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trek emonda alr

Trek’s Latest Émonda ALR Is as Good as Aluminum Road Bikes Get

Dialed geometry, smooth welds, and an excellent ride feel add up to make the latest aluminum Émonda ALR a great alternative to pricier carbon bikes.

The Takeaway: The updated Trek Émonda ALR is thoroughly modern, yet simple and fully upgradable. Just the way an aluminum road bike should be.

Trek Émonda ALR 5

Émonda ALR 5

The Émonda ALR borrows its geometry (down to the millimeter) from its much pricier (and lighter weight) carbon fiber version of the Émonda. This means riders get the same, proven, race-winning geometry of the much pricier carbon model for around one thousand dollars less.

trek emonda alr

While the cost savings might be the most enticing feature of the ALR for many riders, the updated aluminum frame is the showstopper here. Much like its carbon version, the Émonda ALR features a mix of aerofoil (Kammtail) shaped tubes along with more traditional round profiles. Trek uses its 300 Series Alpha aluminum for the frame, which weighs in at 1,257 grams (claimed), for a painted size 56cm. It’s combined with a full carbon fork that adds 406g to the total package. This is impressive—weighing a mere 34g more than Trek’s carbon Émonda SL variant of the frame (which sells for $1,000 more than the ALR).

trek emonda alr

The Émonda ALR frame is also refreshingly free from proprietary standards. The bike uses a T47 threaded bottom bracket, a round 27.2mm diameter seatpost, and a completely normal handlebar and stem combination using a 31.8 bar clamp and 1-⅛ steer tube. All of these things make the Émonda ALR an easy-to-live-with bike that can be upgraded and customized as riders see fit.

trek emonda alr

Alloy-frame aficionados have divided opinions about the appearance of welds. Some prefer to see the handy work of the welder and how tidy they can make the welds, while others prefer not to see the welds at all. Fans of chunky welds will be disappointed as Trek employed its Invisible Weld Technology on the Émonda ALR. This technique creates an incredibly seamless look to the frame. At arm's length (and particularly with the black frame), riders can easily mistake the Émonda ALR for a pricier carbon bike.

Another big change is at the Émonda’s front end. Trek implemented an integrated cable routing setup that’s very similar to the style used on the Allez Sprint. This setup sees the cable housing and brake hoses run externally along the bar and stem and then enter the frame through the top headset bearing. This kind of integration has the advantage of allowing riders to easily swap stem lengths or handlebars while still achieving a rather clean-looking cockpit. While Trek avoids the major headaches of cockpit customization with this cable routing solution, like many other recent road and gravel bikes, it suffers the added complexity and expense of routine service (such as replacing cables and housing or servicing headset bearings).

trek emonda alr

Unlike high-end bikes with electronic shifting—since the Émonda ALR is only sold with mechanical shifting—there are double the cables routing through the headset. Bikes with similar routing often face more rapid deterioration in shift performance (compared to bikes where things are routed externally) due to the tight bends the derailleur housing must make to fit into the space. It makes replacing cables and housing a major headache and costly if you’re not doing it yourself.

According to Cadence Cycling Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, replacing a single-shift cable on a bike with through the headset routing can cost as much as $200 in labor. This is because shops tend to charge for this work by the hour and the time it takes to complete this service varies based on how complicated fishing the housing and cable is through the frame. To perform the same repair on a bike with externally routed cables, I was quoted a flat $25 labor charge.

Fit and Geometry

The Émonda ALR features the same H1.5 geometry that Trek uses on its Émonda and Madone carbon models. This geometry splits the difference between the aggressive H1 fit and the more relaxed H2 version. Meaning that a majority of riders should be able to find a good riding position regardless of whether they want to be long and low or more upright.

trek emonda alr

Additionally, Trek offers the Émonda ALR in a whopping eight sizes. The smallest size 47cm frame should be good for riders as short as 5’0”, and the largest size 62cm fits riders up to 6’5”, according to Trek.

The ALR Build

Trek currently offers only one complete bike Émonda ALR build. It features Shimano’s excellent 105 11-speed mechanical groupset, along with a Bontrager alloy bar, stem, and seatpost. Rounding things out is a pair of Bontrager alloy Paradigm SL wheels, which are very traditional with round J-bend spokes laced 2x but feature a 21mm internal width and are tubeless-ready. However, riders need to purchase the necessary items to turn them into tubeless wheels (including tubeless-specific tires, valves, and sealant).

trek emonda alr

Trek prices the Émonda ALR at $2,300 for the complete bike and $1,200 for the frameset.

