Trek Domane 4.3 Review (Wherein The Grimpeur Attempts To Be Objective And Fails)

In this post I am going to review the Trek Domane 4.3 road bike. Or rather, I’m going to wax lyrically about it, ignoring any sort of protocol that requires me to be impartial and objective.

I purchased the bike in early July, as part of a bike fit / new bike / new knee saga, which I documented in this post and this one. I used it in my final training for RideLondon, and then for the event itself.

Interestingly (to me at least), one intelligent (and no doubt good looking) reader of this blog purchased a Domane after reading those posts. In fairness he’d already chosen to buy one, but I think I had some (positive) influence on the frame size he went for.

So there’s a lesson for you all: Don’t Fear The Grimpeur (’s advice).

(NEWS! NEWS! I’ve recently bought a gravel bike. Well, a Cross-Gravel-Road bike. So check out my review of the Ribble CGR 725.)

Impotent Disclaimer

I may as well get this out of the way up front. I am in no way qualified to ‘review’ a bike.

I haven’t ridden lots of bikes. I have no frame of reference against which to describe how a bike handles or its ‘road feel’ (which might not even be a thing).

I only have my legs, my eyes, my arse, my wallet and my emotions. I am going to review this bike with my arse.

So What’s It Like?

In the word of my son, “Good” (spoken with a faux-Derbyshire accent, as the poor southerner tries to fit in).

You Might Need To Give Us A Bit More Than That

Yeah, whatever.

So, clearly, it’s a lot better than anything I’ve ridden before. It’s noticeably lighter than my aluminium-framed Dawes road bike. Partly that will be the wheels and the other guff, but making the switch to carbon has definitely knocked off the pounds*.

(*I’ve no idea what it weighs exactly – this is not going to be a technical review)

The ride is significantly kinder than my Dawes. The geometry of the bike is tailored to sportive riders rather than racers (i.e. people like thee and me). The body position is more upright. The head tube is slightly higher.

According to my bike fit, my back angle on the Trek is 48 degrees from horizontal, rather than the inappropriately-aggressive 40 degrees that I had been enjoying on the Dawes.

Whilst neck pain has never been a particular issue for me, longer rides on my old steed did result in some discomfort. The 100 miles of RideLondon (plus cycle travel to and from it) was 70% longer than I’d cycled before. The ride caused discomfort in many areas (emotional, legs, undercarriage) but my neck and back were fine.

Easy Rider

Trek Domane Isospeed decoupler
The curious ‘Isospeed decoupler’

Talking of my undercarriage, which I like to do at any opportunity, the Domane is specifically designed to provide a smooth ride over even the bumpiest and lumpiest of road surfaces.

At the high end, top-of-the-range Domanes were used this year by Fabian Cancellara to win the cobble-fueled pain fests at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. At the low end, a Domane 4.3 is used by Andrew Montgomery to conquer the cattle grids and pot holes of rural Derbyshire.

Unusually for bikes that don’t fall apart, the seat tube is not connected to the top tube. Instead there is something called an ‘Isospeed Decoupler’, which is a sort of bracket that allows the seat tube to move in isolation from the rest of the frame. Because it’s not connected at the top, the seat tube has more opportunity to bend and cushion the impact of rough surfaces (or ‘British roads’, as they’re more commonly known).

Putting Down The Hammer

Trek Domane bottom bracket Duotrap
The ‘masseev’ bottom bracket, along with the Duotrap in the chainstay (see below)

Unlike the aforementioned Spartacus, I am not known for putting huge amounts of power through my pedals. The great mass of carbon around the bottom bracket (the “widest available on a road bike”, according to Trek) is therefore rather lost on me.

Still, it’s nice to know that if I do suddenly develop a foot like a traction engine, my Domane won’t be a-twistin’ and a-flexin’ under the sudden influx of power.

Talking of speed (I was, sort of), switching to the Domane has definitely made me faster. On my first ride out, and without trying too hard, I recorded my best times on a couple of local climbs.

There is a 40km loop of rolling terrain that I’d done a couple of times on the Dawes. My first time round on the Trek knocked a full 8 minutes off my previous best time (though in the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that this also followed a reasonable block of training in Majorca).

All The Gears, No Ideas

Trek Domane Shimano 105
Shimano 105 compact gears

The Domane 4.3 comes with a Shimano 105 drivetrain (i.e. gears and shizzle).

You can either have a compact chainset or a triple. I chose the compact, which, conveniently, was the one that was more readily available at my local bike shop. As a spinner, not a grinder (which I may have mentioned before), the lower gearing suits both my weakling legs and my spiky, pointy local terrain.

The only deviation from 105 is the rear cassette, which is the cheaper Tiagra version. Every cloud has a silver lining though – the largest sprocket on the Tiagra 10-speed cassette numbers (count ’em) 30 teeth. Combined with the 34 tooth smaller front chainring, that’s almost a 1:1 ratio in my easiest gear.

As you can imagine, using this secret weapon gear to spin casually up Leith Hill whilst still sat on my saddle made me look like an absolute RideLondon legend*.

* Assuming you ignore the fact that I was travelling at less-than-walking pace.

Other Things I Probably Should Mention

The Domane comes with an understated matt grey paint job. This probably suits you if you’re not after a garish colour scheme or you already have too many hues in your cycling wardrobe.

The good people at Trek have kindly left a hole in one of the chainstays. On the face of it, this sounds less than ideal, until you realise the hole is meant to filled with something called a Duotrap.

