Trek Émonda SL 6 road bike review
Giving the ride feel of a thoroughbred GC frame, Trek manages to deliver the perfect balance of stiffness and comfort in the elegant looking and reasonably priced Trek Émonda SL6.
The Trek Émonda SL 6 exists a few places below Trek’s signature SLR model but that doesn’t stop it embodying the GC spirit and as a frame it certainly feels worthy of Alberto Contador.
It’s made the coveted Cycling Weekly’s Editor’s Choice list for its lightweight, fast and comfortable ride quality that’ll have dancing up climbs like Contador himself.
Think of top Tour de France bikes, and there are only a handful of names that pop into your head faster than the Trek Émonda.
While its old sibling, the Émonda SLR occupies the top echelons of WorldTour racing, we’ve got our hands on the more reasonably priced Trek Émonda Sl 6, coming in at £2,250.
Made famous in recent years beneath the likes of Alberto Contador and his Trek-Segafredo team mates, the Trek Émonda SL 6 feels like a thoroughbred GC frame regardless of its lower price point, and it’s a frame that looks built to race yet still manages to maintain an air of elegance.
Sweeping lines blur one area of the frame into the other, and the slender seat stays make the bike look responsive and nimble. Pair the sweeping design with the matte silver paint job, and the bike has a seriously classy look.
But it isn’t just surface, and the 500 series OCLV carbon makes the frame a skimpy 1091g. On our scales, the whole bike weighed in at 7.66kg, with any additional weight no doubt coming down to the components rather than the frame.
Down below, an overbuilt, beefy bottom bracket makes sure that every pedal stroke powers the bike forward – which is especially helpful when things start heading uphill.
Without a doubt, the most exciting equipment on the bike is the Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset. Newly updated, it marks an enormous overhaul of Shimano’s everyman groupset.
In terms of shifting feel and action, it’s every bit as good as it’s older, more expensive Dura-Ace sibling. The re-designed front mech and more ergonomic levers offer a light action to front shifts, and rear shifts are crisp, accurate and powerful.
Of the new Ultegra groupset itself, the most exciting feature are the excellent rim brakes – again, they’re every bit the match to the Dura-Ace models.
With them being so good, it was a bit of a disappointment to find them missing on the Émonda. Instead, Trek has specced its Bontrager Speed Stop Pro brakes rather than Shimano’s far superior rim brakes.
Bontrager’s in house stoppers can’t match Shimano’s for neither feel nor power but it’s an oversight we can forgive considering the Émonda’s excellent frame and ride qualities. Besides, the Ultegra brakes are always going to be there for that next upgrade.
Again, the Bontrager Paradigm aluminium wheelset could be lighter to match the svelte carbon frame but at this price point they’re par for the course and they didn’t feel like lead weights when heading uphill.
GC quality frameset
Out on the open road, the ride quality of the GC frame really shines through, and there’s a sense of urgency laid up in the carbon that wants to let rip.
But there’s a gentler side to it, too, and the high modulus frame gives comfort to the ride. Unlike so many stiff carbon frames, the Trek Émonda Sl 6 feels dampened and absorbent without that dreaded sluggishness that heavier bikes suffer from.
The skip in its step no doubt comes from its lack of weight, and even with the aluminium wheels and overbuilt brakes, the Émonda SL 6 weighs a tiny 7.66kg. Spoil yourself to some killer wheels and you’ll bring that down even further.
Dancing out the saddle
On the hills it climbs like you’d expect from a frame built for Alberto Contador, encouraging you to imitate his signature out the saddle dance on the steepest inclines. But its a frame that really shines on the downs, too. The 992mm wheelbase is manoeuvrable but well balanced and the handling was sharp in the corners, everything you’d expect from a GC super bike.
The Émonda Sl 6’s frame is faultless – lightweight, comfort and stiffness all in perfect equilibrium. Its more than a match for the aluminium wheels it comes with, but it has to meet a price point after all.