Friday, March 8, 2013

Product Review - 2012 Trek Madone 6.9

Now I know 2012 has been and gone, but it was interesting to hear the response from a new local to town,  William Debois; after we let him borrow Matty's Trek Madone 6.9

You can usually tell the quality of a bike by the sound it makes when rolling down on a smooth road. The characteristic "buzzing" noise of a modern carbon bike can be as horrid as the sound of a plastic crate being dragged on the road or as soothing as a piece of ambient music by Brian Eno. The Trek Madone 6.9 sounds like the razorblade shaving your legs the night before a race. It is stunningly smooth, yet instantly responsive, thanks to design features such as the massively oversized bottom bracket, integrated headset and innovative seat mast. These characteristics help reduce the overall weight of the frame and increase its stiffness to the point where no power feels lost or wasted, allowing effortless acceleration and incredible efficiency on even the steepest hills. Equipped with the right wheels (the one I tried was fitted with excellent Bontrager RXL Scandium hoops), the dynamic handling and efficiency will inspire the kind of brave moves that can win a criterium.

Although it no longer feels right to mention the number of great tour wins the Madone series has to its name, since most of them have been scrubbed off the history books, it is obvious that this faultless design is the result of countless refinements, drawn from taking part and succeeding in the toughest races in the world. All this is very well, but would a middle aged mere mortal like me not be better off riding a bike half the price and work a little harder? Well, the whole point of such a high cost / high performance bike like this is that it will make you instinctively want to go faster, for longer, up steeper hills than before, and ride much much faster down the very hills that used to make you shiver and slam the brakes on. I fully experienced this last year, when riding up some insane gradients in the English Lake District on a Trek Madone (Hardknott Pass, 30% in places) as part of the brutal 180km Fred Whitton Challenge. The bike behaved like a well trained thoroughbred, correcting my mistakes in the steep descents and converting every last bit of my sub-standard energy into forward motion on the ascents. This is clearly a bike for all day riding, smashing your personal best over a double century and not finishing your rides as dribbling mess, unless that's what you seek, of course. 

William Debois, March 2013