I want to build the world’s nicest Trek Emonda ALR

How would you spec your ultimate alloy bike?

Trek launched its updated Émonda ALR in July, offering a choice of disc- and rim-brake versions, the latter with direct-mount brakes. Trek sent me a rim-brake frameset to play with and I’m planning a very tasty build. 

The Emonda ALR is metal af…

From some angles, the frame appears blue
From some angles, the frame appears blue

Costing £800 / $959.99 / €899 for a frameset, the Émonda ALR offers yet more proof that far from being obsolescent, aluminium is having a bit of a moment. 

The likes of Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, and several others currently offer very appealing metal frames that challenge mid-range carbon in looks, performance and even weight.

Welds? What welds?
Welds? What welds?

The Émonda ALR's frame is made from Trek’s 300-series Alpha aluminium, which is joined using ‘Invisible Weld Technology’ that reduces the amount of weld material by using shaped frame tubes that fit together very precisely.

The welds aren’t actually invisible but, at the head tube and seat cluster in particular, they are very smooth, and could easily be mistaken for moulded carbon.

The ALR's Purple Flip paintjob is positively delightful
The ALR's Purple Flip paintjob is positively delightful

The ‘Purple Flip’ paint-job is delightful. Its sparkling, glossy finish shifts between blue and purple according to the viewing angle, and gives the frameset a really premium feel. There are tiny imperfections here and there, but overall it’s a stunning thing.

Trek’s claimed weight for the frame is 1,112g without paint for a 56. This frame is a 54 and including the hanger, cable guides, bottle-cage bolts and seat collar — it weighs 1,203g on our scales.

The matching fork comes in at 352g with an uncut steerer, while the headset weighs 63g (not including spacers) and the supplied expander and top cap come in at 39g.

Building the ultimate alloy bike

Rather than treating this as a budget frame, this build is going to be very, very nice indeed.

Thanks to the good people at SRAM, I have a Red eTap groupset ready to go on, plus a set of the recently launched S900 direct-mount brakes.

Direct-mount brakes should mean great stopping power and light weight
Direct-mount brakes should mean great stopping power and light weight

Ritchey is supplying some lovely WCS finishing kit, but the decision about wheels is yet to be made.

The ALR takes a BB86 bottom bracket
The ALR takes a BB86 bottom bracket

I’ll likely throw on a set of Dura-Ace C24 clinchers to begin with, but I’d love to put a set of all-black rims on this gorgeous frame, ideally with tan-wall tyres because that is my kink.

I very much liked DT Swiss’ PR 1400 Dicut OXiC clinchers when I tested them a while back. They look fantastic and the rim-coating appeared durable.

They’re not particularly wide at 18mm internal however — something better suited to the 28mm tyres I’m hoping to run would arguably be a better choice.

Mavic’s Exalith-coated alloy clinchers are still a viable choice that ticks the box for aesthetics, but the soundtrack remains an acquired taste.

There are, of course, numerous carbon options, but even the best carbon rim braking is only just about as good as that of alloy, and I’m not sure if it’s in keeping with the spirit of a blue-collar metal frame.

Saying that, nothing about this build is exactly budget, and you can’t argue with the stiffness-to-weight ratio of a set of decent carbon climbing wheels.

Talk to me about bikes

Yep, it's gorgeous from this angle, too
Yep, it's gorgeous from this angle, too

So, what would you like to know about the Émonda ALR? How would you build your ultimate alloy bike? Is it mad to put hugely expensive components on a relatively affordable metal frame? Is carbon dead? Is up down? Let me know in the comments below.

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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