Reformatted a bit - now someone may actually read your essay
Test Rode the 6 series DOMANE today and have not seen many actual reviews so I thought I would post this. Let me say up front I do work in a TREK dealer shop, and have for several years -but up until now I have never drunk the TREK 'MADONE' Kool-aid and in fact I would simply not have purchased a MADONE for my own use. My background consists of 30 plus years of road riding and racing, century rides, 'challenge' rides like Wisconsins' brutal "Horribly Hilly' and 'Dairyland Dare' rides of 200k distance with roughly 12,000 feet of climbing.
I'm a degreed engineer, have been a pro shop mechanic for several years after many years of wrenching my own stuff, and have worked as a team mechanic for a high level amateur cycling team so I think I'm pretty well versed in the road bike area.
I've owned countless bikes myself including TI Sevens, Colnago c40's, high end FELT's, etc and the reason I never wanted a Madone was that one of the few things I look for in a frame is a trail measurement approaching 60mm which gives very stable handling rather than 'twitchy' crit bike geometry- I just prefer the more relaxed and less sensitive steering that a bit more trail provides (probably why I love Colnago's legendary frames so much- they also have a lot of trail and typically a bit longer front-center dimension than most bikes).
I tend to be a bit of a skeptic when I read marketing claims and advertising hype, and when TREK/BONTRAGER were pushing their "BUZZ DAMPER' handlebar inserts for vibration reduction I used to laugh at their 'These really work' demo where they would take a naked handlebar and drop it on the floor, then insert the buzz dampers and drop it a 2nd time and the sound would be muffled. I do believe though that TREK has invested significant effort in studying the effects of vibration on cyclists and how that can be fatigue inducing over longer distances on rough road surfaces. I don't really need to know that '"your eyeballs' vibrate at 'x' hertz" but I'm pretty confident in believing that when TREK says that the combined effects of the seatpost system and revised fork do provide a vibration damping and shock absorbing effect that may well lead to reduced fatigue on longer rides or rides on rough road surfaces.
I have been through every form of cycling 'weenieism beginning with being a weight weenie, then an aero weenie, then a 'stiffness weenie' (do not google that one - may harm your computer), and now I'm focused on being a rolling resistance weenie since thats pretty affordable, and the addition of being a vibration damping/shock absorption weenie for comfort seems appealing and attainable to me on the DOMANE. As an engineer it seems pretty obvious to me when you look at what they did with the new fork on the DOMANE it is just a very simple but elegant solution to allowing more flex in the fork for a given load when going over irregular road surfaces. I live in southeastern Wisconsin where our roads are generally pretty smooth, and I could not really say that I noticed the suspension or vibration reducing effect although on longer rides it might appear in the form of feeling fresher or in being less fatigued. What was apparent was when I stood up on the pedals to hammer up a short climb I thought the bike felt very efficient. It also felt very stable handling, I'm not a 'ride no hands' kind of guy, but it really feels like it would be very easy to do that on the DOMANE relative to most of the bikes being sold today.
I am 5'11", and test rode the size '56' DOMANE. Apparently they come with a near zero offset seatpost, and a 10 cm stem. To make the bike work for me as it comes I would need to swap to a more offset seatpost (I assume you can get something like a 2cm offset one), and I'd need to swap the stem to my usual 13cm size. I was initially concerned about being able to get enough bar drop, as the head tubes on these are a bit tall, but with a 76cm saddle height center of BB to very top of saddle along CL of seat tube I could still replicate my 7 to 8 cm bar drop I prefer by removing all or all but one of the spacers under my stem and then cutting the steer tube. Of course you could leave it higher if you prefer a higher position. Before you go in to test or buy one, know your saddle height and setback, bar drop, and tip of saddle to bar dimensions so you can tell if you'll be able to replicate those on the size you are considering.
I do know from my shop experience that TREK does a very nice job of taking care of customers in warranty type situations in the unlikely event one would arise, and to me that is important as well- weight of bike w/o pedals was 16.62 pounds- could easily get down to 15 to 15.5 with race wheelset, or maybe a SRAM RED group and a few component swaps- BOTTOM LINE- "I WANT ONE" I'm not one of 'those guys' that posts ridiculous reviews that say stuff like "I was 2 mph faster on the new bike compared to my old one"- thats complete nonsense- but I found the Domane to be exactly what I'm looking for - comfortable, stable handling, quite light, great warranty, had a great ride 'feel' to it (yes I know that's very subjective- but if you ride a lot, you generally know pretty quickly after you try a new bike whether you want to spend a lot more time with it- (kinda like a first date I suppose)).
One last thing I found appealing was that I have my current bike set up for the Horribly hilly ride this weekend with a 32 tooth cassette as I'm about 30 pounds overweight and about 25 to 30% bodyfat, and I really need it currently- I tried inserting that wheel with the 32 on it into the DOMANE and found that with just a 'B-tension' screw adjustment on the rear derailleur you could, if you wanted to, run a 32 tooth cassette on the bike with just a chain length adjustment and probably a slightly longer cage derailleur to take care of needed chain wrap issues. That's purely because the rear derailleur hanger on the domane appears to be a bit longer from center of rear wheel axle to center of derailleur hanger. That is the critical dimension that avoids interference when in that big cog. You cant run that big a cassette on some road bikes and for some riders that is a plus- I refuse to put a triple on my bike just for a handful of killer climbing rides each year