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Trek Emonda ALR6 review

14 Jun 2017

Page 1 of 2Trek Emonda ALR6 review

Verdict:

A future-proof alloy climbing weapon from Trek

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,600

Trek has a bold aim with the Emonda ALR – to mimic the climbing ability of its big-bucks carbon Emonda range.

With a high-tech alloy frame and full Ultegra groupset, the US manufacturer reckons to have created a bike that packs balance and handling which surpasses the lightness and performance of the bike’s carbon competitors.

Bold claims, but do they stack up?

Frameset

Trek uses hydroformed aluminium tubing for the Emonda ALR6, which means each section of tubing can be formed into sizes specific to the frameset, for a good balance between stiffness and weight.

The junctions are the neatest we’ve ever seen on an alloy bike. This is thanks to Trek’s ‘invisible weld’ technology, which increases strength at the same time as using less material.

Some of the higher-end carbon Emonda range is available in either an H2 or H1 geometry (the latter being more aggressive).

The alloy range makes do with H2 – it’s largely similar to the H1 fit but with a noticeably higher head tube for a more ‘endurance’ fit.

A measured head angle of 72.7° contributes to a quick-steering package, while a very steep seat angle of 74.6° puts you right over the front of the bike for maximum leverage.

An oversized down tube speaks volumes about the stiffness of the bike, flaring even more widely as it reaches the bottom bracket.

A flatter, sloping top tube makes its (neat) junction with a rounded seat tube and seatstays, while the chainstays are slab-sided for stiffness.

The left-hand stay also incorporates Trek’s Duotrap cadence sensor, which speaks to your cycling computer.

Every one of the ALR’s four cables is routed externally, eliminating cable rattle, though this does mean gear cables will get grubby in foul weather.

Groupset

The Emonda ALR6 runs a totally Shimano Ultegra groupset; we do love a unified approach to equipment, and it’s especially welcome on a bike of this price. Even two years ago you’d gave struggled to get a bike with full Ultegra for less than £2,000.

A compact, 50/34 chainset is used in conjunction with a fairly wide ratio 11-28 Ultegra cassette, while the front and rear mechs are also Ultegra equipment as are the caliper brakes.

Unlike the higher reaches of the carbon Emonda range, they’re not direct-mount, though we found the braking performance perfectly adequate.

Finishing kit

Bontrager’s unfussy yet decidedly effective alloy finishing kit is used on the ALR6. 400mm diameter compact drop handlebars combine with a 100mm alloy stem to provide an ergo-friendly riding position.

That said, the drops of the bars are noticeably short, encouraging you over the front of the bike for more committed riding.

Bontrager’s Montrose saddle is particularly comfortable, and sitting atop a 27.2mm carbon seatpost helps eliminate any jarring vibrations that would otherwise make it to your behind.

Wheels

Trek has used trickle-down tubeless-ready Bontrager TLR wheels – a £230 alloy wheelset with off set spoke beads claimed to boost stiffness and stability.

They offer a versatile platform and the option to upgrade to tubeless for less rolling resistance.

Bontrager’s R1 tyres are a carefully chosen compromise – light enough and fast rolling 85% of the time, the puncture protection material beneath the surface promises a flat-free ride.

The ride

Everything about the ALR6 seems to be geared toward lithe performance and minimum time spent cresting rises.

This bike positively demands that you seek out local climbs. Thankfully (although we’re not thankful all the time) our test loop has its fair share of short, sharp climbs and a smattering of longer ascents.

The alloy Emonda destroys all of them. Thanks to its mega-stiff chainstays and wide bottom bracket shell, you really do feel like none of your effort is wasted as you hammer up a climb.

But all of this would be for nothing if that front end was mush. It’s not solid to the point of jarring – the carbon fork ensures that – but everything about this bike feels ‘planted.’

In normal use, even Shimano’s Ultegra kit is a delight to use, with up and down shifts slotting home with ease. The gearing is spot-on, too, the 11-28 cassette being the perfect partner for the Trek’s 50/34 chainset.

We didn’t need the 28-tooth cog at any point, regardless of the gradient, which tells you a lot about how lossless this alloy bike’s package is.

But climbing’s not its only forte – it’ll sprint with aplomb, or just roll along on a Sunday ride.

The Bontrager wheelset is easily good enough for any situation, with a flexless set-up sapping nothing from our efforts.

The brakes are easily and efficiently called into service on a few downhill occasions, and operate without squeal, grab or panic; scrubbing a little speed off is a two-fingered job, and the reach to the levers is near-perfect, even for our little hands, when riding on the drops.

It seems Trek has got the Emonda’s geometry bang-on, too. Whether cornering on sweeping descents or much tighter turns, the bike delivers so much more assured handling than we expected.

A fairly steep head angle is tempered by a moderately rangy head tube compared to many size 52 bikes, yet agility abounds.

So often, and especially on higher-end racers, this agility comes at the expense of confidence, but the ALR will tip into any kind of cornering without the slightest twitch, and tracks a line perfectly.

Bontrager’s 25c R1 rubber is grippy enough in the wet or dry, but the most important thing to note is that, of all the different bikes we’ve tested that wear these tyres, we’re yet to experience a single puncture.

It’s adequate in its performance but for quicker rides, or if you’re aiming to tackle some serious descents this summer, a switch to tackier rubber would yield even better results.

In all, however, the over-riding sensation this bike delivers is of a machine that punches well above its weight, is better than some carbon-road bikes with a similar purpose in life, and – above all – offers ridiculous value for money.

£1,600 for this alloy climber’s bike is a small price to pay for such a high level of performance.

Ratings

Frame: Trek's 'invisible weld' tech ensures a seamless finish. 9/10
Components: Shimano Ultegra throughout. We approve! 9/10 
Wheels: Offered reliability, stability and stiffness in spades. 9/10 
The Ride: Agile, power-efficient, versatile, and speedy. 9/10

VERDICT

With great components and an agile yet stiff frame, the Emonda ALR6 is every bit a future-proof climber's weapon. 

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 534mm 532mm
Seat Tube (ST) 473mm 474mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 628mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 378mm
Head Tube (HT) 140mm 140mm
Head Angle (HA) 72.8 72.7
Seat Angle (SA) 74.2 74.6
Wheelbase (WB) 977mm 976mm
BB drop (BB) 72mm 71mm

Spec

Trek Emonda ALR6
Frame Ultralight 300 Series Alpha Aluminium frame, Emonda carbon forks
Groupset Shimano Ultegra
Brakes Shimano Ultegra
Chainset Shimano Ultegra, 50/34
Cassette Shimano Ultegra, 11-28
Bars Bontrager Race VR-C, alloy
Stem Bontrager Elite, alloy
Seatpost Bontrager 27.2mm carbon
Wheels Bontrager tubeless-ready, Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lite 25c tyres
Saddle Reporto Montrose Comp
Weight 8.22kg (52cm)
Contact trekbikes.com/gb

Page 1 of 2Trek Emonda ALR6 review

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