Trek Émonda ALR 4 review

A great fun frameset with kit to match

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £1,000.00 RRP | AUD $1,799.00 | USD $1,310.00

Our review

The spec is average, but the Émonda’s frameset is an utter peach
Buy if, You want the authentic Émonda experience at an everyman price
Pros: Outstanding ride, quality finish
Cons: No mudguard mounts
Skip to view product specifications

Almost three years ago, Trek launched what it claimed to be the world’s lightest production bike, the incredible carbon Émonda SLR. The Émonda ALR is its more affordable aluminium counterpart, and it offers an experience that’s closer to the big daddy than you might think.

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The Émonda ALR’s frame is everything you’d hope for from a modern aluminium bike in tech terms.

It’s dainty in key areas for comfort, with slim seatstays and a 27.2mm seatpost promising compliance. The press-fit bottom bracket won’t warm the cockles of your mechanic’s heart, but it (probably) contributes to a stiff pedalling platform, and as you move to the front of the bike there’s more beefiness as the top tube and down tube broaden to meet a head tube with a big 1.5in lower bearing.

Cabling is fully external and I’m fine with that. I wish Trek had stuck mudguard mounts on, but you can’t have everything.

My 54cm bike weighed 9.2kg
My 54cm bike weighed 9.2kg
Trek

At every tube junction, the welds are nicely smoothed, and the overall finish is excellent. I sometimes lament the ubiquity of sombre-toned bikes, but the ALR’s “black pearl” paint is indeed pearlescent and looks rather luxurious up close, sparkling in direct sunlight.

As an added bonus, the grey logo and additional highlights are reflective — safety first! If you’re not convinced, there’s a matt red version too.

Shimano’s shiny 10-speed Tiagra groupset seems to have become the go-to for bikes like this, and it’s not at all unwelcome. Its glossy grey finish is strongly reminiscent of Ultegra and its shifting feel is remarkably close too. The most noticeable difference is in the brakes — the calipers are stiffer than the budget alternatives found on some of the competition and braking is fine, but the pads are basic one-piece items.

Like Trek's higher end bikes, the Émonda ALR is Duotrap-ready
In-house component brand Bontrager provide the rolling stock
Philip Sowels / Immediate Media

As you’d expect on a Trek, all the finishing kit is from in-house brand Bontrager, and it’s all good stuff, albeit not particularly eye-catching.

The Montrose saddle may be a little bit soft for some riders, but it does have a decent pressure relief cut-out. The wheels are Bontrager too and whilst basic, they do offer tubeless compatibility, although you’ll need new tyres if you want to ditch your inners.

The Émonda ALR’s real selling point is its ride, which is nigh-on perfectly judged. If this is your first road bike, you’ll be blown away by how stiff and alive it feels; and if you’re accustomed to more exotic fare you’ll marvel at a bike this affordable being so good.

In-house component brand Bontrager provide the rolling stock
The Émonda ALR’s real selling point is its ride, which is nigh-on perfectly judged
Philip Sowels / Immediate Media

Even with relatively modest rolling stock, the Émonda feels stiff and alive, rewarding aggressive out-of-the-saddle riding. It doesn’t have any fancy bump-taming technology and it’s not as comfy as a dedicated endurance bike, but it’s still commendably smooth.

What’s really impressive is how taut and together the whole frameset feels. It’s the sort of bike that encourages you to lean hard on the outside pedal and fling it through sweeping bends. It’s racy enough for actual competition, but not so extreme that novices won’t enjoy it.

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The reality is that this budget Émonda is 95 percent as good as the Ultegra-equipped version. It’s a little bit heavier and the brakes aren’t as good, but the ride quality is identical and it’s a lot cheaper.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Emonda ALR 4
Brand Trek

Available Sizes 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm 62cm
Rear Wheel Weight 1980
Wheelbase (cm) 99
Top Tube (cm) 54
Standover Height (cm) 77
Seat Tube (cm) 45
Chainstays (cm) 41.5
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 28
Wheelset Bontrager Tubeless Ready
Weight (kg) 9.2
Trail 6.8
Stem Bontrager Elite, 90mm
Shifters Shimano Tiagra
Seatpost Bontrager alloy, 27.2mm
Seat Angle 74
Saddle Bontrager Montrose Comp
Rear Tyre Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lite 700x25mm
Bottom Bracket Shimano press-fit
Rear Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
Headset Type FSA, 1.5in lower
Head Angle 72
Handlebar Bontrager Race VR-C, 42cm
Front Wheel Weight 1430
Front Tyre Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lite 700x25mm
Front Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
Frame Material Ultralight 300 Series Alpha aluminium
Fork Offset 4
Fork Émonda carbon, alloy steerer
Cranks Shimano Tiagra 50/34
Chain Shimano CN-HG54
Cassette Shimano CS-HG500 12-28
Brakes Shimano Tiagra
Frame size tested 54cm