Rather than some of tandem toilet, a Duotrap is an ANT+ speed and cadence sensor that fits inside the chainstay, instead of being strapped on top of it with plastic cable ties. Trek claim aerodynamic benefits from having it tucked away. I just think it looks neat.

If you don’t want to splash out on a Duotrap, the hole comes filled with a pretend version which you can just leave in place.

The bike has brakes. They’re an awful lot better than the ones on my Dawes (which, to be honest, is not saying much). They’ve done all I’ve asked of them (i.e. stopped my bike).

Where There’s Muck, There’s Brass

As a Yorkshireman, I don’t like to part with money. As I disclaimed above, I haven’t been exposed to enough bikes to get a feel for whether the Domane offers value for money.

At £1,800, it’s certainly not cheap, but then I feel as if I’ve got a well-designed, well-made bike.

You can certainly get carbon-framed road bikes with Shimano 105 gears for less money. Spend a little more than the cost of the Domane 4.3 and you are into territory where Ultegra-level drivetrains become available.

Maybe what I’m saying is, it’s in the middle. Which is not something you’d see written in a magazine bike review. Bite me.


You’ve probably worked this out by now, but I am very happy with my Domane. It’s been a pleasure to ride. My average speeds increased immediately. It’s very easy to climb on. It got me round the 100 miles of RideLondon.

Given the value I received from being measured up pre-bike purchase, and then fitted up afterwards (as it were), I’m not going to recommend purchasing a bike online without trying it out. If you don’t want to heed this advice, you can certainly buy one from the Trek website.

Are there any other Domane owners amongst you? What have your experiences been? Let me know in the comments section below.

Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

77 thoughts on “Trek Domane 4.3 Review (Wherein The Grimpeur Attempts To Be Objective And Fails)”

  1. Sounds like a lovely bit of kit. It cost pretty much double what my daily workhorse (that implies I have a whole stable of toehr bikes, I don’t I only have one other bike which is an old Specialised Hybrid that I only ever use in the winter when there is ice on the ground as it has spiky tyres) cost – a Scott Speedster S30.
    I would love a more expensive bit of kit like yours but as 99% of my riding is done through grimy London in all weathers and the bike rarely gets cleaned (i.e. never) it seems a bit of a waste to spend more an expensive bike which is just goign to have it’s components work down my London grime…
    Please convince me (and the wife) that I’m wrong and that I should buy a new bike! 🙂

    • The whole n+1 thing is a bit of a cliche, so how about the argument that you are clearly very committed to cycling. You get a lot of joy from it. You have your London/commuting workhorse, which you absolutely need, and it doubles as your winter training bike. It’s a very healthy hobby that benefits the environment. You deserve something a bit special for your summer weekends and sportive events. There are worse ways to have a mid life crisis. How can you (or more importantly your wife) argue with that? 🙂

      • Hmmmm…. Yes….

        Thing is I only do about 4 non-commuting events a year (ok, maybe 6 including training) so spending a few grand on a bike that I use 6 times a year is a bit much.
        I sort of already have my mid-life crisis covered:
        but at 35 I like to think that I’ve got a bit of time before I get to that.
        Thanks for the tips though.. I’ll see 🙂

  2. thanks for this review. today i’ve ordered my first road bike since 34 years, can you guess which one? After spending year after year on saddles of any kind, from 20 kg downhillbikes, to 15 kg enduros, to a 12 kg twentyniner, it’s time to reduce it to the max and switch to carbonfibre. and because my back is not the fittest part of my body, it should be something comfortable. so i’m very happy that there is at least one other person, who ride this nice piece of engineering. 🙂

  3. Having been the owner of a Giant TCR Advanced for almost three years, my friends at the Bicycle Chain told me to try out the Domane. The showroom model was a 5.3 which I test rode for some 20 miles during which I found myself purposely heading for potholes and bumps in the road. It performed exactly as I had been informed, smoothing out the inferfections encountered on the Somerset roads and I immediately felt I should have one. The only thing that I didn’t like was the 5.3’s colour scheme.
    When I found out that the 5.9 had “an electric gear shift system” that was the one that I had to have. I do like my gadgets and having previously tried the same gearing system on a Giant road bike, the decision was a no brainer.
    My TCR had always been a reliable and great performing bike but now in my 52nd year I felt that the aggressiveness of a true racer was not doing my ageing and aching back any favours!
    And so it was that three months ago, although over twice as many pennies that I had paid for my lovely Giant, I made the brave decision to purchase the 5.9.
    It really has made a huge difference in both my riding style and performance and together with the recent change to tubeless tyres I managed to knock almost two hours of my predicted time on the London 100, completing it in six hours. There is absolutely no doubt, that if the bike fits and everything works correctly, i.e. it is comfortable and it changes gear exactly when you ask it to, then you will ride it that much more, and as a result I have found myself regularly clocking up 120 miles and more per week.
    In one simple sentence I bloody love it! I just want to ride it continuously. It makes cycling such a pleasure and I no longer fear my local Somerset hills, which I hasten to add can be far tougher than the three encountered in Surrey. I climb them faster and with less effort, not at the speed of a much younger Tour competitor, but at a rate that I am very proud of considering my 52 years of age.
    If there is anyone reading this that may be considering upgrading or getting a better fitting bike, if your finances allow, just go for it!

