Out of the Box
First thing I noticed when I popped open the box was the shapely carbon top tube. Second thing I noticed was the huge chip in the paint. How does that pass quality control?
I must say the frame is very stunning. The Bontrager parts are co-ordinated well with the overall visual theme of the bike. At a glance the whole package comes together quite nicely. Look closer and some of the details start to disappoint. Like I said, big chip in the paint, also the decal on the seatstay bridge right behind the post was crooked. Look closer and you can see lumps at the tube junctures where they meet the lugs since this frame isn't a monocoque. I have never liked Trek's paint methods. Don't get me wrong they look good but they rely on decals way too much which leave awful ridges and they bubble & peel within a couple years. They really need to raise the bar in this area. My new Madone was an improvement over previous generations but still not great.
That is my only real complaint. Other observations are personal preference stuff but their paint is a true flaw of the brand.
The New Frame
It is a beautiful assortment of tubing that finally has all the nice finishing features of other modern bicycle manufacturers. Three main features are now the integrated (zero stack) headset, press-in bottom bracket, and semi compact geometry (sloping top tube). Worth some mention is the "seat mast" which really just functions as a reverse seat post where the sleeve slides over the short mast. The sleeve can slide up and down the mast for adjustment, no cutting.
Everything about this bike screams neutral, not a bad thing! Chain stays are a little longer, top tube is a little shorter than what I have been used to (Giant TCR Advanced). This was the pro fit too, they also offer a version with even more upright geometry and compact crankset. The Madone is a great ride all day bike. It requires very little attention when cruising along, taking off your jacket, grabbing a bottle or a powerbar.
It does need a little encouragement on technical descents but the oversized integrated bottom bracket overcomes the geometry to deliver a decent sprint.
The Madone is a pretty impressive package. It came very well spec'd for the price and mine weighed only 16.5lbs with Look Keo Sprint pedals. I'm not a huge fan of the house brand Bontrager parts though. Would have preferred some Mavic hoops and Easton hardware but that's just me.
One big pain in the ass is the seatpost. Specifically where the saddle is mounted. The ball/socket design doesn't work very well. It is easy to mount crooked and bend the seat, it is hard to adjust angle, and impossible to make a small change after fully tightened. It took me, a professional mechanic, 1 hour and 45 minutes to get the stupid thing right. I dare not adjust it now. Pleeease change this so I don't have to listen to people complain about it or get me to adjust it for them.
In short if you want a slick package with all the bells & whistles, light weight (very light!), and user friendly geometry then this is the ride for you. Especially if you're not sure what you like the Madone is a safe bet. If you want something with a little more zip and personality you might want to skip it.
-Finally an integrated headset & semi compact geometry
-Beefy press fit BB junction
-Easy to ride
-Crappy paint finish
-Infuriating seat post
Value - 10 gears out of Super Record
Performance - $6 out of a Sir John A MacDonald.
Nice complete package
Beefy BB junction
The big chip