluctant to invite such drastic redesigns into the beautiful simplicity of a road bike, we may have just found that perfect middle ground.

From six feet away, the Domane has a strikingly athletic appeal. It’s classic lines and sleek tube shapes give it a racy look that a lot of endurance bikes lack. From this position it looks like a good, old fashioned road bike. That is, no tricky suspension, no garish, shock-absorbing tube shapes, just a sleek and relatively rigid looking road bike. Upon closer investigation though, the Domane’s secret to success can be spotted… Trek IsoSpeed.

This proprietary system of isolating the rider from the harsh input from the ground is tucked neatly inside both the headtube and in the junction of the seat tube and toptube. It’s a very simple system that places a hidden pivot point at these key junctions which allows the seat tube and steer tube to deflect fore and aft to dissipate harsh vibrations and bumps coming up from the road. All the while, the rest of bike’s chassis remains rigid where you need it to be for efficient power transfer.  

So how does it actually feel?

The answer is that it doesn’t feel like much at all and this is why I like it. It doesn’t feel squishy or spongy, just smooth. Its slightly longer wheelbase provides firm and stable cornering, an excellent feature when I encountered some fall leaf debris creeping out into the road. Our neighborhood here in the museum district has no shortage of terrible road surfaces, littered with potholes and chipped pavement. The Domane glides over everything in its path without a flinch. I’m used to babying my race bike over some of these gnarly chipped sections of pavement, but with IsoSpeed you can charge through everything. It really gives you an added air of confidence that allows you to relax and enjoy the ride. The bike comes stock with sufficiently wide Bontrager Paradigm rims paired with a 28mm tire that add to the bike’s capabilities. It handles confidently on gravel and I would not hesitate to take this thing on some unpaved adventures as well. It’s amazing what 28mm tires on a wide rim can do. They’ll surprise you, I promise.

Complete with a full Shimano 105 groupset (my favorite piece being the new direct mount rim brakes) This bike might just become your favorite fall/winter steed. Swing by for a test ride soon. - Will H.