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Trek Emonda SL8 Red followed me home! Pics & review.

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Trek Emonda SL8 Red followed me home! Pics & review.

Old 07-31-14, 08:51 AM
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RNAV
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Trek Emonda SL8 Red followed me home! Pics & review.

I can't begin to describe how excited I am about this bike. 7 months ago, I completed a military move and the movers banged up my 2008 Trek Madone 5.5 w/Sram Red that I absolutely loved. Luckily, the move included full replacement value insurance. Getting the insurance company to actually pay out was beyond horrendous. Nevertheless, after 7 months of back-and-forth, they sent me the check.

I have to publicly thank Robbie Mott, the owner of Cycle Therapy Bicycles in Mobile, AL for his above-and-beyond customer service throughout this whole ordeal. At the insurance company's request, he inspected my old bike and provided an itemized repair estimate, and interfaced with the insurance company on multiple occasions, providing multiple repair quotes (which involved him meeting me in Pensacola -- 1 hour away -- multiple times to pick up/drop off my Madone). He also let me test ride his 5-series Madone, 5-series Domane, and Emonda S4 as I tried to determine what bike I wanted to replace my old Madone with. Not only that, he lent me his 2014 Domane 4.3 demo bike to keep me riding throughout this ordeal with the insurance company. And, if that weren't enough, when the insurance company repo'd my Madone (and took my pedals with it), Robbie was kind enough to let me demo some Speedplay Zeros (on his demo 4.3 Domane, no less) to help me decide if I wanted to swap over to Speedplays once I got the insurance check and my new bike. To top it all off, when the Emonda's were first released, Robbie put a 58cm SL8 Red on hold for me solely because he had a hunch I might like it (I'd previously settled on a 5.9 Domane). I cannot speak any more highly of Robbie & Cycle Therapy, and if any of you live in this area I personally recommend Robbie and his team.

Now on to the bike! It is absolutely awesome, and it's the best bike I've ever ridden. It is solid, incredibly responsive, climbs like a banshee and sprints just as good. It's definitely a better performer in those aspects than the Madone & Domane. What blew me away, however, was the smoothness of the ride and its ability to absorb bad road conditions. I upgraded to the Bontrager Race X Lite TLR wheels with R2 tubeless tires, so the tubeless tires are likely contributing to the amazing ride. There's a stretch of road that I ride on that's so badly cracked it just vibrates you to death -- the Domane handled this extremely well. When I went out for my first ride on the Emonda this morning, I was blown away that it actually rode smoother, and I was able to hold a higher speed, than the Domane! When it comes to really, really big hits, the Domane has a slight edge over the Emonda, but the Emonda actually soaks up road buzz better than the Domane.

I had test ridden the Bianchi Infinito CV and preferred it over the Domane because it absorbed road buzz just as well, but was lighter and climbed/sprinted better. The only reason I didn't get the Bianchi was because, with Sram Red, it priced out over my budget. It was at that point that I "settled" on the 5.9 Domane . . . only to find out there were no more 2014's available in my size, and no news as to when the 2015's would be out. Then at Robbie's recommendation, I test rode his Emonda S4 and was very impressed. So I decided to take a leap of faith and decided to go with the Emonda SL8 Red that he'd put on hold for me.

I can assuredly say without any equivocation that the Emonda SL8 Red is lighter, climbs better, sprints better, handles better, and rides smoother than the Bianchi Infinito CV. It also outperforms the Madone and Domane in all the aspects I care about. I feel like the Emonda is a heck of a deal, and I couldn't be happier with my decision.

Another super cool thing I really like about the bike is the new Duotrap S sensor, which broadcasts both ANT+ and Bluetooth simultaneously. Works great with my Garmin, and I can also connect the sensor to my iPhone 5S. So for this morning's ride, I had both my Garmin and Strava connected to my bike at the same time. Really neat, integrated setup.

Now for pics!

15 lbs, 12 oz fully built and ready to ride, with not-so-light (33g per cage) water bottle cages, slightly heavier pedals (the demo Speedplay Zero CrMo pedals are on the bike -- I've got a set of Speedplay Zero Stainless in red on order), duo trap S sensor, and Garmin Edge 500 mounted.



















