Featured User Review: Trek Madone 4.5 Road Bike

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Featured User Review: Trek Madone 4.5 Road Bike
by Guadalupe River Bum

Price: $2100.00 at Bike World
Overall Rating: 5 of 5
Value Rating: 5 of 5

Favorite Ride:
Anywhere in the Texas Hill Country

Bike Setup:
Frame – Trek TCT Carbon
Fork – Bontrager Race Lite Carbon w/E2 aluminum steerer
Rims/Wheels ROL RACE SL wheelset (1520 gm)
Tires Bontrager R1, 700 x 23c
Crankset Shimano R-600
Chainwheel 50/34
Front Derailleur Shimano 105
Rear Derailleur Shimano 105
Rear Cogs Shimano 105, 10-speed: 11-28
Shifters Shimano 105 STI
Handlebars Bontrager Race VR-C
Tape/Grips Bontrager Gel
Stem Bontrager Race Lite
Brake Levers Shimano 105
Brakes Tektro R540 dual-pivot
Saddle Specialized Phenom
Seat Post Bontrager carbon

Summary:
I am a long-time mountain biker who has gained a few pounds over the years and jumped into road cycling this summer to get back into shape. I live in the hill country of central Texas and the Madone 4.5 (with Shimano 105) is great for climbing and descending, even on rough roads. I feel like the effort I put into cranking or spinning is greatly rewarded. On flats, it feels very responsive when I push on the gas to sprint and it almost wants to jump out from under me. (Love that feeling!) I often find myself smiling unintentionally like a kid – especially on the downhills. The downhills feel seure and solid at 35+ mph. I don’t give a second thought to leaning into the corners. I’ve heard that the brakes are not as great as the rest of the components, but they stop securely and work well enough for me. I read somewhere that you can replace the brake pads with Shimano Dura-Ace pads pretty inexpensively but I have not felt the need to do this yet.

Like others, I quickly upgraded the seat to a Specialized Phenom and it is now nearly as comfortable as a favorite chair. Can ride all day without issues.


The DuoTrap (ANT+) sensor embedded in the frame is nice and slick and even though it’s not the least expensive option, I highly recommend it. I paired it with a Node 1 computer and have been pleased.

The Bontrager SSR wheels were great to get started with, felt solid and handled well and were fairly responsive to sprinting and climbimg. But an upgrade to a set of ROL Race SL’s (1520 grams) made this great bike even better. Sprinting and climbing improved to a whole new level. I also have to mention that the customer service at ROL is awesome by any measure.

I would highly recommend the Madone 4.5 to anyone looking for a racy, yet budget-conscious, entry level carbon bike. Use the money you save to upgrade to a set of ROL wheels and you won’t be disappointed.

Strengths:
Great frame for a first road bike. Very responsive yet absorbs the bumps in the road very well. Feels “racy” without being uncomfortable.

Not that I particularly care what it looks like, but the black matte finish is pretty darn cool and is a nice change of pace from all of the high gloss finishes out there.

Weaknesses:
Seat is narrow and would likely only be comfortable for people with fairly narrow sit bones. If your sit bones are wider apart, go with a wider saddle and you won’t be disappointed.
Wheelset is OK, but upgrading to a lighter, more aero and stiffer wheelset takes this bike to a whole new level.

The designers were apparently very “sticker happy” when they designed it. I don’t think they could squeeze another “Trek” sticker on it if they tried. But whatever – I ride it and love it just the way it is.

Similar Products Used:
2011 Cannondale Synapse (aluminum with carbon fork) – more comfy and less racy than the Madone, but still a really great bike in its own right and a fun bike that you can enjoy all day.

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About the author: Thien Dinh

Thien Dinh gained most his cycling knowledge the old fashioned way, by immersing himself in the sport. From 2007 to early 2013, Thien served as RoadBikeReview Site Manager, riding daily while putting various cycling products through its paces. A native of California, Thien also enjoys tinkering with photography and discovering new music.


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