    • Nigel – wow. Thanks for that! Your 5.9 looks awesome. I’ve never tried electronic gears (nor the mechanical ultegra). I’m sure it’s ace. Glad you’re enjoying the bike. I’ve got a lot of pleasure from mine already 🙂

  4. I have the women’s version of the 4.3 (with the triple chainset) and also purchased mine a little while before Ride London 100 and used it on the day (made it up all the climbs). I know nothing technical about bikes and components but am totally in love with it, rides beautifully – looking forward to taking it on a few autumn sportives.

  5. greetings from germany,

    my domane 4.3 arrived last friday, a beauty in dark grey. i rode the bike on the same day for about 70 km to check my roadbike compability and it was awsome. i started a ride on saturday too, but was stopped by a wasp after 25 km… finally tomorrow i’ll ride my first 100, if possible. ride on, bernd

  6. Really tempted to get the 4.3. Especially as you mention the prices are starting to drop nearing the end of the season.
    My main concern (also being tight) is that they will bring out a disc brake version next year and I’ll have to fork out even more money for an upgraded verison in 2014.


    • I’m very happy with the brakes that are on there currently.

      My (ill-informed) take on it is that since the UCI has not approved disc brakes for professional road racing, a model like the Domane (based on the bike [new name for Radioshack-Trek] use in the spring classics) won’t see disc brakes any time soon. The major brands believe that people only buy road bikes that (largely) resemble those used by the pros (“if I have the bike, maybe I’ll ride like one”) so we need quite a big shift at the UCI for this to filter down to bikes at the Domane 4.3’s price point.

      I could be wrong though. Anyone else have a more informed opinion?

  7. I am the proud owner of a Trek Domane 4.3 and I am over the moon with it.
    I started riding some 18 months ago after being persuaded to have a go at a sprint triathlon. So off to the local bike shop where I purchased a Specialized Allez, it was the cheapest in the shop but I thought £500 for a bike “I must be bonkers”. Several sprint tri’s later I realised that I enjoyed the cycling much more than the swimming and actually hated the running.
    So 3 months ago I set about choosing a new carbon framed bike, I set a budget but was just over whelmed with the number of bikes to choose from, and actually I was not sure what I wanted or more importantly what I needed. What I did know was that the Allez is a great bike but you feel every bump on the not so well maintained Essex roads so my posterior and eyeballs requested something more comfortable. A cycling mate said go to Richardson’s in Lee-On-Sea to have a chat maybe they can help you. Well suffice to say they did. After many questions Eric, the owner, suggested I take a test ride on the Trek Domane 4.3, so he fitted some clipless pedals and off I went. Well what a difference! I found myself looking for holes to test this amazing ride comfort. So what about hills? I found the steepest hill and set about it. That was the clincher, I stayed in the saddle and it was so much easier to get the power down. Ok, I was still “huffing and puffing” at the top but it just felt good.
    A deposit was paid and I arranged to have the wheels upgraded to American Classic 350 Sprint’s. ( I have now fitted Continental 4000s tyres) The Trek Domane 4.3 is a joy to ride. If you want comfort and speed and intend to do some higher mileage rides then in my limited opinion you won’t go far wrong with a Domane.

  8. I’ve had my 4.3 for about three months now and covered a lot of miles. I like the feel of the bike apart from numb hands on a decent ride. I was in two minds wether go back to ribble for the grand fondo or the trek. I regret picking thr trek mainly because of the cracks and clicking noises from the front end of the bike. Also would have got ultegra and better wheels for a lot less money .

    • Thanks Shane. That’s true on the spec front – the Boardman in that price bracket certainly comes with mainly Ultegra. I’m sure the same is true with Ribble. Personally I’ve not had any cracking and clicking noises – maybe worth checking out with the shop you bought it from?

      • just a quick update on the cracking and clicking noises. I took my bike back to the shop for its first service and mentioned the problem to the staff at Hargreaves in Dewsbury.The cracking had become worse also play on the front end turned out the head set was coming loose which was a slight concern but the staff were spot on and sorted it .back in love with my bike now (still wish id gone with the ribble though)

        • sorry to say this is the worst bike ive ever owned . Cracks creaks all over the frame. ive had the bike to three different Trek accredited bike shops’ Changed the wheelset at my own expense (total joke ) free hub seized not had bike six months. seems to be problem in bb area that doesn’t surface until around 15 mile into ride . I would like to take this opportunity to say to anyone who like I was, if your in two minds between ribble or trek go ribble . I have had my Ribble (dedaccai) thirteen year without an itch/ untrue wheel a lot of reviews slate ribble customer service but believe me the wait will be worth it.

          • Hi Shane. Sorry to hear about your experience with the Trek. My sister and her fiance both ride Ribbles and are very happy with them.

  9. Andrew, I loved reading your post. I’ve just bought a Trek Domane 4.3 and guess what? I think it’s fabulous! I’ve been riding a Dawes Audax steel bike, built for comfort. But the Trek is noticeable more comfortable and I love the handlebars – great flattish tops and shallow drops – a joy to use. I live in Shropshire and we’ve plenty of hills. Like other folk who have commented I’m getting up the hills more easily. It tracks beautifully, and handles accurately round the bends so I’ve got an extra dose of confidence when heading downhill at speed. The brakes are good enough for me, but like you I’ve not tested loads of bikes. It really has added a sparkle to my cycling. Can’t wait to get out on it tomorrow!