Trek confirmed that the Émonda ALR will receive an update to 12-speed 105 in the near future. Unfortunately, Trek representatives have not told us how much it will cost or the complete specification list. (But for reference, a 12-speed 105-equipped Domane AL 5 sells for $2,000)

Ride Impressions

Aluminum road bikes often have a reputation for being overly stiff, harsh, and cheap (in a bad way). However, these traits are generally not found on modern and well-engineered aluminum frames. (And it’s such a pervasive stereotype that my colleague Matt Phillips wrote a whole column about it .)

trek emonda alr

While some bikes lean into aspects of that reputation (the Allez Sprint is an unapologetically stiff-as-hell criterium racing machine), the Émonda ALR takes a slightly different approach. Since it’s modeled after the carbon Émonda (a bike largely intended to win mountain stages in Grand Tour races), the ALR is designed with all-day comfort in mind. This makes the overall ride more relaxed and comfortable compared to the Allez Sprint and should be a plus for many riders.

Even if some might consider 11-speed 105 outdated (due to the recent launch of the 12-speed 105 R7100 components ), Shimano’s 105 R7000-series drivetrain is an excellent and well-proven groupset. The 11-speed group has precise and crisp shifting front and rear and also impresses with powerful braking at the wheels and excellent control of the levers.

trek emonda alr

In contrast, the most disappointing part of the Émonda ALR’s build kit is its tires. Which would be the absolute first thing I upgrade. The Bontrager R1 wire-bead road tires weigh 360g per tire and are very much included to help meet the Émonda’s price point. They make the bike feel sluggish in a straight line while also not helping to foster any cornering confidence. A swap to even a mid-range tire from any of the major tire brands will probably drop around 30-40g of rotating weight per wheel and dramatically improve the ride quality of the bike.

trek emonda alr

I found the rest of the ALR’s Bontrager finishing kit perfectly serviceable. The seatpost, stem, and saddle were nothing flashy but did the job. The handlebar has a rather classic feeling bend, drop, and reach. Best of all, if any of these stock items don’t work for you, it’s simple to swap any of them out for a preferred version.

Out of the box, I found the Émonda’s ride quality quite good but perhaps a bit on the firm side. Lowering the tire pressure to around 68-72 psi range greatly improved the comfort. And once I swapped to a set of Continental GP5000 tires, the Émonda ALR really began to shine on the road.

trek emonda alr

There’s nothing gimmicky about the Émonda ALR. It’s a classic road bike in the simplest sense of the term. Riding it for the first time felt familiar and reassuring. The geometry didn’t require me to adjust to the bike—I could just get on and go. Even on that first ride, I felt like I could dive into corners with the assurance of knowing what the Émonda ALR would do when I leaned in. The geometry was a perfect mix of stability and responsiveness with a dash of that springiness that good metal bikes have.

On flat and rolling terrain, the Émonda ALR is right up there with almost any non-aero road bike of the last few years. Its dialed geometry makes it a pleasure to descend on, and the frame has the right snap to be a truly wonderful climber.

What holds the ALR back on the uphills, though, are the stock wheels. At 1,800 grams, they’re not as heavy as some wheels on bikes in this price range, but they just feel soft and unresponsive. After upgrading the tires, a new set of wheels would be my next purchase for the Émonda ALR.

One aspect of the Émonda ALR that feels a bit dated for a road bike made in 2023: Trek caps the bike’s maximum tire clearance at 28mm. In practice, there is enough room to comfortably run 30 or even 32mm tires (depending on the tire and rim combination). Still, I would feel better with a bit more official wiggle room, especially as it’s gotten harder to predict the measured width of various tire and rim combinations.

trek emonda alr

Overall, the Émonda ALR gets way more things right than it does wrong. While it's easy to nitpick things like its tires and wheels, Trek uses these parts to get the Émonda ALR to its modest price. And the ALR is up there with some of the best aluminum race bikes. It’s an impeccably finished and thoroughly well-designed aluminum bike that’s only a few grams heavier than its mid-tier carbon version. Plus, the Émonda ALR shares geometry with its pricier siblings and uses no proprietary standards or parts. With the ALR, Trek made a bike that nails all the things that have always made me love aluminum race bikes.

