This article originally published on BikeRadar
Radioshack-Nissan will race this year's Tour de France on the latest generation of Trek's flagship Madone road platform. The new Madone 7-Series borrows aero shaping from the Speed Concept to save a claimed 25 watts at 40km/h, it's supposedly more comfortable than before, and the lightest variant now weighs a startlingly feathery 750g for a 56cm frame.
The Madone 7-Series borrows the Kamm Tail truncated airfoil design methodology of the Speed Concept and applies to the road, smoothing airflow over the structure for a claimed 25 watts of power savings when traveling at 40km/h. Put another way, Trek reckons the new 7-Series could save a rider more than two minutes per hour relative to the previous Madone 6-Series.
According to Trek, 60g of reduced drag comes from the revised frame shape, with the Kamm Tail concept applied to the down tube, seat tube, fork blades, and seat stays. However, Kamm Tail shaping has also been applied to the brakes and handlebar.
Sleekly integrated into the fork crown – and hidden down below the chain stays at the opposite end – the new brakes smooth airflow to the (claimed) tune of 16g while also reducing weight and — at least in theory — boosting braking performance and lever feel. Instead of a conventional central mounting hole, the new Madone sports dual pivots integrated directly into the frame, thus eliminating a few parts while also producing a tidier, more compact, and stiffer package.
Bontrager-branded brakes are featured across most of the new Madone models but the system is also compatible with Shimano's new Direct Mount standard, too, as seen on RadioShack-Nissan team bikes two weeks ago at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Meanwhile, a new Kamm Tail-enhanced Bontrager handlebar saves yet another 14g of drag, Trek says, translating to 23 seconds per hour at 40km/h. Riders looking to pinch every bit of advantage should also note that the new 200g, carbon fiber Bontrager Race XXX Lite Aero and 320g, aluminum Race Lite Aero bars can easily be retrofitted to other bikes, plus they're compatible with clip-ons.
Sleek, bridgeless chain stays are used on the new Trek Madone 7-Series
…but also lighter, stiffer, and comfier
That the new Madone 7-Series features aero tube shaping should come as no surprise – we spotted the new model at the Critérium du Dauphiné a few weeks ago and if anything, we expected it to follow in the footsteps of the Speed Concept more closely than it did.
That being said, Trek claims to have also improved on the previous Madone in every other performance metric, too.
Claimed frame weight for the lightest 56cm variant is now just 750g – a decrease of 65g from the previous Madone 6.9 SSL. Much of the savings comes from the expected optimized tube shaping and fiber lay-up schedules but other improvements come from areas previously unseen from Trek, such as carbon fiber rear dropouts, carbon water bottle bosses (with metal threads), a carbon fiber front derailleur mount, and even a special ultralight paint job.
Despite what the name suggests, the optional "U5 Vapor Coat" finish isn't a proper chemical vapor deposition treatment but rather a minimalist, black-on-black finish that combines a single layer of clearcoat plus masked-and-blasted graphics. While standard finishes usually weigh 40-80g, U5 supposedly adds less than 5g to the structure.
Moreover, the new Madone's slimmer, bridgeless seat stays are supposedly more comfortable than before while the broader fork blades boost side-to-side stiffness up front by over 10 percent. According to Trek, other stiffness measurements haven't changed.
Additional features include the same S3 integrated chain keeper as used on the Domane and refined internal cable routing that's compatible with both mechanical and electronic drivetrains. The long-running BB90 bottom bracket shell with press-fit bearings, no-cut seat mast design, Duotrap integrated speed and cadence sensor, and e2 tapered front end carry over. Official tire clearance is rated at 25mm front and rear by CPSC but 28mm rubber should fit.
Interestingly, Trek tweaked the Madone's virtually perfect geometry for this latest incarnation, but thankfully not by much. Chain stays have shortened by 3mm across the board and the most aggressive H1 fit (the H2 variant with longer head tubes is still available) gains up to 6mm of reach depending on size.
Less expensive models, too, plus cheaper Domane platforms
The most expensive stock Madone 7-Series tops out at a whopping $11,549 with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and Bontrager Aeolus 3 carbon wheels but more budget-minded consumers will be happy to know that Trek is introducing less-expensive 6-Series and 5-Series, both of which share the flagship's Kamm tail shaping and other key features.
Each level uses a progressively more inexpensive carbon fiber blend to save money and only the 7-Series and 6-Series are made in the US at Trek's Waterloo, Wisconsin factory. Prices start at $2,419.
Coming in at an even lower cost are the Madone 4-Series and 3-Series, although those will use last year's non-aero tube shapes and more entry-level fiber blends. Prices start at $2,039.99.
Amazingly, though, Trek adds the aerodynamic tube profiles back in for the new aluminum Madone 2-Series range, which starts at just US$1,429.99.
The Domane 6 bikes come in a huge range of custom layouts and graphics
Finally, the Classics-inspired Domane 6-Series bikes that were launched earlier this spring now get cheaper 5-Series, 4-Series, and 2-Series variants, all with the IsoSpeed seat tube-top tube pivot and tuned seat tube flex pattern that legitimately – and substantially – smooths out road imperfections.
The 5-Series and 4-Series are both carbon fiber – but with lesser grades of carbon than the top-end 6-Series – and the 4-Series is fitted with a standard telescoping seatpost and external cable routing. Pricing starts at $2,099 for the 4-Series and there's also a 2-Series, built with a welded aluminum frame.
Availability for all of the new Madone and Domane bikes and frames is slated for late July to August and the top models will also be available through Trek's Project One custom program starting immediately. Check back tomorrow for a First Ride Review after we've had a chance to throttle the new bikes around the back roads near the Tour de France start in Liege, Belgium.