Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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StartingOut
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Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby StartingOut » 15 Oct 2018, 10:24am

Hi Guys,

So I've been hitting the road a lot with my current Road Bike and absolutely love cycling now! At present, I have the Btwin Triban 500se and have had a good time with the bike, however, I am now looking at upgrading to the Trek Domane AL3 2018 version as this is 1kg lighter and has Shimano sora instead of the Microshift I currently have (they work just fine IMO).

Does anyone have the Trek? Or is anyone in a position to give their review on the bike and if it would be worth the upgrade?

Thanks in advance

Brucey
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby Brucey » 15 Oct 2018, 11:02am

1kg is liable to be a little over 1% of the all up weight. That alone probably isn't worth changing the whole bike for. In terms of how fast you go and how the bike feels, a different set of tyres and/or wheelset for the extant bike is liable to be a good arrangement; spare wheels are always handy anyway.

Things that are (if several apply) worth changing a bike for include

- a better fit
- more reliability
- that the existing bike is worn out in many places and would be costly to repair
- more luggage carrying capacity
- new bike allows you to use specific tyres
- new bike has a much different gear range
- you need a training bike and a race bike

cheers
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StartingOut
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby StartingOut » 15 Oct 2018, 11:26am

<SNIP>
Thanks for this Bruce, in addition to the weight difference of the bike, I am also looking to change it due to the Gearset as I am running 3x8 at the moment and don't really see the point in the 'granny gears'. Another point is, I went to my LBS the other day and the mechanic was explaining how Btwin bikes are generally very cheap due to the cheap parts etc, this coupled with the brand snobbery has me a little worried when out and about.

Brucey
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby Brucey » 15 Oct 2018, 12:24pm

especially if you ride a short distance only, it is normal for a beginner cyclist to use gears that are too high; they are not used to pedalling swiftly and/or for long periods and gears that experienced cyclists favour seem like a waste of time to them.

It is normal for LBSs to be a bit sniffy about Btwin bikes but a good part of the reason is that they wish that they could sell bikes of that sort for around that price but they don't have the buying power.

Microshift shifters etc are not as well made as some more expensive ones but the reality is that they will normally last long enough for you to have worked out what kind of cyclist you really are and whether or not you really need something different in your next bike. They are therefore not bad to have on a bike if you are a beginner. Note that most bike components above a certain cost fail in ways that are often avoidable anyway; they don't so much die of natural causes as are 'murdered'.

For example with budget Btwin bikes

- the wheels are not stress relieved
- the (cup and cone) hubs are usually not correctly adjusted (there should be a little free play in the bearings that just disappears as the QR is tightened)
- there is not much grease in the hubs and what there is, is not proof against the great british weather
- the rear rim can suffer stress-corrosion cracking if it is used in the winter without being cleaned/protected in the right way.

But in fairness a lot of bikes that come out of LBSs suffer the exact same faults. The labour cost of sorting out this lot in an LBS is large, so most cyclists learn how to do this sort of thing themselves or find other ways of sidestepping the worst of the issues. For example if you can't service hubs properly, you might choose to use hubs with cartridge bearings instead; these can 'be maintained' (ie have the bearings replaced at depressingly frequent intervals) using little more than a hammer.....

My advice is to stick about 10000 miles on the bike you have, and find out how to maintain/adjust it properly. Any mistakes you make will be less expensive mistakes than with a lot of other bikes, and by the time you have done the mileage, you will know a lot more than you do now and be able to make a more rational choice for your next bike.

cheers
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Cugel
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby Cugel » 15 Oct 2018, 12:27pm

<SNIP>
I have two Trek Domane - a 4.0 and and 4.3 series frame, which are carbon fibre rather than aluminium. They're the best frames I've had in terms of: comfort; efficiency of turning pedal-push into forward go; stickability to the road.

The aluminium versions, I've read, are not quite so flexy in the seat tube via the isolink thingy, as aluminium is more likely to fatigue and crack with a lot of flex so they limit it compared to the CF frames. But I've not ridden one, so perhaps they're just as comfortable because of not just the isolink thingy but also their more upright position, stable geometry (longer wheelbase, slower steering) and so forth.

****
My neighbour of some years (now gone orf to a new job elsewhere) had a B'Twin, which was impressive for the money. He certainly did some miles on it and got very fit doing so, the little rascal (half-killed me keeping up some days). He wasn't much of a mechanic (in fact, no mechanic at all) so I usually did all his maintenance on the B'Twin.

