I preordered this bike couple of months ago and will be receiving it in another 2-3 months. I want to be able to ride on both road and gravel (including rail-trails) and I am wondering if any domane owners can share their experience? Are all domane bikes able to handle gravel?
Edit: my domane has a shimano 105groupset (11 speed)
I went to the shop and got it set up tubeless with some 35C schwalbe all-around tires, I usually roll with tubes and 32C Conti GP5000’s on the road. I also added the front and back mudguards.
So far most of our gravel rides are either harder packed gravel roads or slightly chunky gravel and dirt and I’m able to keep up for the most part. Though I think having a gear set with 1 or 2 more lower gears would be helpful on steep dirt hills and the dedicated gravel bikes with 38C - 42C tires seem to handle some of the rougher roads a bit better. Our gravel roads are really hilly and you rarely get to cruise. I see why gravel bikes usually go with a 1x drivetrain as going back and forth between the two chainrings to find the right gear, while dealing with the pot-holes and rocks isn’t as easy as it is on the road.
Overall it’s a fun time. Some of the gravel descents are a bit pucker-factor inducing.
If the roads get too muddy or end up being very technical single track, I’d probably skip it with the Domane. But for the most part, the gravel roads in our area are workable on the Domane. Well-groomed, hard packed gravel in a rails to trails situation would be no problem and maybe even something I could ride with my road tires if needed.
I think shimano 105 will be a good fit instead of a 1x drivetrain especially when you want to ride both on road and gravel. Will be sure to avoid those singletrack-like technical routes as a beginner lol.
105 will definitely work for the most part. SL5 uses Shimano 105.
I know on some of those hills where it gets a little loose and for some reason the gravel hills I ride feel like they go to a 20% grade on the last 10 feet, I see why gravel bikes may have a slightly lower ratio on the bottom end.
Enjoy the ride, let me know how it goes. Also 100% recommend going tubeless.
I have a 2021 trek domane al4. Same bike just with tiagra group set. As for gravel I’ve not used it off road but I have used it on some poor sections of farm roads in my area and it holds up great. I’d say my only complaint with the bike is the weight, it’s a little on the heavy side. That been said I have my set up for winter at the moment with full guards and lights. Also scrapped the tyres that come with it for Pirelli 4 Seasons 25c. Overall the bike handles great seems to be really capable of everything you throw at it. My aim is to use it for multi day stuff when COVID is gone (maybe). Here’s a picture of mine.
Thanks for your perspective! Not going to get my bike until April according to my local trek retailer. This will be my first bike with disc brakes on FYI. Do all domanes have the same tire clearance and can handle well on gravel if the difference between the AL4 and AL5 is just the groupset?
edit: To be honest, I was very doubtful that this bike can handle gravel tires. I did confirm with Trek that I indeed can run off road tires on this bike. However, Trek keeps saying that this is primarily a road bike but can be ridden on gravel. I do not understand this statement. This bike is clearly mentioned as a gravel bike in Trek’s own website and my main goal is to ride on both gravel and road. Does a gravel bike mean it has more tire clearance?
Trek lists 4mm clearance either side vs common 2mm. 38c will work, and you want that extra tire in basacially all conditions. I’d recommend ordering some 38c g-one all around Evo onestar microskin while you can - the newer Audix tires aren’t that great. Continental Terra Speed are good too, but they don’t hold air for more than a few days.
As far as capabilities, it has the same geometry as their Checkpoint gravel bike, which is great. The difference is that the Checkpoint can handle 12mm more tire, but can’t run road racing size chainrings. It’s a fine soft roader, but can’t do things like run over anything larger than a baseball.
I’d put the gravel tires on the stock wheelset, and order up a set of DT Swiss E1800 or ER1600 wheels from Merlin, a cassette, and a set of discs so you can switch wheels as it suits the day. That’s about $500 all in though.
When I got mine I asked the question about the multi day stuff so that when I plan the routes if I come across sections that are safer off road or quicker I can make a judgement on tyres. The bike shop advised me that it’s okay for light gravel so fire roads, quarry roads, and light single-track. If your wanting to ride road AND gravel without been limited too much in either I’d say maybe look towards a gravel bike with a more cyclo-cross geometry. Then you can use road gears and swap wheel sets depending on your day.
I reckon the Domane will handle it with the right tyres and wheels, it has discs, but it also has standard road bars, where as gravel bikes have more flare and wider bars for greater control. I guess it comes down to how much gravel your going to ride as appose to road really.
One other heads up about the Domane AL. Mine had an issue 2 weeks in with the original seat post slipping, i changed the seat post and seat clamp eventually but the seat clamp was the issue didn’t have enough clamping power.
Take the bike back to the shop for the post issue. They’ll put some grease or someone on the post to stop the slip. Tightening won’t really fix it.
As for the level of gravel you can do, this is tire limited. On a bumpy dirt path, the tires just can’t absorb all the bumps, so it will be slow going. The frame and wheels can take the pain, so feel free to explore. They rate bike equipment by ASTM category, and i assume this is ASTM 2 which is taking 6” jump at the specified weight capacity (275lb).
I wouldn’t try to go over any branches larger than 2in because you’ll go right over the handle bars. Mud puddles are also a no-no. You’re looking at about 55-60psi on 38mm tires with tubes, and you really want to be at 40psi for even as something as rough as crossing a normal soccer field level of bumpiness, which is a 38mm tire tubeless or 42+ tire tubed.
It’s already been in at the shop for this they contacted trek and they advised they have an issue with some of the seat clamps some have enough to hold it some do it. Almost like a recall job. New clamp did the job but I changed the seat post regardless anyway so.
Hey, I’m looking for a new winter / work travel bike and stumbled across the AL5 today. Its slightly over the price point I was aiming for (I bought a Tarmac SL6 Pro last spring so don’t have tons of spare cash for N+1) but think I can convince the wife as it ticks all my boxes.
My main question is that the geometry is significantly different than my SL6 (higher stack, shorter reach), would common wisdom be to find a stem which let’s me get the bars in a similar position or work out another fit as the AL5 is supposed to be more endurance / less race focused?
Also, if anyone has other bike suggestions I’m all ears, aiming for around £1500 with hydraulic discs and 11-speed.
Reach is a fairly easy fix, although simply slapping on a longer stem may affect the handling. Stack is obviously trickier; there’s only so low you can go once you’ve slammed it, unless you’re thinking about -17deg stems or such like. But tbh if you’re looking for a similar fit to your Tarmac, a Domane would not be the way to go, IMO. Great bike for its purpose, but racing geometry (at least in the stock AL5) it is not.
Thanks for the reply. I’m not too worried about matching the fit as I realise they are very different builds. I guess I’m more interested to know if there are any tips for converting a race fit to an endurance fit.