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Trek’s “Race-Ready” Emonda SL 6 Pro

What is Émonda?….

The Émonda is Trek’s lightweight, responsive, all-rounder carbon road bike designed to conquer tough climbs and excel during long days in the saddle. This family of road bikes is ever-growing, with the highly regarded carbon Émonda bike coming in a variety of guises, including two choices of frame – the SL and SLR which consist of slightly different grades of carbon, the SL is constructed from 500 Series OCLV carbon and the SLR is constructed from even lighter 700 Series OCLV carbon. There is now a comprehensive mix of caliper brake or disc brake options within the Émonda range as well as numerous different groupset and component specifications to choose from.

What ya got?….

The diverse Trek Émonda carbon road bike range starts with the Émonda SL 5 which includes a Shimano 105 groupset for £1800.00 and tops out with the uber-bling SLR 9 Disc featuring a SRAM Red E-Tap AXS wireless groupset for a whopping £9500.00 The Edge Cycleworks have very kindly given me an Émonda SL 6 Pro to ride for this season; retailing at £2900.00 the SL 6 Pro has been cleverly specced to be truly ‘race-ready’ straight out of the box, here’s why….

Pimp my ride….

The Trek Émonda SL 6 Pro benefits from a lightweight 500 series OCLV carbon frameset combined with Shimano’s dependable, precise-shifting Ultegra R8000 groupset AND includes (and here’s the money-shot) a lightweight, super-stiff, responsive set of Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 carbon wheels as part of their standard spec. A good set of wheels on a lightweight road bike cannot be underestimated, after the frame it is commonly accepted that your wheels make the biggest improvement on the way the bike accelerates, holds its speed and how it handles on technical terrain.

With a lot of bike brands speccing high-end bikes with mid-range wheels in an effort to keep their prices lower it’s not uncommon to see road racers quickly upgrading stock wheels to something a bit more special, spending a third of the price or more of their original bike on new wheels in a quest to improve the characteristics of their race machine. With the Trek Émonda SL 6 Pro there’s no need to do that, they’ve hit a competitive price point with a brilliantly specced bike and it feels amazing straight off the bat!…

How does it handle?….

I have been riding the Trek Émonda SL 6 Pro for about 8 weeks now and am getting so much pure enjoyment from riding it. The timing was perfect, moving from my slightly heavier Trek Émonda ALR (the alloy version of the Émonda featuring the same responsive geometry and a great option for those on a tighter budget!) combined with a much-needed improvement in the weather and riding conditions as well as a drop in my own weight thanks to a sustained effort to get lean for spring meant I felt like I was flying the moment I got on the Émonda SL 6 Pro!

It climbs faster than what I’ve previously been used to, with more power transfer through the frame; out of the saddle, up steep climbs I’m able to ride more aggressively, using the spread of gears more efficiently to change my cadence as the gradient varies. The SL 6 Pro is responsive and quick to accelerate but I’ve also noticed that on the flat it is much easier to cruise at a set speed, I’m not wrestling or re-stoking the bike to hold my speed, this is no-doubt partly down to the excellent Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 carbon wheels. When descending, the Émonda SL 6 Pro gives the same confidence-inspiring sensations as my own Émonda ALR, solid, planted and agile without feeling nervous or skittish, it’s brilliant on the corners; whether they’re tight, long and flowing or slightly off-camber the SL6 Pro holds its line regardless.

What about stopping? Well Trek have specced their own Bontrager Speed Stop direct mount caliper brakes with carbon-specific brake pads and they are brilliant! When putting the bike together they were easy to set up, with precise adjustment enabling me to balance the distance between pad and rim while ensuring lever pull was just right. On the bike, the brakes feel almost like a disc brake in the way you can modulate the stopping power as you brake. The caliper has been engineered so that the force seems to gradually increase as you pull the lever closer to the bar meaning that the brakes are not grabby and will not lock on unintentionally, again this just adds to your descending confidence.

Would you recommend it?….

Hell yeah! If you’re looking for a lightweight all-round road bike that you can train on comfortably during long, hilly epic days in the saddle or race at your local weekly crit this is the bike for you. As I’ve already pointed out, it’s rare to be able to pull a bike out of the box and be ready to race on the road without a mental list of future upgrades or an acceptance of some compromises in componentry or wheels. There’s no such quandaries with the Trek Émonda SL 6 Pro, this stealthy beauty is making my riding so much more enjoyable and is encouraging me to push myself even more in training. Now, where did I put my race licence?….