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2008 Trek Madone 5.2 vs 2014 Trek Domane 4.3 for new cyclist

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2008 Trek Madone 5.2 vs 2014 Trek Domane 4.3 for new cyclist

Old 08-03-15, 10:49 AM
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2008 Trek Madone 5.2 vs 2014 Trek Domane 4.3 for new cyclist

I'm looking to get into road cycling after riding various random bikes throughout the years (mt bikes, old hybrids, etc) and am down to two options (I'm buying used from friends of friends). 2008 Trek Madone 5.2 or Trek Domane 4.3. I have ridden a newer Madone 2.5 on a test ride, and found the fit/geometry to be quite good. I didn't feel overly uncomfortable with the aggressive position, but it was a relatively short ride (~30min).

I'll be using the bike primarily for fitness and sight-seeing rides around the SF Bay Area, and plan to do a few short (~10miles) fitness rides during the week and longer rides on the weekends. I'm a casual runner and swimmer, so will likely try to do a Tri here or there (once/year max), but do not plan on that being the primary use for the bike.

For reference, I'm 6'3, 190lbs, and 25years old. I'm fairly fit and active.

What is everyone's take on Madone vs Domane? I've done a lot of research on my end, and have heard mixed reviews on each - high praise as well as some concerning things. On the Domane - everything from "smoothest, most comfortable ride ever" to "the IsoSpeed technology makes road riding inefficient"; on the Madone - everything from "speed machine with enough comfort for a century and enough comfort to make the Domane a non-factor" to "too aggressive for a first rider with wobbly steering that will land you in a ditch if you take your eye off the road for two seconds".

For a new cyclist, is the Madone too aggressive? Is lack of stability a concern? Will I buy the Domane and wish I had the Madone in 3 months? Domane meant more for older guys with back issues? Looking for any and all opinions on ride, fit, use-case, stability, etc for a NOVICE.

Thanks!
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Old 08-03-15, 11:02 AM
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Are they both the same frame size? Same condition? Same price? Any upgrades like saddle or wheels?

I have a 2013 Madone 3.1 and love it. It does not feel aggressive to me
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Old 08-03-15, 11:09 AM
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Same frame size (60cm). Both in great condition - the Domane is much newer and has less miles on the parts, but both in good condition. The Madone is a bit cheaper but not enough to make or break my decision one way or the other. No major upgrades - Madone has a Blackburn computer with cadence and heart rate monitors but no upgrades to the actual bikes as far as I know.
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Old 08-03-15, 11:09 AM
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Never tried the Madone, but I own a Domane 4.3. I love the bike. Any way for you try both ? That's going to be the correct answer....what "you" like best after trying.

Last edited by doug59; 08-03-15 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 08-03-15, 11:15 AM
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Doug - how have you found the IsoSpeed decoupler on the Domane? Definitely agree with that being the correct answer. Would love to try both. The hangup is that the Madone lives 2 hours away, but can be dropped off to me at home tomorrow. I can't go ride the Domane until Wednesday, so would forego the chance of having Madone dropped at my door. Unfortunate logistical issue, and maybe shouldn't factor into my decision, but that's what I'm working with.
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Old 08-03-15, 11:24 AM
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Both are good choices. Newer and less miles is a bonus. Buy the Domane
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Old 08-03-15, 12:29 PM
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Have you had any issues with the Madone being "wobbly" or unstable, particularly at higher speeds? I didn't encounter this on my short ride, but it was one of the main things I've read that gave me pause as an inexperienced rider.
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Old 08-03-15, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Boehmer
Doug - how have you found the IsoSpeed decoupler on the Domane? Definitely agree with that being the correct answer. Would love to try both. The hangup is that the Madone lives 2 hours away, but can be dropped off to me at home tomorrow. I can't go ride the Domane until Wednesday, so would forego the chance of having Madone dropped at my door. Unfortunate logistical issue, and maybe shouldn't factor into my decision, but that's what I'm working with.
I'm amazed on how well the bike rides. Even taking bumps is smooth riding with the decoupler feature. I'm very happy with the bike.
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Old 08-03-15, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Boehmer
Have you had any issues with the Madone being "wobbly" or unstable, particularly at higher speeds? I didn't encounter this on my short ride, but it was one of the main things I've read that gave me pause as an inexperienced rider.
I've had the bike close to 30 mph. No problems. I've been out of the saddle hammering it. No problems.
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Old 08-03-15, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Stevensondrive
I've had the bike close to 30 mph. No problems. I've been out of the saddle hammering it. No problems.
Interesting. That's helpful, thanks. I've had some suggest that I'd be happier on a Domane as a recreational fitness rider and don't need an old race bike. Any opinion on that claim? Are you a recreational rider? racer? older? younger? Really appreciate the input.
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Old 08-03-15, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Boehmer
Interesting. That's helpful, thanks. I've had some suggest that I'd be happier on a Domane as a recreational fitness rider and don't need an old race bike. Any opinion on that claim? Are you a recreational rider? racer? older? younger? Really appreciate the input.
I used to be a triathlete. But a car wreck in 2008 messed up my back. Got into crossfit this year and my back is much better. Bought a hybrid then the road bike. I've had the bike a little over a month and logged 122 miles. Which includes two 27 mile rides. I'm not a racer. Never been very fast. Just trying to burn some fat. First thing I did was change the tires to Gatorskins. I abhor flats lol
I'm 43 6' and 275 pounds.
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Old 08-03-15, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Boehmer
I'm looking to get into road cycling after riding various random bikes throughout the years (mt bikes, old hybrids, etc) and am down to two options (I'm buying used from friends of friends). 2008 Trek Madone 5.2 or Trek Domane 4.3. I have ridden a newer Madone 2.5 on a test ride, and found the fit/geometry to be quite good. I didn't feel overly uncomfortable with the aggressive position, but it was a relatively short ride (~30min).

