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Customer bike reviews

Trek Emonda SLR6 Test Run

reviewed by David Wall

So the conversation went a little like this;

Me: “mate I can’t decide between a new Madone or a new Emonda”

Erik: “Why don’t you take my SLR demo to Mallorca and write me a review”

So that’s how I found myself in Mallorca for five days with one of the best climbing bikes money can buy to test and review for my Local Trek Dealer. Yes I will probably buy one so a good marketing ploy but hey would you say no?

This should be an easy review to write if you know that my current ride is a 2015 Emonda SL8 with full SRAM Etap groupset and Aeolus 5 wheelset. I love my bike and I can’t fault it, many have tried but all have failed (in my eyes at least). A bike is a personal thing just because one guy thinks the Domane is best or an S-works rules the roost it will always come down to personal preference. I don’t follow the crowd.

First impressions are ‘oh my word its light’! I don’t mean light compared to your Rayleigh Grifter I mean its light compared to some of the other so called “Lightest bikes money can buy” light. It tips the scales with pedals and cages at 6.45Kgs!!

Fitted with a full etap Groupset Aeolus 3 TLS wheels and my own Fizik full carbon saddle this bike has to be tied down for fear of it floating away.

6.45KGS with wheels cages and pedals!

So to the riding!

Over the course of the week we did rides consisting of just 20 miles all the way up to 90 miles and the climbing ranged from just 1000 feet right up to 6000 feet. The weight of the bike you could say wasn’t really noticed apart from bragging rights in the bar after each ride.

That said because of the way the tube design has changed due to the weight loss the stiffness of the frame has improved more than enough to be noticed.  You can stand up and feel confident in that a lot more power was going to the back wheel than before and when you were riding on the flat and going all out the same again. With other bikes that are this stiff you would feel every bump in the road and you would experience road buzz, but with this frame you don’t.

In Treks own words “The new Emonda is stiffer at the head tube, bottom bracket, and in the frame overall, whilst at the same time introducing a little more vertical compliance”, job done in my opinion.

Are there stiffer bikes out there?

Are there more comfortable bikes out there?
100% yes.

BUT are they as light and nimble as the Emonda SLR?
Sorry no.

Not even Bianchi can claim this with their Specialissima (albeit it’s a beautiful bike to look at).

The brakes were also a revelation for me, WOW they are good. Being of the Bontrager direct mount type, the feeling of confidence they give is light years ahead of anything I have tried; Dura Ace, SRAM, Campagnolo and nothing can touch these, even on carbon rims you would have to go to disc brakes to better them. These are the newer version as well so they have been improved on the original design which makes them lighter stronger and also gives more clearance, if you ever choose to ride larger tyres.

“These are the newer version as well so they have been improved on the original design which makes them lighter stronger and also gives more clearance if you ever choose to ride larger tyres.” I was running 25mm tyres in this picture with ample room.

On one of the days we covered 90 miles and 6000 feet of climbing, that’s more than most of us will ever do in one day so it was a good test. It climbed exceptionally well, it took corners on the descent unbelievably well and gave me new confidence in descending at speed, and even when I had to slow myself down the brakes took that in their stride. Even with Carbon wheels.

After the climbing came 45 miles of rolling terrain to get home, now at this point I would be feeling tired, emotional and just wanting to get off the bike, however whilst I wasn’t as fresh as a daisy, nothing ached, nothing was sore (I use a lot of Chamois cream) and I was happy to continue and spend most of the ride home on the front. Even at the end of the ride I felt comfortable. For a bike this light and stiff, what Trek have therefore managed, is a work of art!

The day after was supposed to be a recovery ride, well I guess it was as we only did 1660 feet of climbing, that said we still covered 70 miles with a head wind for most of it. Yet again I got off of the bike feeling fine, did I feel like I had done 70 miles? Yes of course I did, but not to the point where I couldn’t get back on and do more. I wasn’t dreading getting on and riding every morning I was actually looking forward to it!

Now I am 90KGS plus and if this bike looks after me this well after a ride like this what’s not to like?

Well this bike does have its flaws, mainly the wheelbase could do with being maybe slightly longer? I notice my feet touching the front wheel every now and again when I turn. This may just mean I should be in a 56 and not a 54 but it's worth a mention all the same. The Matt finish looks great but is really hard to keep clean and shows up every little imperfection, but that’s it, honestly I cannot find any other flaw. I guess they aren't really flaws but I had to find something wrong with it! However as I said at the start we all have our preferences so somebody else may not agree.

Every size and every configuration of the Emonda SLR will be available in both H1 and H2 fit for both disc and rim brake frames. So those who favour a longer and lower ride position have the H1, and riders looking for a more endurance focused shape can opt for the H2 fit models.

All of the SLRs are built with Trek’s OCLV 700 carbon. Trek are also quick to point out that the 2018, 700 series carbon is different today than it was two years ago - the carbon grade and fibres have changed, the laminate has evolved, and even the production methods have been revamped. It shows my SL8 is OCLV 500 carbon and clearly the differences are big!

It has added in a carbon front mech mount, all of the threads (bottle bosses, etc.) are moulded into the frame - so no drillings - and on the disc bike the aluminium dropouts are co-moulded into the frame and fork, which Trek claims is the most efficient way to integrate thru’ axles.

All of the changes are subtle over the previous models but do make a large difference. What next how can they improve this frame? Who knows but I look forward to riding the 2019 model!

So now the time has come to give it back to Erik, do I want to?
Er no!

Can I afford to keep it?
Probably not.

If I could hide the cost from the wife would I run the risk of buying it?
Yes definitely!

Look this bike won’t be for everyone but it does what it says on the tin and looks damn good doing it, is there better out there for the money, no not in my opinion.

I just can’t decide between this or the Madone, hmmm I wonder If Erik wants another review done……………………watch this space.

Thank you David for your review on the Trek Emonda SLR6 2018!

If, from reading this review, you would like more information on the new Emonda please, either, pop into the shop and speak with our team (Erik, Martin or Sam), or visit the Trek website.