I haven’t ridden it yet, it’s locked away awaiting the opportunity and the weather. Today could almost have been it, the first ride, the weather was (relatively) glorious, and it wasn’t a late meeting at work, but we had to go to bloody Milton Keynes to take yet another bloody clock back because it had a scratch on the case. So that was that.

It’s all about the comfort, this time. I loved my Trek 1.2, it was a great way of getting back into road biking, but it was never as comfortable to ride as my old (steel) Raleigh touring bike, the one I had in the 80s. So I’ve spent the last three years or so dealing with a series of niggles, many of them documented here. The pedal and shoe combinations, the minute adjustments to cleats and saddle, the gloves and helmets. For a man of my age, size, and weight, the 1.2 was a little too sporty.

Last year, the longest ride I managed was about 2 hours, and even then I had to get off about 90 minutes in to rest my feet from the screaming pain. And then I had to get off again five minutes later, and 10 minutes after that, limping home, eventually, a broken man. That prompted my most recent shoe purchase, the Bontrager Multisport, of which more below.

So I’ve been day dreaming about the Trek Domane 4 series since I saw the first reviews of it last year. I went into the Trek Store in Milton Keynes a couple of times, and also went down to Trek World at Silverstone, where I saw the 2014 colourways for the first time. I ran through a couple of Project One builds using the online tool, and chopped and changed components and tried different paint jobs.

All along, I was thinking of the Domane 4.3, which has Shimano 105 components and a 30-tooth bottom gear on the rear cassette (that’s around 30.5 gear inches, fact fans – and shorter is easier). This was very important to me, because I really struggled in the Vosges mountains last summer, trying to get up big climbs on my 1.2 with what I thought was a 28-tooth (32.7 inch) gear, but which turned out to be a 26 (35.3 inches!). No wonder I couldn’t get more than halfway up the Ballon d’Alsace.

But then I saw the 2014 colour of the Domane 4.5, and fell in love. The black/orange combination looks superb, better than anything I came up with on Project One, and it still came out cheaper. It has mostly Shimano Ultegra, but only comes with a 28-tooth (32.7 inch) bottom gear. What to do?

I did some reading, and realised that you can get an Ultegra 11-32 cassette, if you also change the rear derailleur for a longer cage version. It’s all very technical, but it essentially meant I could ask in the shop for the swap (at a little extra cost) and end up with a (drum roll) 28.7-inch bottom gear. This is a gear I’ll probably never have to use around Buckingham, but next time I attempt the Ballon d’Alsace, or the road up to Fresse and down into Plancher Bas, I will be equipped.

The Domane is supposedly built for comfort, with it’s bump-smoothing frame, and 25mm tyres, but I also took the precaution of upgrading the handlebar to the (basic) Isozone model, which features built-in padding to alleviate road buzz. And I’ve gone even further. They’re actually discontinued (about to be replaced with something else) but Bontrager make a heat-mouldable insole for their shoes, so you can have a footbed that conforms to the actual shape of your feet. Given that my oddly-shaped feet are such a problem, I’ve installed those in my Multisports (the Trek store had a few left).

There’s more. I’ve also ordered a Fizik Aliante Versus saddle (in limited edition black and orange, natch), which is designed for what Fizik call “Bulls” – the less flexible man. I’m actually more of a Chameleon, I think (I can bend further than the Bull diagram on the Fizik web site), but I’m not getting any younger, and it was quite a lot cheaper than the Chameleon version. So that’s another bit of extra comfort.

All of which is yet to be tested, adjusted, tweaked, and tested again. But watch this space.

One response to “Comfort Me”

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