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Old 07-31-14, 08:53 AM
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The Duotrap S sensor is pretty neat. Can't see it from the outside of the chain stay. Plus, it's got a red and green LED light that will illuminate each time the wheel sensor/cadence sensor passes it, so you can easily verify you've got the magnets placed correctly.




The cable guide is pretty neat, and recessed. I'm considering putting some clear protective tape over this just to keep gunk out.



Still note sure I'm sold on that white saddle/handlebar tape combo. What do you guys think?
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Old 07-31-14, 09:01 AM
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Looks awesome, but agree with the bartape, although, as white tape gets dirty so quickly, wouldn't replace till it needs it, for the saddle, they are so personal, would wait till you know you like it before doing anything with it.

Do like the Trek ANT+ integration, something more (all) manufactures should do as standard.
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Old 07-31-14, 09:10 AM
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Gotta love that Red!
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Originally Posted by LAJ View Post
No matter where I go, here I am...
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Old 07-31-14, 09:16 AM
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Really nice bike. I am intrigued by the Emonda because how can an uber light, thin walled carbon bike have better ride quality than the bike that Trek purposefully designed for ride quality aka the Domane? No doubt its light but hard to believe it rides better than the Domane which is a slightly heavier bike in addition to shape and angles designed to soak up the road. Early reviews are as you say however....the Emonda has a good ride and handling independent of weight and because its so light, all combined, that equals an excellent bike as you say.

Congrats on getting it and sharing it and I also want to add thanks for your service in this increasing combative world we live in.
Ride safe.
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Old 07-31-14, 09:51 AM
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Nice looking ride!
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Old 07-31-14, 09:57 AM
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Congratulations. And that was some great customer service.
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Old 07-31-14, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Really nice bike. I am intrigued by the Emonda because how can an uber light, thin walled carbon bike have better ride quality than the bike that Trek purposefully designed for ride quality aka the Domane? No doubt its light but hard to believe it rides better than the Domane which is a slightly heavier bike in addition to shape and angles designed to soak up the road. Early reviews are as you say however....the Emonda has a good ride and handling independent of weight and because its so light, all combined, that equals an excellent bike as you say.

Congrats on getting it and sharing it and I also want to add thanks for your service in this increasing combative world we live in.
Ride safe.
I think the important distinction is that it was a 4 series Domane, which has a seatpost rather than a seat mast. It's a small change that has a fairly noticeable difference in how much vibration is absorbed.
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Old 07-31-14, 10:09 AM
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Awesome
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Old 07-31-14, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Nebby10 View Post
I think the important distinction is that it was a 4 series Domane, which has a seatpost rather than a seat mast. It's a small change that has a fairly noticeable difference in how much vibration is absorbed.
Can you describe the difference between each and why it would affect ride quality? Don't all model Domane's have a pivoting seat post?
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Old 07-31-14, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Can you describe the difference between each and why it would affect ride quality? Don't all model Domane's have a pivoting seat post?
The Domane 5/6 has a full length seat tube that extends well past the pivot with a cap that slides over the end of it, while the Domane 4 has a seat tube that ends with a clamp near the pivot point. I'm guessing that the longer length seat tube with a cap allows the pivot to work better due to an effectively higher leverage point since it clamps higher up. I also suspect that the seatpost is probably stiffer and less compliant than the seat tube section above the pivot on the Domane 5/6.
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Old 07-31-14, 12:03 PM
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Sweet ride. I test rode the SL6 and came away surprised at how smooth it was for something that wasn't a dedicated "endurance" bike.

Ditch the white tape, then perfect.
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Old 07-31-14, 12:23 PM
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Very nice! I ordered an SL6 on the last day of Trek Fest. Should be here shortly.
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Old 07-31-14, 12:36 PM
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Don't forget, his Emonda also is running tubeless. I am sure that is a big contributor to the overall ride difference.
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Old 07-31-14, 12:56 PM
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First and foremost, Thank you for your service that you provide this country. Coming from an ALL military family we've been there, done that. Cant thank our brothers and sisters enough.

