Trek Madone 5.2: review

I love this bike.

Trek Madone 5.2 2008

The frame is beautiful (especially compared to the rather odd Lance-inspired old geometry), with wonderfully clean lines and an agressive over-sized down tube and bottom bracket. For me the finish on the OCLV carbon rivals the best in Italian styling and the performance – as you would expect from Trek – is first class. The new Ultegra SL groupset is excellent, with very smooth and accurate shifting, and is finished off perfectly with the matching gun metal Ultegra pedals.

 Ultegra SL on the Madone 5.2

The standard geometry comes with a compact groupset (the Pro version has a racier spec) and I opted for a 12-27 cassette with a view to entering mountainous sportives in the future. The only downside is I’m sometimes short on gears on decents, but the seconds I lose here are more than recovered by easier climbing. Oh and – fortunately – my carbon Bontrager bottle cages were in good nick, and do the new frame justice! Not that I’m obsessed with details or anything.

A luxuary, but the carbon Bontrager cages look great against the Onyx Carbon finished frame

A luxury, but the carbon Bontrager cages look great against the Onyx Carbon finished frame

As the Bike Radar review says, the bike really wants to go fast. The handling is fantastic and it feels safe even on the tightest of downhill sections – I’m decending faster now and with more confidence. The Ultegra brakes are also very good – not that I want to stop, but sometimes when the lights are red there is a car coming.

If I’ve got a criticism it’s that Trek could upgrade the Race Lite wheels to a better spec. Compare the Scott bikes in this price range that come with Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels, generally viewed as superior to the Race Lite’s. It does give room for your own upgrading though; the bike fitter said you can increase speed by as much as 2mph with better wheels. I’ll put this to the test at some point!

I bought the bike from Sigma Sport, Hampton Wick near London. Jimmy (incidentally the joint record holder for the Chiltern 100!) measured me up, plugged the figures into a computer, then designed the set up to meet my spec – all part of the service. They’ve also fixed a slight problem I had with the saddle – it wouldn’t stay horizontal initially – and serviced for free.

My advice? Buy from a specialist. Unless the price saving at a big store is significant, the poor set up/servicing will be a pain – as I found with my last bike and Evans Cycle. Shop around. I saved £500 on the 2008 pricing and £700 compared to the 2009 model (identical bar the paint job). If you’re prepared to wait, post-Christmas can be a great time with greater savings than the end of season sales.

Admittedly I haven’t ridden a vast range of other bikes, but I’ve bought into the Trek brand and technology. If it’s good for Lance Armstrong then it’s alright for me! And the Madone 5.2 is a really great bike.