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First Look: 2011 Trek Madone 6.9 SSL

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The underside of the 'Unity' paint job includes a giant Trek logo, Livestrong colors, and the new fist icons.

The underside of the 'Unity' paint job includes a giant Trek logo, Livestrong colors, and the new fist icons.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Bontrager is launching a new Affinity range of road saddles with a more pronounced depression.

Bontrager is launching a new Affinity range of road saddles with a more pronounced depression.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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5 Series Madone frames get a complete overhaul for 2011, gaining 6 Series Madone shaping and features such as the integrated DuoTrap wireless speed and cadence sensor.

5 Series Madone frames get a complete overhaul for 2011, gaining 6 Series Madone shaping and features such as the integrated DuoTrap wireless speed and cadence sensor.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Trek Madone 5.9 is substantially upgraded from last year with a new 6 Series-like shape and features, 150g less weight, and a 15 percent bump in stiffness.

The Trek Madone 5.9 is substantially upgraded from last year with a new 6 Series-like shape and features, 150g less weight, and a 15 percent bump in stiffness.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Internal cable routing is another new feature on the '11 5 Series Madone frames that is carried over from the 6 Series.

Internal cable routing is another new feature on the '11 5 Series Madone frames that is carried over from the 6 Series.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The 6 Series' lighter, round-profile seatmast cap makes its way to the 5 Series for 2011.

The 6 Series' lighter, round-profile seatmast cap makes its way to the 5 Series for 2011.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new 6 Series SSL frame will be offered in two complete models for 2011, including the second-tier Madone 6.7 SSL.

The new 6 Series SSL frame will be offered in two complete models for 2011, including the second-tier Madone 6.7 SSL.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek 6 Series Madone bikes will all be offered through the Project One custom program.

Trek 6 Series Madone bikes will all be offered through the Project One custom program.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek's revised carbon technology monikers include 'OCLV2', which basically signifies the company's highest-level carbon know-how and is limited to the 6 Series. All other Madone frames are now made overseas.

Trek's revised carbon technology monikers include 'OCLV2', which basically signifies the company's highest-level carbon know-how and is limited to the 6 Series. All other Madone frames are now made overseas.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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4 Series and 5 Series Madone frames are now both built overseas with TCT carbon technology.

4 Series and 5 Series Madone frames are now both built overseas with TCT carbon technology.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek says Project One lead times should soon be reduced to 2-3 weeks instead of the 30+ days of last year.

Trek says Project One lead times should soon be reduced to 2-3 weeks instead of the 30+ days of last year.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Madone 5.5 WSD features an especially stealthy paint job.

The Madone 5.5 WSD features an especially stealthy paint job.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The 4 Series Madone frames will carry into the 2011 model year unchanged aside from colors and graphics.

The 4 Series Madone frames will carry into the 2011 model year unchanged aside from colors and graphics.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek's new top-end 6 Series Madone SSL bikes will include a Cane Creek AER upper headset assembly as standard equipment, saving 20g in the process.

Trek's new top-end 6 Series Madone SSL bikes will include a Cane Creek AER upper headset assembly as standard equipment, saving 20g in the process.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The 6 Series Madone SSL will be offered through Trek's Project One program with new paint schemes that include a Team Radioshack replica option. Lance Armstrong and rest of the team aren't using the new SSL in this year's Tour de France, though.

The 6 Series Madone SSL will be offered through Trek's Project One program with new paint schemes that include a Team Radioshack replica option. Lance Armstrong and rest of the team aren't using the new SSL in this year's Tour de France, though.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new Unity paint scheme is one of the most striking of the range.

The new Unity paint scheme is one of the most striking of the range.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Two clenched fists come together at the front of the head tube.

Two clenched fists come together at the front of the head tube.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Additional icons are located back by the dropouts.

Additional icons are located back by the dropouts.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek adopts this pattern instead of a standard fade on the top tube.

Trek adopts this pattern instead of a standard fade on the top tube.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Unity theme is even applied to the rim decals, too

The Unity theme is even applied to the rim decals, too
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek road product manager Tyler Pilger insists that curre

Trek road product manager Tyler Pilger insists that curre
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Trek's latest Speed Concept time trial/triathlon bike is expected to be one of the hottest aero bike offerings for 2011.

Trek's latest Speed Concept time trial/triathlon bike is expected to be one of the hottest aero bike offerings for 2011.
(Image credit: James Huang)

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