Headshot of Dan Chabanov

Test Editor Dan Chabanov got his start in cycling as a New York City bike messenger but quickly found his way into road and cyclocross racing, competing in professional cyclocross races from 2009 to 2019 and winning a Master’s National Championship title in 2018. Prior to joining Bicycling in 2021, Dan worked as part of the race organization for the Red Hook Crit, as a coach with EnduranceWERX, as well as a freelance writer and photographer. 

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Trek Emonda Lightweight Road Race Bikes

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The Trek Emonda ALR5 shown in profile, with all-black paint and parts.

Review: Trek Emonda ALR 5, the bike that disc brakes almost broke 

Are the days of the aluminum race bike over? Not quite yet.

Caley Fretz

I dream of aluminum race bikes. Sturdy, fast, cheap. They’re what most amateur bike racers should be on, if you ask me, but the options are vanishingly few. 

There’s the Specialized Allez Sprint, the current king of the castle, but it’s a $1,700 frameset and is often out of stock. The Cannondale CAAD13 is lovely too, but has been taken about two steps too far away from its racing roots for my liking. Now there’s a third big-brand aluminum option: the Trek Emonda ALR 5. 

I hoped for a bike I could feel confident in recommending to any young or aspiring racer. Something nimble and light, with the right gearing, a ride comparable to carbon, a few nods to modern-day aerodynamic understanding, and clever spec. Not a first road bike, perhaps, but something worth graduating to. Trek came so very close.

This is a bike that will roll off showroom floors for just over $2,000 and looks every bit like a bike three or five times that. The integrated front end, the shapely tubes – from across the street it looks like carbon. 

The Emonda ALR is a cool aluminum race bike. Looks good and rides well. It needs a few tweaks if you really want to get the most out of it, but it’s 90% of the way there straight out of the box. It only misses in a few spots, and that might not even be its own fault. 

The short of it: A good argument for not buying a cheap carbon road bike instead Good stuff: Superb ride quality, excellent handling, great looks Bad stuff: Weight  Total weight: 9.12 kg/20.1 lbs Price: USD $2,300 / AUD $3,000 / £2,150

As aluminum frames go, this one is both good-looking and well-thought-out. It uses Trek’s 300-series Alpha Aluminum and what Trek calls “Invisible Weld Technology,” which smooths out the welds themselves and provides a decidedly carbon-like look. More than one person thought I was on a carbon bike. 

The tubes are hydroformed, a technology that has now been in the bike industry for well over a decade but is crucial to creating the types of tube shapes Trek uses on the Emonda. There are nods to aerodynamics, including a truncated seat tube, big and shapely down tube, deeper head tube, and dropped seatstays. The intention isn’t to compete with the best aero bikes on the market, but a bit of aero efficiency never hurts. 

The downtube of the Emonda ALR, showing its glossy black paint and hydroformed shape, which can pass for carbon at a glance.

The frame is light, around 1,260 grams, plus a 400-gram carbon fork. That makes it roughly the same weight (within 50 grams) as the carbon fiber Emonda SL, which sits on the lower end of Trek’s carbon spectrum. And a complete Emonda ALR 5 bike costs as much as the Emonda SL frameset. Behold, the power of aluminum.

Down at the bottom bracket, Trek has gone with the threaded T47 standard, which we have no real problems with. James Huang is a big fan. Dave Rome is sort of ambivalent. I just know it didn’t creak over the last 6 months.

I wish the Emonda ALR had more official tire clearance. This may partly be a limitation of aluminum, but in the end, it’s a decision. The aluminum Domane fits a 40 mm tire. The Emonda ALR will officially only take a 28 mm tire. Now, if you know Trek, you know they have an exceptionally conservative legal department, and you can generally go 4+ mm wider than claimed. But the rear end, in particular, is tighter than I’d prefer on the Emonda ALR. I wouldn’t be comfortable with anything over a 30 (measured). The fork has plenty of room for a 30 or slightly larger. Just know that you’re running afoul of Trek’s official recommendation if you do this, potentially harming things like warranty, which is a shame.

A closeup of rear tire clearance at the chainstay, showing a roughly 4.5 mm gap between the tire and inside wall of the stay.

Any modern disc road bike should clear a 30 with no concerns whatsoever. Only 28 is just not enough. Not when pros are winning Milan-San Remo on tires that measure closer to 32. A race bike can and should have clearance for 32s these days. 

