Trek Madone 3.5 Review

The Trek Madone 3.5 lets you invest in a carbon-framed racer while still keeping one eye on the budget. It is compact, quick and light and has several upgrade advantages over the Madone 3.1 which make it worth spending a little extra to get a lot more back in performance benefits.

For 2012 Trek has reinstated the 300 Series OCLV carbon frame on the Madone 3.5. unlike the higher end models not every addition to the bike is carbon to help lower the costs, so the Bontrager Race fork has an aluminium steerer to go with its carbon legs. It remains eminently responsive and makes the bike feel like it is something to work with and not fight against. It also has SpeedTrap compatibility for those who want to measure their progress in real time.

Moving on to the drivetrain, you will come across almost the complete Shimano Ultegra gearset, mixed with one or two Shimano 105 series components as savings need to be made somewhere. If you want an improved component set, try the Madone 4.7 or 4.9 which offer Shimano Ultegra & Dura-Ace. The compact crank with two front chainrings means you get the best of both worlds when it comes to taking on major climbs and picking up speed on the flat routes.

Meanwhile the H2 platform balances the geometry of the pro-grade H3 setup with a more comfortable riding position. The cyclist will be pushed a little forward thanks to the higher head tube, giving their neck and back muscles a bit of a break. Those who have a high centre of gravity will benefit from this arrangement and because the bike puts you into this position naturally it will never feel forced or uncomfortable. If you are still uncertain about the credentials of the Trek Madone 3.5, the fact that it uses geometry which has won 9 Tour de France victories should be enough to allay your fears.

Bontrager SSR rims and R2 tyres help to keep pace with the light frame and there are plenty more Bontrager components onboard the Madone 3.5 for those who are fans of this brand. The Race Lite Alloy seatpost is not carbon but it is still light and offers infinite tilt adjustment technology. The Affinity 2 saddle is mounted on chromoly rails which are hollow to save weight. The Bontrager Race VR-C handlebars are wide enough to improve your balance and still let you guide the bike along the fastest line whether you are competing in a race or simply trying to beat your personal best.

The glossy black and vibrant red frame finish make the Trek Madone 3.5 look the part and definitely does a good job of hiding the fact that this is a more affordable racer rather than a professional grade machine that will assault your bank balance. You will be hard pressed to pick a faster, more efficient carbon framed bike at this price point and with this offering from Trek on the table you really do not have to. There is room for upgrading and expansion, so the bike can grow with you.

Model: Trek Madone 3.5
4 / 5 stars
*****