Unveiled in September 2022, the fourth generation of Trek's popular endurance platform, the Domane, has seen a significant update for the coming product cycle. With key considerations being focussed on the bikes weight, serviceability, and simplicity, we’ve spent the last few months riding around on the SLR 7eTap model and have been impressed by what the new steed offers to riders looking to take their road riding in a different direction. In this review, we’ll cover the key updates, the type of rider this bike is best suited towards and our riding impressions of how the updates translate onto the tarmac.
Who’s It For?: Well-heeled road riders looking for a versatile, comfortable and well-sorted ride that is a true jack of all trades.
What We Liked: Performance on tap if you spec into it, clearance for wide rubber, compliance and handling characteristics.
What we didn’t: Stock rubber dulls the ride; there’s no getting around that price tag.
Related Reading: New 2023 Trek Domane: What to Know
A Solid Foundation
In a case of both evolution and revolution, the latest iteration of the Domane platform see’s a number of changes compared to the outgoing model. Generous weight savings have been offered across both SL and SLR level offerings, with as much as 700 grams cleaved off complete bike weights. For the SLR 7 that we’ve spent our time riding, this is largely thanks to moving to Trek's latest OCLV 800 carbon fibre lay-up. Despite the savings, some key design features have remained, including the storage compartment within the downtube.
Other weight savings were found by simplifying the Domane’s inbuilt ride-smoothing tech, IsoSpeed. Responsible for dampening road buzz and other vibrations, the IsoSpeed system is now non-adjustable, which, when compared with the wider tyre clearance, is claimed to provide the same if not more compliance compared to its predecessor. On the tyre clearance, Trek claims a conservative limit of 38mm front and rear for this model, but if you ask us, there’s plenty of room to go bigger if that’s your thing.
Aesthetically, the frame is much more refined, with integrated cabling making its way to the platform, aswell as a generous helping of Trek’s Kammtail Virtual Foil or aero-optimised tube shaping. This is particularly evident with the deeper head tube, truncated downtube, and hourglass-shaped top tube. Other optimisations include a step away from seat mast toppers to a d-shaped seat post which has the dual benefit of improved aero efficiency as well as adding to the compliance of the bike.
Finally, on the maintenance front, the Domane signals the last bike in the Trek road line-up to move away from press-fit bottom brackets with the popular T47 threaded bottom bracket standard making its way to the bike. The groupset on our model is provided by SRAM in its Force eTap AXS offering, while a Force level crank-based power meter is also included. Moving to rolling stock and Bontrager provides the Aeolus Pro 37 carbon wheelset wrapped in 32mm wide Bontrager R3 hard case tyres set-up tubeless.
The Domane SLR is priced from AU$10,999, with our SLR 7 eTap model costing AU$13,199. Four colour options are offered, including Deep Smoke (reviewed), Juniper, Metallic Red/Blue Fade, and a Metallic Red. The Domane is available in both SL and SLR frame options at Trek retailers around the country right now,
For me, my time with the Domane was a refreshing, enlightening and addicting experience. It didn’t take long for the numbers on my bike computer to melt away; not once did I look down at my speed, watts, gradient, time or distance elapsed. They just didn’t seem to matter; what did matter was the hum of the tyres over the changing road surface below, the whistling of the wind across the lush country fields, the sounds of birds, both seen and unseen, echoing off the trees on my local loops.
In stock trim, the Domane SLR 7 is an impressive bit of kit. With a quality frame, modern 12-speed groupset, power meter and carbon hoops, all standard inclusions, little here needs upgrading. That being said, the package does come at a premium cost compared to its competition— more on that in a little bit.
Trek says the Domane is a road bike first and versatile second, but with space for some decent volume knobby rubber, I’m sure there are more than a few prospective buyers out there that are looking for a road-leaning all-road bike rather than a gravel first focussed bike that can do the on-road thing with more of a compromise, ultimately it comes down to the terrain you’re likely to tackle with the bike. For what it’s worth, the Domane being road first was right up my alley as I feel that leaning more towards the gravel end of the spectrum would’ve made for a bike that was on the losing end of the compromise battle.
Sure there’s performance on offer, but it does require a bit of effort to unlock it. Most of the performance if I’m honest, is stifled by the R3 rubber fitted to the bike as standard. Comfortable and hard-wearing, yes, but fast rolling and efficient they are not. I found that simply switching the rubber up to some fast rolling 28mm rubber unlocked a new side to the bike, making it ride like a comfortable race bike rather than a muted endurance rig.
The bike's geometry lends itself well to those looking to push past the comfort into the performance element, too, the long wheelbase offers stability in spades, but the steep headtube and short trail figure make for a quick-handling bike that is fun to ride fast. While admittedly, there is a little delay between putting the power down and the frame transmitting this to the tarmac below, wind it up, and you'll be well rewarded. This is the case for both pushing it down a fast and flowing descent as well as dancing on the pedals up a climb and willing the bike towards the horizon on rolling terrain.
Now for the elephant in the room, the cost. While SL-level complete bikes start at $4,999, SLR-level bikes will set buyers back $10,999.99, with this trim priced at $13,199.99, which, no matter which way you shake it is a pretty penny to pay and arguably the only major gripe I had with the Domane. This is somewhat of a shame as I genuinely believe that price aside, the fourth generation Domane serves as an ideal onramp into road cycling for those new to road riding, looking to get less serious about their riding, or simply just transition from a race-orientated bike into something a little more all-road versatile.
I’ve always maintained that when it comes down to it, the majority of us that don’t race and simply ride road bikes for fitness, passion, or the love of being outdoors would be best suited to an endurance road bike. They’re versatile, quick enough when pushed, comfortable, and well-suited to longer days in the saddle. That being said, they’re not without their downsides; the Domane is not immune to these either, but thankfully they’re somewhat easily overcome. So if you can stomach the price and have a little left over to switch up the rolling stock, this could be the refreshing change to your riding you never knew you needed.