THE 2019 TREK MADONE SLR
"The Ultimate Race Bike"
The all-new Madone SLR is proven to be one of the fastest super-bikes with unparalleled aerodynamics, unmatched ride quality, and unprecedented integration.
We spent close to a year in the theoretical world; researching, brainstorming, conceptualizing, prototyping, modeling, analyzing, etc. We had hundreds of individual ideas which were each explored conceptually, then ranked on a variety of metrics. Coming up with an interesting idea is the easy part. Exploring it further, massaging out the kinks, selling it to management, and ultimately testing the ideas, were the hard part. To finish the R&D process, our engineers made full carbon fiber prototypes for analysis and testing before we could move forward. These prototypes are a testament to our dedication to R&D - we took the time and effort to make custom tooling for all the components, even before we settled onto a final design.
We went through several iterations of the Madone to make the next generation the best road bike possible. I sketched hundreds of different ideas for features like integrated electronics, adjustable bar widths, or top tube IsoSpeed, to name a few. I would love to show all the work we've done, however most the ideas which didn't make it to production are still potential opportunities for Trek in the future.
Getting 3D. I use a polygonal modeling program that allows me to iterate fast. To create a solid model with all surfaces curvature continuous can take days or weeks! To do that while making day-to-day updates to aerodynamic profiles and structural optimizations, is far from ideal. With a polygonal model, I can make changes in seconds, literally. Whether it’s an engineering or design change, it's no sweat to make an update. The model on the left took me a day to complete 80%, the last 20% takes time regardless of which CAD program is used.
The fluidity of modeling gives me the flexibility to make 100+ small tweaks a day, refining the design until I'm happy with the shape. It's very similar to the benefits of clay modeling, just digitally.
There are so many choices with the Madone - disc brakes, rim brakes, electronic shifting, mechanical shifting, and wireless shifting! We made sure our flagship bike has everyone covered, at a time where most brands only accommodate 1-2 options. Pictured below are some early concepts regarding the brake choice and cable routing directions.
Stay within the lines - UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) has very strict guidelines to follow in order to race legally. Because of the 80mm UCI boxes we must stay within, designing complex blends (like the areas highlighted above) and integrating components like rim brakes, is extremely difficult. There's a fine balance between optimizing tube sections and component integration. The integration is beneficial, but because it needs to fit within the UCI boxes (and other constraints), our tube depth is required to be narrower. Disc brakes give us more freedom when it comes to optimization of tube sections/interactions.
Madone represents the cutting edge in performance, technology and design. The inspiration reflects that through great examples from other industries like automotive, aerospace, furniture and architecture; utilizing part-lines as graphic breakups, letting wind drive the form, expressing gesture through proportion, and pushing our brand language to the next level - while maintaining familiarity.
The Trek 2026 Concept above, was a statement about our future; it shaped the proportions and gestures we were striving for. The Madone concept, pictured above, and below, is another 'point in time.' It represents where the development team was heading toward the end of the R&D process.
Aerodynamics drive the form of this bike. Utilizing and enhancing the performance characteristics of a tube cross-section for the sake of our design language, was the primary sculptural challenge. The highlight lines on the right are part of what we call a 'kammtail virtual foil', which is a truncated aerodynamic profile. This gives us most of the benefits of a full airfoil but in a more structurally efficient shape. One of the key attributes of this KVF shape are the two corners on the trailing edge. I happened to take advantage of those corners to move the eye through the form and to aerodynamically improve certain tube intersections. Bringing the outside corner of the fork leg into the down-tube not only improves the airflow as it transitions off the fork into the frame, but it offers a nice parallel to our brand's signature 'brow' feature, which carries the eye from the head-tube all the way back to the dropout.
Micah Moran, the graphic designer on the project, has done an incredible job celebrating the form and raising the bar for bicycle design. Not only has he paired paint and graphic to the form, he has helped create the new Project One ICON program, which has the most eye-catching designs we've ever created.
Because aerodynamic bikes have broader surfaces, controlling how light and reflections behave on a surface is more important than ever - especially in how it relates to color and finish. Matte paint shows how sculptural the form is and because of the broader surfaces, gloss strongly reflects the environment. I worked to ensure that regardless which color or finish a customer has chosen, the paint and graphics are flawless.
During our R&D process, the development team collectively agreed that "refinement" was our biggest goal. Whether that's a more refined function, ride quality, or aesthetic, we knew that we should build on the already successful 2016 Madone by improving the details. Several small improvements accumulate into a significant improvement overall. I think if you compare the 2016 model with the two new 2019 models below, you'll agree we were successful in refining the Madone. I believe we set the benchmark for high end road bike integration and design.
2019 MADONE INTEGRATED COCKPIT
The 2019 Madone Cockpit is a completely different animal from the 2016. Ergonomically improved in both the flats and accessing the drops. The back-sweep on the flats puts your hands at a more natural and comfortable position, simultaneously pulling your elbows inward for a more aerodynamic stance. The transition from the flat to the hoods has also been reshaped to increase wrist clearance in the drops.
