Trek Emonda SL6
Everything is possible with a new bike.
New bikes pedal more easily, they float over ground which was previously a grind, they dispense with your riding buddies like chaff on the wind, they are clean, fresh, fast and fun.
As these are the multiple benefits of the new bike, they are also the reason that it’s best not to undertake reviewing them, the most pleasing of breeds, until this new sheen has dulled a little.
I could tell that the Trek Emonda SL6 in stealth black is black and stealthy, Ultegra graces all the places it should and the wheels are by Bontrager. All this remains true, but this is a short and uninformative story, finding the true nature of the ride, by definition, requires time in the saddle.
There were a number of things I was particularly looking forward to. A solid workman of a bike, on the famously light Emonda chassis, the comfort of a Bontrager saddle and the dependability of box fresh Shimano Ultegra. Bontrager finishing kit is always welcome, a well designed and attractive package.
The structure of the frame is so robust and oversize that it has the strange effect of making the handlebars and stem appear like spaghetti. This means that the bike rewards input with direct output. Brake rubbing is not an issue the flex just isn’t there.
The Emonda arrived on time for a trip to the Ariege region of the Pyrenees, the perfect test ground for a bike that makes its name where the road heads up. The cols switch from steady gradients of 5% or so, to the savagery of 18% sections. What goes up and so on, means a plummet on sinuous tarmac of varying quality. Fortune favours the bold they say, more or less.
Climbing is what this bike is about and the compact groupset reflects this. Over Strava beaten roads there was no chance that anything short of a motorbike would see top 10 placings, with World Tour riders gracing the leaderboards. But this is no absolute measure, the real measure is how the bike makes you feel, are you grinding or floating?
The Emonda was lively on the climbs, solid and predictable on the descents – all characteristics that you would expect from a Trek. So far so unsurprising, a big company, a well designed and finished bike. But there was a surprise in store. After about 1,000km the whole package seemed to come together and roll more smoothly, to float more gently over the roads and ascend with greater ease. This obviously was the new bike becoming the familiar bike, and I guess that this is the bike that you want, the one that gets better and more appealing the more you ride it.