Trek Emonda SL 6 rid­den and rated

Tested by: Ru­pert Radley | Miles rid­den: 248 | Size tested: 56cm | Weight: 7.66kg

Cycling Weekly - - Contents -

Think of top Tour de France bikes, and there are only a hand­ful of names that pop into your head faster than the Trek Emonda.

While Al­berto Con­ta­dor fa­mously rode the SLR in his farewell sea­son, we’ve got our hands on the more rea­son­ably priced Emonda SL 6, com­ing in at £2,250.


De­spite its po­si­tion in the lower ech­e­lons of the Emonda line, the SL 6 has 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 next, and the slen­der seat­stays make the bike look re­spon­sive and nim­ble. Pair the sweep­ing de­sign with the matt sil­ver paintjob, and the bike has a se­ri­ously classy look.

But its beauty is more than skin deep: the 500 se­ries OCLV car­bon makes the frame light for the price: not sur­pris­ingly it isn’t on the same level as the 640g Emonda SLR but 1,091g for the SL frame is pretty good.

Down be­low, an over­built, beefy bot­tom bracket makes for ef­fi­cient power trans­fer, 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, nar­row­ing the gap with its top-flight me­chan­i­cal of­fer­ing, Dura-ace R9100. The for­mer is now very sim­i­lar to the lat­ter, al­beit with a bit of added weight due to a few ma­te­rial changes.

In terms of shift­ing feel and ac­tion, it’s ev­ery bit as good as its more ex­pen­sive Dura-ace sib­ling. The re­designed 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 stand­out fea­tures are the ex­cel­lent rim brakes — again, they’re ev­ery bit the equal of the Dura-ace mod­els, so it was a bit­ter dis­ap­point­ment to find them miss­ing on the Emonda. In­stead, Trek has specced its over­built Bon­trager Speed Stop Pro brakes. Rather than the next-level power and de­tailed feel of the Shi­mano BR-8000 brakes, you’re left with a distinct lack of stop­ping power and a dull feel­ing, mak­ing it hard to know how close to lock­ing the rear wheel you are.

Else­where, there’s also the slightly un­even pair­ing of the Bon­trager Par­a­digm Comp alu­minium wheelset with the light­weight car­bon frame.


As you’d ex­pect from a frame with rac­ing pedi­gree, there’s a sense of ur­gency to the car­bon frame that wants to let rip when out on the road.

But there’s a gen­tler side to it, too, and there’s a good level of com­fort de­signed into the ride. Un­like so many stiff car­bon frames, the Trek Emonda SL 6 feels damp­ened and ab­sorbent without ever feel­ing slug­gish.

The skip in its step no doubt comes from its weight, or lack of. Even with heavy alu­minium wheels and enor­mously over­built brakes, the Emonda SL 6 weighs a tiny 7.66kg. Spec the bike with some killer wheels and you’ll shave that down even fur­ther. On the hills it climbs as you’d ex­pect from a frame built for Al­berto Con­ta­dor, but it re­ally shines on the downs, too. The ride was well bal­anced and ag­ile thanks to the short wheel­base, and the han­dling was sharp in the cor­ners. In cer­tain ar­eas the Emonda is not as ag­gres­sive as other GC bikes: its bot­tom bracket isn’t as low as that of the Cervélo R5 or the Spe­cial­ized Tar­mac, and its head tube is longer too. Be­tween the three, the Emonda loses out marginally when it comes to de­scend­ing but in ab­so­lute terms it still han­dles bril­liantly.


The Trek Emonda frame is ex­cel­lent, no doubt about it, but is weighed down by the alu­minium Bon­trager wheels. How­ever, at £2,250 that’s not un­ex­pected. It is a real shame to pay for an Ul­te­gra groupset how­ever, but not get the best part — the brakes!

If you’ve a bit more cash to splash, the Trek of­fers the car­bon wheelset-equipped Trek Emonda SL 6 Pro for £600 more.

Trek Emonda SL 6 put through its paces, p36

Own-brand brakes lack mod­u­la­tion Car­bon frame is over­built in all the right places

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