This year I brought in some Trek Madone 5.2 Performance for demo bikes. I got a 54, 56 and 58 cm for use by the staff and for customers to take off site for longer rides. The Madone underwent a complete redesign and I thought this was a perfect opportunity for our customers to check out the changes first hand.
On my trek Travel Trip I took in September of ’05 I had the opportunity to ride a Trek 5200 for the week and was impressed. I was interested to see how the redesigned Madone would stack up to the 5200 that I had ridden so this last year I have spent a considerable amount of my ridding time on the 56 that we have as a demo.
The Madone Performance Fit has a 30mm longer head tube and is spec’ed stock with a stem that is a centimeter shorter. So I was interested in comparing this to the Cannondale Synapse that I had ridden in the past. The Synapse uses a longer head tube as well but runs a slightly shorter top tube length as well. Recently the bike industry has gotten smart and offered more bikes that position the rider a little more upright for a more comfortable fit. This is ideal for riders with less flexibility or neck and back issues. For many this is an ideal way to fit a rider for more comfort without sacrificing performance. In many cases the performance goes up because the rider is more comfortable and therefore able to produce more power for a longer period of time.
One of the cool things about the bike industry is that I can sell you the exact same bike that is being raced by the pro’s. An individual can’t go down to their local Ford or Chevy dealer and pick up the same car that is being raced on Sunday’s. As we know for everyday use the car being raced on Sunday’s isn’t ideal. The same goes for a bike, in many cases, I would say the majority of times customers don’t need the same position or fit that the pro’s are using. They want a bike that is of the same quality, the same ride quality with the same components. This is easy enough to accomplish these days with all of the options available.
When trek went to redesign the Madone they did so with a completely clean slate. All they wanted to keep the same was the geometry they had been using for years. The feedback they had received about the geometry was very positive from the pro riders as well as from everyday riders. The Technology story on the Madone is long. There is so much to talk about what Trek did with the complete overhaul. So much so I just recommend following this link to learn all about the new Madone.
One of the coolest things that the Trek engineers did was redesign the seat post area and created a seat mast that uses a top cap for adjustments without having to cut the seat mast itself. I thought this was a really slick idea with allowed Trek to save 25% of the weight compared to a carbon post, strengthen up one of the most high stress areas on a bike frame and improve vertical compliance on the bike. They even incorporate some of this in the 9 series of hardtail mountain bikes and Top Fuel Carbon full suspension bikes. Trek does a great job of taking innovations one group of engineers creates and using it where it makes sense in other areas of their bike line. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the many innovations that are in the new Madone.
So back to the ride of the Madone 5.2 Performance. I must say I am impressed with the bike. The ride quality is not the same as my Look 585 but it is not fair to compare the cost of almost a complete bike to what just the frame and fork cost of the 585. The 5.2 Madone uses the OCLV Black carbon frame material, where the higher end Madone’s in the six series use the OCLV Red Carbon framesets. It would be fairer to compare the six series Madone’s to the 585 I have limited time on the six series Madone but enough time to know that there is a substantial difference for the better in the ride quality between the two.
What is neat about all of the OCLV Madone’s and other OCLV products that Trek makes is that they are all hand laid up frames in Wisconsin. You are truly getting an American made bike when you purchase an OCLV product that Trek makes. That also goes for the carbon wheels from the Bontrager line of components as well. As much of the industries manufacturing has moved overseas Trek still build their highest end products in Wisconsin.
For me I am a rider who likes to spend long periods of time in the saddle and want to be in a more upright position on my bike. The performance geometry of the Madone fits me well and I have been enjoying it. What I like about the Madone is that it is a very predictable and stable bike. Just like the 5200 was that I rode for a while. The 5.2 descends like no tomorrow, I felt very confident and in control at 50 plus miles and hours as I did at lower descending speeds. For me the bike climbed very well, I didn’t feel like I was losing energy from any frame flex. The rear end of the bike was very stiff and responsive to my efforts. What was a nice surprise was that I believe that the engineers have made the bike more vertically compliant, I didn’t feel as beat up after my rides on this bike as I have on others. I did have a rough time on one long descent on rough roads with Mavic R-SYS wheels. I wasn’t impressed after that descent but I think it had more to do with the wheels then the frame.
What did take me a long time to get used to was the compact drive train. The Ultegra SL components worked well and the shifting is what you have come to expect from Shimano components. Having primarily ridden 53/39 chainrings learning the new shifting patterns took a while to adapt to. I have come to enjoy ridding the compact drive train and am sold on it for hilly rides but still will ride a 53/39 chainring combo whenever possible.
I think the Madone 5.2 is an ideal bike for someone who wants to do a lot of riding on a great performing bike. Whether you want to do a century or race it on the weekends one of the two platforms (Pro or Performance) of the Madone geometry is going to fit your needs. The Ultegra SL components are going to give you the performance you demand. It is a stong package with the Bontrager Race Lite wheels and other Bontrager components. You won’t be disappointed with this bike.