What are Endurance Bikes? Comfort is the key aspect of an Endurance Bike. Endurance or Sportive Bikes are more comfortable versions of race-orientated road bikes. Smoother rides, relaxed frame geometry and slightly wider tyres combine to help riders perform better over longer rides.

Bianchi Infinito CV Dura Ace Di2 2015

Which Endurance Bike to Choose?

My recent article on switching from a mountain bike to a road bike was a detailed journey on what to consider when making this momentous decision.

Having been a dedicated mountain bike enthusiast for over 15 years, it was quite a daunting step for me to realise that most of my riding was now being done on the roads and, as such, it was time to buy a road bike or as I’ve recently learnt, N+1 (the correct number of bikes, is n+1, where n is the current number of bikes).

That article goes through each key question and I share my thoughts on how and why I made each decision, including;

  • Which Type of Road Bike?
  • Which Type of Bike Frame, Carbon or Aluminium?
  • Which Cassette Size?
  • Which Size of Chainring?
  • Which Groupset, Front & Rear Derailleurs?

Whilst you may not be switching from a mountain bike to a road bike, you may want to read that article if you are new to road bikes and want to understand each element and need answers to some, or all, of those questions. Just click on the above link [switching from a mountain bike to a road bike], read the article, and then come back to this page to continue the journey of choosing a new Endurance Bike.

In the article, I eventually get to the point and narrow the selection down to the following key components;

  • Type of Bike: Endurance Bike
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Cassette: 11-28 or 11-32
  • Chainring: 50/34
  • Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Dura-Ace or Ultegra Di2

I then start to look at the various bikes from the main bike manufacturers and select a shortlist of what I consider to be some of the best carbon Endurance Bikes.

There are of course other Endurance Bikes but some are from manufacturers I’m not as familiar with and some are not presented as Endurance Bikes, such as the Scott Foil, Cervelo R-Series (R2, R3, R5), Scott CR1, Boardman Bikes, B’Twin Alur, Canyon Endurance, Giant Defy, Lapierre Pulsium, Merida Ride and Rose Xeon. If you want a Guide to Endurance Bikes, try this Road.cc article.

Whilst we won’t agree what is the definitive list of what might be called, the best endurance bikes, we should agree that these are some of the best endurance bikes, and as such, lets crack on!

What is an Endurance Bike?

Whilst Endurance Bikes are road bikes, they are different to the more race-orientated bikes as they are designed for longer distances and often used by cyclists on Sportives [noun: a long-distance road cycling event in which a large number of cyclists ride a marked route].

Endurance Bikes achieve this with a more relaxed frame geometry, frame composition which absorbs road vibrations and slightly wider tyres – race bikes have tyre sizes of 700×23 whilst endurance bikes are 700×25 or 700×28.

This combination gives cyclists greater comfort on rides and allows them to feel more relaxed both during the ride and at the end of the ride.

How to Choose an Endurance Bike – The Shortlist

Based on the selection criteria, I chose a shortlist of 33 bikes out of the initial long-list, perhaps that should be a shorter list rather than shortlist. However, it’s time for the right-sided brain’s creativity and sense of design appeal to jump into the selection process – and get rid of the ugly bikes!

This resulted in some of the following bike variants being rejected; BMC Granfondo, Cannondale Synapse, Scott Solace, Specialized Roubaix, Specialized Diverge and Trek Domane. Not being negative about the brands or components, but from my perspective, these aren’t attractive designs;

BMC Granfondo GF01

BMC Granfondo GF01

Scott Solace 10 Road Bike

Scott Solace 10 Road Bike

Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc Race Di2

Specialized Roubaix Pro Di2

Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp Di2

Specialized Roubaix Comp Di2

Trek Domane 5.9

Trek Domane 5.9 Road Bike

So what was once 60, became 33, and is now 19. This still isn’t what I’d call a shortlist but it does produce a definite top ten.

Top 10 Road Endurance Bikes

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Drum roll please for my top ten selection of Endurance Road Bikes. They are listed in alphabetic brand order to maintain a non pre-judgement position.

  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Ultegra Di2
  • Bianchi Infinito CV Disc Shimano Ultegra Di2
  • Bianchi Infinito CV Disc SRAM Red
  • Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Black Inc Disc
  • Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Di2 Disc
  • Specialized Roubaix S-Works SL4 Disc Di2
  • Trek Domane 6.9
  • Trek Domane 6.9 Dura-Ace

These ten endurance bikes are split 6:4 on disc brakes vs standard v-pull brakes. There is quite an emphasis on the Bianchi Infinito which came as quite a surprise as I hadn’t really considered this to be an option when I started this selection process.

