The hardest part of riding a sub-eleven pound, SRAM equipped, carbon fiber, one-piece bar/stem having, race tuned, fifteen thousand dollar bike is getting off it and giving it back.
I had my reservations about this machine, but when the call back came I didn’t want to give it up.
My wife, on the other hand, is happy to have the Trek Emonda SLR 10 out of the house, as I refused to leave this beauty in the garage.
This bike is light. Crazy light. Shockingly light. Everyone who put their hands on it made the same face. The “what the holy hell” face. And almost everyone who picked it up also asked “what are you doing with that?”
A very good question considering I am right on the edge of the bikes allowed weight limit and no one, and I mean no one, would consider me a climber. The only answer I could come up with is … “Why not?”
It was clear from the very first ride, the build choices for the SLR 10 were going to be an issue for me. The Tune wheels and saddle, although things of beauty, were not designed for everyday use. The Tune tubulars came laced up with a pair of tires more suited for the track than a long road ride and the saddle belonged in an art museum more than under my generous buttocks.
In short order I ate through the original tires and mounted up some excellent 25mm Continental Competition kicks. The more substantial tires fit into the Bontrager direct mount brakes no problem and upgrade the bike ride characteristic substantially.
I also mounted my favorite Specialized Toupe Saddle and down the road I went.
Oh wait, I also, unfortunately, had to add a water bottle, a cage and a tool bag to my wonder whip adding so much unwanted additional weight as to almost turn the World’s Lightest Production bike into a tanker. But so it goes.
So the ultimate build seemed to be more about the impressively low weight, than the day-to-day ride-ability of the build. And I love that about this bike. It is ridiculous, but glorious.
My friend Cory says this build is for a 110 pound rider, who has a ton of money, a great mechanic and a desire to go fast uphill above all else. And I don’t completely disagree. But I meet none of those criteria, and I love this bike.
This bike demands you pay attention.
It demands you are in it.
You can’t just get on this bike and mindlessly go for a ride.
But if you are paying attention the Emonda will reward you by converting your effort into forward propulsion. Whether it be on long, sustained climbs, a short angry pitch or even hammering along the flats. The Emonda impresses.
Descending is a blast. I know this bike is pegged as a climber’s bike, but I loved tossing the Emonda downhill. Sure, if the road was sketchy the Emonda definitely didn’t soak up the chatter like some of the more all-around bikes available. You have to be all-in if you are going to be riding an Emonda, but you get back what you put in.
The direct-mount Bontrager brakes are powerful and take some time to become comfortable with. In the early going I locked up the rear wheel on a regular basis, but dialed in what pressure was needed to inspire confidence. And I thought they looked pretty cool, until Trek just launched the new Madone with some super trick looking integrated brakes.
So what does this all mean to you? It means Trek continues to make some pretty amazing bikes. Trek seems to have struggled a little bit with their highend marketing strategy in the post-Armstrong era. But now they have three Tour-worthy steeds in their stable: the recently reborn Madone, the lightweight wonder Emonda and the Classics classic Domane.
I am just suggesting if you are looking for a new Trek, a new race bike, or you love riding a bike with a little bit of a persnickety personality, then go throw your leg over an Emonda. Look closer at the SLR8 with a solid Dura Ace build and not-so-jaw-dropping price.