Aaargh, integration

I appreciate the thought and care Trek put into bar/stem/brake line integration on this bike. If integrated front ends are truly what consumers are looking for – and the fact that every single road brand is integrating more and more suggests that purchase data shows people want it – then why should we limit such things to the realm of the carbon fiber bourgeoise?

The plebs down here plowing fields in Aluminum Land deserve a clean cockpit too. The Emonda ALR looks great, it looks expensive, and part of that is the fact that Trek bothered to put the front end together with as much thought as they do for bikes five times the price. 

The Emonda ALR runs its brake and shift lines through an entryway at the front of the headset and then down through the frame. All the lines and housing exit right before the bottom bracket and then re-enter behind it. The headset routing is very similar in concept and execution to the design found on the Allez Sprint, though everything stays internal near the bottom bracket on the Specialized.

The integrated front end of the Emonda ALR, showing the brake and derailleur housings exit the bar tape and slide under the stem to enter the bike at the front of the headset.

There are six full pages in the manual dedicated to the headset, brake line routing, proprietary spacer stacking, and all the rest. The fact that James trusted me, the Hammer, to sort this out and put things together properly is a testament to both his trust and his foolishness. Or perhaps this was his plan all along, to put the design to the ultimate test. 

Mercifully the Emonda came mostly built. Unmercifully, it also came with a kinked brake hose right out of the box, which required replacing. And, of course, I would have to do some basic fit adjustments. The kinked line ended up being quite annoying but the fit changes were no big deal. 

A graphic from the Emonda ALR owners manual showing exploded diagrams for the headset cable routing and instructions for installing the stem.

The brake lines run down in front of the steerer tube, in between the slightly bulbous head tube and the steerer itself. There are proprietary split spacers to be used instead of round ones. Pulling it all apart and getting it back together is finicky but not impossible, and dropping the bars two cm took less than five minutes. The spacers are annoying relative to some good old-fashioned round ones, but they also allowed me to play with stack without having to run new brake lines.

As internal brake and shift lines go, this is about as good and easy as it gets.

In the end, I ditched all of the spacers and ran the stem “slammed” because the H1.5 geometry (more on this later), in addition to the height necessitated by the cable-entry cap, meant that slammed wasn’t actually that aggressive.

You can use standard round spacers above the stem as you move the stem clamp down the steerer, should you so choose. The sleeker look obviously requires cutting the steer at the new stem height, but for the purposes of setting fit – and because this isn’t my bike – it was nice to be able to throw the ol’ roundies I had floating around my toolbox on the section of steerer above the stem. 

Now, the kinked line. This isn’t really Trek’s fault, except that I’m pretty sure a line that had more than a few short centimeters exposed between the frame and stem probably wouldn’t have had this problem during shipping. Keep that in mind if you travel with this bike: anything with this level of integration needs added care in packing because with such short exposed sections of brake line, the margin for error is smaller. 

Replacing the line was quite straightforward. Lines run down the front of the head tube, inside the upper headset bearing, and then, in this case, down to the front brake via a port in the steerer itself. It all guided through pretty easily. Re-attach, bleed, and I was off to the races. The rear brake would take slightly more effort, as it needs to be fished through a hole near the bottom of the down tube and then on through another set of holes to the caliper, but it’s no worse than any other integrated bike out there right now.

The internal cable routing at the bottom bracket, which shows both derailleur cables and the rear brake housing exit at a port just above the bottom bracket shell, then closely follow the shell before re-entering the frame.

Geometry chart

The Emonda ALR uses the same H1.5 geometry as the latest Madone SLR and carbon Emonda options. It sits, as the name implies, about halfway in between the race-focused H1 geometry and endurance H2 geometry. 

It also sits right in between two of its competitors in this space, the Specialized Allez Sprint and the Cannondale CAAD13. The Allez is more aggressive, the CAAD a bit less so. 

Here’s the full chart: 

Emonda ALR geometry chart, showing sizes from 47-62 cm.

I’ll talk about the ride and handling in a moment, but a couple of things to note. The trail is a very standard 56-62 mm for most sizes. The smallest riders, as usual, get absolutely hammered with a 68 mm trail that I’m sure makes the bike feel absolutely nothing like the one I rode (a 56 cm). Sorry, anybody riding a 47 cm.

Wheelbase is about one cm longer than the Allez Sprint, trail is a bit higher, reach is shorter, stack is higher. All these things point to a less race-oriented machine. And that is the case, though not to the point that the Emonda isn’t totally race-worthy. It absolutely is.

