Bicycles in My Life: Trek Domane 5.2

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The Domane 5.2 is my go-to bike for daily riding. I love this bike.

If the two different color schemes confuses you, that’s okay. I do not own two Domane 5.2s. I rode the 2013 red-and-white Domane about a year, from Fall 2013 until late summer 2014. It me its demise in a traffic accident in 2014, which put me out of action for six weeks with a busted rib. The insurance settlement from the accident paid for the black Domane 5.2 on the right. So let’s talk about the black beauty on the right.

Trek builds the Domane 5.2 on its 500 series OCLV carbon fiber layup. It’s a little stiffer and lighter than the lower-cost 400 series. The pricier 600 series weighs less, but costs more. I can tell the difference between riding the 400 series and 500 series, but can’t really discern much difference between 500 series and 600 series. Remember, I’m really a duffer who just likes to ride. If I really raced over cobblestone roads for hundreds of miles, those differences might matter to me.

The Domane represents Trek’s endurance bicycle line, which is more upright, with a longer, more stable wheelbase than the Madone racing bike. The Domane represented Trek’s first attempt at building active vibration cancelling technology in the form of its Isospeed Decoupler, using a mechanical pivot separating the seat tube from the seat stays. This allows a bit more flex when riding over bumps, soaking up some of the road harshness. This decoupler, plus the carbon frame, yields a more forgiving ride. My somewhat fragile back benefited substantially from the extra isolation. By the same token, the bike gives up very little in terms of responsiveness and road feel.

I’ve ridden hundreds of miles on the Domane 5.2, with the longest ride at 66 miles, and countless 20-30 mile rides. That may not be as ambitious as more serious riders, but I’ve loved almost every minute on this bike. The Domane is responsive, wants to go faster than I can ride, with precise handling. The full Shimano Ultegra 11-speed mechanical groupset has been reliable and solid. I’ve never had to worry about shifting or braking. The only real upgrade I’ve made to the bike is to add a set of Shimano C24 carbon-alloy wheels.

The Domane also offers some other nifty features. Trek builds in a little socket into the chainstay, designed to house a sensor for a bike computer, so you don’t need attach one of those ugly, zip-tied sensors. The sensor pairs well with my Garmin 810 GPS cycling computer. The handlebars include built-in gel padding, for just a bit more comfort.

I’ve tried a number of different bicycles in the past several years, but ended up giving up on all of them; the Domane has been my mainstay. Until something better comes along, I’m not giving it up soon.

That something better may already be here, though. If I have a complaint about my Domane, seems less forgiving than the Isospeed Decoupler. I can feel rough roads in my aging shoulders, even as the seatpost

swivels and soaks up bumps in the rear. Trek recently announced the Domane SLR, a redesigned model incorporating decoupling technology into the headset, plus a new set of carbon fiber handlebars which build in additional dampening material. The rear IsoSpeed Decoupler can now be adjusted for a stiffer or more forgiving ride. I’m taking a long hard look at the SLR, but the only models announced currently have been higher-end versions.

For the time being, though, the I remain loyal to the 5.2. It’s given me some memorable rides, and I’ve had tremendous fun jetting around the various roads in Silicon Valley. It’s easily my favorite bike of all time, and given how many bikes I’ve ridden, that says something.

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