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Light, Stiff, and Fast! Trek's 2019 Emonda SL custom built with Bontrager's Aeolus 5 Pro TLR wheels

This winter I was lucky enough to build up a new road bike. I was only in the market for a new frameset and wheels; I had an old groupset and cockpit ready to be put on a new bike. Cycling in Salt Lake, I spend most of my time on the world-class climbs scattered across the Wasatch Front, so I was looking for a more traditional, lightweight race bike. Trek designed each bike in the Emonda line to be the lightest and best handling in their class. The Trek Emonda SL fit the bill (the Emonda SLR was a little too big of a bill for me) as Trek's mid-range option. I threw on a set of Bontrager's mid-level Aeolus Pro 5 TLR, which are a perfect mix of lightweight performance, great aerodynamics, and everyday sturdiness.

Though not as light as the top tier Emonda SLR, the Emonda SL is still very light. Made out of Trek’s 500 Series OCLV Carbon, the frame weighs in just over a 1kg. It features Trek’s H2 geometry, which sits between a slammed pro style race geometry and a slacker endurance geometry. I was a bit hesitant of this, having always ridden pure race bikes, but realized I never slammed the stem on my race bikes, so I did on the new Emonda to match my bike fit and it feels and looks great.

Pulling the frame out of the box, the first things I noticed were the ridiculously wide down tube and bottom bracket as well as the super beefy chainstays, all of which scream stiffness. Trek’s proprietary bottom bracket standard, BB90, is as wide and stiff a bottom bracket shell as they come. These features are paired with slender seatstays and a narrow seatmast that provide a relatively comfortable ride for such a stiff and responsive bike.

While disc brakes work really well and feel great, I’ve found the maintenance associated with them is much more intensive than traditional rim brakes. I wanted a bike with rim brakes to ensure low maintenance while traveling with my bike. The Emonda comes ready for direct mount brakes, a definite upgrade from traditional single pivot rim brakes. They might not have the feel that discs do, but they provide ample stopping power as well as fewer maintenance headaches.

To top the build off, I threw on a set of Bontrager Aeolus Pro 5 TLR wheels. The wheels aren’t the lightest (~1600g for the set), but I am pretty sure all the weight is at the hubs. They take no energy to get going and don’t bog down as the slope increases. They’re also super smooth and stiff. As a 150lb rider, the 50mm profile was a bit daunting, but I took them for a test descent of the north side of Suncrest in high cross winds and they didn’t seem to be any harder to control than the shallower wheels I am accustomed to. I have them set up with tubes for now, but am excited to try the tubeless option once I can get my hands on some of the new Conti GP5000 TL’s.

Pedaling this rig is pure joy. It seems like every watt put into the pedals is efficiently transferred to forward progress. It dances between your legs when you’re out of the saddle climbing. It feels stable at speed, and still gives you great confidence in the corners with crisp handling. I can’t wait to ride this rig on some big climbing days around the Wasatch this summer.

While the SLR is on everyone’s wishlist of superbikes, the Emonda SL is a realistic tool for everyday riders. There are plenty of us who ride hard all summer, enjoy the marginal gains of nicer bikes and components but would never be able to justify spending close to $10,000 on a bike. The Emonda SL gives you a race day ready machine that is equally suited for arduously long, adventurous days in the saddle. It is a true lightweight performer that isn’t going to break the bank.

Head on over to Storm Cycles and have them order one for yourself!

Follow Park City Bike Racing on Instagram and Facebook to see some of the adventures this bike and its buddies have this summer, as well as bike and gear reviews.

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