All-road ready: Trek has overhauled its entry-level Domane AL range
At a time when cycling is booming, Trek has overhauled much of its entry-level road range, the Domane AL. Sticking with aluminium as the frame material of choice, the new Domane AL Disc range is more versatile than ever with huge tyre clearance, a welcoming endurance geometry and, as the name suggests, disc brakes.
With prices starting from just US$1,050 / AU$1,400, and clearance for up to 35 mm rubber, the new Domane AL Disc is an interesting bike that looks to be happy balancing its time between tarmac and well-kept gravel, just like the carbon Domanes.
From rim to disc
The Trek Domane AL has sat at the entry level in Trek’s road range for the past few years, but recently that rim-brake range of road bikes has arguably felt a little tired. New for 2021 is a fresh frame designed with disc brakes in mind. There is one exception, however, with Trek continuing to offer the previous rim-brake version — the Domane AL 2 rim (US$880 / AU$NA) — as its most affordable road bike.
Previous Domane AL frames featured subtly angular and mostly rounded tubes, while the new disc model moves to more modern, sharper-edged shapes, not too dissimilar to the carbon versions. The frame material used is still Trek’s 200-Series Alpha aluminium, a fancy name for what’s effectively a cheaper blend of alloy with simpler construction when compared to Trek’s more premium offerings.
The alloy used may be basic, but the frame features are not. There are smooth welds, internal cable routing, 12 mm thru-axles front and rear, a tapered head tube, and space for Trek’s integrated DuoTrap-S speed/cadence sensor. And while unconfirmed, I believe it has a threaded bottom bracket, too.
Compared to Trek’s sportier and higher-end Emonda ALR aluminium offerings, the new Domane AL features an endurance geometry that’s more upright and with a shorter reach.
Trek certainly hasn’t pigeon-holed the new Domane AL Disc as just a weekend road bike. The new frame features mounts for fenders and racks, three bidon cage mounts, and there are even bolts on the top tube for a Bento bag.
Unlike the carbon versions of the Domane, the new Domane AL lacks any of the shock-absorbing IsoSpeed flex pivot designs at the seat tube and head tube. However, these entry-level versions still offer a carbon fork on the front, and use a slender 27.2 mm seatpost which should help to take the sting out of things.
However, much of the ride comfort will come from the generous tyre volume. Trek is equipping the whole Domane AL range with 32 mm tyres and claiming the frame can handle up to 35 mm (Trek’s normally pretty conservative with such claims).
That tyre clearance arguably puts the new Domane AL into the ‘all-road’ category of road bikes, something that can handle being a dedicated road bike or serve duty on light gravel, too. And there isn’t a multitude of entry-level options in this space. Giant’s Contend AR is an obvious one, but few others spring to mind.
This also means the new Domane AL is within punching distance of Trek’s budget gravel bike, the Checkpoint AL. The Domane AL is now likely to be the right choice for those wanting to do a heap of road and a little gravel, while the Checkpoint is probably better for those seeking to do the opposite.
The new Domane AL Disc is available in four models and with a generous range of colours. All models feature tubeless-ready wheels, with the top two options equipped with hydraulic disc brakes and the lower two featuring mechanical disc brakes. The US$1,050 / AU$1,400 Domane AL 2 is claimed to weigh 10.74 kg / 23.68 lbs (size 56), with weights dropping as the prices go up. Further model details are outlined in the gallery below.