Sign up for our newsletter


Trek Emonda ALR 5 Disc road bike review

3 Apr 2020

The Trek Emonda ALR 5 Disc road bike is a comfortable, nimble ride, despite its weight. Well specced with robust, quality components

Cyclist Rating: 
Comfortable long distance ride • Good spec for the price
On the heavy side

Look through Trek’s extensive range of road bikes and the Trek Emonda ALR 5 comes up amongst the Wisconsin brand’s lightweight bikes. That’s not really a claim justified by the bike’s almost 9kg weight, but the Trek Emonda ALR 5 is nevertheless a competent performer in its price bracket.

Trek’s alphabet soup of road-going models started off with the race-orientated Madone - named after the favourite col on the south coast of France used to test his mettle by one Lance Armstrong. That was followed up by the Domane, aimed at endurance riders, then through yet another shuffling of the letters by the lightweight Emonda series.

For those with deep pockets, a top-end carbon Emonda SLR has a claimed weight of 6.7kg; there’s a mid-range carbon Emonda SL, before you reach the alloy Emonda ALR range. Trek is moving increasingly to disc braking and although you can still buy an Emonda with rim brakes, the ALR 5 comes with discs and tops off the alloy range.

There’s actually not a lot of difference between the frame weight of the Emonda ALR and that of the carbon SL, Trek quoting a similar figure for the weight of the complete bike for the comparably specced £2000 carbon Emonda SL 5 Disc.

Ride comfort foremost

Trek’s Invisible Weld Technology gives an impressive finish to its alloy frames, with smooth tube junctions; at first glance the Emonda ALR 5 could easily be mistaken for carbon. It’s an attractive curvy shape too, with shaped tube profiles. The sloping top tube puts plenty of the carbon seatpost on show, for extra ride comfort. The fork really is carbon and is shared with the Emonda SL carbon bikes.

Other nice features include the thru-axles with a single, removable lever between them, for a more streamlined look. For extra ride data, the left side chainstay is designed to fit Trek’s DuoTrap Bluetooth/ANT+ speed and cadence sensor. The Blendr-compatible stem faceplate lets you bolt an array of Bontrager branded computer, light and action cam mounts to your front end.

Buy the Trek Emonda ALR 5 Disc now from Trek Bikes 

Cables run internally through the down tube, but externally under the bottom bracket and to the mechs. That makes them a bit more susceptible to muck than a fully enclosed run and I found I had to lube them regularly for shifting to stay precise.

There are two colour options for the Trek Emonda ALR 5. The test bike’s fade-to-black grey paint adds to the frame’s smart look, or there’s a metallic purple that looks even more fly.

Unlike the Madone and the Domane, no Emonda gets Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler, which adds a linkage between the seat-tube and the top tube, rather than having a rigid junction, for more compliance (the endurance-badged Domane adds Front IsoSpeed to this for greater front end compliance too).

Whereas the Domane has mudguard fixtures, you can’t bolt mudguards to the Emonda frameset. But nevertheless the Emonda ALR 5 is not lacking in the comfort department.

It’s the wide tyres that really promote the Emonda ALR 5’s ride smoothing abilities. Nominally 25mm, the wire-bead Bontrager Hard Case Lite tyres are actually around 28mm wide on Bontrager’s wide alloy rims. As usual, the extra air volume allows you to run lower pressures, so that the Emonda ALR 5 really soaks up bumps and buzz.

The lowered pressure increases the contact patch size for extra grip too. At the front end, the bars are wrapped with soft Bontrager bar tape, again cushioning you from the road.

The wheels contribute quite a bit of the Emonda’s heft - their weight is around 2kg for the pair. On the plus side, with sealed hub bearings they should be robust and durable. They’re tubeless-compatible, although you’d need to change to tubeless tyres and buy a tubeless kit to run them tubeless. A tubeless set-up should add even more comfort to the ride and there’s clearance for 28mm tyres too.

Buy the Trek Emonda ALR 5 Disc now from Trek Bikes 

Trek has two different geometries for its road bike range: the more aggressive H1 is long and low and saved for its top-end racing machines, while the H2 is more upright and used on the bulk of its lower priced machines, including the Emonda ALR. As well as quite a short reach and high stack, paired with a shortish 90mm stem on the size 54 bike tested, the Trek Emonda ALR comes with 3cm of spacers under the stem.

This all leads to quite a relaxed ride feel and the rider’s weight is distributed to Bontrager’s comfortable Montrose Comp saddle. I was catching more of the wind than I’d have liked though, slowing progress a little. On the plus side, it’s easy to ride in the drops for extended periods for faster riding and more controlled descents.

Quality components

The Trek Emonda ALR 5 is equipped with a Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brake groupset, including a 105 50/34 compact chainset. Crank length increases from 170mm to 172.5mm, then 175mm as you work up the nine frame sizes available, from 47cm up to 64cm. There’s also an increase in stem length and bar width.

The Emonda ALR is a bike that should fit riders with a wide range of physical builds and that would work particularly well for the taller rider, although Trek does show a weight limit for the bike, rider and any kit carried of 125kg.

Handling is confidence-inspiring, with plenty of grip, good tracking and the reassurance of disc brakes when you do need to slow down.

The Shimano 105 disc brakes give you great control and modulation in a range of conditions. The levers are a bit more chunky than those for rim brakes, to accommodate all the hydraulic gubbins. That’s not something I’ve ever found awkward though; they’re still easy to use and the extra surface area helps to smooth out the road.

The 11-28 cassette and the chain are both Shimano 105 too for a full in-series spec, which is nice to see. The bike’s weight means that the Emonda ALR 5 will never fly up the hills. But you’re unlikely to find that you’re straining too much in the lowest gear, even on steeper pitches. The rear mech will cope with a cassette with a 30-tooth largest sprocket if you want it.


Summing up, the Trek Emonda ALR 5 is a well thought out machine and gives a comfortable ride in UK conditions. It would be a good option for the sportive or club rider, who’s more interested in staying the distance than riding hard and who doesn’t mind too much having to pull the extra weight up hills or spending money on a lighter set of best wheels.


Trek Emonda ALR 5 Disc  
Frame Ultralight 300 series aluminium, Emonda SL full carbon fork
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes Shimano 105 hydraulic disc
Chainset Shimano 105 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars Bontrager Comp VR-C
Stem Bontrager Elite
Seatpost Bontrager carbon
Saddle Bontrager Montrose Comp
Wheels Bontrager Affinity Disc, Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lite wire bead 25mm tyres
Weight 8.9kg

Read more about: