We named the Emonda “bike of the year” in 2015. One year later, we stand by that decision. This is a purebred race bike that is as stiff and responsive as the competition, is more comfortable than a lot of them, and can easily be built up in the 12-pound range. Yet it can take 28-millimeter tires (bigger if you want to push things). Even within the all-around category, the Emonda stands out for its versatility.
As expected, when you combine super-light weight with outstanding lateral stiffness, you get a bike that wants to climb. Our testers found themselves seeking out steep pitches just for the chance to stand up and dance. Those efforts did reveal some unwanted flex in the Bontrager RL wheels, however, which are one of the component step-downs that get the SLR 6 to nearly one-third of the cost of the line-topping, $15,000 SLR 10. (Half of our riders also dinged the saddle.)
Still, $5,500 is spendy for a bike with Ultegra mechanical components. By comparison, the Emonda SL 8 costs $4,730 and comes with a full Dura-Ace build. The difference? The SLR line frames are all built using Trek’s strongest and lightest carbon. The SL frames are heavier and a bit less lively. We’ll go ahead and say it: Even with the step down in componentry (not that you’re roughing it with Ultegra), this bike is worth the $770 jump in price over the SL 8. The frame is just that good. As one tester said, “Knowing that I want something I can race but also maybe take on some dirt, I’d buy an Emonda.”
Component highlights: Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with 53/39 crankset and 11-28 cassette; Bontrager Speed Stop direct-mount brakes; Bontrager Race Lite tubeless-ready wheels