I'll be using the bike primarily for fitness and sight-seeing rides around the SF Bay Area, and plan to do a few short (~10miles) fitness rides during the week and longer rides on the weekends. I'm a casual runner and swimmer, so will likely try to do a Tri here or there (once/year max), but do not plan on that being the primary use for the bike.

For reference, I'm 6'3, 190lbs, and 25years old. I'm fairly fit and active.

What is everyone's take on Madone vs Domane? I've done a lot of research on my end, and have heard mixed reviews on each - high praise as well as some concerning things. On the Domane - everything from "smoothest, most comfortable ride ever" to "the IsoSpeed technology makes road riding inefficient"; on the Madone - everything from "speed machine with enough comfort for a century and enough comfort to make the Domane a non-factor" to "too aggressive for a first rider with wobbly steering that will land you in a ditch if you take your eye off the road for two seconds".

For a new cyclist, is the Madone too aggressive? Is lack of stability a concern? Will I buy the Domane and wish I had the Madone in 3 months? Domane meant more for older guys with back issues? Looking for any and all opinions on ride, fit, use-case, stability, etc for a NOVICE.

Thanks!
Advice (Opinion really!) from a much older novice who *thought* he wanted a Domaine. Should both bikes fit ok and are both in fine condition compare the different feeling of control between the Domaine's de-coupled seat and the more aggressive Madrone when pitched into a corner, they are very different. Test control and feel of both brake systems with several hard stops. Best to start easy and work up to that hard stop as the available stopping power may be quite surprising! Compare the smoothness in shifting between drive trains. I suspect the aggressive Madrone to feel more responsive particularly in a sharp corner, that the D4.3 disc brake will modulate slightly better than the M5.2 Ultegra rim brake, and the M5.2 Ultegra drive components to shift slightly smoother than the D4.3 105's. General road vibration is likely to feel pretty much the same, big bumps not so much. Lots of people like both bikes. With a choice like this expect to be pleased either way.

Last edited by BarryVee; 08-03-15 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 08-03-15, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by BarryVee
Advice (Opinion really!) from a much older novice who *thought* he wanted a Domaine. Should both bikes fit ok and are both in fine condition compare the different feeling of control between the Domaine's de-coupled seat and the more aggressive Madrone when pitched into a corner, they are very different. Test control and feel of both brake systems with several hard stops. Best to start easy and work up to that hard stop as the available stopping power may be quite surprising! Compare the smoothness in shifting between drive trains. I suspect the aggressive Madrone to feel more responsive particularly in a sharp corner, that the D4.3 disc brake will modulate slightly better than the M5.2 Ultegra rim brake, and the M5.2 Ultegra drive components to shift slightly smoother than the D4.3 105's. General road vibration is likely to feel pretty much the same, big bumps not so much. Lots of people like both bikes. With a choice like this expect to be pleased either way.
Really helpful. It sounds like you've ridden both, and, net-net, would choose the Madone. Is that accurate? That's the way that I am leaning too, but have had several people tell me that the Madone is overkill for a new rider, can have twitchy handling, and that there's no reason to buy a 7 year old race bike. Would you give much weight to the fact that the Madone is an '08 with far more miles (albeit in great shape) vs the Domane a 2014 with low miles?

