Product Review: Trek Emonda SLR

Trek Emonda SLR 9

I’ve never done a bike review before so don’t expect anything witty, prolific or particularly insightful. If you’re still reading great! Lets take a look.

I’ve ridden a half dozen bikes, for at least a couple of hundred kilometres each and I wanted to weigh in on the Trek Emonda SLR.

The Trek lineup comes in a couple of different frame options and I picked the Emonda SLR 9 with the H1 fit using rim brakes and ProjectOne customisation.

I got this through our friends at Treknology3. If you looking at a Trek (and I think you should) mention my name or the blog and secure a discount off the full purchase price of a new bike.

Trek Emonda SLR – The Frame

First of all the frame is light, very light. Switching from the endurance style Canyon SLX 8.0 bike to this pure race machine meant dropping over a kilogram of final weight. With the H1 fit it also meant moving to a more aggressive geometry, which was a welcome change.

Final Weight (without pedals) circa 6.45 kg.

The H1 frameset is made using Trek’s lightest 700 Series OCLV carbon. 

With the drop in weight I half expected the bike to be a bit noodly and awkward to ride but after 1,000 odd kilometres of riding I have only positive things to say.  More on that later.

The finish on the ProjectOne is hand painted in Waterloo, Wisconsin and you have the option of having the artist autograph the frame, making the frame even more bespoke.

The Specs

  • Ultralight 700 Series OCLV Carbon
  • Ride-tuned performance tube optimization
  • Tapered head tube
  • BB90 Bottom Bracket
  • Internal cable routing
  • Direct mount rim brakes
  • DuoTrap S compatible
  • Ride Tuned seatmast

The build quality is excellent as one expects from a top of the line product.

Trek Emonda SLR - Project One Name

Trek Emonda SLR – The Build

For this build I went for the following:

  • Shimano 9100 Groupset
  • VerveCycling InfoCrank
  • Bontrager Speed Stop Pro Brakes
  • ENVE SES 4.5 on DT Swiss 240 hubs
  • ENVE SES Aero Road Handlebar and Stem
  • PRO Stealth Saddle

Some asked why I didn’t go electric shifting, the truth is I like the mechanical feel. Having the direct feedback of the chain moving to the next gear is something I got used to, and quite like.

It can be frustrating when you’re going full gas and you don’t get the next gear immediately but to me there in lays the fun in cycling. 

Trek Emonda SLR - Front View

Trek Emonda SLR – The Ride

After 1,000 kilometres the bike feels as amazing as it did on day one. Granted the first few weeks of a new bike are always a honeymoon period however I don’t feel like this honeymoon will end any time soon.

The H1 fit is the more aggressive ‘race’ geometry in the Trek lineup, with the change in stack and reach from the Canyon I was previously riding I opted for a 10mm spacer on the steerer.

Trek Emonda SLR - Side View

Previously having owned a SwiftCarbon Ultravox TI which had very direct ride characteristics and similar geometry to the Emonda SLR. I was a little concerned this frame would have the same characteristic however the tapered head tube helps by giving the Emonda SLR a balanced feeling.

The bike has good responsiveness, direct steering and is compliant over a variety of surfaces. Granted Singapore roads are particularly well surfaced so I’ll have to weigh in again after riding in Malaysia or Australia.

Being a lightweight bike, well suited to climbing, taking it for a loop of Faber was a on the cards. As a testiment to the stability and handling of the Emonda SLR I set a PR on the descent without the thought of going fast on the downhill.

To say I was happy with how the Emonda SLR handled both up and down Faber is pretty accurate.

Climbing

The lack of climbing parcour in Singapore means this section will stay open for review after visiting some mountains!

Sprinting

Everyone loves having a dig for the town sign sprints. I feel I was lacking fluidity throughout the year and this flowed through to the sprints. The first few rides on the Trek that fluidity came back, I can attribute some of that to new bike day, however the feelings have persisted.

The OCLV 700 carbon layup provides a solid platform for sprinting and you can feel the power being transferred into the drive train.

The bike is an all rounder and not specifically built to slice through the air like the slippery Madone SLR and for that fact alone I cannot say this is a pure 5 star sprinter (although it performs like a 5 star sprinter).

Comfort

Choosing the incorrect frame size can lead to any bike being uncomfortable. It’s important to know what to expect from a frame size and geometry when purchasing it, especially as race geometry can become unforgiving and uncomfortable for longer rides, if you lack flexibility.

The fit and geometry for the Emonda SLR is perfect for me. The bike feels natural, direct and comfortable. I feel engaged and fast.

There is no feeling of fighting the pedals, cramped riding or overreaching for the bars. This is a testament to the careful thought and design the team at Trek have done.

[edit] On Saturday I joined the Singapore Audax group for a ride through Kulai, Malaysia, via a slightly different route (strava). The roads range from brand new to absolutely terrible. After the 6 hour journey I feel comfortable saying the bike handles the range of surfaces well. However not quite as well as an enduro style bike.

The stiffness of the frame means the feeling of the road surface is transfered directly to your body. The trade off between stiffness and compliance is always a balancing act. Trek have done a good job of getting the balance right here.

Braking

Reviews of the Bontrager Speed Stop Pro Brakes suggest the performance is not quite that of Shimano Direct Mount brakes however I have not noticed any difference. 

The lever modulation is smooth and progressive. The ability to adjust the attack angle of the caliper is also nice. The lever feel can be adjusted for either a longer progressive travel, or shorter direct travel.

The also look badass.

Trek Emonda SLR - Speed Stop Brakes

Trek Emonda SLR – The Warp

If you are in the market for an all rounder you cannot go past the Trek Emonda SLR.

The lightweight construction coupled with comfortable, direct and compliant riding make the Emonda SLR a top choice for any rider. If you are a climber, a crit racer, road racer, weekend warrior or simply a bike enthusiast this bike is sure to please.

The bike definitely turns heads at the coffee shop and for some that is the most important part of riding, the coffee.

As mentioned if you are in the market for a Trek go checkout the ProjectOne options at Treknology3 and remember to mention the blog for a discount.

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