The lower tier sibling to Alberto Contador's GC bike, we put the Trek Émonda SL 6 through its paces and find it to be a comfortable, fast frame
Think of top Tour de France bikes, and there are only a handful of names that pop into your head faster than the Trek Émonda.
While the Émonda does occupy the top echelons of WorldTour racing, we’ve got our hands on the more reasonably priced Trek Émonda Sl 6, coming in at £2,250.
Trek Émonda SL 6 Frame
Despite it occupying the relatively low echelons of the Émonda line, it’s a frame that looks built to race yet still manages to maintain an air of elegance.
Sweeping lines blur one area of the frame into the other, and the slender seat stays make the bike look responsive and nimble. Pair the sweeping design with the matte silver paint job, and the bike has a seriously classy look.
But it isn’t just surface, and the 500 series OCLV carbon makes the frame light – obviously not as light as the 640g of the SLR but 1,091g is still pretty good. On our scales, the whole bike weighed in at 7.66kg, with any additional weight no doubt coming down to the components rather than the frame.
Down below, an overbuilt, beefy bottom bracket makes sure that every pedal stroke powers the bike forward – which is especially helpful when things start heading uphill.
Trek Émonda SL 6 specification
Without a doubt, the most exciting equipment on the bike is the Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset. Newly updated, it marks an enormous overhaul Shimano’s everyman groupset.
In essence, it’s the same as Shimano Dura-Ace R9100, albeit it heavier due to a few material changes.
In terms of shifting feel and action, it’s every bit as good as it’s older, more expensive Dura-Ace sibling. The re-designed front mech and more ergonomic levers offer a light action to front shifts, and rear shifts are crisp, accurate and powerful.
Watch: Pro bikes 2017: Alberto Contador’s Trek Emonda
Of the new Ultegra groupset itself, the most exciting feature are the excellent rim brakes – again, they’re every bit the match to the Dura-Ace models.
With them being so good, it was a bitter disappointment to find them missing on the Émonda. Instead, Trek has specced its severely over built Bontrager Speed Stop Pro brakes rather than Shimano’s far superior rim brakes.
Instead of the next level power and intimate feel of the Shimano BR-8000 brakes, you’re left with a distinct lack of stopping power and a dull feeling, making it hard to know how close to locking the rear wheel you are.
Elsewhere, there’s also the slightly uneven pairing of the Bontrager Paradigm Comp aluminium wheelset with the lightweight carbon frame, but at this price point they’re par for the course.
Trek Émonda SL 6 ride
As you’d expect from a GC frame, there’s a sense of urgency laid up in the carbon frame that wants to let rip when out on the roads.
But there’s a gentler side to it, too, and the high modulus frame gives comfort in the ride. Unlike so many stiff carbon frames, the Trek Émonda Sl 6 feels dampened and absorbent without that dreaded sluggishness that heavier bikes suffer from.
The skip in its step no doubt comes from its weight, or lack-of. Even with heavy aluminium wheels and enormously overbuilt brakes, the Émonda SL 6 weighs a tiny 7.66kg. Spec the bike with some killer wheels and you’ll shave that down even further.
On the hills it climbs like as you’d expect frame built for Alberto Contador, but it really shines on the downs, too. The 992mm wheelbase is manoeuvrable but well balance and the handling was sharp in the corners.
Interestingly, in certain areas the Émonda is not as aggressive as other GC bikes, its bottom bracket isn’t as low as the Cervélo R5 or the Specialized Tarmac, and it’s head tube is longer, too. Between the three, there’s a slight difference in descending ability, but in the grand scheme of things, the Émonda still handles like a supercar.
Trek Émonda SL 6: Value
The Trek Émonda frame is excellent, no doubt about it, but it can’t help feel weighed down by the aluminium Bontrager wheels, but at a £2,250 this is the price we pay. It is a real shame to pay for an Ultegra groupset but not got the best part – the brakes!
If you’ve a bit more cash to splash, the Trek offers the carbon wheelset equipped Trek Émonda SL 6 Pro for £600 more.
The Trek Émonda SL 6 frame is excellent – stiff, light and responsive. The perfect partnership would be with a good pair of carbon wheels, but we'll forgive Trek at this price point.