  10. As a 50+ gent the new bike I was seeking had to measure up to the comfort I had experienced from my 1999 steel Dawes Galaxy. I wanted a reasonably light machine with a quality feel capable of fast club rides. My research homed in almost straight away on the Domane 4.5 with its seat post decoupler and some Ultegra gear. Not that I think Ultegra is that much better than 105 but there is a slight pose factor to consider. I am now the very proud owner of a Domane 4.5 and it truly is a superb bike. I have covered many 100s of miles in the past few weeks in complete comfort and I eagerly look forward getting out on it.

  11. Nice review … I bought a 4.3 last week, loving it so far. I didnt like the 4.7 colours, so opted for the GrayBlack 4.3 with upgraded Bontrager RACE wheels.

      • I actually went into the bike shop with my heart set on a 4.3 because I preferred the matt colour scheme (and still do) but the guy talked me up to get the 4.5 because they were having a Tour De France 10% off sale and I fell for it. I still love the bike though and can’t wait to try my new proper road pedals and shoes. I have been using SPD with MTB shoes up to now. Have I fallen for another waste of money cycling upgrade I wonder?

  12. Yesterday I use for the first time my new Domane 4.3. I choose this bike because I had several months ago a complicated back surgery and I need a very comfortable bike to get back on the road. I bought it for 1.750€ in Madrid, Spain, although they offered me the 4.5 with Ultegra for 1.900€. I prefer the 4.3 color theme much better than the 4.5.

    I had the Domane 5.2 to test the bike for two days and I was amazed by how comfortable the bike was. I tested a 54cm and I finally bought the 52cm even though everyone in the store advised me to go for the big one. I am 5,9 and my leg length is 81cm. The bike really looks very small on the rear side, not only due to the size but also because of the geometry itself. I hope not to have make a big mistake, but after the surgery I feel much easier to place my hands on the proper place in the handlebar with the smaller one.

  13. just bought the 4.3 2014 colours, electric blue/white,
    lovely to ride and comfy.
    got the trek due to lower back probs, consultant advised cycling as good excercise.
    did lots of research, narrowed down to roubaix or domane.
    pro bike fit and lbs stocking the trek did it for me as well as the comfort factor.

  14. Enjoyed your review. I bought a Domane 4.0 last October as a winter trainer as it nicely fits 25mm tyres with the bontrager fitted mudguards, brilliant! I used it to do the C2C where it really came into it’s own. I have a top end Di2 Cube Litening and while that is a tad lighter than the Domane it isn’t as nice to ride but I guess, for me at least, the Cube’s racey geometry doesn’t suit my advanced years 😛 That said, I find the Domane as quick, if not quicker than the Cube which I put down to the power transfer that you refer to albeit I am certainly no power house! The taller head tube and longer wheelbase also allows me to make the most of twisty decents with far more confidence than the Cube. The Domane is just a great bike, sure for the money you can get more spec and more toys but the warranty and frame build will beat most brands for comfort and reassurance. I have since resigned the Cube to the used bike market and have invested in a 5.9 Domane for 2014, I can’t wait!!

  15. Just got the 2014 Domane 4.3 in liquid blue and white. Absolutely love the bike. It is replacing my 2.3 which I enjoyed, but it was no comparison to this ride.

  16. In 2010 I sold my racing steeds as the decrepitation of age was begining to knaw at the neck & nethers. I bought a Specialized Tricross Comp. Comfort from an upright stem, zertzy-thingies and fat tyres; but a bit hefty.

    Come 2013 I have many miles in on the Tricross scrote-bike. The joints are happy, the thrusting muscles reet firm! Yet still I am passed by a damn sprog or even a racer-bloke going up The Cross of Greet. A “friend” whispers to me about the Trek Domane and the accolades it’s collecting from ole scrotes just like me. I go to the shop…..

    The shop is in Lancaster next to a small maze of cobbled streets. They let me out with their Domane 4.3 and I thrash it mercilessly over these lumps. It works! No kicks up the arse although the front end is telling me that those cobbles certainly are trying to put the boot in. I buy it.

    Some months and a couple of thousand miles later I’m still grinning, especially up the hills. It’s comfortable even over the scabby rutter-roads of the Bowlamd Fells. It does transmit the power extremely well, so (as your review mentions) many minutes come off the best time for hilly circuits (compared to the Tricross). Of course, it is now away for the winter, as I have become silly about keeping it’s gleams intact. (The Tricross looks like a tractor just in from the cowfields).

    Although I’m happy with the frame, forks and gear train, I wasn’t keen on the “Bontrager approved” wheels and tyres. They weigh a ton – nearly 1Kg more than the HED Ardennes + Schwalbe Ultremos I swapped them for. I also indulged in an FSA CF chainset that knocked off another 250 gms and made the drivetrain even stiffer/fast/efficient. And that “saddle” had to go (replaced by a Fizik Curve Bull – made for ole scrotes, d’you see).