Congrats on the bike! Its absolutely stunning and am looking forward to riding one myself in the up coming days. Have one that is currently being built at a shop for a test ride and well, we shall see what its all about! Good luck with it! Ride safe!
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Old 07-31-14, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Nebby10 View Post
The Domane 5/6 has a full length seat tube that extends well past the pivot with a cap that slides over the end of it, while the Domane 4 has a seat tube that ends with a clamp near the pivot point. I'm guessing that the longer length seat tube with a cap allows the pivot to work better due to an effectively higher leverage point since it clamps higher up. I also suspect that the seatpost is probably stiffer and less compliant than the seat tube section above the pivot on the Domane 5/6.
I am not convinced your theory is accurate and in fact I believe quite possible the opposite is true. Just my opinion based upon looking at each design. There is a reason why a 27.2mm diameter seat post is chosen by many bike manufacturers. Compliancy. In fact Cannondale just deviated with a 25.4mm seat post diameter on their Synapse endurance bike..obvious reason being compliance versus strength. Virtually all mast type posts including aero posts have a higher flex modulus compared to conventional seat posts. The pivot on all Domane models is a game changer of course. There should be no leverage difference...the moment arm is from top of saddle to the iso pivot point. Again, I believe the conventional 27.2mm post is more flexible...spring rate of the system being additive....post/mast flex + iso pivot. If anything, the seat mast design is 'stiffer' by intent to appeal to better and stronger riders.

Trek Domane: IsoSpeed Technology - YouTube
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Old 07-31-14, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
I am not convinced your theory is accurate and in fact I believe quite possible the opposite is true. Just my opinion based upon looking at each design. There is a reason why a 27.2mm diameter seat post is chosen by many bike manufacturers. Compliancy. In fact Cannondale just deviated with a 25.4mm seat post diameter on their Synapse endurance bike..obvious reason being compliance versus strength. Virtually all mast type posts including aero posts have a higher flex modulus compared to conventional seat posts. The pivot on all Domane models is a game changer of course. There should be no leverage difference...the moment arm is from top of saddle to the iso pivot point. Again, I believe the conventional 27.2mm post is more flexible...spring rate of the system being additive....post/mast flex + iso pivot. If anything, the seat mast design is 'stiffer' by intent to appeal to better and stronger riders.

Trek Domane: IsoSpeed Technology - YouTube
I meant to respond to your earlier post.. Hit the wrong button..

He was also running tubeless on the Emonda. That plays a huge role in the ride quality.
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Old 07-31-14, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
I am not convinced your theory is accurate and in fact I believe quite possible the opposite is true. Just my opinion based upon looking at each design. There is a reason why a 27.2mm diameter seat post is chosen by many bike manufacturers. Compliancy. In fact Cannondale just deviated with a 25.4mm seat post diameter on their Synapse endurance bike..obvious reason being compliance versus strength. Virtually all mast type posts including aero posts have a higher flex modulus compared to conventional seat posts. The pivot on all Domane models is a game changer of course. There should be no leverage difference...the moment arm is from top of saddle to the iso pivot point. Again, I believe the conventional 27.2mm post is more flexible...spring rate of the system being additive....post/mast flex + iso pivot. If anything, the seat mast design is 'stiffer' by intent to appeal to better and stronger riders.

Trek Domane: IsoSpeed Technology - YouTube
The question is whether a seatpost is more compliant than a seat tube with a pivot that's essentially designed as a spring. While I agree that typically, standard seat mast designs are stiffer, the Domane seat tube is obviously designed to be more flexible than the standard designs.

While it's a bit exaggerated in this video, you can rather clearly see the amount of deflection by the seat tube in this your tube video; I'd be interested in seeing if a standard seatpost can match that.

2013 Trek Domane road bike review - YouTube


Originally Posted by Munk69 View Post
I meant to respond to your earlier post.. Hit the wrong button..

