One of the things I love most about working at Ars Technica is riding my bike at lunchtime. My home is located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago about two miles from the Des Plaines River Trail and about three miles from the North Branch Trail. When the weather cooperates, I ride hard in the woods on my Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 gravel bike.
So when Trek offered me the chance to ride its top-of-the-line Domane+ SLR 9 e-bike, I jumped at the chance. Yes, the weather can be tricky during seasonal shifts, but I’ll battle the changing temperatures and high winds on a carbon-framed gravel bike with carbon wheels…and a 50Nm electric motor paired with a 360Wh battery in the downtube.
But even when I got my Domane+ from a local bike shop, one question kept popping up. Why would I want to ride an electric road bike?
I ride for a number of reasons. I enjoy it, I love being in nature, I love riding with friends, it’s a great workout. I hope the Domane+ will make the riding experience better, but I’m not going to get the full aero benefit from my rides with an engine doing some of the work. Electrified commuting bikes, cargo bikes, beach bikes, and even mountain bikes all have built-in use cases. But for the guy who likes to burn calories on a bike, owning this $13,000 e-bike is a head-scratcher.
The Domane + SLR 9 starts at $12,999. Besides the aforementioned checkpoint, Doman is one of Trek’s two cobblestone bike lines. There are slight differences in geometry between the two, but the main difference is that the Checkpoint comes with 40mm tires, while the Domane has a standard 32mm.
As one would expect from a bike at this price, the Domane+ impresses with the latest components. Starting with the gear you’d find on a regular bike, this ride has Bontrager Aeolus RSL 34 OCLV carbon wheels, a Dura-Ace Di2 12-speed wireless electronic drivetrain, a Bontrager RC hard case, 32mm light tires and an LED display. With the possibility of communication. Bluetooth and ANT+ are integrated into the top tube.
At first glance, the Domane+ doesn’t look like an e-bike. With the battery in, the down tube is thicker than non-electrified Domanes, and there are a couple of buttons on the handlebars to control the motor, which is located inside the bottom bracket. The difference is noticeable once you pick the Domane+ SLR 9 up: It weighs 25.91 lbs (11.75 kg), nearly 10 lbs (4.5 kg) more than its human-powered counterpart (and about 4.5 lbs more than the ALR 5’s aluminum stock). .).
50Nm motor inside the bottom bracket that is driven by a built-in 360W battery that can deliver 250W of power continuously, with 300W of maximum power. Domane+ has three auxiliary modes. The Eco adds 75 watts of power to your pedaling efforts, the Mid setting gives you 150 watts, and the High setting gives you 300 watts With boosts to 28 mph, the Domane+ is a Class 3 e-bike. Some states and municipalities have restrictions on Class 3 e-bikes So make sure you are aware of the laws where you live.
On the top tube is an LED display that can display speed, battery level, rated range, and how many watts you’re running. As a bike computer, it’s rudimentary, so I bought a phone holder. While that allowed me to ride with the Trek Central app open, which can display all the data you want while riding, it also partially blocked the LED in the top tube.