The groupset split is quite even; Dura-Ace Di2 (3), Dura-Ace (3), Ultegra Di2 (2), Ultegra (1), SRAM Red (1). As you can see, whilst the standard Ultegra and SRAM were not on my final selection list, I’ve left them in as I like the overall bike.

You will have noticed that I’ve not mentioned price yet. This is deliberate as I did not want to choose a bike on price alone. It is of course a key element in the selection but I want to leave this as late as possible in the final decision.

However, in summary, the top ten bikes range from £3,300 to £8,000 (typical). Whilst the lower price point is within my budget, I really don’t see how I can justify spending £8,000 on a bike – can I?

No of course I can’t, and on what planet did I ever think that this would ever be an option?! I stand by my list of top ten endurance bikes, from a review perspective, but from a practical angle, I need to re-evaluate the list.

Before creating my final shortlist, let’s look at these Endurance Bikes by equipment, using the pre-defined selection criteria and the shortened list of 19 bikes. This time, I’m listing the RRP prices as this is now an important selection point.

Best Endurance Bikes – Shimano Dura-Ace Di2

Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 Disc Di2 2015

  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 – £7,600
  • Specialized Roubaix S-Works SL4 Disc Di2 – £8,000
  • Trek Domane 6.9 Disc – £6,000

As you would expect, top of the range components attract top prices. However, at the cost of a small car, the Roubaix S-Works SL4 is simply far too expensive and as such, is off the list. The Trek and Bianchi Dura-Ace Di2 aren’t within my budget but they are so gorgeous, I haven’t got the heart to exclude them, yet.

Edit: After some extensive searching and a couple of emails with Bianchi Dealers, it would appear that the 2015 Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 is not available in the UK. This is a really good thing as I’d get in so much trouble from my Wife for trying to justify spending so much money on a bike!

Best Endurance Bikes – Shimano Dura-Ace

Trek Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace Endurance Bike 2015

  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace – £5,100
  • Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Black Inc Disc – £6,500
  • Trek Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace – £3,300

The HM Black from Cannondale is quite a marmite bike, and I’m not really a yeast extract sort of guy so, thanks but no thanks. On the other hand, take a look at the price of the Trek Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace, £3,300 RRP for a full Dura-Ace bike, coupled with Bontrager rims and tyres – I think I’ve found a definite top 3 contender here.

The Bianchi Infinito CV Dura-Ace is another gorgeous looking bike but it’s almost £2,000 more expensive than the Domane. The Bianchi comes with a FSA K-Force Light crank and FSA SL-K Light brakes compared to Dura-Ace on the Domane. The FSA are an excellent option but are they any better than the Shimano options, not really. Rims & tyres are Vision Metron Clincher 40’s and Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick vs Bontrager Race Lite and R3 Hard-Case Lit’s on the Domane. Again, I prefer the option on the Trek. I can’t see how Bianchi can justify the premium price compared to the Trek.

Best Endurance Bikes – Shimano Ultegra Di2

Trek Domane 5.9 Ultegra Di2 2015

  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Ultegra Di2 – £4,300
  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Ultegra Di2 Disc – £5,600
  • Cannondale Synapse Ultegra Di2 Disc – £3,500
  • Trek Domane 5.9 Ultegra Di2 – £3,300

Shimano first launched their electronic gear shifting mechanism with their outstanding Dura-Ace groupset, and named it Di2. If the ‘D‘ stands for Dura-Ace, then perhaps the Ultegra version should be named, Ui2, just a thought!

So, staying with Di2 – do I need electronic gears, no. Do I want them, maybe, well, not sure. I’ve never used them so it’s hard to include or exclude them at this stage, however, at £3,500 the Cannondale does look attractive. But, the front derailleur is not Di2, so this is only part electronic, and I’m not sure I understand their logic here.

The two Bianchi bikes are full Di2 but at a premium of £1,300 for Disc Brakes, the only short listed bike here is the non-disc Bianchi.

The Trek Domane 5.9 makes a second appearance, this time the Ultegra Di2 version. Both of the Domane’s listed share the same superb 500-series carbon frame and price point.

Best Endurance Bikes – Shimano Ultegra

Specialized Roubaix SL4 Expert 2015

  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Ultegra – £3,400
  • Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Ultegra Disc – £4,100
  • Cannondale Synapse Ultegra Disc – £2,500
  • Scott Foil 10 – £2,500
  • Scott Solace 15 Disc – £2,600
  • Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc Race – £4,500
  • Specialized Roubaix SL4 Expert – £2,800
  • Trek Domane 4.5 – £2,000
  • Trek Domane 6.2 Disc – £4,000

Given that the Trek Domane 5.9 has full Dura-Ace components for a price of £3,300, it’s hard to justify any of the standard Ultegra bikes that are higher in price, although the Domane 5.9 doesn’t have disc brakes, so that has to be considered.

