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When you think of a climber’s bike, what picture does your mind’s eye conjure up? A sliver of carbon with crazy-light, twitchy wheels and a jackhammer-like ride? That makes sense if you’re paid to ride your bike. For most of us the ideal climber’s bike is one that allows us to get over a col in good shape for the next one and able to enjoy a glass of vino at ride’s end. If we get to the top a few minutes later, it makes very little difference.
This story originally appeared in issue 77, get your copy here: pelotonshop.com
With that in mind, PELOTON magazine built a real-world ultimate climber, imagining the trip a female cyclist might take to the Rockies or Alps with family and friends. We began with a platform that would do a lot more than just transfer power efficiently. We wanted comfort. The capabilities of the Trek Domane SLR 6 Disc Women’s, with its IsoSpeed decouplers front and back to comfortably wallop cobblestones, makes it ideal for smoothing out a long, mountainous ride. The endurance position is ideal for climbing, taking the pressure off your hands, shoulders and neck, and letting you enjoy the surroundings.
For many riders, the anxiety associated with going downhill can ruin the climb itself, so the disc-brake version was mandatory. But that doesn’t mean the wheels have to slow you down. We splurged on a set of Zipp 202 Firecrest tubeless disc carbon clinchers. The light carbon rims help enormously on the steep pitches, and the tubeless set-up means flats are unlikely, so you keep rolling.
Perhaps the most important part of this real-world climbing equation is gearing, and new Shimano Ultegra Di2 offers some Rocky-Mountain-wide ranges. We mated the new 11–32 rear cassette with 46/34 front rings, getting us close to a 1-1 gear ratio, with efficient progression. When the day calls for more than one major pass, saving your legs with the ability to spin steep pitches is critical. While the 46/34 is officially out of spec for the Domane SLR with Shimano, it proves just how brilliant Di2 front shifting is. It’s as crisp and consistent as a 53/39. The Di2 front derailleur may be the best-engineered product in cycling.
Related: Bits for Climbing
This Domane SLR 6 Disc Women’s, with some help from Zipp and Shimano, is a real-world mountain goat. Its smooth ride, comfortable climbing position and disc brakes ensure mountainous passages are completed as comfortably and confidently as possible. Of course, if you decide to go after a QOM, the bike is capable of that too. $5,500 (stock Domane SLR 6 Disc women’s); upgrades include Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Zipp 202 Firecrest Disc clinchers; 54cm (as tested); 16.9lbs/7.7kg; trekbikes.com; zipp.com; shimano.com