Been dialing in my new Madone ('12 6.9SSL) since I built it up a couple weeks ago. It's almost perfect but the rear shifting was just a little off. Nothing major, just some extra noise and the shifting wasn't as crisp/consistent as it should be. So, I checked and rechecked the cable tension, housing lengths (have gone up/down with bar height a bit), limit screw and "b" screw adjustments, wheel true, etc. and the setup is spot-on.
Hadn't checked the derailleur hanger alignment b/c the shifting was alright and I'd spaced on it, so checked the hanger bolts then threw the ol' alignment tool on there and found the hanger was waaay off. I've aligned hangers for years and broken a few (like all mechanics), and through trial and error have developed a decent sense for how much force you can/should apply. I'm especially careful with aluminum hangers on carbon frames as they can only be straightened a tiny amount before weakening and snapping. Anyhow, I figured the Madone hanger was a brittle aluminum number and tho' I didn't have a spare on hand, threw caution to the wind and for the hell of it did a very tiny (think 2-3 NM) torqueing with my tool - not enough to do much, if anything, to most hangers I've had. Surprisingly, the hanger came all the way into perfect true with this one small action. I checked it several times at 12-3-6-9 and it's perfect. The shifting seems flawless now, as well, at least on the stand (will ride it on the road tomorrow).
The hanger appears to be painted or clear-coated and, while I assume it's aluminum, I recall recent discussion about Trek experimenting with steel hangers on Madones for ease of alignment. Lots of flame-throwing on the boards about how that'd result in broken frames, defeats the purpose of a hanger, etc. However, I'm very curious to know what this hanger is made out of. Feels like steel. Maybe it's a softer aluminum compound that is designed to break but is soft enough to be adjustable? All I can say is it's way softer than the hard aluminum hangers I've had on my last 4 or 5 race bikes (e.g., Super6 hangers that'd snap if you looked too hard at them).