The 2023 Trek Domane is now official: SL, SLR, and RSL options explained
The endurance road bike returns to its endurance road purpose.
The endurance road bike returns to its endurance road purpose.
Trek hasn’t exactly been shy about the fact a new Domane was imminent. We saw the endurance-come-all-road bike earlier in the year at the Classics, and Elisa Longo Borghini even rode it to victory at Paris-Roubaix Femmes.
Now Trek has lifted the translucent curtain from the new bike, revealing all the finer details and model options. We have the new Domane SLR in hand for review but we need a little more time on it before we can offer an informed opinion. In the meantime, here’s what we know about the newly updated endurance road platform that consists of the Domane SL, the top-tier Domane SLR, and the return of a pro-friendly Domane RSL.
In many ways, the new Domane returns to the roots of the endurance road platform. When it was first released a little over a decade ago, the Domane was a fully-fledged road bike, just with added ride comfort and more relaxed geometry. A subtly modified version was Fabian Cancellara’s pick for conquering the cobbles, and Trek surely sold a lot of bikes off that imagery.
However, more recent years have seen the Domane get increasingly more complicated, and that complexity came with added mass. For example, Trek took its original IsoSpeed concept from a simple flexible seat tube decoupled at the top tube via a bearing-based pivot and turned it into a system (at least at the high-end) that split the seat tube around a sliding mechanism that allowed you to tune the seated comfort. Meanwhile, the once ordinary front-end of the bike earned a de-coupled headset that allowed the fork steerer to flex more freely.
All impressive features, but also things that made the Domane heavier than a bike of its price should be.
And so we come to the newest version of the Domane. This bike waves goodbye to both the adjustable rear IsoSpeed and front IsoSpeed and instead moves to Trek’s fourth iteration of the comfort-inducing feature. Similar to the original introduced in 2012, this new and rear-only IsoSpeed isn’t adjustable and the only moving components are isolated to the pivot point that sits between the seat tube and top tube.
The reasons to walk away from front IsoSpeed are closely related to what was seen with the latest Checkpoint gravel bike. It comes down to modern tyre technology and trends toward going wider in volume. The front IsoSpeed is said to have been beneficial when tyres were 28 mm in size and run at high pressures but is too stiff to make an appreciable difference with a wider-volume tyre system, such as the 32 mm tubeless tyres supplied with the bikes.
Meanwhile, Trek has claimed that the return to its top tube-based IsoSpeed is more effective across the full-size range versus the previous seat tube-based IsoSpeed, which was unintentionally stiffer in smaller sizes. That non-adjustable flex is now said to match the most comfortable setting of the previous generation and is size-specific in the compliance provided.
What’s new is that Trek has moved away from its almost signature upside-down seatpost topper or post-within-a-post designs, and instead adopted its own telescoping D-shaped carbon post. Securing it is a binder wedge that’s integrated with the new IsoSpeed system. The binder is hidden beneath a magnetic cover plate and is designed to work with common pre-set 5-5.2 Nm torque wrenches (or any style of torque wrench). Meanwhile, the proprietary carbon seatpost is being produced in two different set-back versions.
With fewer moving parts the new Domane SL and SLR framesets are approximately 300 grams lighter than before. Additionally, the new SLR version is the lightest Domane Disc yet. Trek quotes 56 cm framesets for the Domane SL (OCLV 500-series carbon) and Domane SLR (OCLV 800-series carbon) at 2,500 g and 1,700 g, respectively. However, precisely what those framesets include is somewhat unclear. Add in some refined Bontrager wheels and the formerly porky base-level Domane SL5 complete bike is now a claimed 700 g lighter – although it’ll still sit above 9 kg with pedals.
The two tiers of Domane share the same moulds and are therefore visually and feature-wise identical. The weight difference is merely down to the Domane SL using a lower modulus “OCLV 500-series” carbon fibre lay-up. In contrast, the Domane SLR uses Trek’s high-modulus “OCLV 800-series” blend (the highest grade of carbon used in the Domane to date) that carries quite the premium pricing. Trek’s entry-level aluminium endurance road bike, the Domane AL – a bike we reviewed in 2021 – remains unchanged.
Not unlike what we’ve seen with other bikes in this category, Trek claims improved aerodynamic performance through features already seen with its Emonda, including revised Kammtail (aka truncated airfoil) shaping and an integrated-ish cockpit with semi-concealed cable routing. That cockpit consists of a two-piece handlebar and stem, where the brake hoses and mechanical gear cables (if applicable) are routed outside of the bar and underneath the new RCS Pro stem, which features a removable cover. The cables/hoses then flow into Trek’s proprietary headset spacers/top cap before being fed through the top headset bearing. And while it’ll look less seamless, the system allows regular stems and handlebars to be used.