I found that it did indeed have a few parts that were not so good. The wheel bearings, headset, cassette carrier and BB wore quickly and needed replacement after not many miles. The hubs of the wheels were knackered by the time I got to them, which meant the whole wheelset was abandoned because the cones and BBs had chewed the hub ball races. The headset notched quickly and was actually dangerous by the time I replaced it.

The Trek bike is generally all decent quality, even if things like wheels & tyres tend to be basic and a bit heavy. But they do seem to pay attention to basic quality and to good design & engineering.

The new B'Twins (now Decathlon branded I think) look better made, although no one who "tests" them for websites and magazines seems to look in detail at things like wheel, BB and headset bearing quality - things which are a bit fundamental really. But if Decathlon have started using more standard parts such as Shimano BBs. FSA headsets and Mavic wheelsets this must be an improvement over what they used to install.

Cugel

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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby Vorpal » 15 Oct 2018, 12:38pm

StartingOut wrote:Thanks for this Bruce, in addition to the weight difference of the bike, I am also looking to change it due to the Gearset as I am running 3x8 at the moment and don't really see the point in the 'granny gears'. Another point is, I went to my LBS the other day and the mechanic was explaining how Btwin bikes are generally very cheap due to the cheap parts etc, this coupled with the brand snobbery has me a little worried when out and about.

There is almost no difference in gearing between the two bikes. The bottom gears 11X34 or 12X30 are essentially the same. The Domane has a slightly larger range, but I doubt that any but the most discerning would notice any difference in practice.

As for the mechanic, they presumeably are working for a bike shop which makes some profit from selling more expensive bikes?

The quality on the BTwin is adequate for most cyclists. If you want higher quality components, you can upgrade as the current ones wear.

If you *want* a new bike, by all means go for it, but if you buy a Domane for less weight, or different gearing, you may be disappointed.

p.s. the granny gears are to spin up hills; they are for efficiency, not 'easy'. Efficiency becomes important for riding long distances.

p.p.s. if you do want a new bike, go ride some & see what you like
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Brucey
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby Brucey » 15 Oct 2018, 12:51pm

FWIW the death of cheap hubs is to a great extent a self-fulfilling prophecy. It starts with 'they are cheap/new, it isn't worth adjusting them properly'.

If adjustments are carried out they may not be done very well either; even in bike shops hubs are rarely adjusted correctly (i.e. as per my earlier description).

As an experiment a few years ago I took some wheels with inexpensive Taiwanese cup and cone bearing cassette hubs and set them up properly (careful adjustment -including the freehub body bearings- and proper grease). A chum used them for commuting on. He did about 17000 miles before we opened them up again. No wear.

My chum was pretty sure that there was no wear before we opened the hubs up because I'd set the bearings up so that if there was even 10 or 20 microns of wear the wheel bearings would have been slack. [This means that the bearings needed about 80 microns clearance with the QR loose; the QR pressure takes that clearance out of the bearings when it is tightened.] He carried the bike up stairs every day and would have noticed any slack or binding in the hub bearings. Last seen the wheels had done nearly 25000 miles and still no problems with the hubs.

The hubs in Btwin wheels (of which I have seen many sets) are not a million miles away from the hubs I used for my experiment. I've seen a lot of failed Btwin hubs but they were none of them set up or lubricated properly; no surprise then.... I have seen plenty of shimano hubs that failed in the same way for the same reasons too. The main difference is that shimano hubs may be slightly better sealed, they may tolerate bad adjustment for slightly longer and when shimano cones pit they can be more easily replaced.

With almost any hubset you have a choice between a little proactive maintenance, on clean, new parts, or (a bit later) a lot of reactive maintenance, on broken, worn, rusty parts. I know which I'd rather do!

cheers
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StartingOut
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby StartingOut » 15 Oct 2018, 2:32pm

Thanks for all the replies, I will give the Btwin a bit more of a beating and then service it or buy a new bike. Have looked after the bike fairly well as I clean it every 6 rides and changed the chain two weeks ago. I have arranged a test ride of the Trek anyway to see how it compares.

Cheers all.

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TrevA
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby TrevA » 15 Oct 2018, 2:57pm

I have the Alu Trek Domane, mine is about 5 years old so has been thoroughly tested. The frame has the ISO coupler, which means that the seat tube is only connected to the rest of the frame via a coupler, which soaks up some of the road vibration. In practice, you don't really notice that it's there, but it does make the rear end of the bike a bit more compliant.