Models and pricing

Normally, we drop all the other build options for a given frameset in this section, but because this is an aluminum bike and so few people apparently want aluminum bikes anymore, there are no other build options.

At least, that’s true in the US. The UK market has the ALR 6, which upgrades the 105 mechanical to 105 Di2 for a marginal increase in cost to £2,400. And in the US you can buy framesets on their own for USD $1,200. These have some great paint jobs and would be a fun project.

In fact, if you’re comfortable building bikes from scratch, that’s probably how I would do it. These are really cool frames, extremely well thought out, light, and quite beautiful. But the stock build kits are uninspiring, because Trek had to hit a price point. I would love to take one of these and slowly build it with higher-end second-hand parts over the course of a winter. Total cost would be similar, but you’d end up with a much cooler end product.

An example of the great paint jobs available on the Emonda ALR framesets. This one is white, with abstract geometric decals on the seat tube in green, pink, yellow and even a red-white check flag, a design that's repeated on the downtube logo.

As a brief experiment, I put myself into character. The character: me, 20 years old, racing crits every weekend, living on like $700 a month plus race winnings, with $3,000 left over from my student loans. Decison-making: Generally terrible. Acknowledgment that the future exists: Never. FTP: High as it’ll ever be. I popped around the usual buy/sell sites and checked out some deals on groups to see what I could build. This is what I came up with in less than 30 minutes (all prices USD):

Frame : Emonda ALR in one of the cool colors – $1,200 Drivetrain and brakes : Shimano 105 7000 – $700 Wheels : Something carbon that makes a good whoosh noise – $650 on eBay or similar if you’re willing to buy something that isn’t tubeless compatible (go latex tubes for racing instead) Handlebar : Ritchey WCS Neoclassic drop – $99 (eBay) Stem : Ritchey WCS 4-axis – $25 (eBay) Seatpost : Ritchey WCS – $74 (eBay) Saddle : Bontrager Aeolus Comp: $90 Tires : Vittoria Corsa Control 30mm – $35 (not the tubeless version)

Total: $2873 plus $100 or so for cables/housing/other odds and ends. This bike is easily 2.5 pounds lighter than the stock ALR5, makes a better noise, looks cooler, and leaves me about $100 of student loan funds to spend on a week’s worth of post-ride burritos.

Build kit breakdown

My collegiate-racer fever dreams aside, the ALR 5 has a solid, reliable build. It’s a good platform to upgrade off of, if that’s your jam, and it’s perfectly serviceable right out of the box.

I have zero complaints about the Shimano 105 7000 mechanical drivetrain. It shifts, it’s quiet, it’s relatively cheap. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. 

I do dislike the rotors, which are the RT70 from Shimano. They are ugly and look cheap. Give me some of that finned goodness. This is 90% aesthetic but aesthetics matter.

The stock RT70 brake rotor, which has a larger rotor and smaller carrier body, and lacks the cooling fins of pricier versions.

The stock gear ratios should be enough for most, but could perhaps go a bit lower if you live somewhere hilly. A 50/34 front chainring setup is matched with an 11-30 cassette. Ten years ago, that would have been ludicrously low, but the bike industry has since realized we’re not all riding around at pro watts all the time, and these days I’d prefer a 32 or even 34 low gear on the back unless I’m racing.

If I am racing, I probably want a 52/36 with that same 11-30 cassette. But that’s a low priority and can be upgraded later.

The rest of the build is uninspiring but adequate. Trek’s component brand Bontrager provides the seatpost, saddle, stem, and handlebars. All are alloy, all are a bit heavy. The Comp VR-C bars have quite a nice bend to them, on the shallow end of the spectrum but not silly-shallow. The transition from hoods to tops is nice and smooth and the drop curvature is superb. I found them very comfortable.

There are no surprises, integration headaches, or odd standards, just a 27.2 seatpost, 1 1/8″ steerer, and round bars. All of it can be easily upgraded or swapped out.

The Bontrager Verse Comp saddle is too heavily padded for my liking. I did a couple of rides on it and it wasn’t terrible; it just wasn’t great. It’s also quite long, and I’m used to short saddles these days. Bontrager’s excellent Aeolus would have been a better match for the bike and its ambitions.

The Bontrager Verse Comp saddle, showing generous, La-Z-Boi like padding.