Thus, on price, the two Bianchi’s are included in my shortlist, along with the Roubaix SL4 Expert and the Trek Domane 4.5. Having said that, if I can buy a full Dura-Ace for just over £3,000, I’m going to go for that rather than the Ultegra.

Whilst the derailleurs on the Synapse are Ultegra, some of the other components let it down so that’s excluded. The Scott Foil isn’t an Endurance bike and at 700x23c, it’s perhaps too skinny for what I’m looking for.

Best Endurance Bikes – SRAM

Bianchi Infinito CV Disc SRAM Red 2015

  • Bianchi Infinito CV SRAM Red – £5,600

The problem with this bike is pure bias, I’ve used Shimano for many years and changing now just feels weird. Hey, I never said that this would be a scientific exercise.

Endurance Bike Shortlist

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After considering each element, going through the primary components, looking at pretty pictures, and then latterly prices, I have put the following shortlist together of possible carbon frame, shimano bejeweled, Endurance Bikes. I’ve listed them in left-side of the brain order, ie. selection criteria and price, rather than design.

1. Trek Domane 5.9Shimano Dura-Ace£3,300
2. Trek Domane 5.9Shimano Ultegra Di2£3,300
3. Bianchi Infinito CVShimano Ultegra Di2£4,300
4. Specialized Roubaix SL4 ExpertShimano Ultegra£2,800
5. Bianchi Infinito CVShimano Ultegra Disc£4,100
6. Bianchi Infinito CVShimano Ultegra£3,400
7. Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc RaceShimano Ultegra£4,500
8. Cannondale SynapseShimano Ultegra Di2£3,500
9. Cannondale SynapseShimano Ultegra£2,500

Choosing ‘My’ Endurance Bike

The thought of switching from a mountain bike to a road bike initially seemed quite daunting with so many things to consider. Having gone through each component step-by-step, it’s clear that – other than the frame and handlebars – there’s little difference between a mountain bike and road bike, with regard to things to consider and the consideration of each component.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way underplaying the massive importance of choosing the right frame, afterall, this is where the bulk of the engineering goes, from the bike manufacturer. Think about it for a moment, they develop the frame but import the drivetrain, rims, tyres and other components. They are therefore, frame designers.

So, having got to the point of selecting the above Endurance Bikes, it’s time to compare both of the Trek Domane 5.9 bikes to the other Endurance Bikes on the shortlist, all of which are a combination of carefully selected components and design. I’ve ranked the shortlist based on this and latterly, price.

Trek Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace

Top of the shortlist is the superb Trek Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace. As you can see, this is a thoroughbred Dura-Ace bike, and at £3,300 it is going to be hard to beat.

  • Frame: 500 OCLV Carbon IsoSpeed
  • Forks: Domane IsoSpeed Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Crank: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Saddle: Bontrager Paradigm RL
  • Rims: Bontrager Race Lite Tubeless Ready
  • Tyres: Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite, 700x25c

For more info on the Trek Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace Endurance Bike, visit the manufacturers website.

Trek Domane 5.9 Ultegra Di2

Following close on the Dura-Ace’s rear wheel is it’s sibling, the Ultegra Di2 or should that be Ui2. As I mentioned above, I’ve not tried the Di2 and so, at this stage, I’ve not ruled it in or out, only a test ride would do that.

As you can see, Trek have replaced the Dura-Ace components with Ultegra and Di2. They have, however, kept everything else the same; frame, forks, saddle, rims and tyres.

  • Frame: 500 OCLV Carbon IsoSpeed
  • Forks: Domane IsoSpeed Carbon
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2
  • Crank: Shimano Ultegra
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
  • Saddle: Bontrager Paradigm RL
  • Rims: Bontrager Race Lite Tubeless Ready
  • Tyres: Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite, 700x25c

But how do these outstanding bikes compare to the other bikes on the shortlist, let’s go through them and compare them one-by-one.

Bianchi Infinito CV Ultegra Di2 – £4,300: This Bianchi is £1,000 more expensive than both of the Trek Domane 5.9 bikes. Bianchi do of course build bikes but there are no reviews available online to suggest why one would opt for the Infinito over the Domane. Whilst it is a gorgeous looking bike, and in my opinion, better looking than the Domane, this is too much of a price premium for a comparable spec bike.