Mind giving any sense for your age/fitness/riding preferences?
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Old 08-03-15, 07:11 PM
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FWIW - I owned a Madone, and sold it to buy a Domane. For me, it was an issue of comfort on bumpy/chattery roads. Those left me feeling pretty beat up on the Madone, but not nearly so on the Domane. Your results may vary, of course. I am 61 years old, 6 ft and 215. A younger and leaner person may feel the opposite of me.
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Old 08-03-15, 07:16 PM
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For a sense of age I'm sixty. Fitness level: 5'11" 167#, Started road biking in April and have been up Mt. Hamilton from both sides, (on different days), & doubled Mt. Diablo, and been over Monitor Pass both ways this year. I ride flat ground weekly but really like to climb & descend! Comparably younger guys are much faster and blow by me both up & down hill. How the Domaine felt to me (personally) entering sharp corners was the only reason to look farther as it is a very nice bike. My daughter and son in law both ride Madones like the one you are looking at, tho her's is a WSD. They are avid recreational/fitness riders and love these bikes. If one were available I'd have easily chose it used or not. I ended up happy with a similar ride, (for an old guy like me anyway), an Emonda SL6. My observation is while the Madone soaks up general road vibration well it does bounce/jolt more when riding something like root damaged pavement.

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Old 08-03-15, 09:34 PM
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Out of curiosity, what group sets are on each bike. A Domane with Sora vs a Madone with DA or Ultegra is a no-brainer to me. If the Domane has DA, Ultegra or even newer 11-speed 105, then I'd lean towards it.
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Old 08-05-15, 01:24 PM
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It's really all relative. Coming from an aluminum frame, my '08 Madone 5.2 rides like a hovercraft in comparison!
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Old 08-06-15, 11:18 AM
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The 08 Madone (if still the way it was stock) will have a few advantages over the 4.3. It has better wheels (Race-lite compared to the heavy TLR wheels that come on the 4.3), Ultegra groupset, and a better carbon layup (OCLV Black which is probably close to the OCLV 500 series of today.) It was also still made in Wisconsin if that matters to you.

The Domane 4.3 is a nice bike and the iso speed system works great. It is very comfortable when you hit the bumpy stuff and great on long rides.

Both bikes (once again I am assuming are both stock) have 10 speed groupsets, so when it comes to kit, the Madone wins hand down alone for better wheels, carbon in the frame and groupset.

I test rode both not too long ago. A Madone 7 series and Domane 5.2 I rode away with the Domane because I was looking for something to do longer rides on. The comfort level was just light years ahead and that with the more relaxed "endurance" geometry was a nice change from my other bikes. It did take me a while to get used to riding with the ISO Speed rear as at first it felt very "floaty" and not connected to the road, especially in downhill corners. After a while I was used to it and really love the bike.

With the two bikes you are looking at, the Madone may be more comfortable due to the higher grade carbon in the frame. It is hard to tell on paper, so if you can, try and ride both bikes. Either one is a great ride.
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Old 08-06-15, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Boehmer
I'm looking to get into road cycling after riding various random bikes throughout the years (mt bikes, old hybrids, etc) and am down to two options (I'm buying used from friends of friends). 2008 Trek Madone 5.2 or Trek Domane 4.3. I have ridden a newer Madone 2.5 on a test ride, and found the fit/geometry to be quite good. I didn't feel overly uncomfortable with the aggressive position, but it was a relatively short ride (~30min).
Have you tried riding other brands? Specialized? Giant? It behooves you to ride a lot of different brands and models, as time allows.

I have found that small tweaks in geometry make major differences in comfort and performance. Personally, I've ridden numerous specialized, giant and trek models, and found that roubaix/secteur geometry works best for me.

I've test ridden domanes occasionally over the years, and for whatever reason, never enjoyed the ride. I thought it might be the way they were set up, but then went to a shop which did a fairly thorough fitting for the test ride, and it just didn't feel right.

Also, as reference, I started road riding in my early 20's and back then, there was no such thing as compact or endurance geometry. No-rise stems were the norm. My flexibility is still very good and probably excellent then, and the race geometry simply was not comfortable at all. Too low, bars too narrow, just generally uncomfortable, regardless of the purpose of the bike.

IMO, the endurance geometry today is simply more human anatomy friendly, regardless of age. The longer top tubes, increased standover, taller headtube and stems with a bit of rise are just common sense features for 99% of riders 99% of the time.

Yes, you can go lo and aero with very specific equipment for time trials or for crits or road races, but for the vast majority of riders on the vast majority of rides, modern endurance geometry is the best way to go.
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Old 08-06-15, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Boehmer
Same frame size (60cm). Both in great condition - the Domane is much newer and has less miles on the parts, but both in good condition. The Madone is a bit cheaper but not enough to make or break my decision one way or the other. No major upgrades - Madone has a Blackburn computer with cadence and heart rate monitors but no upgrades to the actual bikes as far as I know.
Is the Domane from a shop, or a private party? If it's a new, unsold bike at a shop, get that. I don't necessarily trust other people to take care of 7 year old bikes, and with carbon it's possible to miss little cracks that could be a big problem later on. If the owner of the Madone is offering to get it inspected by a Trek dealer, then I'd be a lot more confident.

