First Look: Trek Emonda

Inside Trek, the idea of trying to build the lightest frame possible has been floated ever since the Scott Addict ads touting their accomplishment of producing the (then) world’s lightest frame first started appearing almost a decade ago touting. Somewhere along the way, Trek must’ve gotten sidetracked with other projects they deemed more worthy (like the Domane – yes!). But, according Trek Road Product Manager Ben Coates, the idea re-emerged in a serious way in 2012 – the ability to build the world’s lightest bike.

Is that what the new Emonda is? No. From one-off builds and “production” versions from a handful of fringe builders, there have been sub-11 lb. bikes around for years. However, although Cannondale has gotten close, there has yet to be a 690 gram frame from a major player. There is still a bit of word play going on however, as Trek repeatedly says the “lightest road bike line ever” and really, they’re only talking about a single bike, the Emonda SLR10. When they add that each bike is “the lightest in its class”, well, that might be true, but considering that the third tier S model frame weighs 1220 grams (19.8 lb bike weight), there very well could be a competitor at the scale. What is worth remembering is that all the bikes – even the featherlight SLR10 – comes with a lifetime warranty. Very nice.

While everyone knows that with carbon you can build a frame that weighs  500 grams. The difference is in the ride. As often as “feather light” bikes can be on the whispy side, it’s nice to know that the Emonda is still stiff and stable enough for the bike to be raced in the Euro schedule by guys who are traditionally renowned as light and stiff fetishists. Yes, Trek has relied heavily on the input of riders on the Trek Factory Racing team…that’s definitely another feather in their cap and one that holds even better prospects that this light bike will still be a capable bike.

And so, for the gaggle of journos who happened to find their way to the Tour de France start in Leeds, England, Trek decided to throw-down with a little product launch in the quaint town of Harrogate (where stage one would finish three days later). Tucked up into The Old Swan Hotel (circa 1840), we had a presentation about the new bike, followed by a 100k ride over a majority of the route to be used for opening stage of the Tour (look for a ride report later).

When Trek talks about a sub-11 lb. bike, the highest-end of the Emonda line (for $15,750 – it better be!),the SLR 10 is the model they’re talking about. And just as Cannondale used a handful of off-brand, German made carbon parts to make their fighting weight with their limited-run EVO, so too did Trek. Start with the 690 gram frame (size 56cm), add a SRAM Red drivetrain, Tune carbon wheels & saddle, plus a Tune magnesium headset spacers and the new one piece Bontrager XXX Blender stem/bar that weighs a claimed 228 grams and you have a true featherweight.

In the footsteps of the dual mount brake found on the hi-end Madone, the Emonda runs with a newly designed version. This brake too was made in conjunction with Shimano. Here’s to hoping that the dual-cam brakes work better mounted on the seatstays than the dual mount brakes did on the Madone. Stopping is a good thing.

The $12,080 Emonda SLR9 sits at the top of the “lower-line” production bike heap and runs a Shimano Dura-Ace component group with Bontrager carbon hoops. Like the SLR10, all three SLR9 models are made at the Trek factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Excellent! The SLR10 is also the only bike to get the dual mount brakes. This is the bike we’ll be riding in about seven hours of this writing…following a proper English breakfast with bacon, eggs, baked beans, tomatoes and toast of course. Bring it!

The Bontrager XXX Blendr one-piece bar/stem combo is a cool new item in the Bonti catalog and an it has an integrated mount for Garmin/GoPro accessories off the front. We’re told the one-piece design knocked about 70 grams off the standard two-piece bolted version. Like their other bikes, the 56cm frame will come with a 100mm stem, which we feel is 10mm too short for most riders in the appropriate height range. The internally routed cables are nicely executed and can run either cables or wires.

Emonda is both a French word (to trim or pare – as in weight) of it’s just a mixed up spelling of Madone. Trek’s proprietary & integrated DuoTrap sensor unit has been improved and is both Ant+ and Bluetooth enabled to give your computer all the pertinent info.

It’s not often that any bike maker would ever talk about a broken frame, let alone show one off, but Trek did so to prove how much the frames were tested. Trek is well-known for their industry leading strength and durability tests.

If ever you were of the mind to have a stable of bikes, Trek is happy to play along. The Wisconsin bike brand made a good case in that effort by showcasing three bikes which are designed to excel in their own respective environment: a lightweight climbing bike in the Emonda, the endurance/suspension ride of the Domane and the aero road Madone.

For thousands of dollars less, don’t be thinking you’ll be getting the same bike as thos fat kats throwing down 15g! The S line of the Emonda family starts at $1645 and besides the level of carbon and parts selection, it also distinguishes itself by having a standard seatpost. Where the S model frames weigh 1220 grams, it’s due to the lower spec OCLV 300 Carbon used (versus the OCLV 500 carbon used on the SL and the highest grade OCLV 700 carbon on the SLR). Trek is also making the Emonda available in a series of women specific models as well.

Yes, eventually the Emonda line will be available in the full panoply of Project One paint options, but as of now Trek’s in-house P1 facility is stacked with orders so the new bikes can only be had with standard colors and the P1 custom component selection.

Although this nice, young lady was more than happy to pass out the champagne early in the evening, she was less than enthused later on at the prospect of going back to the kitchen to ask the chef to make us more brownies after they ran out (we even offered her a bottle of wine!). Oh well, it was probably all for the better considering the next day’s ride was known for two very steep pitches.

Apparently, someone in Harrogate is a Bradley Wiggins fan and decided to let the world know how they felt about his exclusion from Sky’s Tour team.

For more info: Trek Bicycles.


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