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Long Term Review: Trek Domane Classics Edition

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Trek Domane Classics edition review (3)

As far as I’m aware, this is the first time I’ve ever been sent a bike for review that was originally purpose built for a pro race team. Right down to the frame sizing, the Trek Domane Classics edition is the same frame that was under the mighty Cancellara as he tackled the cobbles.

As it turns out, not that I needed any reminding, but I am not a pro. That was made clear during my time on the Domane but maybe not in the ways you would expect. Increasing my love of the Domane platform and at the same time making me think I should be on a different bike, the Classics edition is an amazing bike – if you have the legs….

Trek Domane Team Edition road bike review (4)

DSC03165 Trek Domane Team Edition road bike review (2)

It’s nearly impossible to talk about any Domane, without talking about the IsoSpeed Decoupler. It’s more than just clever marketing, it really works. Any attempt to seek out the worst pavement I could find was rewarded with an impressively smooth ride. Even trying to ride like a rookie directly into the edge of rim swallowing potholes resulted in little more than chatter at the bars and seat. This is a pretty important aspect of the review – while we’re talking about the Classics Edition specifically, this excellent ride quality applies to all Domanes.

Not being able to ride a standard version back to back, I can’t speak to how much stiffer if any the Classics Edition is from a standard bike, but it certainly felt like a race bike in many regards.

Trek Domane Classics edition review (9)

Trek Domane Classics edition review (7) Trek Domane Classics edition review (8)

As for the components, there isn’t much to fault. Exquisitely appointed as you would expect on a pro bike, the full Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain did not disappoint once updated. Yes, this was the first situation I’ve been in where a firmware update was needed to fix a shifting glitch instead of a wrench. Initially struggling to stay in the lowest gear, the derailleur would shift on its own after 2-3 pedal strokes back down to the second to last gear (even with the low limit out completely). After uploading the latest firmware through Shimano’s E-Tube software, the shifting gremlin went away. Both Shimano and Trek say they haven’t had similar issues, but whatever the cause it was an easy fix.

The only weak link in the equipment would be the wet weather braking performance of the Bontrager Aeolus D3 carbon wheels and cork brake pads. Most carbon wheels with rim brakes aren’t exactly known for their wet braking prowess, so the only surprise came when a car cut me off. A little poo may have come out, but after the initial scare the bike did slow down and I avoided a collision. Dry braking performance however, was excellent.

Trek Domane Classics edition review (13) Trek Domane Classics edition review (12)

Trek Domane Classics edition review (11) Trek Domane Classics edition review (1)

Trek Classics edition domane geometry Trek standard Domane geometry

Aside from the fancy Trek Factory Racing paint job, the biggest thing that sets the Classics edition apart from the standard Domane is the geometry. Built with a much shorter head tube, a slightly steeper head tube angle, and a few other tweaks to make it more racy, the Classics Edition certainly feels like a different animal. Truthfully, I could easily get away with the standard length head tube since my fit left 10mm of spacers under the stem.

Even if I wanted to drop the stem further, it would have required a change of stem or a different location for the Di2 junction box. As it was, the box was sitting just above the headset topcap. Pros are likely not riding 90mm stems though, so a true pro road fit wouldn’t see the same issue.

Trek Domane Team Edition road bike review (6) Trek Domane Team Edition road bike review (7)

Trek Domane Team Edition road bike review (1)

Chalk it up to my lack of Cancellara-esque power, or the IsoSpeed’s buzz absorbing ride, but every time I took the Classics Edition out of a spin my mind was shouting faster, faster! According to Strava, my rides on the Domane weren’t any slower; in fact some were much faster through rougher sections of road. Yet, for some reason I always felt the need to go faster. Even as my legs were crying uncle, the bike just didn’t respond with that feeling you get from pushing a bike as fast as it will go. I just couldn’t help but feel underpowered for what this bike was really capable of while riding it.

This left me with two different conclusions. First, the Classics Edition Domane isn’t for me. Second, the standard Domane is an amazing bike. Now available with disc brakes, and a geometry that would suit my build and my riding style better, riding the Classics edition just made me want the standard Domane Disc even more.

So, who is the Classics Edition for? Taller riders capable of putting out big watts who are looking for race bike geo with the pave crushing performance of the Domane, that’s who. But as Trek’s Race Shop Limited program would suggest, the Classics Edition Domanes were pretty limited. While you may still find a few hanging around in shops, the current Race Shop Limited Domane features the Koppenberg Edition which uses Trek’s H1 fit and the geometry found on the Emonda. According to Cancellara it’s his new favorite bike. The downside? The Koppenberg is even more limited in sizing, with the smallest frame available a 56cm…

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Rico
Rico
9 years ago

Nice write up. Looks like you need exactly one size smaller, a 110mm stem and ~30mm more seatpost showing. Or is that the smallest size? One of these or a bianchi infinito cv appeal to me as great bikes for long road races.