I own a 2013 Madone 3.1, and I've ridden a Domane 4 series from that same year. I prefer the Madone, to be honest. I am your size (6'3" 180), so I ride a 60 cm. I found the seat coupler thing on the Domane to be a little disconcerting. I kept checking my rear tire to make sure it wasn't going flat. I guess some people obviously value that compliance, but I race and I like a sharp handling bike with a lot of stiffness.

The Madone handles well and it definitely doesn't wobble at speed. I've had it over 55 mph on mountain descents without so much as a hint of shuddering. Completely confidence inspiring. I'm not sure whether the '08 5 series is markedly different in its geometry or handling characteristics, so that's just my experience.
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Old 08-06-15, 02:01 PM
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In a situation with no test ride I would go with the newer Domane. The newer technology of the components will make a big difference.
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Old 08-06-15, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP
Is the Domane from a shop, or a private party? If it's a new, unsold bike at a shop, get that. I don't necessarily trust other people to take care of 7 year old bikes, and with carbon it's possible to miss little cracks that could be a big problem later on. If the owner of the Madone is offering to get it inspected by a Trek dealer, then I'd be a lot more confident.

I own a 2013 Madone 3.1, and I've ridden a Domane 4 series from that same year. I prefer the Madone, to be honest. I am your size (6'3" 180), so I ride a 60 cm. I found the seat coupler thing on the Domane to be a little disconcerting. I kept checking my rear tire to make sure it wasn't going flat. I guess some people obviously value that compliance, but I race and I like a sharp handling bike with a lot of stiffness.

The Madone handles well and it definitely doesn't wobble at speed. I've had it over 55 mph on mountain descents without so much as a hint of shuddering. Completely confidence inspiring. I'm not sure whether the '08 5 series is markedly different in its geometry or handling characteristics, so that's just my experience.
Thanks, Dan. This is helpful. Do you do any longer, endurance rides on the Madone? I've test ridden Madones several times and find them lively and fun to ride while remaining fairly comfortable, but I have no sense of how they'd feel on longer rides. Any opinion there?
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Old 08-06-15, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by spdracr39
In a situation with no test ride I would go with the newer Domane. The newer technology of the components will make a big difference.
Thanks for the feedback. The 4.3 Domane has 2014 105 components (not even new 105); even has a Tiagra crankset. Do you still feel that way? As a novice cyclist, not sure how much I'll notice the difference either way, to be honest.
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Old 08-06-15, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bassjones
Out of curiosity, what group sets are on each bike. A Domane with Sora vs a Madone with DA or Ultegra is a no-brainer to me. If the Domane has DA, Ultegra or even newer 11-speed 105, then I'd lean towards it.
The Domane is a 2014 4.3 and has 2014 (10-speed) 105. The Madone has 10-speed Ultegra. Thoughts?
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Old 08-06-15, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by sam_cyclist
Have you tried riding other brands? Specialized? Giant? It behooves you to ride a lot of different brands and models, as time allows.

I have found that small tweaks in geometry make major differences in comfort and performance. Personally, I've ridden numerous specialized, giant and trek models, and found that roubaix/secteur geometry works best for me.

I've test ridden domanes occasionally over the years, and for whatever reason, never enjoyed the ride. I thought it might be the way they were set up, but then went to a shop which did a fairly thorough fitting for the test ride, and it just didn't feel right.

Also, as reference, I started road riding in my early 20's and back then, there was no such thing as compact or endurance geometry. No-rise stems were the norm. My flexibility is still very good and probably excellent then, and the race geometry simply was not comfortable at all. Too low, bars too narrow, just generally uncomfortable, regardless of the purpose of the bike.

IMO, the endurance geometry today is simply more human anatomy friendly, regardless of age. The longer top tubes, increased standover, taller headtube and stems with a bit of rise are just common sense features for 99% of riders 99% of the time.

Yes, you can go lo and aero with very specific equipment for time trials or for crits or road races, but for the vast majority of riders on the vast majority of rides, modern endurance geometry is the best way to go.
Thanks for the input. I've ridden Specialized - Allez and Roubaix - and neither fit my build perfectly, though I did like the Roubaix. I've also tried several Bianchi and Fuji bikes, but no Giant's. I've found that, in terms of fitting my build, the Madone seems to be the most comfortable. I'm relatively proportionate with slightly longer torso for my height, and the H2 geometry on the Madone seems to suit me well. The Domane fits as well, but I have found that I have to move the seat all the way back to be in a comfortable position with the shorter top tube.

Agree that I'd like to err on the side of endurance geo, but may have found that the H2 Madone is a nice compromise. I'm still figuring all of this out. Unfortunately work long hours and have limited time for test rides, so have gotten anxious just to pick something up used (from friends) and see where I end up. Would likely refine my thinking on my N+1.
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