He was also running tubeless on the Emonda. That plays a huge role in the ride quality.
I completely missed that...tubeless could definitely make a huge difference in ride quality.
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Old 07-31-14, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
I am not convinced your theory is accurate and in fact I believe quite possible the opposite is true. Just my opinion based upon looking at each design. There is a reason why a 27.2mm diameter seat post is chosen by many bike manufacturers. Compliancy. In fact Cannondale just deviated with a 25.4mm seat post diameter on their Synapse endurance bike..obvious reason being compliance versus strength. Virtually all mast type posts including aero posts have a higher flex modulus compared to conventional seat posts. The pivot on all Domane models is a game changer of course. There should be no leverage difference...the moment arm is from top of saddle to the iso pivot point. Again, I believe the conventional 27.2mm post is more flexible...spring rate of the system being additive....post/mast flex + iso pivot. If anything, the seat mast design is 'stiffer' by intent to appeal to better and stronger riders.

Trek Domane: IsoSpeed Technology - YouTube
The other important difference is the carbon makeup itself. You may be right in your analysis if you assume the carbon flexes the same between the various Trek levels, but it doesn't. The 4 series uses a heavier carbon than the 5, and the 6 is lighter again by a little. I have no idea how that translates into better bump abosorption or tube flex or whatever. But, the common consensus (including my own experience having ridden all three levels of bike with the same tires) is that, for whatever reason, the higher the level, the smoother the bike. There was a big difference between the 4 and the 5, maybe or maybe not due to the seatpost/seatmast difference, and there was another, smaller difference moving up to the 6. I would also not be surprised that the ride quality changes/improves as you move up the Emonda line, although I have not ridden one. I certainly can see how a high level Emonda on tubeless soaks up small stuff better than a 4 series Domane.
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Old 07-31-14, 02:01 PM
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Congrats on the ride!! Looks great!!

I, too, have mentioned that I'm quite surprised (mind you, it's my first full-carbon) at how the SuperSix Evo absorbs shock. I often look down to expect to see shocks but they just never appear.

On the SS Evo, I know it has to do a lot with Cannondale's "speed save triangles" stuff. And I can definitely attest it works. I thought my hybrid was compliant but the Evo takes that one step further.....on a race-frame, no less.

As for the white tape & saddle, just deal til they're dirty. No point in wasting good bar tape. (at least until it gets dirty)

P.S. If you care to mention......how much was the bill after all was said & done??

P.P.S. And you said you went 58cm. Curious as to your height?
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Old 07-31-14, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Congrats on getting it and sharing it and I also want to add thanks for your service in this increasing combative world we live in.
Ride safe.
Originally Posted by 06SpiceRed View Post
First and foremost, Thank you for your service that you provide this country. Coming from an ALL military family we've been there, done that. Cant thank our brothers and sisters enough.
Thanks folks; it's a privilege to serve. Thanks, 06SpiceRed, for your family's service as well.

Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Really nice bike. I am intrigued by the Emonda because how can an uber light, thin walled carbon bike have better ride quality than the bike that Trek purposefully designed for ride quality aka the Domane? No doubt its light but hard to believe it rides better than the Domane which is a slightly heavier bike in addition to shape and angles designed to soak up the road. Early reviews are as you say however....the Emonda has a good ride and handling independent of weight and because its so light, all combined, that equals an excellent bike as you say.
At the risk of being verbose, I'll share my experience that let me to the Emonda with you because I think doing so may address your concern.

Once it was determined I'd be replacing my '08 Madone, I wanted the replacement bike to meet the following goals:

1. Climb as good or better than my '08.
2. Sprint as good or better than my '08.
3. Be more comfortable than my '08 (I'm getting older, prostate concerns, etc.).

I test rode the following bikes in the following order and rated them relative to my '08:

2014 Domane 4.3: climb/sprint worse; comfort better.
2014 Madone 5.2: climb/sprint/comfort only marginally better. Overall, this bike didn't impress me.
2014 Domane 5.2: climb/sprint same as Madone (couldn't tell them apart out of the saddle); comfort better.
2015 Emonda S4: climb/sprint significantly better; comfort better.

