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One of the most beautiful things about cycling is that amateurs can ride better stuff than pros. No major manufacturer has made more of this fact than Trek—the 10.25-pound (4.65-kilogram) Emonda SLR10 is exhibit one. But Trek has taken another angle on this that we think is even more exciting. Its Race Shop Limited bikes, inspired by Trek pro athletes, are not better than what the pros get—they are identical to what the pros get. Want to ride the same Trek Domane that Fabian Cancellara rode to victory at the 2014 Tour of Flanders? It’s not the same one on your shop floor. That’s longer and taller than the bike he races, which honestly, makes more sense for the everyday endurance rider. Cancellara raced the Domane Koppenberg, and for our money, it’s not only the best Domane for the racer, it’s the best race bike Trek makes.
The Domane has been an incredibly versatile platform for Trek. The initial Domane debuted ISO Speed, the unique de-coupler that allows incredible in-the-saddle compliance, and was a true endurance bike for the masses. Trek has since delivered a disc version of the Domane and a Classics edition, with incredibly low and aggressive geometry. Now Trek has created the Koppenberg. It melds traditional Trek race geometry—the same geometry seen in the new Emonda—with Domane’s undeniable compliance and big-power transfer. The Koppenberg falls between the endurance Domane and the ultra-aggressive Classics Edition, which turned out to be the sweet spot for Trek Factory Racing’s big guys. Cancellara, Hayden Roulston, Jasper Stuyven, Danny van Poppel and Jesse Sergent all ride the Koppenberg. The Koppenberg, being designed for the big boys of Trek Factory Racing, comes in only four sizes: 56cm, 58cm, 60cm and 62cm. The guys on the squad with less peak power ride the Emonda or the Madone.
What the Domane already does so well we know all about. The ISO Speed de-coupler is an alloy through-bolt that connects the seat tube to the seat stays and top tube, instead of molding them into the same piece of carbon. It’s a clean-sheet-of-paper solution to the bike frame’s age-old competing demands—vertical compliance and lateral stiffness. This allows Trek to build a very stout power platform yet isolate the seat tube to allow for incredible deflection. The bike uses an ISO Speed fork up front to balance the compliance, net molding for precise control of Trek’s legendary OCLV process, and a tapered E2 head tube and asymmetric steer tube.
All the Domanes share these attributes, so what makes a Koppenberg special?
A typical Domane has a head tube 4.5cm taller than a Koppenberg Domane, along with chain stays more than a centimeter longer. The Koppenberg’s wheelbase is up to 3.1cm shorter. These are massive differences over the original Domane, and the fork dropouts and rear seat stays dive toward the center of the bike to create this short wheelbase. Compared to the Classics Edition, the Koppenberg is about 2.5cm taller across all sizes. Of all three, the Koppenberg features the most traditional race geometry. The Koppenberg is available as a frame only and, in deference to Spartacus, we built it up with mechanical Dura-Ace 9000 and Bontrager’s new Aeolus 3 TLR wheels. A bike this racy and compliant needs wheels as versatile, and only the new tubeless Aeolus would do. We finished it off with a slew of Bontrager bits designed for the brutality a Domane thrives on—Race X Lite bars with IsoZone foam, new XXX stem, Montrose Pro saddle and even Trek Bat Cage bottle cages.
Let’s do away with the formalities. This bike can handle more power than you can produce, it can dissect a technical descent on a rough road faster than you can, and it’s basically a magic carpet. Now, let me tell you a story.
There is a Strava segment down the street from our office in Southern California. It’s called Ojai Cobbles. Short, fast and insanely rough, it’s a county road our tax dollars forgot. I used to have the KOM, but it was taken recently by a more talented rider—and I assumed I had seen the last of it. Then the Koppenberg Domane came into my life.
I suited up, cranked some AWOL Nation in my right ear bud, and rolled onto the segment. It’s blessed, or cursed, with a quick descent, then a rough right-hander onto the segment. If you have the right bike, you can rail the sketchy corner and hit the segment at speed. The Domane Koppenberg is the right bike. Through the corner with no drama at 30 miles per hour, I started laying on the power. With my arms draped aero style over the tops, 500 watts at 35 mph over the nastiest road in the valley felt calm and collected. The effort peaked at 800 watts and the Domane was smooth as silk, confidently laying down the power. Honestly, it felt like cheating. My apologies to the gentleman from whom I stole back the KOM: blame the bike, not the rider. Perhaps even more important than the Domane Koppenberg’s actual performance was the inspiration that riding a bike straight from the Trek Race Shop gives you. It’s worth a watt per kilo in our estimation, or in this case, 500 watts for 1:09 and 34.9 mph and a very rare KOM. The Domane Koppenberg shows ISO Speed is not simply endurance tech; it has a place on any dedicated race bike.
The Domane Koppenberg is unquestionably the ultimate big man’s bike. It is for putting the field on your wheel and then smashing it. From the Fields of Flanders to So Cal Crits, all hail the Domane—and the Domane Koppenberg is king of them all.
From Issue 41.