The Bontrager Paradigm wheels are heavy (roughly 1,750 g claimed) but do feature a nicely modern 21 mm internal rim width, which spreads the 700×25 hotpatched tire out to just under 28mm. The tires are Bontrager R1 Hardcase-Lite with a wire bead. They are hot garbage that should be removed immediately.  Wire bead ? Are you kidding me? Bontrager makes some nice tires these days; the R1 Hardcase is decidedly not one of them.

I took them off, riding only once on those turds of tires before swapping them out to a set of Vittoria Corsa Controls. I went from disliking the bike to liking it with that one switch. Tires are important. Granted, Corsa Controls aren’t cheap.

Bontrager's hot-mess R1 Hardcase wire bead tires, which should be immediately up-cycled into a chairback.

Ride report

That brings us to the ride. All of the figures and facts above combine in sometimes unexpected ways, mixing and melding into a ride quality that is genuinely quite impressive (once you take the terrible tires off).

I tested this bike with three sets of tires/wheels. First, the stock Bontragers. Awful. Second, the Corsa Controls and butyl tubes on the stock Paradigm wheelset. Great! A better bet would have been a good tubeless tire, since the Paradigm rims are tubeless-ready, but I didn’t have any handy that were narrow enough.

Finally, I put on a set of Continental GP5000s with latex tubes in on a set of Roval Alpinist carbon wheels. The Corsas alone dropped over 200 grams off the stock tire weight, and the Roval setup dropped more than a pound (626 grams, to be precise) off the stock setup. The overall change in ride quality from both changes was dramatic.

As a result, I’m going to ignore the stock tires for this ride quality analysis. The R1s are so bad, and tires are so important, that it feels unfair to besmirch an otherwise-good bike with their wire bead stink. If you’re reading this review, you care enough to swap them out. My opinions here are based on the stock wheelset + Vittoria Corsa Control + butyl tube setup. 

This is a comfortable aluminum bike. Trek has lots of marketing copy on its website about how its hydroforming processes and the Invisible Weld Technology combine to allow its engineers to create a frame with significantly more compliance than the aluminum of old. I would say they aren’t lying. 

The hydroformed top tube of the Emonda ALR, showing a flattening taper as it reaches the seat cluster.

The rear end, in particular, cuts road buzz nicely. The 27.2 seatpost helps, and if you upgraded to a carbon post it would further improve flex and thus comfort. The big aluminum handlebars are stiff and the front end feels harsher than the rear. I’m sort of OK with this; a stiff front end feels like it wants to race, to me, and I like that.

The size 56 I tested has a 73.5º head angle and 58 mm of trail. Both figures are about spot on for a bike that wants to be race-worthy but not race-only. The handling is therefore as I expected: predictable, on the twitchy end of the spectrum these days but nothing extreme. Ten years ago, this would have been called endurance bike geometry. But now we know better. 

This is supposed to be a race bike, and nothing in the handling would prevent it from finding success there. It is not a pure crit machine in the way that the Allez Sprint is (that bike has a more aggressive trail figure of 55 mm, plus a lower BB and longer reach). The Emonda ALR is a road racer. It’s well-balanced and goes where you point it. 

The rich get richer, the poor get heavier

Behind this generally positive review is an unshakeable feeling that something is missing. I’m not sure the bike I dream of, and that I was hoping the Emonda ALR would be, really exists anymore. In riding the Emonda ALR and perusing the other options currently available in the same price range, the only conclusion I can draw is that it’s very, very difficult for a big bike brand to build a cheap race bike these days. 

The bike I want is a Cannondale CAAD10 from around 2015. The model with Shimano 105 went for about US$1,700 – roughly US$2,200 in today’s inflated money. In other words, nearly identical to the Emonda ALR 5. That bike weighed in the low-17 pound (7.7 kg) range. It had decent wheels and snappy handling and pretty much everybody who reviewed one or raced one called it some version of a superbike killer. It was so good. 

The Emonda ALR is better in some ways. It’s more comfortable, for one. It’s probably more aerodynamic, simply because of the integrated front end, though we don’t have any figures to prove this. It fits a much bigger tire (albeit not big enough). But it also weighs closer to 20 pounds, has pigs for wheels, and comes stock with the worst road tires I’ve ridden in years. The geometry is a bit softer, a bit more forgiving; the handling is good but I would personally prefer it to be snappier for racing. 

There is one obvious culprit for many (though not all) of these ills, of course. Disc brakes.

