Lidl-Trek pro bike: Natnael Tesfatsion’s Trek Madone SLR

Trek’s aero bike is typical in many ways but stands out from the crowd thanks to its IsoFlow technology

Clock17:56, Saturday 10th February 2024

© GCN

Natnael Tesfatsion's Trek Madone from the Tour Down Under

It’s been a season of near misses so far for Lidl-Trek’s Natnael Tesfatsion whose race outings have been restricted to the Australian continent. Coming close to making the perfect start to 2024, the Eritrean finished second at the Down Under Classic before another runners-up spot followed at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

Both of those results were taken atop the Trek Madone SLR, one of the most familiar bikes in the pro peloton thanks to its unique aero design. Here’s a closer look at the Madone Tesfatsion used at the Tour Down Under midway through his racing stint in Australia.

IsoFlow: Trek’s aero technology

While the Madone looks amazing, it follows a similar recipe to other aero bikes with deep profiles. That is until Trek’s unique IsoFlow technology hones into view, giving the bike its distinguishable look.

To untrained eyes, and even those who count themselves as tech nerds, it’s essentially a hole in the seat tube. Of course, brands throw lots of money into their design processes, so it’s not too surprising that this hole is a little more than a kooky feature. It’s even less surprising that it has been created in the name of aerodynamics, although only partially.

As the Madone has taken on its more aero silhouette over the years, extra grams have also piled on, so shedding weight became a priority. Taking a big chunk out of the seat tube satisfies this need while also coming with aerodynamic benefits, so it’s a win-win. In fact, it’s a win-win-win as Trek says that IsoFlow also improves compliance, allowing for more flex in the seatpost.

While it’s been the reserve of the Madone so far, the tech could transfer over to the Émonda in the near future after Giulio Ciccone was spotted riding a version of the bike with a noticeable hole in the down tube.

SRAM: 1x or 2x?

Only four teams will use SRAM at WorldTour level during the 2024 season. Lidl-Trek, Visma-Lease a Bike and Movistar have been long-term adoptees, while Bora-Hansgrohe are the latest addition to the American brand’s line-up. Despite its inferior numbers - Shimano lays claim to the other 14 teams - SRAM can boast a flawless Grand Tour record in 2023 which saw Visma-Lease a bike win them all. One of the main tech characteristics of those victories was the intermittent use of 1x.

SRAM is the only one of the three major groupset brands which offer 1x road groupsets - we’ve included Campagnolo alongside Shimano in this statistic, even though the Italian brand will be absent at WorldTour level. It’s something Lidl-Trek took advantage of during 2023 and Mads Pedersen even won stage 8 of the Tour de France using a 1x set-up.

There are still inconsistencies with when teams use 1x over 2x and the latter option is still used more often than not. That was the case on Tesfatsion’s bike which sported a common 54/41t chainset - only Quinn Simmons used anything larger at the Tour Down Under of the SRAM-sponsored teams from what we saw.

That chainset was paired with a 10-33t cassette.

Trek's own-brand components

Many bike brands lay claim to component off-shoot brands, like Trek whose in-house Bontrager was a key theme on the bike. That included the Bontrager Aeolus RSL 51, with rim depths to match the name. Like most things in cycling, they’re designed to be both aerodynamic and lightweight, clocking in at under 1500g.

Bontrager also accounted for the Verse Pro saddle and the RSL cockpit which, intriguing for an aero bike, wasn't a one-piece set-up but instead made up of a separate RSL handlebar and stem.

The Pirelli P Zero Race tyres followed trends courtesy of their 28mm width, while the bike was finished off with Time XPRO pedals.

Bike Specification
Bike
  • year

    2022

  • model

    Madone SLR

  • Manufacturer

    Trek

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