This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
Trek launched its current-generation Madone three years ago with the idea that it could be a true all-in-one road racing platform: light enough for the biggest mountain stages, aero enough to spend all day out front in the wind, and comfortable enough to ride all day. Trek itself has since muddied that philosophy with the ultralight Emonda and the remarkably comfortable Domane family, however, so with a new Madone presumably on the horizon, the most logical pathway at this point is to transform the storied nameplate into a more relevant dedicated aero road bike for 2016.
At the Criterium du Dauphiné — a primary Tour de France warm-up race — Trek Factory Racing riders have been spotted on a new aero bike we have to assume is the new Madone. Trek declined to comment on the bike.
[Editor's note: This article had been edited from the original speculative piece Huang wrote in April.]
Why has the Madone gone full-blown aero, you ask? Because countless analyses have suggested that save for the most demanding climbs, aerodynamic drag is much more important than weight when it comes to going faster – and given that the Madone will likely continue to be Trek's premier professional race bike, going faster will be the primary goal above all else. Third-party wind tunnel tests have shown, too, that while the current Madone is better than a round-tubed bike in terms of drag, there's still a sizeable gap to dedicated aero machines.
The current Madone already uses nominally aero tube profiles but this new Madone looks to have the more aggressive shapes of this Speed Concept
Trek also already has plenty of applicable technology to pump into such a design with years of research on wind-cheating Kamm-tail shapes under its belt. This new bike looks to use the distinctively squared-off tube profiles but with much deeper cross-sections derived from the company's time trial/triathlon-focused Speed Concept.
It looks like this aero-focused Madone features a considerable amount of component integration as well. Fully internal and convertible routing is a given, possibly with the option of smoothly capped-off ports for use with SRAM's upcoming wireless electronic group. The bike raced by Trek's Bauke Mollema shown above appears to have a one-piece, aero-shaped carbon bar and stem. It will be curious to see whether Trek will to produce it in enough sizes to accommodate both the general population and ultra-flexible pro riders.
The unmarked bike at the Dauphine has brakes tucked into the fork and frame, but is not as integrated as this Speed Concept... yet
Trek has demonstrated in the past that it has no fear when it comes to adopting new or different brake standards with direct mount calipers on Emonda and Madone and the latter's decidedly controversial chainstay-mounted rear brake. While the bike Mollema is riding at the Dauphine does not have something as radical as fully hidden center-pull brakes like on the Speed Concept, the brakes are semi-integrated into the frame and fork.
And what about disc brakes? There have been lots of rumblings about the technology finally making its way into the top ranks of the sport but even if that doesn't come to pass this season or next, Trek has to at least be investigating the idea for this next-generation Madone. Shimano's new flat mount standard is likely but given the bike's use at the WorldTour circuit, don't expect thru-axles of any sort except possibly on the disc version (where mechanics would be more likely to just swap complete bikes instead of individual wheels, anyway). Mollema's bike is obviously a rim-brake version, as discs are still forbidden.
This chainstay-mounted rear brake looks to be a thing of the past, which is a good thing
It seems likely that this new Madone will be heavier than the one it replaces. Weight isn’t as much a concern as it used to be, however, at least on the WorldTour. There's more than enough wiggle room to make the frame heavier – but faster – and still easily hit the current 6.8kg minimum weight mandated by the UCI. Continuing advances in carbon technology may make it so that a proper aero Madone might somehow be able to maintain the same weight as current versions but we'd expect a modest bump.