From cruising back roads to enjoying all-day epics to getting your feet wet in the racing circuit, Trek's Madone 4.5 does it all. This full-carbon beauty boasts a stiff, light frame that floats up the climbs, along with Bontrager's Race Lite oversize carbon fork that provides maximum steering precision. Plus, Bontrager's Race wheelset cheats the wind, while the Shimano components include a slick-shifting drivetrain with the perfect gears to spin up the climbs and powerful dual-pivot brakes for complete control on the way back down. This able roadster sports a sweet spread of Bontrager's carbon and aluminum components, and a plush Bontrager seat, too.
Strengths: Very good value, responsive bike, Excellent in sprints, nice color scheme, duotrap is very neat
Weaknesses: extremely logo happy, terrible bontrager saddle, heavy stock wheels, stock crankset is shimano but not even 105, no-name weak brakes
I bought this bike in August 2011. I can say that I am quite satisfied with it. It is very responsive under sudden power, climbs well (the little climbs that I have done) and handles well in turns, which is really important when riding fast and aggressive in close circuits, similar to crits. I find it very comfortable and fast for long rides; I ride with a very fast group in Miami with speeds that oscillates around 28-30 mph and I have hit 38 mph in sprints on a couple of occasions with this bike, smoking in the process many riders in way more expensive machines.
About upgrades, the first component to go was the saddle. That thing is awful, I am still thankful to this day that some good soul gave me $25 bucks for it in eBay; It was replaced by a Selle SMP stratos. Then I upgraded the wheels to Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL (I also have a Mavic Ksyrium elite set) and brake calipers to Shimano ultegra 2010.
I rode with this setup for a year and then I decided to upgrade further:
- I installed a new cool looking cockpit (Ritchey Evo carbon HB and ritchey carbon stem) thus getting rid of the alum bontrager HB, stem and rusted bolts;
- I wrapped the HB with a beautiful and comfortable Lizard Skin black tape
- 2 new bottle cages (Blackburn carbon)
- New group set (2013 SRAM force with standard GXP crankset and 11/23 cassette)
- Fizik saddle bag in small size
- Upgraded GPS computer from Garmin FR305 to the Garmin Edge 500 with SRAM mount
- Replaced the look keo classic pedals by Look keo blades carbon
My bike now looks mean, is fast as the fastest (the engine is not so bad if you know what I mean), and all in all I am very happy with its performance.
I have been considering upgrading the frameset but it is not really due to low performance but to the fact that the frame size might be a tad too big for me and my back is bothering me in long/hard rides
Strengths: Well balanced, power transfer, descending, and comfort.
I just feel the need to comment on the last reviewer, and his/her bad experience with Trek brakes. As a bit of background, I have owned three carbon road bikes and a Cannondale Caad10 in the last six yeaes, so I have a bit of experience to compare brands and their corresponding brakes.
When I test rode the Madone at the shop, I immediatly noticed that the brakes were weak. Everything else was superb, but I knew the brakes needed a fix. So... after purchasing my Madone, I immediatly replaced the brake pads for 'KoolStop' brand Brake Pads. Problem solved, with strong stopping power, even on long and steep descents. Price = $12.00 per pair. Installation takes about two minutes, and about five for those that find changing a light bulb to be a challange.
To be fair, my other bikes had kinda weak brake pads as well, but the Madone version was even a step below. So, the moral of the story here is that yes, the brake pads are inferior (and yes, Trek should not be shipping finished bikes with these pads), but you should not dismiss this amazing bike, especially for such a quick and easy fix.
Bike Setup: Shimano RS80 Wheelset, Spesh Toupe Saddle, Rubino Pro Tires
Date Reviewed: September 19, 2013
Strengths: Generally rides well - but this is offset by the fact that this bike nearly killed me (see below). Until buying this bike new and crashing it three months later, I was a Trek loyalist.