Not only is this handlebar + stem really aerodynamic, it makes the rider more aerodynamic, too. That bike-to-rider interaction is what makes this cockpit, and bike as a whole, so much better.
While a bar-stem combo, like on the '16 Madone, is the cleanest possible design, it makes achieving your desired fit an expensive and cumbersome process. With the '19 cockpit, changing your fit is significantly easier and more affordable; replace just the stem, or just the handlebar. It is now possible to rotate your handlebar +/- 5 degrees to dial it all in - a total of 10 degrees of rotation.
SEAT CLUSTER + TOP TUBE ISOSPEED
This is what makes the Madone so much better than any other aero-road bike out there. Aerodynamic profiles are long and narrow, and just like a ruler, are difficult to bend across it's longer dimension. This is why so many other aero bikes are harsh to ride and why the IsoSpeed technology on the Madone is so transformative. The rider gets all the benefits of an aero-road bike with all-day comfort in the saddle.
Ok, but why move IsoSpeed to the top-tube?
Put simply, the new top tube adjustable IsoSpeed gives all riders, regardless of size, better vertical compliance. The reason is simple; shorter tubes are inherently stiffer. Pair that with the fact that taller riders are often heavier than shorter riders, and that IsoSpeed technology relies on rider weight to flex the IsoSpeed leaf, and you get a relationship where taller riders have more compliance and shorter riders have less compliance. That's the opposite of what we ideally want. So, the new top tube design isolates the flexing member from the seat tube length, pairing it with a tube that doesn't change length significantly across the size run.
Under this sleek exterior is a lot of new tech. If you're familiar with the 2017 Domane SLR, you'll recognize this. To start, when you hit a bump in the road, your vertical motion (via your weight) is turned into rotational energy, flexing the IsoSpeed leaf. That motion is controlled in two ways:
1 - the slider's position changes how much the system can flex overall. If the slider is all the way forward, as pictured, you have the maximum amount of flex. If the slider is all the way back, it limits how much the leaf can flex.
2 - The all new damper technology uses an elastomer to control the flexing tube's rebound. If you imagine a pogo stick, when the spring is compressed, it releases that energy back, shooting you up. The elastomer slows the rebound energy in a controlled motion, making for a really smooth ride.
There's a lot of new tech in this area of the bike. The all-new IsoSpeed (as stated above), the all-new seat post design, and the all-new Flare R with integrated Blendr mount.
The new Madone Seat Post integrates the clamp inside the frame. This does two things: streamlines the design, making it more aerodynamic and cleaner looking and allows us to paint match the seat post to the frame, giving it a modern, custom look most bikes don't have.
The new Bontrager Flare R has a dedicated mount for the new Madone. It attaches in seconds via a tool-free clip onto the seat-post hardware for an integrated look. Riding with a taillight is probably the best preventative safety measure and it shouldn't detract from the bike's sleek aesthetic.
This is the most integrated bike we've ever designed... The bike is just as fast as the 2016 Madone (which is still one of the, if not the, fastest bikes out there), while improving on so many different features. The whole bike is a much more refined experience.
The bike you see below is the all-new Madone SLR Disc. We believe in disc brakes. It has better stopping power, more modulation (for better control), allows you to brake later in a corner, descend faster, and has significantly better braking performance in the rain. On top of that, it makes for overall cleaner integration and protects your expensive rims from wear.
All of that said, many people still love rim brakes. So, we went through great efforts to ensure that our customer's still have options when it comes to brake choice. Between rim brakes and disc brakes, there are positives and negatives. It was very challenging to design such an integrated, highly optimized bike around two completely different braking systems. The result in either case is what we call the ultimate race bike.
The all-new rim brakes are integrated better than we've ever done before. The front brake is hidden under a protective cover that is painted to match the bike frame. Both brakes (front and rear) have been refined for a simpler setup and are easier to live with, while still having incredible braking power for a rim brake; significantly better than other brand's integrated rim brakes.
Below is a comparison between rim and disc, as well as detail shots of the brakes. Interestingly, both bikes are nearly identical in terms of aerodynamic performance. An integrated rim brake is hypothetically more aerodynamic, but the UCI boxes end up forcing a tube proportion which isn't as aerodynamic as the disc brake bike. So, a slightly faster frame compared to a slightly faster braking setup essentially equals out.
Our awesome team worked for years to develop the ultimate race bike and I think that's exactly what the 2019 Madone is. I'd like to congratulate the team on a excellent job. Already looking forward to the next one!
Industrial Designer - Jon Russell
Graphic Designer - Micah Moran
System Engineer - Tim Hartung
Frameset Engineer - Tim Hartung
Cockpit Engineer - Alex Loy
Seatpost Engineer - Brad Addink
Brake Engineer - Andrew Conner
Structural Analyst - Jay Maas + Zach Butler
Aerodynamic Analyst - Mio Suzuk
CAD Specialist - Cal Schroader
Project Manager - Matthew Tiradani
Product Manager - Ben Coates, Anders Ahlberg, Jordan Roessingh
There were many others involved in one way or another and I'd like to thank them all for helping to create this project. It would have been much harder without you guys!
For more eyecandy... Gotta love marketing photos! Check out that mustache!