Specialized Roubaix SL4 Expert – £2,800: The Roubaix is £500 cheaper than the Domane 5.9 bikes but it is a standard Ultegra so this is a good option if you are looking for a cheaper Endurance Bike. However, from my perspective, the Domane is easily worth the extra money, and the Roubaix SL4 Expert isn’t a good looking bike in it’s 2015 paintwork.

Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Ultegra – £3,100: The standard Ultegra bike is slightly cheaper than the Domane but Ultegra vs Dura-Ace or Di2, this is a no brainer, the Domane is clearly the better value.

Bianchi Infinito CV Disc Shimano Ultegra – £4,100: This bike is £800 more expensive than the Domane 5.9 but has a lower spec Groupset. Does the fact that it has disc brakes justify the additional price, I don’t think so. The thing with Bianchi bikes is that they are Italian, and as we know, Italian Suits are more expensive than suits from other countries. Are they better, oh, isn’t that a can of worms!

Trek Domane 6.9 Disc Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 – £6,000: So, one Domane vs another but at £6,000 vs £3,300 it’d have to be extra special to justify the price differential. The Domane 6.9 is also Dura-Ace but it comes with electronic Di2 kit and disc brakes. Whilst a Dura-Ace Di2 is top of the range, at almost double the price, it’s hard to justify this bike from a personal perspective.

Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 – £7,600: This Bianchi is simply gorgeous, both in terms of design and kit. A full Dura-Ace Di2 bike is simply an awesome combination and whilst the price is comparable to other DA Di2 bikes, the price premium is impossible for me to justify. Such a Shame. Oh, and it’s not available in the UK [as of 2015].

Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace – £5,100: This Bianchi has comparable kit to the Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace but at almost £2,000 more, why?

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Di2 Disc – £3,500: On paper, we have a true competitor here, Ultegra Di2 at £200 more than the Domane 5.9 but with the addition of Disc brakes. It’s certainly worth considering. But, and it’s a Kim Kardashian type of but, the front derailleur is not Di2. Yes it’s Ultegra but it’s the 6800 rather than the 6870, which isn’t electronic. I find this really strange, why would Cannondale create a Di2 bike that isn’t a Di2 – as the adverts say, confused.com!

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Disc – £2,500: The less expensive Synapse gives us an insight into how much Cannondale have valued the Di2 components, £1,000 to be precise. What we have with this bike is an Ultegra Endurance Disc Bike, for just £2,500.

Buying an Endurance Bike in Cheshire

So, having selected a handful of bikes to test ride, you’d have thought buying one would have been the easy part, right? Armed with what might be called “extensive research”, at this point, I ventured out to visit my local bike shops.

I live on the Wirral, in the North-West of England, and as such, bike shops in and around Chester and Liverpool, are my initial starting point. I’m not talking about really local LBS (local bike shop), these are within 25 miles of my home.

Just to recap, I wanted to look at, touch, feel and potentially ride, the following bikes;

  • Bianchi Infinito CV
  • Cannondale Synapse Carbon
  • Specialized Roubaix SL4
  • Trek Domane 5.9

These are the bike shops I visited and a very quick summary of my experience within each.

The Edge Cycleworks [157-167 Foregate Street, Chester]: A reasonable selection of bikes and a warm welcome on entering the store. However, despite spending 15-20 minutes in the shop, I wasn’t approached. They also tier the bikes, which makes it easier to look at but harder to actually get them out and try them. Score: 3/5

Evans Cycles [Tarvin Road, Chester]: New to Chester but well-known to me and many other cyclists. This shiny shop still smells new but also has the old stench of bad sales assistants, you know the ones, the customer is an inconvenience to what they’re doing.

That aside, they continued to disappoint with regard to their bike selection, having just one road bike above £2,000. Questioned why that was, they pointed to the other bike shops along the same road. Fair enough but this means that Evans Cycles in Chester just isn’t the bike shop for me and they are aiming to cater for the general,entry-level cyclist. Score: 1/5

The Bike Factory [153-161 Boughton, Chester]: This was a more enjoyable experience, and as such, I spent longer in the store. I got some basic advice but didn’t really feel as though they took me seriously when I started talking about the higher priced bikes. Whilst the shop had the Trek Domane, the highest spec model in-stock was the Domane 4.5, which at £2,000 is a good option as it’s Ultegra coupled with Trek’s favoured Bontrager rims and tyres. Score: 3/5

Specialized Concept Shop [149-151 Boughton Road]: I had high hopes for this dedicated Specialized shop and looked forward to seeing the Roubaix. However, whilst they did indeed have a couple of Roubaix’s, they were both the entry level models. The Assistant that I approached did not seem too sure of the range and I doubted he’d be able to help, so I left. Score: 2/5

