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2013 Madone: First ride impressions.

Thursday, August 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

August
15
2013

Yesterday I was finally able to get out and ride my new 2013 Trek Madone! I didn’t have a great deal of time, but I was able to work a 50 kilometer ride into my morning. Here are a few of my first ride impressions…

2013 Madone - first ride!

2013 Madone – first ride!

I’d slammed the stem on my 2011 Madone, but on the 2013 Madone I am unable to do that. The 2013 Madone has a carbon fiber steerer tube, and Trek requires one 5mm spacer above and below the stem (this is for safety reasons). The stock headset bearing dustcap must also be used, and that adds a little height as well.

So I’m running the 2013 as low as is permissible, but I was concerned that I might feel a little too upright due to a slightly higher handlebar position than I’m accustomed to. Turns out I actually felt extremely comfortable the entire ride (I spent 90% of the time down in the drops), and didn’t really notice the difference. At some point I may replace the -7° stem with something a little more aggressive, but for now I’m good. From a purely aesthetic standpoint I wish I could chop that little bit of excess tube above the stem, but I’d rather ride safe. A steerer tube is probably the last thing you want to fail when you’re doing 45 kilometers per hour (just ask Hincapie).

As I began my ride the very first thing I noticed about the 2013 Madone is how much smoother it is compared to my old bike. Yesterday I rode a route I’ve done dozens of times on my 2011 Madone, and the difference was pretty striking. I could still feel the pavement under me, which is good, but all those little bumps and surface imperfections in the tarmac were not nearly as jarring as they were on my old bike. I hate to use a goofy marketing term like “vertically compliant”, but man… the 2013 Madone really is one smooth, sweet ride!

I wrote in yesterday’s blog that I’m going to devote an entire article to the Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic gruppo, so I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about it right now. After thoroughly testing the electronic shifting on the stand (maybe a little more than I needed too–it’s just so neat!), I was eager to see how it performed on the road. I can sum it up with a single word: Flawless.

Di2 is amazing. Perfect, effortless shifting. Every. Single. Time. Just a light click and the shift happens instantly. Di2 may not be telepathic shifting, but it’s pretty darn close. If you think I’m overstating it, go try it for yourself. A word of warning: don’t try Di2 unless you’re prepared to buy it. It’s that good. I’ll go into much more detail in an upcoming blog, and I’ll toss in some photos and videos of the Di2 drivetrain in action.

The bike steered and cornered nearly the same as my 2011 Madone, so I felt very stable and comfortable right out of the gate.

After five days off the bike, I could definitely feel some loss of fitness. My heart rate was higher than usual, and I was hurting a bit. Part of that could have been the heat, too. Oh, and the dragging rear brake pad. Yeah. The new Bontrager Speed Limit integrated brakes are a little different to set up and adjust, and when I installed the Zipp Tangente Platinum Pro brake pads (required on full-carbon wheels like the Zipp 404s I’m running), apparently the back brake was slightly out of adjustment and dragging the whole ride. Entirely my fault.

Anyway, I was not out gunning for time yesterday, but despite the dragging brake pad and higher than usual heart rate I still turned in a 2nd and 3rd best performance on a couple of segments. Here’s the entire ride on Strava. I’m sure once I get the bike dialed in (and things cool off a little–sheesh I’m sick of this heat!) I’m going to be smashing PRs left and right. 🙂

John Stone Fitness Comments

7 Responses to “2013 Madone: First ride impressions.”
  1. I dont see the battery pack on your bike? Shimano’s site says 1000km per charge or 250km on a 50% charge? So do you have to charge it after every ride or does that mess up the memory of the battery? Would be a real bummer if you went to go ride and the battery was dead.

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    • Hey Craig, I was going to go over all that stuff and more when I do the Di2 article, but to answer your questions:

      The battery pack on the Madone is hidden away under the bottom bracket. I’ll include a picture of it when I post the photo album.

      Yeah, they say 1,000 kilometers per charge (more or less, depending on shifting habits), which I think is quite good. There is an LED so you can check the status of the charge at any time, even while riding.

      The battery only takes 1.5 hours to fully charge from zero.

      There is, thankfully, no memory effect according to Shimano. So you could charge the battery after every ride. This would be overkill, though.

      My plan is to charge the battery once per week while I’m performing my usual weekly maintenance. I look at it as no different than performing any other regularly required maintenance.

      When the battery reaches critical level it locks out the front derailleur and then you have a few dozen (? – need to research the actual number) rear shifts remaining before you’re locked into whatever gear you were in when the battery died.

      I’ll have many more details in the article.

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        • You definitely could carry a spare battery, but unless you’re riding more than 500 miles at a time it’s just pointless added weight.

          The batteries are good for around 300-500 charging cycles before they start to lose their ability to hold a charge, so if you charge it once per week a single battery should have ~6-10 years of life.

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