    Yes – it’s the best bike I’ve ever ridden (and I’ve ridden loads, doing Randonees, touring & road racing). Fast, efficient yet comfortable. Quite good looking in the grey. But why won’t they sell you just a series 4 frame/forks so you can make the most of their potential? Those Bontrager wheels seem to be made partly of lead……

    • Thanks Fintan. Great comments. Interesting about the wheels – I’m happy with the bike for the moment, but maybe the thing to look at when I’m looking for another boost (although there’s an argument to be made for losing some of my own weight before focusing on the lead in the wheels…)

  17. Just put in my order for a 4.3 (they’re white/blue on this side of the pond too … Arizona). At 71, this is my first road bike since my Peugot PX-10 in 1970 (I’m now a Mountain Biker). My son-in-law and grandson convinced me to ride the RAGBRAI (ride across Iowa) next July so … even though the PX-10 is in the attic I thought an upgrade to a more comfy frame geometry would be best. Can’t wait for it to come in so I can start getting in some ‘road time,’ (I have had the PX-10 out but a lot more twitchy and stiff than I remember) definitely different that my Cannondale Carbon Scalpel where you don’t spend all of your time sitting. Will let you know how it goes when it arrives.

  18. I have a 2014 Domane 4.3 that I got on 9/6/13 (Liquid Blue & Trek White – looks very nice). It is an awesome ride. I have managed to put 1400 miles on it since then in spite of lots of nasty weather here in the middle of the USA. Can’t wait for the weather to improve so I can get back to riding on a regular basis. I rode a 53/42/30 triple before my new compact domane and that change took some getting used to, before I rode in the 42 most of the time (uphill and on flats) and now I do have to shift the front chainrings more but the bike shifts flawlessly and now those extra shifts are very routine. And compared to my old aluminum road bike the ride is sublime. The only issue I have had with it was a popping/clicking noise when I rode over bumps or dips, took me awhile to locate the source (I was sure it was the headset) but it turned out to be only a shifter cable sliding over the plastic guard on the bottom of the bottom bracket, I put a little silicone lube there and the noise was gone (the carbon frame really amplifies noises it seems).

    I enjoy the blog, informative and funny as well.

  19. Hello,
    I started commuting (16k per day) in Australia approx 18 months ago on a very old mountain bike. This soon died so I quickly bought a second hand 2011 Trek 1.2. I never planned on a road bike but had to buy quickly and have gotten quite used to it although rarely use the drops.

    As my fitness improved riding became a pleasure instead of a commute and I’m now about to join a club to start weekend rides. Only prob is the Trek is having issues and become unreliable so I’ll need to get most of the the drive train replaced as I can’t afford the bike off the road.

    Instead of fixing up the bike (and last owners handy work) I’m talking myself into upgrading and the 4.3 seems to tick all the boxes! My only concern is I’ve read carbon fibre is not good for commuting as it could crack. The bike would be used all year round, although winter is really just cool mornings and occasional rain but the roads are pretty rough.

    I’d be happy to hear your thoughts or from anyone in the same situation…


    • Jon. Thanks for your comment. I don’t think you’ll have a problem with the carbon cracking (unless you’re taking it off road and doing jumps or something). It’s a substantial piece of carbon (and presumably of sufficiently high quality). The high end Domane was designed to be ridden by Cancellara et al on the Belgian cobbles, so hopefully some of this design has filtered down to the lower end models. I reckon you’re more likely to damage your wheels before the frame, and even these are pretty strong (and some people say a bit heavy).

      Personally I think the Domane makes a great commuting bike – comfy riding position, fittings for mudguards (you’ll have to buy a little pack of fittings), a bit of suspension.

      Go for it 🙂

  20. Got the bike and have had it out for 3 x 15 mile rides. Your review is spot on. Very comfortable, certainly compared to what I rode a bunch of years ago. Went across a cattle guard ( do they have them in the UK?), felt a rumble in the bars and the seat was great (my old Peugot would have beaten me up a bit). Definitely smooths things out. I wish I hadn’t ridden my son-in-laws bike, that electronic shifting is really nice (seems like a long throw to change gears on the 4.3, but ok). I guess you could cut out some weight by changing the rims and tires (checked the front, it weighs just under a kg.), but probably would be best to just get in better shape first. Love the bike, sorry your’s isn’t blue and white, pretty nice! 🙂

    • Thanks Dale. Glad you’re enjoying the bike and found my review accurate 🙂

      We do have cattle guards (grids over here) – there are plenty in the hills near where I live. The Domane loves them!

  21. Hi, i think we have bought a quality frame set here but am finding the components a little restrictive so advise (If your on a limited budget like myself) to junk the wheels n tyres and try Campy ‘Zondas’ with Gatorskin rubber. Together with a new Ultegra cassette the whole riding experience became so much smoother!
    If there’s only one thing you ever do then make it to replace that horrid silver bar tape!
    What were Trek thinking?

    • 🙂 I had the handlebars replaced when I had a bike fit. I could have got the tape removed then but just had them swap it over. I suppose it doesn’t grate on me as much as it does for you! Agreed on the wheels/tyres – they’re next on the upgrade list (though I hate the thought of riding over a surprise pothole on expensive wheels).

  22. I purchased my 2014 Domane 4.3 in January and have about 2150 miles on it now. For me this is a great bike. I ride strictly for recreation and rehabilitation therapy. The only issues I have had were the saddle and the white bar tape.
    The saddle was replaced with a Brooks B17 narrow which suits me better. I didn’t expect the factory saddle to be great but the one supplied was quite bad IMHO.
    I am still waiting for the bar tape to tear so I have a good excuse to replace it. Whoever decided to use white bar tape should have their head examined. Between road dirt and the grime that you pick up changing a tube the tape dirties very quickly and looks like heck after a while. It doesn’t clean up very well.
    The original tires were replaced at about 1600 miles, so that is certainly a reasonable life in my opinion. In the future I may try some 700X23 rather than the 700X25.
    I’ve been doing a reasonable amount of climbing with the Domane long-term averaging about 50ft/mile. There haven’t been very many flat land miles. The bike handles it well even with 60+ year old reconstructed legs pushing it. Probably the first thing I’ll change, though, is the rear derailleur and upgrade to Ultegra for smoother shifting.
    My conclusion is that it’s a very good bicycle for me and worth the price.

