Trek Emonda 2021 – SL Model range overview

The Trek Emonda SL range starts with the SL5, superb value for money with a stunning entry level bike and runs right through to the SL7 Sram Etap with electronic drivetrain, power meter, carbon fibre additions and Bontrager’s superb new Aeolus Pro 37 wheels. In this comprehensive range review, Paul talks through each bike and explains the details that make each a superb proposition, whatever your budget.

Video Transcript

Trek Emonda 2021 – SL Model range overview

Right, so let’s go through the specification of this particular model. This is the Trek Emonda 2021 SL5.


The way that the Trek nomenclature works is Trek is the manufacturer, Emonda is the frame type, the SL is the frame material that the bike has been made from so an SL has got 500 series OCLV carbon fibre and the number five is what has been built on to that frame to make the total specification.


So the SL5 is the entry level version to the Trek Emonda range. Price wise is coming in at £2,275 pounds and comes with the following bits and pieces. In terms of the groupset of the bike or the drivetrain of the bike, it is the full 7000 series Shimano 105. Now when we say full 105, we mean that – S with Trek if it’s a 105 transmission on the derailleurs, then everything from the shifters, the brakes, the brake rotors, the chain, the cassette, and the chainset are all 105 you will find with a lot of manufacturers that they will say it’s their 105 equipped bike, but things like the chain and the chainset and the shifters, a lot of the time they put slightly cheaper OE or Original Equipment models on there. But with all the Trek model lineups, I won’t say this again every single one but in all the Trek Model lineups, it’s a full groupset from that manufacturer.


So in terms of the chainset, we have got a compact on the front, which is a 50 / 34. So 50 tooth outer ring and 34 inner ring. And we’ve got a slightly wider range cassette on the back, which is an 11/30. So, on this weight of bike, it should be relatively straightforward for sort of an average to higher fitness rider to be able to pretty much get up anything. So it’s a good range of gears on this bike, the brakes as well from Shimano – full hydraulic disc brakes because of 105, they’ve got the fin pads in there as well. So good stopping power. And then for the rest of the bike, we’ve got Bontrager’s Affinity TLR wheels so with their appropriate tubeless rim strip, valve core sealant and tire, the system can be made tubeless if you wanted to. Again, it’s a good quality wheel, but it’s a wheel that is based on this price point of bike. So, brass nipples, relatively entry level hub, entry level rim, it’s just good quality and very robust, but not the lightest thing in the world. That’s what you spend more money on. So as I say it’s a good quality wheel for this price of bike because Trek will not compromise on the frame quality to give you better quality parts for the money.


Also, the ride tuned seat cap is aluminium on the SL5. It comes with Bontrager’s Montrose comp saddle which is very nice and their entry level alloy stem and handlebar so what you’re doing really buying with an SL5 is an upgrade path to this quality of frame. So this is somebody who says Look, I’ve got just over 2000 quid to spend right now, I want to invest in the frame because that’s the foundation of the bike. And then in 12 to 18 months’ time, I’ll put a better set of wheels on and then in another 12 months’ time, I’ll put a nicer handlebar and stem on and then maybe a little bit later I’ll put the carbon fibre seat cap and such like so it’s a really good upgrade path. But the base bike is phenomenal value for money at £2,275 pounds. So be quick with this bike because it’s going sell out fast. So that is the SL5. Let’s move on to the next one.


Right so moving on from the SL5 we move on to the SL6. And what is the difference between SL5 and SL6? The answer  – one! Anyway, no, there is a difference between the SL6 other than one. And that is, again as we said before what the bike has been built with so we know that the frame and the fork is identical to the SL5, but on the SL6, we now move to a full Shimano Ultegra drive train system which is the next up in the lineup of Shimano drive trains. Now, the eagle eyed of you will notice that this actually isn’t an SL6, but this is the SL 6 Pro. So let’s split this section of the video up into these two bikes and I’m going to tell you why we feel that this SL6 Pro is the pick of the SL 6 range. And obviously you can make your mind up from there, but we’ll go through that just now.


So, over the SL5, the SL6 non pro version comes in at £2,900 pounds. So from £2,275 pounds for an SL5 up to £2,900 pounds. So what are you getting for your money? Well, we’re getting the full Ultegra 2 by 11 drive train system, as we’ve already discussed. When we mentioned earlier that it’s a full group set, it’s exactly the same here so even the brake rotors are the Ultegra fully aluminium finned rotors as well for better heat dissipation. So it’s it’s everything that comes with ultegra comes on this bike. The stem is upgraded to the Bontrager pro stem. And whilst it doesn’t sound like you think well, it’s an alloy stem to an alloy stem. No, when you move up to the Pro, it’s a much higher spec aluminium, it’s lighter, it’s stiffer, and also it has more Blendr integration, which then gives you the ability to fit Garmin mounts and light mounts to that system much easier than the standard comp that’s on the SL5. In addition, the handlebar is again slightly lighter, slightly stiffer, which is a lovely handlebar for an aluminium bar as well. In addition, saddle moves to the new Bontrager Aeolus comp from the Montrose comp. Stunning saddle, there hasn’t been a single person who has bought one of these new Aeolus saddles from me, male or female, who haven’t really enjoyed this so you’ll probably want to prove me wrong out there, but right now haven’t had anybody who hasn’t given anything but high praise.