Now, comparing the bikes to each other:

2014 Domane 4.3: this bike was never really in contention, though it's a good bike overall.
2014 Madone 5.2: climbs/sprints better than 4.3 Domane, but isn't as comfortable.
2014 Domane 5.2: climbs/sprints same as Madone, but is much more comfortable in the saddle. This bike, thanks to the integrated seat mast, is more comfortable than the 4.3 Domane.
2015 Emonda S4: climbs/sprints better than them all, and is just as comfortable as the Domane 4.3 (except for really big bumps).

So the realization that the entry-level Emonda climbed/sprinted better than all of the bikes I rode, and was just as comfy as the Domane 4.3, was what really did it for me. Knowing that there was a slight comfort increase going from a seat-post-equipped bike to an integrated seat mast bike, I took a leap on the Emonda SL8.

In fairness, I'm not really comparing apples to apples because I decided to go tubeless, and all the bikes I rode were traditional clinchers. It very well could be the case that a 5 series Domane with tubeless would ride smoother than my Emonda. That said, the Domane is better at handling extremely hard bumps (i.e. potholes, the kind of stuff that bounces you out of the saddle). However, at least with my bike, the Emonda absorbs road vibration and minor imperfections better than the Domane, handles moderate bumps about the same, and is only marginally worse at the really severe stuff. Case in point: there's a really rough stretch of road that I ride on frequently, and with the Emonda I maintained the highest speed on that stretch of road than I ever have, and it was much smoother than the 4.3 Domane.

How Trek managed to accomplish this, I don't know. But they did, and they executed it better than Bianchi did with their Infinito CV Countervail technology. And the Infinito CV is a dedicated endurance bike.

Originally Posted by 06SpiceRed View Post
Congrats on the bike! Its absolutely stunning and am looking forward to riding one myself in the up coming days. Have one that is currently being built at a shop for a test ride and well, we shall see what its all about! Good luck with it! Ride safe!
Please post your impressions when you're done with the test ride -- it'll be nice to hear someone else's opinion!
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Old 07-31-14, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by loimpact View Post
P.S. If you care to mention......how much was the bill after all was said & done??

P.P.S. And you said you went 58cm. Curious as to your height?
Out the door was ~$6300. That includes 10% sales tax, buying the Race X Lite TLR wheels (I wasn't able to upgrade; it was a straight-up purchase of a second set of wheels -- I'm planning on selling the Race wheels that came with the bike), Bontrager R2 Tubeless Tires, Bontrager Duotrap S sensor, and Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals.

I'm 6'1".
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Old 07-31-14, 02:20 PM
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Totally badass.
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Old 07-31-14, 02:21 PM
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Thanks for the detailed photos! If I were buying a new bike right now at full price, that is what I would buy! Love the Sram Red.

Anyway, if it were me, I would go with a black saddle, black bar tape, and I would go to white hoods if anything. I have white hoods on mine and love it! Gives the bike a unique look, and the white hoods are easy to keep clean (unlike the white bar tape).

From everything I have seen and read, the new Emonda is the same geometry as the newer NON-KVF Madone frame (like all the 2012 Madone's), just eliminated carbon where it is not needed to reduce the weight. Not sure how much that affects ride quality, I have never rode a 2008 Madone.
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Old 07-31-14, 02:38 PM
  #25  
gsa103
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Originally Posted by RNAV View Post
How Trek managed to accomplish this, I don't know. But they did, and they executed it better than Bianchi did with their Infinito CV Countervail technology. And the Infinito CV is a dedicated endurance bike.
The tubeless makes a huge difference. I converted my Infinito (not-CV) to tubeless recently. The lower pressure and more supple tires really worked to soak up bumps without any downsides. Cornering traction was greatly improved. I would imagine that a Domane tubeless would be even smoother, especially over big bumps.

Ultimately though we don't like a perfectly smooth ride. We want feedback from the road. Its all about finding a bike that has the handling characteristics that each rider wants, and it sounds like you found it! Congrats!
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