Trek Emonda SLR 6 review£4,300.00

The superbike frameset in a (slightly) more affordable package

BikeRadar score4/5

Launched last year and claiming to be the world's lightest production bike at the time, the Émonda is a proper race machine built to weigh as little as is humanly possible.

While the Madone has some aero features and the Domane places an emphasis on comfort, the Émonda is a is single-minded design for the weight-conscious rider.

    We'd be remiss if we didn't discuss the name. The keen-eyed will have noticed that "Émonda" is an anagram of both Madone and Domane. It's also claimed, rather neatly, to be drawn from the French verb émonder, meaning "to trim down", or prune – certainly appropriate for a design focused on extreme weight savings. We do wonder how long Trek can keep this up, is there perhaps a Daemon on the cards? (The US company would neither confirm nor deny.)

    Frame and equipment: superbike chassis and watertight spec

    The SLR 6 gets the same chassis that's at the heart of the bonkers 4.5kg SLR 10 superbike. It uses Trek's 700 Series carbon, while the cheaper SL and S version use lower grades, and the newly-launched ALR is alloy. The SLR's frame weighs a claimed 690g in size 56, and given that our 52cm test bike came in at just 6.5kg with Bontrager alloy clinchers, an alloy cockpit and a Shimano Ultegra groupset, we can believe that.

    That’s not to say there’s anything seriously lacking in the equipment department. Said wheels have a useful 23mm wide rim section and are tubeless-ready to boot, while the Ultegra shifting kit is as flawless as ever and the funky Bontrager brakes perform well.

    The bontrager paradigm rl saddle sits on an integrated seatpost, which saves a few precious grams over a standard item:
    The bontrager paradigm rl saddle sits on an integrated seatpost, which saves a few precious grams over a standard item:

    The Bontrager Paradigm RL saddle sits on an integrated seatpost, which saves a few precious grams over a standard item

    The finishing kit is functional and good looking too, with a svelte Bontrager Paradigm RL saddle bolted to the ‘seatmast cap’ that sits on the integrated seatpost. This is a design shared with other high-end Treks which offers similar weight savings to a full-fledged seatmast without the need to chop bits off your frame.

    Elsewhere the frameset is equally modern, with fully internal cabling, direct-mount brakes, and Trek’s trademark BB90 bottom bracket. In tube profiles however, it’s reminiscent of Madones from years past; there are no Kamm tail sections or aero tweaks, and Trek makes no claims in that department. Instead, it’s all curves, and it’s rather nice.

    Ride and handling: weightless wonder – but don't come here to relax

    Trek offers the Émonda in both its ultra-aggressive H1 geometry and the slightly more moderate H2 version we tested here, which gives you a 534mm top tube and 140mm headtube on a 52. Either way, we’re in the realm of racers, and on the road the bike is eminently flickable, changing line effortlessly. The frame is hugely stiff from end to end, and power transfer is fantastic, making climbing an absolute joy.

    You never forget you’re riding a race bike though. Perhaps it’s a consequence of the integrated seatpost and the straight bladed fork, but the Émonda isn’t what you’d call forgiving – you can really feel the surface beneath your wheels and potholed lanes can be quite wearing. Trek hasn’t helped matters by fitting 23mm rubber (there’s room for slightly fatter specimens), but in any case it’s a machine that will suit those who aim to ride fast all of the time, not cruisers looking to be cossetted.

    Ultegra weighs a tad more than Dura-Ace but it’s close to it in performance

    Ours is a weight obsessed sport, and yet there are countless nine and 10 kilo bikes that are absolutely delightful rides. Nobody needs to spend their life savings on a UCI regulation-challenging road bike, but at the same time it is a real pleasure to ride something truly light.

    When you're out of the saddle and throwing the whole bike from side to side in your worst impression of Alberto Contador, the Émonda feels almost massless, and it’s hard to put a price on that.

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

    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.
    • Age: 27
    • Height: 174cm / 5'8"
    • Weight: 53kg / 117lb
    • Waist: 71cm / 28in
    • Chest: 84cm / 33in
    • 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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