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The name simply implies it’s a Domane with disc brakes, a feature we admit would probably be enough for us to justify a hard look at an upgrade to the bike we initially loved, but disc brakes are only the beginning of this overhauled Trek. Depending on where you ride and where you live the industry’s recent embrace of road disc brakes either has you sifting through the pages of next year’s buyers guide or shaking your head asking yourself “Why?”
We’ll admit that most riders won’t categorize disc brakes as a need to have but more of a nice to have addition. Certainly there are downsides like price, weight, and wheel compatibility but after spending significant time on them it is hard to go back to anything but the absolute best standard rim and caliper combination, and even that falls very short if conditions are even slightly wet.
The Domane 6.9 Disc may use the original Domane mold but with heavy re-tooling around the drop-outs the take away is something significantly different than what we experienced with the original Domane or the Classics Edition. Boasting Shimano’s R785 hydraulic Di2 disc brakes and levers adds incredible stopping power and single finger modulation, but when its combined with additions like front and rear thru axles, fender mounts, and a host of Trek specific proprietary features the Domane Disc easily becomes the most versatile machine in Trek’s line.
With limited choices for road disc wheels using a thru axle hub configuration Trek leaned on Bontrager and its Affinity Elite Disc to fit the bill. The Affinity Elite Disc is an alloy tubeless ready wheel set with standard 142×12 rear and 15mm front spacing. The wheels felt surprisingly nimble for an alloy rim but we are already anxious for the day when there is an Aeolus 3 available with thru axles and disc ready. We were also thrilled not to see Shimano’s current disc offering, the RX1. It is a heavy wheel with no redeeming qualities beyond a budget price. A consideration we appreciated was the ability to use a conversion kit, which will allow riders who have already made the jump to disc brakes but not thru axles to use their aftermarket wheels in thru axle dropouts.
The thru axles aim to enhance the ride by helping to stabilize the front end and account for the added vectors of strain and force produced by disc brakes. This was certainly evident within just a few minutes of our test as the Domane Disc was noticeably solid at speed and while braking translating to an unusually locked in feel through the apex of corners. Thru axles also provide another subtle bonus ensuring that the wheel is straight inside the frame and minimizing the chances of the disc rubbing inside the tight tolerances of the caliper.
While there is some debate as to whether it’s the thru axle or just the larger end caps that provide the stiffness, in our opinion the Domane’s thru axles provided stiffness not mythness. What they do not do, is rob the Domane of its vaunted compliance. The reinforcing of forks or stays to handle disc brakes can remove much of their compliance. The Domane disc fork feels just has planted as always laterally, but has the same forgiving feel vertically as the original. Thanks to the ISOSpeed de-coupler Trek never has to worry about putting too much stiffness into the Domane’s rear stays, the de-coupler does the heavy lifting for compliance. With the Domane 6.9 Disc Trek has raised the bar again and built something that riders will really enjoy if embraced. The doors that are opened by road disc brakes fuel the adventure that attracted us to bike riding in the first place, and now with the option of thru axles it may feel like too much too soon, but it’s really the right way to do discs.
If the high price tag of the Domane 6.9 Disc in all it’s Di2 glory is too much, the Domane 4.0 Disc can be had for $2100 with TRP’s exceptional HY/RD mechanical-hydraulic hybrid brakes and the same thru axles.
Price: $7900 More: trekbikes.com