Bike Logic [205 Chester Road, Helsby, Cheshire]: This is the nearest Bianchi dealer (none of the above shops had any Bianchi bikes) and whilst it was a good 20-30 minutes further afield, I thought it worth the trip to see a decent range of Bianchi bikes. Oh boy, how wrong I was. The shop was tiny and it only had a small handful of Bianchi bikes, none of which were on my shortlist. Score: 1/5

After such a disappointing trip, I searched around the Internet for a bike shop that had an extensive range of bikes and stocked the bikes on my shortlist. I found Formby Cycles.

Formby Cycles [101-103 Altcar Road, Formby]: Prior to setting off, I had exchanged emails with the store and had received prompt, informative replies. Disappointingly, they did not have all of the models I was interested in, in-stock, but they did have alternatives within the range. Upon arrival, I was warmly greeted by Phil and we got straight to the point.

We talked extensively and despite me asking a lot of questions, Phil and his colleagues were patient, courteous and answered each question based on their knowledge and personal experience, which is always helpful.

I test rode the Specialized Roubaix SL4 Elite which is a Shimano 105 bike and much lower in price than the two Roubaix bikes on my shortlist. It felt good and gave me an introduction to the morning’s test rides.

Next was one of the bikes on my list, the Cannondale Synapse Shimano Ultegra at £2,500. This is a carbon frame bike with predominantly Ultegra components, so at this price, it’s a really good option. It is also a bike that seems to attract plenty of awards so I was looking forward to trying it. Again, like the Roubaix, it felt good but as you may have noticed from my choice of words, not great.

The Domane in-stock was, again, a lower spec and I decided that it wouldn’t help me to gain a true understanding of what the Domane Dura-Ace would feel like. However, I then spotted the bike mechanic building a new bike, the Trek Domane 5.9 Ultegra Di2. Hallelujah. What a bike. Beautiful, lightweight, responsive and in Di2 form offers a feather-light touch to change gears, simply sublime.

Score: 5/5

Conclusion

Trek Domane 5.9 Ultegra Di2 2015

So here we are, several weeks after starting this exploration, I’m at the point of having mentally switched from a mountain bike to a road bike, well, for the summer months where I want to ride on the roads in the North-West – I’m still going to take my mountain bike to Llandegla when I want some off-road MTB fun!

I’ve methodically researched the options and chosen an Endurance Bike that I think is going to be right for me. In between all this writing, I’ve also done a lot of reading and there’s hardly a bad word being written about the Trek Domane 5.9 so I am optimistic that I’ve selected an outstanding bike.

Whilst the Dura-Ace is an excellent groupset, having tried the Di2, I think this is the better option for me.

So, look out for the Review of the Trek Domane 5.9 Ultegra Di2 in a few weeks time.

List of Endurance Bikes

This is the long-list of the shortlist used in this analysis, presented in brand alphabetic order, with no judgement on which is the best endurance bike, you can make your own judgement on that from the information above, or not.

Bianchi Infinito CV Campagnolo Super Record EPS
Bianchi Infinito CV Campagnolo Super Record
Bianchi Infinito CV Campagnolo Chorus
Bianchi Infinito CV Campagnolo Athena
Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Dura-Ace
Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Ultegra Di2
Bianchi Infinito CV Shimano Ultegra
Bianchi Infinito CV Disc SRAM Red
Bianchi Infinito CV Disc Shimano Ultegra Di2
Bianchi Infinito CV Disc Shimano Ultegra
BMC Granfondo GF01 Disc
BMC Granfondo GF02 Disc
Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod SRAM Red Disc
Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Black Inc Disc
Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod Ultegra Disc
Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Di2 Disc
Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra Disc
Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra
Cannondale Synapse Carbon 105 5
Cannondale Synapse Carbon 105 6
Scott Foil 10
Scott Solace 10
Scott Solace 20
Scott Solace 30
Scott Solace 15 Disc
Scott CR1 10
Specialized Roubaix S-Works SL4 Disc Di2
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc Race Di2
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc Race
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Expert
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp Di2
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp Disc
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Elite
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Elite Disc
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Sport
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Double
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Triple
Specialized Diverge Expert Carbon
Trek Domane 6.9
Trek Domane 6.2 Disc
Trek Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace
Trek Domane 5.9 Ultegra Di2
Trek Domane 5.2
Trek Domane 4.5 Disc
Trek Domane 4.5
Trek Domane 4.3 Disc
Trek Domane 4.3