Sure, Trek may have just introduced the new 6 series Madone SSL at the Tour de France, but as tantalizing as a 100 reduction in frame weight might be for some, it really doesn't take away from the stand-out performance of the standard Madone 6.
Simply put, if you’re the type of carbon bike consumer who cares only about sharing in the winningest legacy of any carbon bike on the planet, then the Trek Madone is the the bike for you. Not only have Trek’s American-made OCLV carbon bikes won the Tour de France nine times (in the last 11 years), but they have also taken Giro, Vuelta, Olympic, Ironman and numerous National and World championship crowns as well.
Weight: 13.10 pounds
Sizes: 50, 52, 54, 56,
58, 60, 62 centimeters
• Sub-14 pounds
• Pro Fit handling
• Custom build kits
• Look (not ride) like Lance
• Descends like a dream
Of the nine Tour victories that Trek has claimed, five belong to the Madone family. The Madone frame that shares the closest lineage to the current 6 Series model was actually introduced at the 2007 Tour underneath Lance’s close friend, a Spaniard named Alberto Contador.
You may not be able to ride like Lance Armstrong, but your bike can look strikingly similar.
Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
What are some of the standout features of the 6 Series? Thanks to additional engineering, Trek claims a 150-gram weight savings over last year’s 5 Series frame. In an effort to maximize bottom bracket stiffness, Trek jumped past the new BB30 standard and created their own BB90 (as in 90 millimeters wide) bottom bracket. Additionally, you’ll find internal cable routing, a tapered head tube, an integrated computer sensor (mounted in the chainstay) and the cleanest mounting for Shimano’s Di2 drivetrain parts of any bike seen this year.
Trek makes the Madone available in seven sizes and in either a Pro Fit or Performance Fit (with a 30-millimeter taller head tube). There is also a women’s-specific version. THE PARTS
Our test bike was built up using Trek’s impressive Project One build program. Where “P1” once stood for custom paint alone, it has been expanded to provide a wide menu of personalized build options that is unmatched in the industry today. The team replica paint is the most expensive, but from there the component choices are nearly limitless. You can choose between Shimano Ultegra and Campagnolo Super Record drivetrains, a rainbow palette of bar tape and cable housing, and every type of wheel/stem/bar configuration imaginable. Best of all, you can make some changes without an upcharge.
Internal cable routing paid big dividends in both form and function.
Our bike was built up to mimic a RadioShack team bike. The big differences between our bike and Lance’s would be that he runs Enduro ceramic bearings (also available), a Bontrager Race Lite aluminum handlebar (ours was the Race XXX Lite carbon), and the Bontrager Aeolus 6.0 wheels (Lance’s choice for the spring races) while we ran with the super-light OCLV Carbon Bontrager Race XXX Lites (which Lance uses for climbing stages with a sub-12 mph pace).THE RIDE
Over the course of the winter months, we had the opportunity to test both a Pro Fit and Performance Fit Madone. As young as some RBA testers like to think themselves, to a man, most know the less flexible side of four decades. And yet, to a man, not one opted for the more comfy Performance Fit frame. The taller head-tubed bike seemed to wobble more and have a skittery feel when cornering at speed. One unsuspecting rider was stunned to think that Lance could ride a bike that handled so.
However, when the same rider rode the Pro Fit model with the lower bar placement, he fell in love. “I still can’t comprehend how this (56-centimeter) frame was the same size as the Madone I rode earlier. That bike felt light, too, but at no time did it resemble the ride qualities of this race machine. As impressed as I was with the Shack bike going uphill, I was infinitely more impressed blasting down the canyon. This bike had none of the sketchy headshake I found on the other Madone. My position on the Shack bike felt natural and centered with only a slight change in seat height, while there was no adjustment small or large that could allow me to achieve that same comfortable and natural position on the regular Madone.”
Two different head tube lengths are available. Like Lance, we prefer the shorter one.THE VERDICT
From the enhanced stiffness brought about by Trek’s own E2 fork and BB90 designs, to the still proprietary, made in America, OCLV carbon frame, the Pro Fit Madone was the very bike we thought a “Lance bike” should be. We don’t mean to indict the preferences of anyone who wants or needs a higher hand position, but the difference in handling between the two Treks we rode couldn’t have been more clear.
Whether you like Texans, or whether an American-made bike matters, there’s one thing you can’t take away from the Trek Madone—it’s unparalleled place in the history books.