We test the aluminium version of Trek's lightweight carbon dream bike
When the original Trek Emonda was launched just before last year’s Tour de France, the cycling world took notice. With a frame weighing a staggering 690g, the top-of-the-range SLR 10 was the lightest production bike in the world (until Merida threw its hat into the ring), with a fully built bike coming in at only 4.65kg. Unsurprisingly, this weight weenie’s dream doesn’t come cheap, and the SLR 10 is priced at an eye-watering £11,000.
If you haven’t won the lottery, the new Trek Emonda ALR, with an aluminium frame which draws on much of the technology of its carbon big brother, might be a more realistic option, with prices starting at £1300.
Of course the aluminium frame (and the price-tag) makes it impossible to make a super-lightweight frame, but the claimed frame weight of 1050g is still good, and the same weight as the S-Works Allez which is also more than double the cost. This means that the fully built Trek Emonda ALR 6 we have here weighs a pretty impressive 7.8kg.
The frame uses Trek’s new 300 series aluminium, a step up from the 200 series aluminium used on the alloy versions of the Domane and old Madone. Not only does this reduce the weight of the frame, but also features size-specific tubing which is engineered differently depending on the size of the frame.
An aluminium frame weighing 1050g is sure to be an eye-catcher. Indeed I don’t think you can get a lighter aluminium frame for the money. The frame uses Trek’s Invisible Weld Technology which provides for a stronger join between the tubes, and always gives the frame a much cleaner look than the messy welds of some other aluminium frames.
The frame is also DuoTrap compatible, which means that you can buy a speed and cadence sensor (for £39.99) which can be integrated into the chainstay, sending data to your cycle computer, and getting rid of the need to attach a separate unit with unsightly zip ties.
This top level Emonda ALR comes with a complete Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset (including brakes), which is, as always, difficult to fault. The quality and precision of the shifting is pretty much on the same level as Shimano’s top-of-the range Dura-Ace groupset, with the only real difference being the slight weight penalty.
The finishing kit is largely aluminium, with the exception of the carbon seatpost – an upgrade from the alloy post on the Emonda ALR 5 – which greatly improves ride comfort.
As with all Treks, the Emonda ALR 6 comes with a Bontrager wheelset, with these pair of “Race” wheels perhaps being described as workman-like. Sitting at the bottom of Bontrager’s wheel range, these wheels are never going to set the world alight, although the 1700g weight is not too bad considering they’ve been primarily chosen to keep costs down.
However it is good to see Bontrager future-proofing its wheels, with these rims coming as tubeless-ready if that’s the way you choose to go. Indeed I tested Bontrager’s Tubeless conversion kit (sold separately for £139.99) which made swapping tyre systems an absolute doddle.
Given its weight, it should be no surprise that the Emonda ALR is most at home in the hills. While 7.8kg may not be super light in the grand scheme of things, but it’s still more than good enough to enable this bike to devour steeper gradients with the ease of a true climber’s bike.
Coming down the other side is just as much fun, and although the fairly relaxed geometry encourages an upright position, it is easy enough to lower your upper body and sweep gracefully through the corners with assured handling.
The one downside is that you feel a little more of the road than you might like, even with the addition of a carbon seatpost. Indeed if I was buying the bike the first thing I’d do would be to fit wider 25mm tyres which should provide a bit more protection from rough road surfaces compared to the 23mms which come as standard.
Head over to the Trek website for more details.
The Trek Emoda ALR 6 is a piece of metal that's great for climbing with excellent handling for coming down the other side. The relaxed geometry makes this a great choice for long rides in the hills.