Trek Launches Domane

Trek’s Decoupler or what Volagi called a bow or what another fitness company called a Bowflex

As if on queue, after I wrote that John Burke counts his beans wishing Lance was still racing, Trek releases the Domane. It’s a bike for the cobbles that addresses “the problems of increased rider fatigue, rear wheel traction, and power efficiency over long courses with rough pavement, gravel, and cobblestones.” All problems we’ve faced when racing the Tuesday Worlds or lining up for the weekend, office park crit. You can read the PR here and I’ll parse out the marketing terms.

  • Domane is Italian - Of course it is and so are cobbles and Spartacus!

  • A unique technology called IsoSpeed, a functional decoupler that separates the ride-tuned seat mast from the top tube – they detached the top tube from the seat top, like what Volagi did.

  • Unparalleled vertical compliance also increases rear wheel traction over rough surfaces, ensuring that every pedal stroke contributes to greater forward acceleration, instead of bouncing the off of harsh cobbles – more bounce to the ounce!

Remember a few weeks ago, I tweeted

Meanwhile a Pro is suffering somewhere on 400-yr old roads and the bike industry is still trying to market that as relevant to the consumer.

Decoupling is the new way to get horizontal stiffness and vertical compliance.

When was the last time you raced over cobbles? And there’s a long history of the industry releasing technology for the cobbles that has little relationship to the consumer. Bianchi had full suspension, there’s been front suspension, and of course Zertz! There’s also massive pressure on Spartacus to deliver and have us chant his name. Spartacus has a new domain! Find it at

Irony isn’t lost either that Trek’s boring e-bikes fall to the background while Specialized’s Turbo comes to the front or the Domane’s IsoSpeed, Volagi-derived gimmick is like a Zertz elastomer.

A hundred years into the bike industry, a couple decades of carbon, and just now they’re detaching tubes from each other? What’s next, leaf springs like the Kestrel? Would’ve been way cooler for Trek to bring back the Flying-V bike or this Trimble.

See more photos lightboxed on G+ and Flickr.


Funny article, I mostly agree with the sentiment. I suggest you correct the obvious typos, however.

Thanks Steve—banged it out during a hectic morning and now it’s copyediting. Let me know if you catch any others.

Softride was ahead of it’s time.


Well said…and I should’ve added that to the post. Remember the early Kestrel leaf spring bikes?

Leaf springs?  nothing new about that look at a Vialle Velastic.  While I suspect most people aren’t racing on cobbles I am almost certain most race bikes aren’t ridden by racers.  Seems like a reasonable approach to crappy roads, however a more practical, albeit less catchy, solution is to have a frame that accommodates 32c tires.


Or what others call the Fondo market for an aging demographic that wants “to race,” but be able to walk the next day. Lappiere did this with a cut out at the BB to make a carbon bike “flex” or what’s inherent in the material of steel or Ti (more on that with the D-plus, our latest Cross bike).

You’ve got a really good point with 32c tires or even 650b. You could suck up all those bumps, get the traction, puncture resistance, and ride from a 32c with room for fenders.  The ride will tell all on this bike, the Volagis ride like comfort bikes, like “is my rear tire flat” comfort and you’ve got the reputation of Spartacus on the line here, if this bike is actually comfort turned.  If he wins or comes close, it’ll sell.

Let’s not forget Trek had the SPA, a suspended road bike for bumpy roads too:

He’s already got a 1st (Strade Bianchi)  and 2nd (Milano-San Remo) on it. Was only supposed to race in the Strade on it but wouldn’t give it back! Full disclosure: I actually swim in cool-aid so take it for what it’s worth ;)

I’m not sure if you meant 650b (584mm dia) or 700b (635mm dia).  A smaller diameter wheel will rock your melon over the cobbles/rough roads.  A larger diameter wheel would more easily float over these surfaces, but then you’d be dealing with a heavier wheelset/tire combo.

As for contemplating such a move, you’d be hard pressed to find a decent tire for any of these alternative wheel sizing options.  The only reason that the “29er” stuck in MTB circles is that it’s the same bead seat diameter as road wheels/tires (622mm), so wholesale changes in production weren’t necessary.

@Jeremy After reading this, I see that there are many kinds of cool-aid to swim in.  Don’t worry about it.

On Kool-aid, I don’t want a Soft Spartacus. No thanks. Want him to bleed through his bones on the cobbles, and feel it for weeks afterwards. That’s the essence of this sport, in it’s DNA. The bike undeniably has a market. It’s a Fondo comfort bike with 25MM of travel.

I think this bike is way more relevant to the vast majority of riders than the Madone and it’s ilk. 99% of the people who buy $1000+ bikes don’t race and never will. Yet the industry keeps pushing stiffness and aerodynamics. The average rider (and even many amateur racers) don’t go fast enough for aerodynamics and stiffness to make any real difference, even in a century. Being more comfortable OTOH is noticeable. This is especially true here in the Seattle area where our roads have deteriorated to Third World standards. I will say it does seem like an overly complicated solution. Would be much easier to just run wider tires. I doubt this bike is any smoother over the rough stuff than a pair of Clement Paris-Roubaix Setas.

Of course the price on this thing is absurd. Why would I drop $4600 on this when I could go out and get a custom Davidson frame made to take 700x32 tires which will probably be just as comfortable AND not just another me-too bike? Oh right, it’s so I can look like Spartacus. Forgot how important it is to look PRO when you’re riding around Lake Washington. ;)

@cyclocross right and you pre-empted the conclusion of my first ride on the D-Plus!—it takes the hits, smoothes them right out, and I know this because on my cross workout course that I’ve ridden a hundred times, maybe a thousand, there’s a transition from grass to concrete that’s very harsh. I brace for it on carbon and the entire bike, including me, shudders across it. The D flowed over it like a knife spreading soft butter.  Same thing with the Hotspur and why I love it as a road bike.

I’m biased in this regard, having a bike with a big heart and soul made for me, but the material aging cyclist’s need is custom ti or steel from any number of builders. These carbon gimmicks are based less in innovating for an aging demographic, but in maximizing their dollars in molds. Molds, once expensed, are infinitely less money that a FAA-certified welder assembling custom cut and picked tubes.

Look through my posts here and you’ll see my fondess for going fast too - I’m addicted to that. I’ve got a Venge in, adored the Parlee, but none of those are all-day in the saddle bikes. That’s just inherent to the material chosen to make them.

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