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A Real Chameleon: Trek Domane SLR 9

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When we look back at bike design years from now, the Trek Domane is going to be remembered as an inflection point. The idea of an N+1 killer, a bike to replace all the others in the garage, is thrown around in bike reviews so often that it’s a bit of a joke at this point. So, with that said, allow us to say with a completely straight face that this is an N+1 killer (or really dang close, at least).

PELOTON

This latest version of the Domane SLR 9 has already graced the pages ofPeloton. To recap, it’s full of great features, like a front and adjustable rear IsoSpeed decoupler design that helps create a smoother ride, tidier cable routing and a more aerodynamic design. It’s a smoother, faster bike—all good news.

trek domane slr
The official tire clearance is listed at 38mm. But as you can see, 40mm Bontrager GR2 tires can squeeze in.

And it doesn’t look bad, either. In fact, it looks pretty damn good. Most “endurance” bikes have a tendency to look, well, put diplomatically, not as aesthetically pleasing as their race-geometry-oriented brethren. But the Domane sheds that mold. This rig has been mistaken for a Madone multiple times on group rides and from passersby at the coffee stop. That is to say, it looks fast. And it feels fast too. We’d race this in a crit or a road race. And we’d just as happily race it on gravel. In fact, we have.

When Trek was presenting this bike to us in Italy last summer and got to the part about tire clearance, the wheels started turning in our heads—wheels adorned with thick tires. The officially listed tire clearance is a whopping 38mm, massive for what is ostensibly a road bike. Naturally, we pushed the limit, squeezing in 40mm Bontrager GR2 Team Issue tires mounted on the excellent Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V gravel wheels. Granted, the tread on the GR2 tires is low profile, but 40mm tire clearance, even if it is a little tight, is bona fide gravel bike territory. Sticking by Trek’s clearance recommendations is probably the best call, but for those craving maximum volume, this bike delivers.

The biggest item holding us back from declaring the N+1 debate dead is weight. As we received it with Bontrager Aeolus XXX 4 wheels, this Domane hovers in the 18-pound region for a size 58. Not bad, but not great either. But on the flip side, substituting in the gravel wheels only pushed the weight to a hair over 19 pounds. That’s not at all unreasonable for long days of gravel in the saddle, especially when that saddle sits atop decouplers that smooth out road chatter.

The future of bike design has arrived; we can’t see where it goes from here.

Specification

$11,300 (with Bontrager Aeolus XXX 4 wheels, add an extra $1,300 for the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR gravel wheels shown here); 8.6kg/19.02 lbs; Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (50/34 crank, 11-30 cassette); Bontrager Pro IsoCore VR-CF handlebars; Bontrager XXX stem; Bontrager carbon seat mast; 138mm Bontrager Arvada Pro saddle with carbon rails; Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR wheels; Bontrager GR2 Team Issue 40mm tires;trekbikes.com

From issue 92, get your copy here.