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Trek Domane SL 6 Review: My New Favorite Gravel Bike

Converting a road bike to a gravel bike is easier than you might think. In this Trek Domane SL 6 review we will cover what is both good and bad about the bike, as well as the modifications made to turn it into a gravel bike. If you have the AL version of the Domane pay attention. Converting the aluminum frame to gravel uses a different set of tire clearance specs.

As a road bike the Domane SL 6 would not rank well in many categories outside of comfort. As a gravel bike this thing is fast! Let’s dive into the details…

How Much Does Trek Domane SL 6 Weigh?

No road bike review would be complete without talking about weight. In this Trek Domane SL 6 review we will go over weight numbers and why they aren’t that important. There is no denying this is a “heavy” carbon road bike, but the well thought out features make it easier to ride farther and faster.

My Domane SL 6 is a size 56 cm. It weighs exactly what Trek said it would at 20.51lbs. With bottle cages, tire swaps and more I am running at closer to 22.5 lbs. A big reason this bike is over 20 lbs is because of the front and rear IsoSpeed.

The added weight of IsoSpeed may cost you a few watts, but what you gain in comfort more than makes up for it. Because this bike is so comfortable I can ride longer and faster on big rides. It also makes the bike perfect for those rougher gravel surfaces. You can run a narrower tire and maintain your comfort on gravel thanks to IsoSpeed. The reduced surface friction keeps me fast on the road too.

Trek Domane SL 6 Specs

The Trek Domane SL 6 is spec’d with a carbon fiber frame that includes both front and rear IsoSpeed. if you aren’t familiar with IsoSpeed it is essentially a coupler build into the from at the front headtube and where the seat tube connects to the top tube. The coupler absorbs some of the vibration before reaching your contact points making for a smoother more comfortable ride.

The wheels that come on this bike are Paradigm Comp 25. They aren’t the lightest wheels on a bike at this price point, but they are tubeless ready and work great with gravel tires.

The group set on this bike is the mechanical shifting version in Shimano Ultegra. The disc brakes are of course hydraulic, and I have to say I really prefer Shimano disc brakes over SRAM.

The saddle that comes with it is a Verse Comp, but saddles are something that should be custom fitted to each individual so I would recommend transferring your old saddle over or fitting for a new one.

The Elite IsoZone handlebars from Bontrager are nice. Because I did a gravel conversion, I switched over to ENVE bars that flare the drops out for a wider hand position during sketchy portions of trail.

Is the Domane SL 6 Worth It?

Even though I love this bike, I can’t say I will ever buy another one. For me, I want that high end electronic shifting on a race frameset, or I want something cheaper I can build up myself. Buying a carbon bike with mechanical Ultegra doesn’t get me excited anymore.

A big reason for my change of opinion could be the arrival of my Project One Trek Domane SLR 7 with Di2 Ultegra on it. Once you’ve ridden a bike with electronic shifting it is hard to go back to mechanical setups.

For many people the Domane SL 6 will already exceed their max budget. The 2021 SL 6 comes with a price tag of $4,099.99. One way I’ve been able to justify that high price tag is by using two different wheel sets. One wheelset has my gravel tires, the other my road tires. Now the bike works perfect to fill the needs of two different bikes.

How To Convert Trek Domane To Gravel Bike

There are a few steps required to make the change to a gravel bike. First, and most obvious, is a tire change. If you have the SL version of the Trek Domane you can fit a 38mm gravel tire, per trek. I personally use a 40mm gravel tire. I’m sure doing so would void my warranty if that tire were to cause damage, but I have over 1,000 miles without issues thus far.

For more information on gravel tires read: Which Gravel Tire Is Best?

Once you have your tires upgraded you will need to protect your bike. The new gravel tires will throw small gravel pieces are your frame. There is a product called Ride Wrap that makes precut vinyl for most bike models. Alternatively, you can pick something like this: 3M Clear Paint Protection Vinyl up on Amazon for $20 bucks.

Finally, converting a disc brake bike will be best. I really don’t like rim brakes covered in dust. When they get wet you lose stopping modulation, and your gravel riding experience will be a lot better on a disc brake bike. With the Domane being an endurance road bike the frame geometry is perfect for gravel biking.

If you have an old endurance road bike in the garage you already have the perfect bike to convert to gravel. If you want to really make a full conversion get some new handlebars that have drops flaring outward. This is a must have for a race gravel bike.

Can You Use Domane As A Touring Bike?

The short answer here is no. Even with the modifications made to turn it into a gravel bike, a touring bike requires racks for storage of supplies. Even as a gravel bike the Domane’s biggest downfall is a lack of storage add-ons available. Thankfully there is plenty of storage inside the downtube. There are also plenty of mounting locations for water bottles.

If this Trek Domane SL 6 review has you eager for a bike but you can’t find anything in stock visit a Trek dealer. One thing I love about Trek is the dealer locator on their website. For example, on the Trek Domane SL 6 page, you can see what dealers nearby have this exact bike in stock. Simply select color and size, then head to the closest dealer with the bike in stock.

If you don’t like drop bars and are looking for a bike at a much lower price point then the Trek FX 2 Disc may be the bike for you. Read my Trek FX 2 Review here.

2 thoughts on “Trek Domane SL 6 Review: My New Favorite Gravel Bike”

  1. Hi Ryan, I’d like to know deeper insinghts about your sentence such as ” If you have the AL version of the Domane pay attention. Converting the aluminum frame to gravel uses a different set of tire clearance specs.” because I’m planning to buy a Domane AL for riding on/off roads as usual.

    Thanks in advance.
    Best regards.

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