I’m about as far from a disc hater as you can find, and would prefer them on almost any bike I build and ride. But there is a reality to them: to build a light, nimble-feeling road race bike with disc brakes costs a lot of money. You can get to 6.8 kg, or well under, but it will cost significantly more than it did back when a rim-brake CAAD10 could get there for $1,700 plus a few smart upgrades. 

Again, the Allez Sprint – the spiritual heir to the old CAADs – is $1,700 for the frameset alone. 

Trek’s little tagline for this bike is “Never heavy. Always metal.” Which is true – if you look at the frameset. Sub-1,300 grams is superb. But the various parts needed to build a bike at this price point, with discs and thru axles and all the other complications of the modern road bike, mean that heavy is exactly what the stock version of the ALR 5 is.

None of this is directly Trek’s fault, unless you prescribe to the Big Disc conspiracy that holds that all big bike brands hoisted discs on us only to sell more bikes (which I do not). But there is no question that discs have made it harder to build a bike I would want to race for a price I could have afforded when I was racing. We have $8,000 bikes with 105 now; where does one turn if you’re racing collegiate crits, living on microwave pizzas, and want to go fast as hell? The Emonda ALR may be among the best of a dwindling bunch, but even it doesn’t quite get there. 

The Trek Emonda ALR5 in profile, with sleek black paint and blackout logos, all-grey Shimano 105 parts, and black Bontrager wheels and tires. In other words: black.

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Trek unveils new Marlin+ e-bike pushing Bosch mid-drives to new affordability

Avatar for Micah Toll

Today, Trek announced its newest electric mountain bike, the Trek Marlin+. Not only is it an interesting electric hardtail MTB in its own right, but it also offers one of the most affordable Bosch-powered mid-drives on the market.

The Marlin+ carries over much of what Trek fans have long loved about the non-electric Marlin, including its 120mm front suspension, 2.6″ tires, and either 27.5″ wheels (on frame sizes Small and Extra Small) or 29″ wheels (on frame sizes Medium and up).

But it’s what makes this bike different from the acoustic Marlin that is causing all the commotion today. Namely, that’s a Bosch e-bike drive system consisting of the Bosch Active Line Plus mid-drive motor, a Bosch CompactTube 400 battery, and a Bosch Purion display.

trek emonda e bike

The motor puts out a respectable but not overly aggressive 50 Nm of torque, which is enough to help flatten out hills but will still keep you honest, putting in your own muscle to help. The 400 Wh battery is fully encased, meaning it’s lighter and helps the bike be more efficient, but can’t be removed for charging. That is done on the bike via a connector just above the motor.

For those that want even more range, a 250Wh auxiliary battery can be added, boosting another 60% more range into a riding day.

The real kicker though is the price, with Trek starting the Marlin+ at just US $2,699 . That makes it not only one of the most affordable Trek e-bikes but also one of the most affordable Bosch-powered eMTBs on the market.

trek emonda e bike

Electrek’s Take

Yes, it’s Bosch’s entry-level motor. And yes, it’s a relatively small battery. And yes, it’s a hardtail. But it’s still a Bosch-powered Trek , meaning you’re getting the benefits of a major drive maker and a major bike maker, all in one. That means leading warranty and support, as well as local bike shops to not only test drive, but return to when you need service.

It’s a respectable eMTB by itself, and hardtails have been the mainstay of mountain biking for years. When front suspension first came out, some diehard mountain bikers even considered it heresy.

So this seems like a great way to get yourself a Bosch-powered eMTB from a reputable brand without sinking $4-5k into it.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.


Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd, and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries , DIY Solar Power,   The Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide  and The Electric Bike Manifesto .

The e-bikes that make up Micah’s current daily drivers are the $999 Lectric XP 2.0 , the $1,095 Ride1Up Roadster V2 , the $1,199 Rad Power Bikes RadMission , and the $3,299 Priority Current . But it’s a pretty evolving list these days.

You can send Micah tips at [email protected], or find him on Twitter , Instagram , or TikTok .

