Trek Émonda SL 6 Women's
The aggressive and versatile Émonda SL 6 combines the stiffness you’d expect from a top-of-the-line race bike, with big tire clearance and moderate race geometry, at an affordable price. It’s the all-around bike we’ve been asking for, ideal for racers who want to ride hard some days and explore dirt roads others.
Trek’s H2 geometry includes a somewhat tall 170-millimeter head tube, aggressive 73.3-degree head tube angle, and 73.5-degree seat tube angle on a size 56cm. The combination makes for an aggressive but forgiving riding position, just as good on Fondo-esque rides as on the racecourse. The bike feels snappy with quick handling thanks to its shorter wheelbase and chainstays (983mm and 410mm).
Using Trek’s 500-level carbon, which is a lower grade material than top of the line models, the SL 6 is slightly heavier than the featherweight SLR Emonda. But it doesn’t change the bike’s stiffness by much, scoring .61mm of bottom bracket deflection and 0.51mm of head tube deflection compared to .58mm and .51mm for the SLR model.
Where you do feel the difference is in the bike’s small bump compliance: The SL 6 feels harsh over chattery roads. Happily, the bike’s big tire clearance provides an easy solution to damp that chatter. Mounting up 28mm tires and dropping the pressure to 75psi makes for a smooth ride on par with the SLR over any terrain. For an even smoother ride, try upgrading Bontrager’s aluminum Race wheels with the company’s carbon Aeolus hoops.
Despite the women’s designation, the SL 6’s geometry doesn’t differ from the men’s Emonda. It’s the bike’s touch points – like the saddle and handlebar – along with the black and pink paint scheme that earn the women’s-specific moniker.
Shimano’s Ultegra drivetrain provides reliable shifting and the ability to run an 11-32-tooth cassette for climbing adventure rides. It’s the total package for an all-around race bike capable of mixed terrain rides. And at $2,800 you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value.
Component Highlights: Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with 50/34 crankset and 11-28 cassette; Shimano Ultegra brakes; Bontrager Race Tubeless Ready wheels