Here’s a quick review of a Trek Madone 4.0 and aka “The Mad One”. Proudly owned by my friend Robin who has kindly allowed me a couple of rides and I thought it would be helpful to pass on my impressions. Essentially it’s a full carbon fibre road bicycle with a Shimano Ultegra drive chain and brakes. Other elements included upgraded wheels and a nice finishing kit which includes a rather light carbon fibre seat post, a rock hard saddle which actually feels the right shape, SPD pedals and so on. Luckily we’re about the same build and so the frame size and general set up was pretty much bang on.
The frame is a step up is far from being a basic carbon fibre frame in a number of ways. Features include aerodynamic profiling, some concealed cabling, built in sensors for wheel and crank magnets. If you look close enough you can even spot some tiny allen key bolts which are for temporary lightweight mudguards, although this might be a limited market feature. It’s a nicely made frame, no doubts there and I quite like the subtle appearance.
Ultegra needs little introduction these days. The gear shifting works smoothly and flawlessly from those wonderful ergonomically designed Ultegra shifters, taking ‘high demand’ shifting with relative ease, both front and back. In fact I have ridden this bike with the original rear Ultegra mech on and more recently a DeOre long cage rear mech which catered for a 12-32t cluster, a somewhat unusual configuration on a bike like this. It was used like this for the Coast to Coast ride which included some cruel inclines, so for that kind of event it made perfect sense. Having said that, I doubt if Robin would ever need to call upon those ultra low gears in the gentle landscape of Bedfordshire.
The chain set (a 50-34t compact) is arguably the weakest kink with a cheap, nasty looking plastic cover forming the smooth sculpted appearance. It might look sleek and the marketing hype might drone on about smooth fluid lines but the reality is that it’s cheaply finished in plastic. Ultegra rant over.
Brakes, also Ultegra, are nothing short of superb in terms of sheer stopping power and control. That’s not to say they can’t be improved on with the development of hydraulic systems in the future. Worth noting the standard brakes had already been upgraded with Jag Wires, not a cheap upgrade.
This bicycle took a little getting used to for two reasons. Firstly the ride is firmer than what I’m used to. This is partly due to 700x23c tyres at full pressure. The frame is pretty unforgiving but there is, nonetheless, some ability to soak up a rough surface. Naturally there is no noticeable flex in the frame when accelerating, which leads to a fast and responsive bicycle. Talking of responsiveness, this also describes the overall handling. Being a relatively short wheel base design, it is sensitive to ride briskly. By the time you’ve got the hang of it, you can throw it around into corners and have some real fun with it! Believe me, it really is exciting to ride!
Would suit: fast day rides, sportive events. With Robin’s extra low gearing it is ideal for hilly, Coast to Coast type events. Also good for cyclists wanting to take advantage of using Garmins in a clean, uncluttered manner.
Less suitable: hard up, thrifty types not prepared to shell out £1500 plus on a bicycle. Those wanting a flashy “look at me” bicycle should look elsewhere as I think there is a certain under stated style. No good for all-round practicality (commuting, shopping, touring).