Gian
Gian
9 years ago

Our shop sells Trek and I have been given a Domane 5.2 to ride. My previous ride was a Cannondale CAAD10. I agree with you. The bike ‘feels’ slow, but it’s not. Stiff when you stand, forgiving when you sit and power through the rough stuff, I love this bike and I feel like, since I’m not racing, it’s the perfect bike for a middle aged rider looking for longer, more comfortable rides. Make no mistake, the bike will get up and go but I think we’re used to the idea that a fast bike has to be rough and scary nimble.

Colin
Colin
9 years ago

You can use Swiss Stop Black Prince brake pads on the Bontrager wheels now. The race team has been doing it for a few years and Trek recently said it’s ok to use that pad.

Then you can actually stop.

Darwin
Darwin
9 years ago

It feels like the front end is decoupled from the back end to me. Can’t stand it.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
9 years ago

So do non-disc Bontager Carbon Clinchers cause loose stools or all non-disc carbon clinchers?

The new Olestra!!!

Jame$
Jame$
9 years ago

Why would you review a Pro-specific setup by a non-professional on a website with a majority of readers who are not professional cyclists? Was the standard Domane not available? The only reason this frame is available is to comply with UCI rules. With that, this review is pointless to someone who can use this frame since it is done by someone running a 90mm stem. While it complies with your “fit” is certainly not in line with the engineering focus and execution of the frame and will certainly affect handling.

This whole review/experiment seems to be pointless.

Psi Squared
Psi Squared
9 years ago

Other reviews of Domane’s–not necessarily the Classics version–have noted the front is unusually harsh in ride quality compared to the rear. Is that something you noticed, Zach?

RicoL
RicoL
9 years ago

When I was in college, I got a really really nice guitar. My older sister asked me why, because “you only play for enjoyment.”

“Why would you review a Pro-specific setup by a non-professional on a website with a majority of readers who are not professional cyclists?”

Are you my sister?

Antoine
Antoine
9 years ago

Zach i think that it’s the right size for you. Many roadies take too small frame and put large stem and seatpost. It’s reflexes from past era where people tried to gain weight on frame.
Longer wheelbase and shorter stem are good for road too. Better braking, better cornering abtility, better straight line efficiency, for just a few mm of carbon tube it’s a no-brainer.

Robo
Robo
9 years ago

lolz

you want a practical review, go to consumer reports. You want to read about fun stuff, welcome to the internet.

Rico
Rico
9 years ago

Hah you guys are a pip. I agree it is fun to read about bike parts of all sorts from riders of all types. This is part of what i like about this site.

Zach- i see what u mean, you’d need the stack of the normal version.

Keep bringin out the product and i will keep tuning in. Whether it’s marcel wist, zach or donald trump i could care less.

Clancy
Clancy
9 years ago

I owned a 2015 Domane 5.9 w Ultegra DI2. As smooth as the bike was, I ended up selling it. Over rough roads, chip seal, and gravel roads, my a Eriksen Ti bike was more comfortable. I have 28s on the a Eriksen while the Domane had 25s so there’s some difference there, but over all the Eriksen was a far better ride. The decoupler certainly worked but more so on big bumps, I didn’t really notice it so much on rough pavement or bad chip seal. On those types of roads the frame would chatter, like most carbon frames. The titanium frame absorbed rough roads far better. I did a back to back comparison on one stretch of rough pavement and the a Eriksen was far better. The DI2 on the other hand, flawless.

Joseph Horton
Joseph Horton
7 years ago
Reply to  Clancy

I own a 56cm Project One Classics 2014. Dura Ace Fully loaded (Di2 shifters). The wheels were full carbon Aleous3 with 28cm tires. Just like your Eriksen I experienced a smoother ride with the 28 cm tire. When I rode with 25cm tires the road was rougher. When I used my DuraAce wheel set that is 50/50 carbon-aluminum, I also noticed the ride was smoother. So you have to use the same wheel set and then compare. I own a custom Davidson Stiletto and LeMond Ti frameset and I love how metal feels on the road, but now I am doing 70 to 80 mile rides again at 52 years of age. I don’t race any more but now i want to!!!!!!

Joey Brown
Joey Brown
9 years ago

I have a 2015 6 series Domane with Di2 and I love the bike. The bike is stiff, stable at speed, descends like its on rails, and by far the most comfortable ride I have experienced. I owned several carbon and Ti bikes over the years and this is by far the best ride of any frame.

