What the Pros Ride: Domane RSL

While we don’t publish shootouts, instead favoring a point of view and unwavering opinions, the timing is such that bikes the pros are riding in the Spring Classics are in on demo. They include the Trek Domane RSL and Specialized Roubaix.

Notice the head and seat tube junction don’t look like other bikes. That’s where the suspension is.

Mark just published his in-depth tech review of the Domane, and I spent the weekend riding it. If disc brakes and 32c tires aren’t a required feature, then I absolutely recommend it, as I would any flagship bike from a major brand —see the Cervelo too.

I’ll post about the Roubaix later this week.

Eventually, rim brakes and 28s will get marketed with nostalgia, like Leica does now selling a camera with no viewer, or cyclists lining up at L’eroica, on bikes like this Wilier. The analogy to cameras extends to what’s happening in the bike marketplace with traditional DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

For rough roads around here, you either want compliance in the frame, tires, or both. Trek’s suspension tech takes the edge off of bumps like this; especially when a passing car forces you into it.

The Canon 1Dx is a near perfect product, winning awards and accolades. The DSLR technology it uses has also reached the end of its technological lifespan. Advances from this point will have diminishing returns, like rim brakes and tires smaller than 32s.

Would Sagan have not crashed in Flanders if he could soar across the cobbles on 47c/650bs and approach corners way hotter knowing he could brake with better modulation?


Until the UCI and Pros work out the disc issue, there’s tension between what media like me recommend you buy and they ride.

Back to that, the Trek Domane RSL performs like you’d expect a flagship bike to and Trek’s technology absolutely works smoothing out the roughest road by decoupling the frame at the seat and head tube. I’ve written about the tech in several articles, linked below.

Many of Seattle’s roads are paved over cobbles and a smoother ride like the Trek offers is proven to be faster.

The benefits of the ISO Speed coupler are obvious (massively increased vertical compliance, increased comfort and seated power) but the lesser discussed details include perfectly balanced dialed in geometry, stiff bottom bracket and feathery frame weight.

The Domane RSL is Trek’s 1Dx and they’ve already released an updated version with disc brakes. You should get that and also know that the RSL in this post is their flagship with a braking technology that’s run its course.

Related IsoSpeed Stories

Also published on Medium.

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