Weaknesses: The Trek Madone 4.5 may be the last road bike that you own -- because it can kill you. My 2011 Trek Madone 4.5 nearly killed me. The main problem with this bicycle is the braking system. To make this an "entry-level" carbon fiber bicycle at a low "price point," Trek used cheap no-name brand components on the 2011 Madone 4.5. If you think that's just a minor "performance" issue, you haven't carefully read the complaints from users about the poor braking system. Trek and your bike shop will do what they did to me, claiming that I didn't properly maintain my then three-month old bike and that I didn't apply the brakes properly. When I complained to my bike shop about the brakes before the accident, I was informed that I should expect longer braking distances on this bike because the thin tire tread has little friction with the road and that I just needed to get used to the superior performance of a carbon fiber bike. The shop and Trek really told me after the accident that I should've been cleaning dust off of the brake pads and that I was braking too hard. (The only way that my bike would even begin to stop was when I squeezed hard on the brakes. Otherwise I just heard a hissing sound.) Then they claimed that I should be more mindful of the weather (yet the road surface where the accident happened was completely dry on a dry, sunny day). When I complained to Trek's warranty guy about the brakes, he said that if Trek made stronger brakes, the pads would wear down the tires too much. Before the accident, I began asking other bike shops about the cost of upgrading the brakes out of my own pocket. The bike shop guy heard me describe a "2011 Trek Madone 4.5" and assumed that I had already brought my bike in. I was amazed when he led me to an identical twin of my bike - right down to the same paint pattern - that had been brought in for a brake upgrade at the owners' expense. Don't ignore the warnings about bad brakes. Trek doesn't care about your life and limb.
Bike rides well -- until you need brakes to stop it. Beware of the no-name Tektro brake system. Do not ride this bike on hills until you have thoroughly tested the braking system. Even on slight downgrades, realize that the bike can pick up speed very quickly and that the poor brakes cannot slow you down safely. Don't trust the Trek warranty because they likely will deny your claim and blame you 100% for their product's manufacturing and design defects.
Similar Products Used: Trek 7.3 FX, Trek 7300 (both are hybrids)
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: July 22, 2013
Strengths: Excellent ride/handling. Very comfortable seat. Precise shifting w/ Ultegra components. Every bit of the pedal stroke goes to moving the bike forward. Very clean look with the DuoTrap and direct attach derailleur.
Weaknesses: Only 1 color scheme available in the US. Would prefer a better crank, at least go with the 105 crank.
I've been mountain biking for 20+ years, after moving to South Florida I decided to get a road bike. I first looked at the Madone 2.0; Specialized Allez and Specialized Secteur aluminum bikes. Next I looked and almost bought a 2012 Madone 3 series on closeout, but I didn't. Just when I was about ready to buy the Madone 4.5 went on sale and it didn't make sense to buy a high-end aluminum or entry level carbon fiber when I could get a bike with better carbon fiber, better components (Ultegra) and a decent wheelset. I was amazed at how much better the Madone 4.5 rode as compared to the 3 series. This bike has a great feel, ride all day comfort with the Affinity 2 seat and carbon seatpost. Every bit of the pedal stroke is utilized to push the bike forward, no wasted effort at all. The direct attached derailleur and DuoTrap sensor really give the bike a clean aero look. I can't speak to how it climbs unless you want to call a 60' drawbridge a climb but I can speak to how well it handles headwinds and crosswinds as we do have a bit of that along the south Florida coast. The Madone 4.5 is a great value especially when you compare it to a comparable Specialized Tarmac which for the same money doesn't offer Ultegra components (105 instead).
I also love the fact that Trek offers a service package that covers all parts and labor for 3 or 5 years for very little. Covers everything except for tires, tubes and brake pads, so for the cost of one chain & cassette replacement you're covered for that and more for 3 or 5 years.
My only real complaint is the color scheme, only one available in the US. I have a white/blue mountain bike so I know how hard white is to keep clean. I would have also preferred to have internal cable routing but that's just me. Overall great bike, incredible value and I'm looking forward to many miles on this bike.
Strengths: Solid frame, comfortable ride, good gearing
Weaknesses: Too many Trek name on bike graphics, not full 105 group, rims heavy
Bought on year end close out for $1,700 at LBS and great deal compared to 2013 model pricing abet different component group. Tested Specialized Roubaix, Jamis Comp, Cannondale Synapse and the Trek felt the most comfortable to ride - I think even better than my steel Jamis Aurora Elite with 631 tubing. The wider BB certainly seems to help with the power transfer and light weight (@18-19lbs) helps to propel this easily. Love the color scheme (Metallic black and silver) but hate all the Trek name everywhere you look. May swap out the rims later but otherwise plan to keep everything stock for now (except tires) and see how the Tiagra gearing works out.