Gabe
Gabe
9 years ago

A nice guitar doesn’t leave you sore if you don’t have the core strength to play it properly. A race fit is significantly more aggressive than an endurance fit. I can’t stand the ride of the Domane. I feel like I’m riding a hybrid. I ride an H2 madone with an extended seat mast and the stem slammed all the way. My next Trek will be an H1 fit. This review is silly. Send me the bike and I’ll give you a proper review 😉

Tom
Tom
9 years ago

Nice writeup, Zach. I have a Domane Disk, and have noted the “unbalanced” front/rear compliance that others have also pointed out. I found pretty good balance by upsizing the front tire one size, and reducing pressure 5 psi. A bit of a band-aid, sure, but the bike is butter now, front and rear.

not-bikesnobnyc
not-bikesnobnyc
9 years ago

So how many years did you ride the bike for this to be a long term review I am assuming 2-3 years? Did you try and taking it apart and putting it back together? Did you need to buy new tools? How did you do the firmware update? I heard the tools to interface with di2 are very expensive. Did you try cobblestone to test the suspension? Maybe compare it to low bar front tire reassure on a bike with no suspension?

Dewber
Dewber
9 years ago

Glad to see the good press on the Domane. Common sense design for the real world.

salsarider79
salsarider79
9 years ago

@Antoine
You should remember that the bigger the frame, the taller the headtube will be. I’m having to run a -20degree stem flat against the headset bearings. Next time, I’ll size down with a longer stem…
@Jame$
Why is the review pointless….? There are a lot of people who do ride s-works, et al while not being pro cyclists. And who cares if he needs a 90mm stem? It’s about what works for your body shape.
To me the review sounds like someone saying that the bike is amazing, but massively overkill for most riders….which is exactly what a full on race bike should be!

RicoL
RicoL
9 years ago

“To me the review sounds like someone saying that the bike is amazing, but massively overkill for most riders….which is exactly what a full on race bike should be!”

Now THAT makes sense. And of course Fabian does not ride his bikes 2 or 3 years and he probably doesn’t even touch a tool when they need work.

My next question is: If shaving your legs makes you faster, how can Fabian be so dang fast with all that beard hair out front? I mean, it hits the wind first, after all.

Bnystrom
Bnystrom
9 years ago

I rode a Domane for a week this past summer and frankly, I wasn’t that impressed. Yes, the feel at the saddle is a magic carpet ride, but the front end was downright harsh. The result is a bike with a very unbalanced feel. It did handle well and felt less vague on-center than the Madone I rode for a week a couple of years prior.

Overall, I much prefer the much more balanced feel of my Cannondale Supersix Hi-Mod, which is known for being very stiff, but is considerable more comfortable in the front end than the Domane. If I was looking for a more comfortable bike, the SuperSix Evo or the Synapse would be at the top of my list, rather than the Domane.

calirider54
8 years ago

I rode a Domane 5.2 demo for a week. Compared to my Specialized Crux crosstrainer (aluminum frame, carbon forks) it was night/day. I also rode a Synapse for a week…. same trails and I was sold on the Domane. I bought one and changed out the wheel sets to DA 9000 C35 and slapped on some 25mm Gatorskins and it’s been nothing but a great pleasure to drive. I am 54-years old and like to ride about 450-550 miles per month and that works for me and my fitness needs. And now compared to what i was riding before with the same miles it’s amazing…. this is likely the last bike i pick up in this life time 🙂

LaMachine
LaMachine
8 years ago

18 months on a 2014 Domane 6.9 stock build MSRP $7k
Still impressed beond belief after 10k miles and no mechanical issues. Chain replaced every 2k. About 5% dirt roads also and I cannot hurt this bike with my 190lbs of body. Lots of sprinting and bumpy roads, double centuries, nothing can hurt this fast smooth ride. To get the whole bike balanced for bump comfort I run 80psi front and 90 psi rear on 25mm tires. Lower pressure is also faster on the downhill believe it or not . There are many bumpy roads in my area and the stock RLX wheels are also remarkable and smoother than most carbon wheels.

Mark
8 years ago

Really good write up, thanks. I’ve just ridden my first Di2 bike, which was the Trek Domane 5.9 Ultegra Di2 and I think I’m in love! The 500-series frame is simply outstanding.

Gene James
Gene James
8 years ago

I own a Domane 6.2. I also own a Gary Fisher Cronus Pro. After putting 10k on the Domane, I went back to the Cronus Pro. While it’s not any faster, the Cronus “feels” faster and it’s just more fun to ride.

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