Owing far more to the fantastic Boone and Crocket cyclocross bikes than Trek’s road models, the Checkpoint has all the bona fide features you would expect for a bike of this genre. There is also a feature you might not expect — adjustable rear dropouts to support singlespeed riders.
Trek Checkpoint ALR5 frame and kit
My ALR5’s aluminium frame has classic looks with unfussy round or ovalised tubes, neat welds and glossy paintwork. It sports numerous mounts for racks front and rear, mudguards, options for one bottle-cage on the seat tube, two on top of the down tube, and one beneath it.
There’s neat internal cable and hose routing through the down tube via a single port, externally on the fork, and beneath the chainstays, and for those who think this bike has 21 gears too many, Trek’s adjustable Stranglehold dropouts allow conversion to singlespeed.
The ALR5’s aluminium frame has classic looks David Caudery/Immediate Media
At first glance the barely more than 3mm gap between the left crank and chainstay could have been a concern, but it hasn’t proven to be.
For the dedicated gravelista, those same dropouts permit some wheelbase length alteration too, making room for bigger rubber — the ALR can take 45mm tyres — increasing stability, or keeping the rear-end tight.
Mudguard mounts make the bike all-weather ready David Caudery/Immediate Media
In standard form, the ALR5 shares its chainstay length and wheelbase with the equivalent-sized Boone, has a slightly slacker seat angle and fractionally steeper head angle, with a shorter head-tube, longer effective top tube and lower bottom bracket.
All that boils down to a bike that, although not aimed at cyclocross-level technical riding, is quick over mixed terrain, and super-stable, making a solid platform to add some luggage to.
At higher pressure the Schwalbe G-One tyres didn’t hold the Trek back on tarmac David Caudery/Immediate Media
Trek Checkpoint ALR5 ride impressions
It shifts on tarmac, with 50psi in the 35mm Schwalbe G-One gravel tyres, clipping along at 18mph-plus wasn’t hard, and I pedalled away from a road bike or two.
Hitting the potholed, dirt road, the Checkpoint displayed ’cross-bike agility to carve lines around the worst obstructions, although its near-10kg weight almost grounded the first bunny hop I tried.
The ride quality is firm but well damped on rough tarmac, and much the same on hardpacked dirt or gravel. Although I’d rather see bigger tyres supplied, the relatively thin 35mm tyres, generous pressures and only limited assistance from the aluminium vibration-reducing, gel-padded bar and 27.2mm seatpost, mean seated comfort wouldn’t be a concern for lengthier rides.
The plush Montrose Comp saddle helps too. With heaps of flex from its surprisingly mobile shell, and a central cutout, it’s a good match.
For its completely rounded ability, the Trek leaves the others in the dust Robert Smith / Immediate Media
The drivetrain is all Shimano 105, with the RS505 hydraulic levers and calipers stopping the bike effectively. A 50/34 compact chainset mated with 11-34 cassette gives good, closely spaced ratios in almost every circumstance, with a 1:1 lowest gear for big climb grinds.
The frame’s detailing is excellent, and even Bontrager’s TLR tubeless-ready wheelset feels quite willing in this build, but there is a maximum total weight limit, including rider and luggage, of 125kg.
They’ll never be a fast option, but the TLRs are pretty robust, versatile and will give good service. Turning them tubeless or replacing them with something friskier could turn a satisfyingly composed frameset into a contender for your do-it-all bike.
The Checkpoint comes with a Shimano 105 drivetrain Robert Smith / Immediate Media