Trek's flagship Madone 6 Series range follows in the footsteps of past Madones with a new lightweight 'SSL' variant that's 100g lighter on average - 50g has been taken out of the frame itself, 30g thanks to lighter paint processes, and another 20g courtesy of a standard Cane Creek AER upper headset assembly.
Claimed weight for a bare 56cm frame is now down to just 815g for the lightest 'nude' paint scheme, bringing Trek well in line with carbon superbikes from other manufacturers.
Trek says the new model makes no sacrifices in overall rigidity or durability however, thanks to a new HexSL carbon fibre that's said to be 10 percent stiffer and stronger than the standard OCLV Red blend.
Consequently, engineers were able to design the SSL with fewer carbon plies, which also imparts a slightly different ride quality while rolling down the road but virtually identical test bench numbers (90Nm/degree at the head tube, according to Trek).
Externally, the new SSL is visually identical to the standard 6 Series, using the same molds and Near Net Molding, StepJoint, asymmetrical steerer, DuoTrap, and BB90 technologies. Likewise, fit and geometry will generally remain the same (more on this later) so current Madone owners who choose to upgrade will be treated to the same dialed-in handling and feel.
Trek will offer the new SSL in two range-topping complete bike models that will replace last year's Madone 6.9 and 6.5 as well as a bare fuselage (frame, fork, headset, seatmast cap). The flagship Madone 6.9 SSL with come with Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 and Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon clinchers while the second-tier 6.7 SSL will swap in more conventional Race X Lite aluminum wheels.
As before, though, all 6 Series Madone models are also available in Trek's Project One custom program, which allows buyers to choose frame geometry and paint, component models and sizing, and even component colors in many cases. New for '11 are tubular Bontrager wheel options (with color options extended to the top-end models) as well as Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra wheel models.
Trek also acknowledged that Project One lead times last year were longer than anticipated with some customers waiting more than 30 days to receive their orders but additional staff should bring that delay down to a more 2-3 weeks.
6 Series technology trickles down to mid-range 5 Series for 2011
Trek's bread-and-butter Madone 5 Series range gets a complete overhaul for 2011, inheriting the same external shaping and most of the features of last year's 6 Series models.
Key changes include the cleaner internal cable routing - with a trick Dura-Ace Di2 option - the optional DuoTrap integrated wireless speed and cadence sensor integrated into the non-driveside chain stay and updated round-profile seatmast cap.
As a result, the 2011 5 Series will drop 150g on average relative to 2010 frames while also getting a 15 percent bump in stiffness.
The StepJoint tube joining technology and asymmetrical steerer tube will remain exclusive to the 6 Series, though, and the 2011 5 Series will also change to Trek's TCT carbon process, meaning that production will also shift from Waterloo, Wisconsin to Asia.
As a result, 5 Series Madones will no longer be offered with Project One options, while last year's 4 Series Madone frame will carry into 2011 unchanged aside from updated paint, graphics, and build kits.
Updated fit options
As before, Trek will offer the entire Madone range in a broad selection of sizes and fit options but with one additional geometry and new naming schemes across the board to eliminate some of the emotional baggage that occasionally accompanied the old monikers - worth noting is that the most upright Project One 6 Series Madone will no longer include a clearcoated 'WSD' decal.
Last year's 'Pro' fit is now called 'H1' and features the shortest head tubes of the range while the 'Performance' fit is again 3cm taller at the head tube. will be available throughout the Madone family.
New for '11 is an 'H3' variant, though, which is similar to last year's WSD geometry but with even slighter shorter reach (by nearly a centimeter) and even taller stack (by 1-5-2cm) than before. Unlike WSD, H3 will be available in a full size spread from 50cm all the way up to 62cm.
2011 bikes that were formerly badged 'WSD' and use the same frame molds as last year will carry over the same geometry but all Trek bikes will eventually transition to the H1-3 scheme as older models are phased out.
Trek will offer the highest-end SSL Madone models exclusively in H1 and H2 fits but standard 6 Series Madones will be available in H1, H2 or H3. Other Madone models will be offered in H2, H3 or WSD fits depending on the model but not in H1.
About those steerer tubes...
We also took the opportunity to ask Trek road and triathlon product manager Tyler Pilger about the recent attention surrounding the company's carbon fibre steerer tubes.
According to Pilger, there is no recall in place for current models though Trek does prescribe fairly stringent guidelines in regards to stem model and clamp torques, saying stems with overly aggressive extension cut-outs and excessive torque can generate too much point stress but properly designed models, bolt tightening, and spacer placement should create no problems.
Even so, Pilger admits that 2011 Madone carbon steerer tubes will feature additional fibre plies in stem clamp areas to better tolerate out-of-spec stems and clamp torques just in case, and weight penalties are said to only be about 15g.
Summary of prices and brief specs for the 2011 Madone line are as follows:
Madone 6.9 SSL w/ Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 and Bontrager Race XXX Lite clinchers: US$8,709.99
Madone 6.7 SSL w/ Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 and Bontrager Race X Lite clinchers: US$6,819.99
Madone 6.5 w/ SRAM Force and Bontrager Race X Lite clinchers: US$5,039.99
Madone 6.2 w/ Shimano Ultegra 6700 and Bontrager Race Lite clinchers: US$4,199.99
Madone 5.9 w/ Shimano Dura-Ace/Ultegra and Bontrager Race Lite clinchers: US$3,989.99
Madone 5.9 frameset: US$2,309.99
Madone 5.5 w/ SRAM Force and Bontrager Race Lite clinchers: US$3,779.99
Madone 5.2 w/ Shimano Ultegra 6700 and Bontrager Race clinchers: US$3,149.99
Madone 5.1 w/ SRAM Rival and Bontrager Race clinchers: US$2,939.99
Madone 4.7 w/ Shimano 105 and Bontrager Race clinchers; US$2,519.99
Madone 4.5 w/ Shimano 105 (R600 crank) and Bontrager SSR clinchers: US$2,099.99