I admit it. I'm a gear geek. One of the things I love about cycling is all the cool stuff involved. From magnesium shift levers to carbon fiber water bottle cages, I love all the technology involved. I once thought I loved the tech of bikes (and boats, too) so much that I majored in mechanical engineering for a while in college. Turns out I suck at math. I discovered a theorem in calculus that said as your GPA moves closer to zero, engineering majors become business students. I proved that theorem like nobody's business! Unfortunately that was the only one I could prove. Regardless, even though I can't prove with math why carbon fiber does what it does, I do appreciate and enjoy that there's a nerd out there somewhere who can. Its awesome that we to enjoy the fruits of their labors!
2012 Trek Madone 5.2. Its the demo bike loaned to me from The Bike Shoppe while my steed gets some TLC at the shoppe. The 5.2 really is the best value in bikes today. It comes with a full Shimano Ultegra grouppo, Bontrager Race wheels and a Bontrager RXL and Race cockpit and retails for $3469. Throw a set of nice carbon wheels like the Mercury M5's and you've got a serious race rig for around $5500 that weighs around 15 lbs. For 2012, the 5 Series Madones are still made in Asia, but now feature Trek's propriatary OCLV build process, just like the top end 6.9 SSL. The only difference is the quality of carbon in the layup. The bike I'm on has an awesome paint job as well. The flat balck and clear coat carbon is muy sessy!
The first thing I noticed from my bike is the stiff front end. While some of this comes from the all aluminum cockpit, the head tube and fork steer tube seem to be making for some of the stiffness as well. In a sprint, I really felt connected to the road via the front end. Bottom bracket stiffness felt comparable to my bike and I didn't notice too many bumps coming up through the saddle. Out on the road my teeth get rattled a little from the from end, but on the crit course I really appreciated that stiffness.
Madone's have a slightly sloping top tube and I'm on a 56 cm frame. The head tube is a little tall for me, but I might be on the taller H3 frame. At the shoppe we rushed the fit and I don't think we got the front end quite where it needs to be. We should have spent more time on my fit, but its a temporary demo, so no biggie. Dropping the stem on the steer tube would help a ton. The 6 Series Madones are available in a really aggressive H1 geometry which drops your hands even more. For most riders, I assume the middle of the road H2 set up is sufficient.
Again, I really feel the 5.2 is the best value in cycling. For the serious racer an upgraded wheelset is needed but being able to save so much on the platform allows you to get into a decent wheelset.
While I'm not affiliated with Trek directly, The Bike Shoppe in Ogden is a Trek and Mercury dealer and the best shoppe around. And even though the 2012 5.2 is a killer deal, The Bike Shoppe is UNLOADING 2011 5.2's! $2500 out the door!!! The 2011 features the same geometry and spec as the 2012 but features the previous gen TCT carbon build, rather than OCLV. Again, slap some good wheels on there and you are racing for around $4500. You can't beat that!