It's got standard Shimano kit, apart from the brakes which are own brand. I swapped mine out pretty quickly for a set of Tiagra brakes, but my wife also has a Trek and the brakes have been pretty good. The Bontrager wheels have been pretty good, but I've upgraded mine too set of Fulcrum Racing 7s, as the Bonty ones started to wear out.

I also have a BTwin - the 520, which is my winter bike. The Trek feels quite a bit lighter but my BTwin has a rack and mudguards, so it's probably not a fair comparison.

Overall. I'd recommend the Domane.

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StartingOut
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby StartingOut » 15 Oct 2018, 3:53pm

<SNIP>
Thanks for the review TrevA, I guess I'll have to test it to get a feel for it before deciding. As a side note, Trek bikes look amazing.

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Cugel
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby Cugel » 15 Oct 2018, 5:49pm

The rear end of a Domane is nicely "compliant" and you soon notice it's absence if you get aboard a bike without it or similar nether-kick tamer technology.

But Domane frame design has other attributes that really do seem to make it better at transferring your pedalling energy to the road as well as being kinder to your body, over longer rides particularly. The vast BB90 bottom bracket area is very stiff and the tapered head tube ditto, which makes the bike feel very responsive to both pedalling efforts and steering inputs.

I've had one of the Domane's for 6 years now and it's BB bearings are just beginning to show the slightest notchiness; but have never creaked or been a problem. The headset bearings are still smooth and free-running. That's remarkable compared to olde BBs and headsets, which tended to wear beyond the pale after a couple of years of similar mileages.

The compact frame design also suits me, as the dropped top tube means I can have a one-size-too-big frame that I can still stand over without it attacking my lower vitals. This gives both a longer wheelbase and a taller handlebar height (with reference to the saddle height). The longer wheelbase means my foot doesn't catch the front wheel in a slow turn. The higher handlebars give me a more upright riding position which saves me a lot of potential neck and shoulder ache. It is necessary to get a shorter stem, though.

Speaking of which, I today installed a red-shift boingy-boingy stem loaded with a pivot and elastomers. I've long wanted such a thing but up until this model those available got poor reviews. Having rid a 10 mile over as many utterly scabby roads as I could find, this afternoon, I can report that this red-shift stem really does seem to work very well. The front end of the Domane now feels the same as the back end when traversing the gravel scabs and such - you feel them but they no longer rattle your bones.

Cugel

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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby Paulatic » 15 Oct 2018, 6:22pm

4 Bikes in my stable.....my Domane is favourite. Great ride and confident handling which has never left me feeling compromised. Rode my LEJOG on it this year 47mph coming off Helmsdale with not a worry.
As Cugel says you maybe don’t notice the isoflex until you sit on another steed.
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mattsccm
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby mattsccm » 15 Oct 2018, 9:21pm

Stuff being practical. The Op wants a nice bike.
Go for it Mate.

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StartingOut
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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby StartingOut » 16 Oct 2018, 11:04am

Cheers guys, will be going for the test ride and then go for it if it's as good as I've been reading.

Watch this space.

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Re: Trek Domane AL3 2018: Advice needed

Postby 531colin » 16 Oct 2018, 12:29pm

Cugel wrote:The rear end of a Domane is nicely "compliant" and you soon notice it's absence if you get aboard a bike without it or similar nether-kick tamer technology. ………….Speaking of which, I today installed a red-shift boingy-boingy stem loaded with a pivot and elastomers. .....


I'm conflicted about this stuff.
The Luddite in me says "marketing."
The rider in me says "shouldn't your weight be centred over the pedals, so you can un-weight the saddle/bars whenever you like?"
Theres also a small boy still in there, who wanted to be an engineer, but couldn't hack the maths., saying if you can get a significant flex out of an alloy seat tube, why not just finish the frame a bit lower down and get the flex out of an alloy seatpost?
We have a thread running with people worrying about breaking a carbon seatpost by using a saddlebag, never mind flexing the frame?
On frame design, I reject the fashion of lowering the seatstays, it puts an extra bending couple on the seat tube, for not much gain that I can see. But if you want a tall head tube and a reasonable standover, you can end up with a "dropped top tube" where the seat tube extends above the seat tube/top tube/seatstay joint. So the rider's weight (over a bump) puts more of a bending load on the seat tube, but I wouldn't like to say I can feel any comfort from it.
The seat tube needs to be laterally stiff at the bottom for pedalling loads, but compliant in the other direction at the top for comfort. One day I might do something really clever with seat tubes, if only I could work out what to do.....
If Trek are putting a hinge in there, the seat cluster can't be particularly heavily stressed?