Spanning a generous range, the nine available frame sizes point to the popularity of this platform. The Domane SL and SLR keep with Trek’s ‘endurance’ geometry which offers shortened reaches and raised stacks compared to its race-focussed Emonda and Madone offerings. Steering geometry remains on the quicker side for the endurance road category, while the wheelbase is a tad longer than some.
Trek claims the new Domane is a “road first” platform, but simultaneously talks to its versatility provided by the class-leading 38 mm tyre clearance. That massive tyre clearance remains unchanged from the previous generation and is based on a 6 mm window all the way around the tyre. The figure is based on what Trek considers to be the largest 38 mm-measured tyre width on the market, so there’s plenty of tolerance in here to go bigger than what is officially recommended. All Domane complete bikes come stock with 32 mm tyres.
If I had a way to bang a gong and shout this news, I would. The new Domane spells the end of Trek’s BB90 press-fit system, and the American company’s entire road range now features a threaded bottom bracket. Like we’ve seen with the Madone and Emonda, the Domane uses Trek’s take on the T47 ‘internal’ threaded bottom bracket, one that has open compatibility with all aftermarket T47 bottom brackets and modern crank spindle systems.
Like previous generations, the hidden fender mounts remain, and using those allows for up to a 35 mm tyre to be fitted. Also continuing over is the down tube storage hatch that hides beneath the bidon cage. Within it you’ll find the same tool and tube wrap. Meanwhile, the mounts for a top-tube feed bag remain, too. Another minor and overlooked detail is Trek’s integrated 3S chain keeper which works admirably well.
Go back to the days of Fabian Cancellara skipping across the cobbles and you’ll find that his Domane wasn’t like the one you’d find in your local Trek store. Rather it was a Race Shop Limited (RSL) version from Trek’s Project One range. Sold only in the sizes needed by the key riders of WorldTour team, this pro version combined a race-specific geometry with the wider tyre clearance and smoother frame that the Domane sought to offer. Now Trek has brought the pro version back as a frameset-only option in the form of the Domane RSL.
While the regular Domane SL and SLR come in a choice of nine sizes, the RSL version is offered in just five sizes spanning from 52 through to 60 cm. Those five sizes feature Trek’s H1.5 fit which offers more aggressive stack and reach figures in line with its Emonda and Madone bikes. Meanwhile, steeper head angles result in super short trail figures that should equate to a quicker steering characteristic.
There are a few other differences that expand beyond the geometry. Pro riders tend to push bigger gears and the RSL version is designed to clear up to 54/40T rings, or a 54T if run 1x. By comparison, the Domane SL/SLR will only fit a maximum of 52/36T gearing or a 50T single ring. That chainring clearance comes with the trade-off of reduced tyre clearance, with the RSL designed to fit up to 35 mm rubber. And while the SL/SLR framesets can use either electronic or mechanical groupsets, the RSL is electronic-only.
Made with racing in mind, the Domane RSL also drops the down tube storage hatch, the top tube bag mounts, and the fender compatibility. As a result, it’s approximately 100 g lighter than the SLR version.
There are many complete bike options within the new Domane SL and SLR ranges. Excluding the top-tier SLR 9 eTap (which has Trek-Segafredo team look-a-like Pirelli tyres), all models come equipped with tubeless-ready wheels (hooked bead), Bontrager R3 32 mm tubeless-ready tyres, and tubeless valves and sealant are also provided.
The premium-priced SLR starts with the expected Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and SRAM Red AXS options, and goes down to models with new Shimano 105 Di2 and SRAM Rival AXS. There are five stock frame colours choices shared amongst the SLR bikes and framesets. A frameset is also available for US$4,200 / €5,000 / £4,500 / AU$NA.
Meanwhile, the lower-cost Domane SL frame is available at the base level with Shimano 105 mechanical, and goes up to models with either Shimano Ultegra Di2 or SRAM Force AXS. And being cheaper doesn’t mean any less choice in paint, with options spanning from boring through to sparkle-drenched. And somewhat unexpectedly, Trek will offer the Domane SL as a bare frameset for US$2,500 / €3,000 / £2,700 / AU$NA.
And as already mentioned, the pro-edition RSL is available only as a frameset, priced at US$4,200 / €5,000 / £4,500 / AU$5,600.
CyclingTips’s head of tech, James Huang, recently received a new Domane SLR for test, and I plan on borrowing one in October. You can expect a deep-dive review on this new endurance road bike in the coming months.