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Trek Emonda SLR9 review

28 Sep 2020

Page 2 of 3The new Trek Emonda SLR: The lightest yet

Verdict:

It may be aimed firmly at the highest level of racing but for all that this Emonda has lost some of its old very likeable traits

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Impressively light and fast • Excellent wheels
Against 
Slightly compromised handling and comfort versus its predecessor

The new Trek Emonda SLR: The lightest yet

Trek Emonda SLR refreshes its claim to the lightest production bike on earth, but not just for rim brakes. There’s a disc version too

Stu Bowers – June 2017

 

Price: £6000 (disc) ; £8500

When Trek launched the Emonda in 2014, just a few days before the Tour de France kicked off in Yorkshire, its range topping Trek Emonda SLR upped the ante in the weight race for production road bikes. Its 690g frame meant Trek achieved a fuselage weight (frame and forks) under 1kg and boasted the lightest production bike at that time.

Three years on, Trek has gone all out to see if it could better its own benchmark and as you might expect, there’s now a disc brake option too.

Buy the Trek Emonda SL 5 2019 from Rutland Cycling now

Let’s cut straight to it… At 660g the latest Trek Emonda SLR disc frame is unfathomably light, lighter even than the previous calliper brake frame.

It was only a few years ago that getting to such a feathery low weight would have meant a trip to Cervelo’s California project (and around an £8000 dent in your wallet for the privilege).

The calliper brake Trek Emonda SLR cuts the disc frame figure a further 20g to 640g, breaking the 650g mark for the first time in a production setting (The eagle eyed amongst you may have already spotted one of these being used by Alberto Contador).

That’s also very impressive, but the fact a disc brake frame no longer seems to carry significant weight penalty, and could easily achieve a complete build well below the UCI’s 6.8kg limit, will likely be the bigger talking point.

For reference these weights are quoted as being for a 56cm frame, painted with U5 vapour coat (Trek’s minimalist 5g paint finish).

‘The new Emonda is not just a simple case of making the lightest lighter,’ says Trek’s Director of Road, Ben Coates, keen to stress there’s more to this story than just shaving off a chunk of grams.

‘These bikes still had to be Treks - which means they still have to ride incredibly well and still have a lifetime warranty etc.

'We knew that we had to satisfy the disc brake market. Not for the pros, that’s still probably the most controversial topic in pro road racing right now, but for our customers who appreciate having super lightweight with race geometry and ride quality to match, we felt we needed to offer them the choice.’

Trek’s claim then is not only is the new Emonda SLR lighter, it’s stiffer and more compliant, this improving the ride quality at a lower weight.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard that old record spun, but Coates goes on to explain how the OCLV 700 carbon of today is far from the same as OCLV 700 of a few years ago.

‘We constantly evolve it, finding new fibres and ways to improve the laminate schedule and the carbon fibre pieces are always getting smaller and more precise – optimised for the jobs they have to do.

'For this new bike we changed absolutely everything and made improvements across the board. It was a ground-up new start.’

This process begins with tens of thousands of iterations running through computer modelling software.

That’s nothing particularly ground-breaking in itself, it’s how most manufacturers make their decisions these days, but the point of difference at Trek, according to Coates, is the number of times it goes back through this cycle in combination with real world prototype testing.

‘The math tells you only so much. But we can take this to the next step to 3D model what it would look like out on the road.

'But even then we still have to take what appear to be the best options for real-world testing. Then we go back to the science and the numbers with the ones that tested the best to try and see how we can improve on it further.

'That’s our cycle.’

The frame will still appeal to those who like traditional road styling, as Trek has kept the style changes subtle compared to the previous Emonda, with both H1 and H2 fit options (H1 has a racier fit with a lower front end – H2 is taller at the front for a slightly more relaxed position) available in both rim and disc options.

The Trek Emonda SLR features Bontrager’s new, sub 100g Speedstop Pro direct mount brakes, and is entirely carbon frame, including details like the derailleur mounts.

The SLR Disc uses co-moulded aluminium drop outs (accounting for the additional frame weight) for the threaded portion required for the thru-axles.

Putting the SLR aside for a moment, one of the most exciting things about this new launch is at the opposite end of the pricing spectrum.

Realising that the market for top of the line SLRs is limited to those with fairly deep pockets, Trek has also brought out new models lower down the range.

The standout bike seems to be the Emonda SL (essentially the same frame as the current Emonda SLR, but using a slightly cheaper updated laminate) retaining a lot of the features of the top end bikes – direct mount brakes, internal cabling, ride tuned seat mast etc. with a claimed frame weight of 1000g.

Pricing with a full Shimano 105 groupset is impressive at $1700 (£1300). Again there’s a disc option at this level too.

Trek Emonda SL: Pricing

Trek Emonda SLR: Top of the range

Trek Emonda SLR from £4000 for the SLR 6
Trek Emonda SLR Disc from £4400

Trek Emonda SLR 9 (top of the range) - £8500
Trek Emonda SLR 8 Disc - £6000

Trek Emonda SL: Entry level

SL prices start at £1500 (SL 4 rim brake), and the cheapest disc model is the SL 6 Disc at £2650

Price: 
£9,700

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Page 2 of 3The new Trek Emonda SLR: The lightest yet