    • Hi Jack, thanks for this. Glad the Domane has been working well for you. Good feedback on saddle and tyres.

      As a 2013 owner, I am blessed with the slightly more demure silver bar tape (and matt grey frame)….

    • I’m up to 3000 miles and about 145k’ climbing on my Domane now. I still think it is a great bicycle.
      The bar tape is still original and getting dirtier. It is almost no longer white, and looks like crap, but still serviceable so I’ll spend my money elsewhere.
      I am still on my second set of tires (OK tyres) and they still have quite a bit of life left. They are Vittoria Pro Slicks. My only complaint with these is that they seem very sticky when starting an incline. I haven’t tried 700X23s yet but will down the road. More experimentation.
      The wheels seem a bit of a problem for me in crosswinds so I have a set of Dura Ace 7850 SL s coming. I think the issue I am having is due to the large surface area of the spokes. Time for experimentation. These wheels will also let me use tubeless clinchers if I decide I want to.
      The cassette is getting rather noisy so another purchase was an Ultegra 12-30 which I hope will be smoother. It should be arriving in the next few days. The chain is starting to wear so it too will be replaced.
      As I said before the saddle has been replaced with a Brooks. It is now fully broken in for my posterior and is quite comfortable even on long rides. I went around Lake Tahoe, (72 miles each way, CW then CCW) a few weeks ago with no discomfort.

      • Bought son a cheapo Fuji 1.3c, bar-tape on this bike is superior to the wife’s Specialised, in that it is slightly slick surfaced and wipes clean easily, whereas the Spec is matt finish and keeps oily marks, I have to pre-wash hands before adjusting gears or brakes…the Fuji tape is marked with their brand name so NFG for other makes, but wonder who makes the stuff in plain?

  23. Update on my 4.3. Other than 3 weeks in SE Asia, I have had the bike since early February. Still loving it, but have made some changes. Changed the saddle to a Shimano Pro Turnix Carbon to fit my sit bones width and feels pretty good so far. Switched out the wheels/tires to the Bontrager Race XL Tubless and R3 Tubless tires (and dropped about 2 lbs). The problem with being 71 is these weight changes don’t seem to help a lot. I do think it goes down hill much faster … but when you’re old and slow, you don’t notice a lot on the hills (and unfortunately hills is all we have … I finished April with 300 miles and 23,500 ft of climbing). Did just get back from California where I road 90 miles of relatively flat (580 ft) roads and felt really good. So maybe the hills are deceiving me and I am getting stronger … One can always hope, and keep riding.

    • Brilliant. Thanks Dale for your updates. Glad to hear it’s going well for you. You’re definitely getting stronger! 🙂

  24. Trek is going to be my next bike, you’ve made a cracking choice, a mate in Wales rides lots, Has owned a Trek Madone for years and has put more miles on his than his GSXR Suzuki!
    Hollowtech bottom bracket, new ones are press fit aren’t they? I’ve had two sets of BB30 bottom bracket bearings and now have rusty water running from graunchy headset bearings, plus slung the standard fit wheels for Shimano on a Cannondale Synapse as the bearings wanted constant adjustment. Cannondale is a superb ride but could do with more durable parts?

    Madame wants disc brakes on her next steed and less weight, so Robaix SL4 disc looks appropriate although Sora gears don’t match the carbon frame, do they?

  25. And yet another update on my 4.3. Just spent a week in Washington, DC. Didn’t want to ship the bike for such a short period so borrowed my Son-In-Laws Specialized Tarmac with the Ultegra group plus DI2 shifting. It’s interesting how one adjusts to what you have … after some 900 odd miles on the 4.3 the mind starts thinking ‘was this isoframe thing just a gimmick’ or is it really more comfortable. Well after a week on the Specialized I can confirm that it definitely is not. Even though the bike probably cost about $1,500 more than mine, I felt like it was beating me up … I felt every bump, manhole cover, etc. Very nice to get home to my comfy ride.

    • Thanks Dale, the model up from mine (Cannondale Synapse) has a carbon seat stem, on eldest son’s Giant Defy 1 you can see his seat post flexing on bumps and absorbing shocks, his is on 23mm tyres but rides well. Might pop a carbon stem on as this seems to be a good route. What were the Di2 shifters like? Got a mate in Chelmsford with this kit, he puts it onto his laptop and can now shift three gears with one long press… cool

      • The Di2 shifters were really great. Just a little touch is all it takes. Can’t really justify the expense however, but I did love them. My Dominane sures rides smoother though and that’s definitely more important for those long days.

  26. Bit late to this particular party…. Nevertheless, your ‘not review’ helped persuade me and I ordered my Domane 4.0 disk equipped bike today. Like so many others here, was after a more comfortable sportive bike. Rode this against a steel genesis and was blown away by the combination of comfort and acceleration from the same bike. Sure it’s “only” got Sora, but the combination wire/hydraulic brakes get a really good review and worked well for me and in time it’ll be worth (and necessary!) upgrading the transmission.

    It arrives next week… Can’t wait

      • Hi Andrew, good and bad so Far
        problems so far-all quite small. After just one ride 3 rear spokes were flopping about uselessly. Whellmwas still pretty true though. The adaptor for mudguards/fenders on the disc side wasnt with the bike so had to wait for that. The threaded hole at the top of the fork for the mudguard bracket wont accept a bolt-noones worked out why yet. The rear mech cable has stretced a lot and has neded adjustmentment twice so far.

        Things i dont like-sora is very Agricultural, and with a 30 tooth large ring the gapd im the casseytte are quite big. I do like havin the 30tl though, im in surrey nd do Leith hill/s whitedown/pitch hill etc. I dont find the saddle very occomfortable, too wide.

        Brakes-im a bit disappointed TBH, always squeek teribly, and not as effective as I thought y3t, no doubt connected.

        Good-fast and stiff to pedal, i think v comfprtable, i certainly never feel any jolts throught the saddle. Front end definately transmits a bit more road shck than thenrear. Fit v nice, courtesy of my LBS. Loads of clearance, i have fitted 28mm gatorskins with sks longboard guards, i think 35 mm would fit ok too.

        Still gettting used to the bolt-through wheels-neutral about them so far. The ‘hiddenn’ gueard eyes are v neat and nice. Hope i dont lose the tiny inserts when i tske them off in spring.

        So as i say mixed. If i hadnt bought it from my LBS only 10 mins away i would feel worse for the number of times it has been back.

        Would i buy another-at this stage of ownership, no. Positives dont outweigh the niggles, and i would get something with tiagra at least

      • ShouLd have added re brakes, not too hard to gwt wheel back in, and brake lever reach is longish but perfectly acceptable to me.

  27. It’s interesting that you are still getting comments on this review, it speaks words for the success of the domane.

    I also noticed that the 4.3 is a popular choice! I ordered and put a deposit on a 2015 Domane 4.3 Disc (the black and blue) with the new 11 speed 105’s last week. Plan on picking it up and riding it home sometime in the beginning of April, after the snow clears (I live in New York, USA). This will be my first carbon bike and figured the endurance geometry would fit my long distance riding style more than an aggressive frame. Glad to see mostly positive reviews!

  28. Great review, firstly. Involving and fresh rather than staid and jocular. I’m also a proud owner of one of these (54cm, grey, £999 from Grafham Cycles last year).

    My first move was to swap those lumpen hoops for some Dura Ace C24’s (c. 1300gms for the pair) with Michelin Pro 4’s so it’s a lot lighter. Also a Fizik saddle now sits under my knackers, which is plus legere and more supportive.

    The ride is smooth (though definitely better out back), the geometry is comfortable and that granny ring should technically allow you to scale a wall, but I only have one question – how much does it weigh? I don’t have any scales and I can’t find this anywhere. It would just be good to know, if only to satisfy my curiosity. Anyone?

    Also considering changing the chainset to drop some weight – to the chap(ess) who forked out for the FSA CF cranks, was it worth it?

    Also, I added a Canyon VCLS seatpost with that odd split leafspring design. It simply gives you even more compliance. Eery at first but I wouldn’t go back now. The only feedback I get when the road tries to beat my backside to a pulp is a low, muted rumble. Perfectly happy with that…!!

    Lastly, I’m actually not that enamoured with the bars/fork combo. I’m sure it’s designed primarily with comfort in mind, but the front end feels weighty, certainly less “chuckable” than my previous superlight but stiff frame) and at times it’s like steering a boat. At least it’s predictable. Forget putting on a gilet or something, you could probably knit, be on the phone and hold a conference call whilst riding hands-free on this thing.

    Ideally I’d stick a full carbon fork in there for more lightness again and a more direct feel and maybe even upgrade the bars to something with an ergo top since this is meant to be a sportive machine (*cough*)

    Cyclists, eh? Never satisfied.

    But I think the reason why the 4.3 is the model du jour is precisely because it offers the cheapest carbon palette upon which to carefully layer and impress your oils of delicious accoutrements in carbon, alloy, leather and other sundries.

    Good woik, Trek…

    Now, anyone in the market for some “Bonty approved hoops?” I’ll do you a great deal. Absolutely brand new. I’m not kidding, I could see my reflection in the rim as I took a photo of them, they’re that shiny…

    • Great, had me smiling

      Things have moved on; wifey wanted an upgrade to her 2011 Specialised Dolce so we looked at all the makes, to our suprise the best combo of ride, comfort, Fizik saddle and carbon seatpost/frame/forks was a Giant Liv Avail, and they are attacking the market like a Piranha with their pricing. She lurves the disc brakes too having female hand-strength and can actually stop on wet hills now with confidence. Trek are a Qulaity bikje but I get the feeling they’ve loaded too much lardy stuff on it to compete now, even my Cannondale is going to be swapped for the Defy carbon as I’m sick to death of changing BB30 bottom bracket bearings, and following her ladyship over bumps really shows how carbon soaks up botty-bashing bumps.

      Not what the originator of this thread wants to hear, but for the moment at least, Giant are leading, albeit with crap colours though, the Trek grey is georgeous….

