RCUK Bikes Mark Tann's Trek Madone 5.5SL - Road Cycling UK

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RCUK Bikes Mark Tann's Trek Madone 5.5SL

For years I wanted one of these. Having read reviews in various cycling publications going back as early as 1999, I wanted to know what the “I can ride up climbs one or two gears higher than my previous bike” enigma was all about.

So armed with the prestige of Trek bikes and a certain….ahem…Mr Armstrong, I decided to put away my Trek catalogues for good. After all, a major factor for me (considering I change bikes once every well….blue moon) is the lifetime guarantee on frame and forks, and when added to the fact that thousands of riders worldwide have testified as to their quality, for me I had to buy one. Firstly though, I needed to be comfortable on one, bearing in mind the total outlay.

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to test ride a friend’s Trek Madone 5.9. Please forgive me when I say that Norfolk is fairly flat, but what has commonly been said about the Madone is true.

Having spent all of my cycling life being beaten up by road buzz on aluminium frames, I was incredibly impressed by the smoothness of the ride that carbon fibre provides. As for responsiveness, one word sprung to mind; WOW.

There was a 2007 Trek Madone 5.5SL in stock at my local bike shop. Educated knowledge made it a no-brainer when it came to selecting the right frame size for my unproportioned torso. A 58cm fitted perfectly, with minor adjustments required by a different seatpost setback and stem length. A trip to Bikefit may well be on the cards. However, I have ordered a goniometer (a protractor-like device) to measure leg angle for pedalling etc.

Appearance-wise, I immediately fell in love with the look of the Madones and in particular the one on display. I personally have a preference for the traditional horizontal top tube, for no other reason than aesthetics.

Trek UK describe the paint on their superlight (SL) range as “lightweight”. The finish on mine does look a little patchy on a couple of areas but only tends to show under artificial light. Tubing seams also show fairly clearly but for me, it did not detract from the beauty of the bike.

I immediately asked for a trusted “fit and forget” Chris King 1 1/8″ headset to be fitted; the idea behind this being that with a new frame, additional work like head tube refacing would not be needed. For me, the petwer coloured unit matched frame colour closest.

A pair of the highly rated Mavic Ksyrium ES were ordered, with performance benefits being the main reason for this choice, but there can be no doubting that these hoops are trick and would look good on most road bikes.

The Madone also came with a super padded Bontrager Race Lite Lux saddle. They have copious amounts of give in them, so much so that it would be too uncomfortable on long distance rides. It has since been transferred to my winter hack/commute bike, while many purchasers of the Treks seem to sell theirs through the likes of Ebay. It was replaced by a Bontrager X-Lite.

With a forthcoming summer trip to the Pyrenees, it is a huge relief to have a bike as lightweight as my Trek; I can lift it up using just my middle finger, and the bike laced with Shimano Dura Ace components has real quality throughout.

I have yet to ride it; the only use it will see is in dry, non salty conditions, so the only attention it has had so far is from rags and Finish Line Pro Detaileur. On the subject of cleaning the frame, the number of “warning” stickers was horrendous. I counted five on my frame and removing each was a laborious task.

Regarding future upgrades, I have two, maybe three in mind. Next improvement will be changing the seatpost for a Bontrager XXX Lite OCLV carbon unit with just 5mm of setback, closely followed by a change of stem. I favour a Bontrager XXX Lite carbon stem, which should further reduce road buzz to the handlebars. To improve riding position I need one which is 1 cm longer. An added bonus with both the seatpost and stem is that each of these XXX Lite components gives a 30 gram weight saving, and if I’m honest, I’d rather have my undercarriage supported by Trek’s proprietary OCLV (Optimum Compaction Low Void) carbon fibre than unbranded carbon tubing.

The third and final possible upgrade concerns the saddle. For my…ahem…manly bits, the Bontrager X-Lite saddle is untried, so a change to something like the oddly named Specialized Toupe may well be what the doctor ordered.

I predict that my new steed will remain in hibernation until the last weeks of March. Watch this space though as I’ll be reporting back on the bike’s performance and more importantly the issue of whether it makes me ride faster….

  • Component Specifications:
  • Frame: 2007 Full carbon fibre Trek Madone 5.5 SL (Superlight) 58cm
  • Forks: Bontrager OCLV 110 Carbon Race X-Lite
  • Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium ES
  • Tyres: Continental GP 4000
  • Groupset: Shimano Dura Ace 10 speed
  • Pedals: 2007 Shimano Dura Ace SPD-SL (to be fitted; awaiting stock)
  • Saddle: Bontrager Race X-Lite
  • Seatpost: Bontrager Race X-Lite Carbon Fibre
  • Stem: 110mm Bontrager Race Lite
  • Handlebars: 44cm Bontrager Race Lite
  • Headset: Chris King 1 1/8″ NoThreadSet (Colour: Pewter)
  • Water bottle cages: Bontrager Race XXX Lite Full Carbon Fibre
  • Heart rate monitor: Polar S720i
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