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  • Emonda ALR Frameset

Trek Emonda ALR Frameset

Trek Emonda ALR Frameset

Emonda ALR frameset gives you the look and performance of carbon at an alloy price point that's far friendlier on the wallet. Shaped tubes and Invisible Weld Technology make this aluminum road bike frame the perfect starting point for a high-performance, high-value build. It's right for you if... You're building up a road bike for club rides or races, and you want an advanced aluminum frame with the sleek looks and handling characteristics normally found only in carbon models. The tech you get A lightweight 300 Series Alpha Aluminum frame with shaped tubes, Invisible Weld Technology for seamless joints, and internal cable routing. Includes a carbon fork with a carbon steerer and a headset. Built for BB86.5 bottom bracket and direct mount rim brakes. The final word Carbon looks and ride quality, aluminum price point. If you thought alloy couldn't contend with carbon in beauty and performance, think again. Emonda ALR is a value-minded ride that's perfectly comfortable taking a far more expensive carbon bike to the line. Why you'll love it - It climbs fast, corners on rails, and descends with confidence - It shares the geometry of our highest-end carbon Emonda race bikes, and it gives you a ride quality that stands up in every way to far more expensive carbon bikes - Internal cable routing extends the life of your cables and adds to the bike's sleek look - Like every Emonda, it's built to be the lightest and fastest in its class and it’s backed by our lifetime warranty


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Trek Emonda Geometry Chart

Due to supply-chain issues, Specs are subject to change without notice.

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Trek 2019 Emonda ALR

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Trek Emonda ALR Frameset Color: Radioactive Red to Marigold Fade

New Trek Marlin+ Is A Versatile E-MTB That Won’t Break The Bank

It follows the ethos of its non-electric sibling, rocking components from shimano and bosch..

New Trek Marlin+ Is A Versatile E-MTB That Won’t Break The Bank

Trek is regarded as one of the most respected bicycle brands the world has ever seen. Since its inception in 1976, Trek has pretty much set the standard across all categories of cycling, and even today, continues to be a driver of innovation in the rapidly growing e-bike segment . Recent years have ushered in lots of new electric bicycles, and for 2024, Trek is going back to basics with the Marlin+ electric mountain bike.

The Trek Marlin has long been a staple in Trek’s model range. Regarded as a jack of all trades in the MTB world, the Marlin appeals to both novice and advanced riders thanks to its versatility and approachability. When it comes to the electric MTB world, Trek has some heavy hitters such as the Trek Fuel EXe 9.5 carbon fiber electric enduro bike. With the Marlin+, Trek hopes to lower the barriers to entry in terms of price and performance, all while providing cyclists with a dependable two-wheeler with trusted Trek quality.

New Trek Marlin+ Is A Versatile E-MTB That Won’t Break The Bank

The Trek Marlin+ promises reliable tech at an affordable price tag.

The Trek Marlin+’s simple construction is worth more than the sum of its parts. Starting south of $3,000, it’s capable of going pretty much anywhere other fancy electric mountain bikes worth three or four times are capable of going. It certainly serves as the perfect gateway drug for a cyclist looking to get into e-bikes, as it’s packing components from some of the most trusted OEMs in the business. For starters, it’s powered by a mid-drive motor from Bosch, more specifically, the 250-watt Active Line Plus.

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With 50 Nm (about 37 pound-feet) of torque, the Marlin+ isn’t as potent as other e-bikes powered by the more premium Performance Line CX with 85 Nm (63 pound-feet). It does, however, make up for it with an impressive amount of tech for a natural-feeling pedal assist. Trek bakes in an interesting feature called Auto Mode, wherein the motor provides adaptive pedal assistance based on the rider’s pace. This means that riders need not manually adjust the assist level, and simply crank on the pedals harder to let the motor know they want to go faster.

The Marlin+, like the regular Marlin, is all about versatility.

The entire affair is powered by a compact 400-watt-hour battery housed within the bike’s frame. Its slender proportions keep the Marlin’s signature clean hardtail look, making it easy to miss the fact that this is actually an e-bike. Trek claims an estimated ride time of two to four hours, while an optional 250-watt-hour range-extender can increase ride time by up to 50 percent.

Depending on the trim level of your choice, the Trek Marlin+ is fitted with premium component such as hydraulic disc brakes, a front suspension fork with up to 120 millimeters of travel, and a Shimano drivetrain with either a Cues for the Marlin+ 6 or a Deore for the Marlin+ 8. Like the non-electric Marlin, accessibility and affordability lie at the core of the Marlin+, as such, it retails for just $2,699 USD for the Marlin+ 6 and $3,499 USD for the more premium Marlin+ 8. The new e-bikes, as well as the rest of Trek’s electric and non-electric bikes are available online via their official website, or at your local Trek dealer.

The Marlin+ gets an in-frame battery pack that's compact yet capable.

Shimano components ensure dependable performance both on and off-road. 

Sources: Trek Bikes , Clean Technica

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