    • I agree wholeheartedly with most of your comments. I did put DAs on mine and instantly was able to climb faster. I hated the saddle that came stock with the bike, but I went old school and put on a Brooks B17 narrow – works great with my bottom. The 105 cassette doesn’t work nearly as well as the Ultegra cassette and chain that went on after the chain wore past .75%. For my birthday this year the LBS put on new 46cm handlebars and replaced the dirty white bar tape – yes the carbon does absorb some of the road vibrations. Also for my birthday I found a take off Ultegra Di2 electronics set (I’ve been fascinated by electronic shifting) and put that on myself – love this toy. Totally unnecessary but worth the it in fun factor for me.
      I’m doing a fair amount of climbing so will see if I can fit a cassette with a 32 gear on next. Us old folks need all the help we can get.
      Mine is a 2014 model with rim brakes.
      So here’s to Trek’s excellent bike and here also is another set of Bontrager wheels up for sale.

      • Hey Jack. That’s funny, I’ve been having so much fun on this bike that even since that last post, I’ve upgraded the (triple) 105 gruppo that came stock to a double Ultegra – mechanical, mind. I’ve also swapped out the bars to 3T Ergonova carbons…and the front end is plusher and lighter as a result. Nice place for my palms on top too.

        Last thing was the bar tape. Lizard Skins do just the right type of grey for this bike – I should really post a pic, it’s quite lovely. In tandem with the new bars, road clatter is greatly reduced. As is the weight. The LBS had it on at a shade under 7.8 kgs after everything was fitted. Happy with that.

        Monsieur Armstrong, I’ve never actually tried disc brakes, though I imagine they work a treat in Blighty. My traditional Ultegra stoppers are currently doing a fine job, though we’ll see if winter changes my mind on that front…!!

        Now…anyone in the market for brand new Bonty wheelset and/or the 42cm bars..?? 🙂

  29. I switched out my original wheels on my Domane 4.3 for Bontrager Race XL Tubless and R3 tubless tires Last May. After 460 miles the rear tire started to get a ‘blister’ which expanded out to about 8 inches. My dealer got Trek to replace the tire which I road about 50 miles before going to the RAGBRAI 2014. After 60 miles on the first day another blister on the (new) rear tire. About 2 inches, it ‘popped’ after a couple of miles but, thankfully the tire did not flat (sealant works). About 2 miles later the same thing happened to the front tire (again, fortunately, it did not flat). Got to the overnight town and bought a set of Gatorskins (with tubes). When I got back, my dealer had 2 more new ones from Trek. Right now I’m content to leave the Gatorskins on and put these on the shelf. I love the tubless system I have on my Cannondale Scapel but there is clearly something wrong with the Bontrager road tires.

  30. I know this post is a couple of years old now but I just wanted to add I picked up a Domane 4.5 disc from samways in Derby, same as you. I have been very happy with their service and the bikes performance in general. The disc version is no featherweight, but the hydraulic brakes are awesome and taking on the rough roads of South derbyshire is a more pleasant experience on this bike.

    I’m only 200mi in so early days to draw conclusions but I’m very happy so far. Samways now offer bike fitting themselves which I have booked myself on, the bike feels comfortable to me so it will be interesting to find out what they say. I have 58cm and I’m 6ft, bike is currently completely stock, just lowered the stem a few spacers.

    I’ve just been reading through your blog and finding it very enjoyable, maybe see you out on the roads!

  31. Mine is a 2014 model. Started having trouble changing gears on the front compact gears. Took it to the shop for a service to find out the front derailleur assembly had detached from the frame. Its being fixed under warranty by Trek.

  32. Great “review” and really interesting set of comments! I had a bike “crisis” last spring and sold off a Cannondale Flash, Scalpel and Synapse all within about two weeks. I was DONE with cycling!
    About two months later and a nervous breakdown later, I found myself at the LBS thinking, “just buy the cheap one, and call it good…” I bought the Domane 2.3, added Gatorskins and happily road 1,000 miles over the next four months.
    I’ve commuted about once a week, 32 mile round trip, and would commute more except I carry lunch and various teaching “accessories” (student work), and the early start time dictates a lot of dark riding. So, thinking that fenders, a rack and some dedicated lighting might be in order.
    But, that would make my relatively light sportive a bit of a clunker… So, pondering a new 4.3, or 4.5 as my “spirited” bike, and the 2.3 as a workhorse? Is this too redundant? Am I missing a point, or hitting exactly on a mark?
    I’d hate to have the 4.3/4.5 and add those accessories to it, actually, I wouldn’t dare too.
    Great to see a community stretching across the Atlantic that is really happy with this bike in all its guises!

  33. Hi Andrew, just stumbled across your blog by accident, but as it happens I have recently upgraded my Raleigh Pioneer Elite (circa 1993) with Domane 4.5 C. The Raleigh has served me well, getting me from Land’s End to John O’Groats and across the Way of the Roses without a hiccough. However at 16kg all up I really fancied a proper road bike that was light and responsive. My son races and has been on at me for ages to splash out.
    First of all the Domane had looks to die for. It is truly a thing of beauty! Then it is comfortable beyond belief; I have to ride on some of the worst roads in the country here in North Manchester as well as some of the hilliest as I’m on the edge of the Pennines. The bike really does soak up the bumps. It is also quick, the gear change is smooth and imperceptible, hill climbing is noticeably easier and the Domane has a feeling of surging forward when you put some power down – something I never got with the Raleigh! To top it all I picked it up with a saving of £250 off the list price. It is an Ultegra/105 mix and I’m looking forward to doing a sportive or two as well as some big hills later in the year.


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