One big difference as well on an SL6 is the fact that it does have the carbon fibre ride tuned seat mast. Again, this makes a difference not just weight, but it makes a difference in terms of the way that the bike handles the vibration coming through the bike and into the squishy organic thing that’s sat riding it. So again, this is a really worthwhile upgrade if your hours in the saddle are three hours and above you will feel the difference over the aluminium. Over and above that on the SL6. It comes with a slightly higher spec aluminium wheel, which is the Bontrager Paradigm. So we’ve got higher spec hub, higher spec rim and higher spec. spokes and nipples on there as well. So the wheel is slightly lighter than the Affinity TLR that’s fitted on to the SL 5. You also have an upgrade from the Bontrager R1 to R2 folding tyre as well. So that 2275 pounds to 2900 pounds to the SL six is worth every penny. If you’ve got the money to do that it’s worth it’s worth buying that bike.


However, we feel here at Criterium Cycles that the SL6 Pro for 3350 pounds is worth the extra over the SL6 at 2900 pounds. And don’t worry, I’m not taking a leave of our senses here. We know that 450 pounds is a lot of cash. However, the SL six Pro comes with this new Bontrager Aeolus 35 wheel. This is a brand new wheel from Bontrager. It is a full carbon fibre rim, it’s tubeless compatible, it is wider and it’s stiffer. It’s faster, it’s more Aero, and it’s lighter than the wheel that is fitted, the Bontrager Paradigm, alloy wheel, to the SL6 that sits below it.


In addition to this, all Bontrager carbon fibre wheels, come with a two year unlimited repair or replace programme. So if you are just riding along, hit a pothole and damage your wheel to a point where it would need to be repaired or replaced, for the first two years of this bike’s life, Bontrager will do that free of charge. So, it’s not just the fact that you are getting a better wheel on your bike for 450 pounds, but also you’ve almost got a two year – I don’t want to call it an insurance policy because it’s not, it’s a Bontrager system – but you’re pretty much  guarantee that you’ve got your wheels for the next two years, irrespective of what happens to them that Bontrager will replace or repair the wheel when you’re already looking at a bike at 3000 pounds in that region, that if you can do get the pro version, if you can’t, don’t worry, the SL6 is going to be an absolutely fabulous bike for 2900 pounds. So hopefully that helps and that covers the SL6 model.


Okay, so we’re nearly there. And last but by no means least, we are here with the new Emonda SL7. Again, like the SL6 and the SL6 Pro. The SL7 is available in two guises.


At £4,850 pounds, you have the SL7 which comes with Shimano Ultegra DI2. So that is the electronic shift version of Shimano’s Ultegra gear system.


Then you have this bike here, which is the SL7 Etap. That basically means that it is fitted with the SRAM force Etap electronic drive system. So, for those of you who don’t know, the Ultegra DI2 system, wonderful system, is a wired electronic system and the SRAM Etap electronic system is fully wireless. So, coming into the front of the bike is only the brake hydraulic cables and no other cables are going through the bike because the shifter and the front and rear derailleurs all talk over a wireless network.


So Really, really clean, really easy to use. And we, the more and more we’re using and setting up the SRAM systems, we’re really getting to enjoy it. SRAM also comes with a 12 speed rather than 11 speed rear cassette. And of course, you’ve got your two rings on the front. Now what’s interesting about this bike, so the top version comes in at 5250 pounds, so is clearly more expensive than the Ultegra version. But it also comes with a Quork power metre as standard. So this is a Force Etap with power metre, and the power metre, if you bought separately could be at least the same if not more expensive, adding a power meter system whether it be a stages crank arm for just single sided or a Garmin pedal dual sided system, you’ll be looking at more money overall. So if you really want a high performance bike with electronic transmission with a power meter, the Etap is probably the best value that you can that you’re going to get.


So what else do you get on an SL7? You then get this brand new wheel from Bontrager, which is the new Aeolus pro 37. So before Bontrager used to just make a 30 mil rim depth, and the 50 mil rim depth, now they’ve launched this new 37 millimetre rim depth which, again, you can read the white papers and the windtunnel testing on it. Bontrager are claiming that it is pretty much as efficient as their 48 millimetre aero platform, but with similar weights of their 30 millimetre. So again, the technology that’s going into this new bike extends much further than just the frame on its own, but into the products that Bontrager is also manufacturing for this bike. So it’s really exciting times. So you get the Aeolus pro 37 wheel. And in addition to that the handlebar is upgraded to a carbon fibre handlebar from the aluminium handlebar that is on the SL6 version.


So it’s a big price hike from 3350 for an SL6 pro to 5250 pounds to this SL7 Etap but again, if you’re wanting the pinnacle of the SL range, then this bike is going to be everything that you would ever want on the bike. The SL6 pro will be everything you’d ever need. This will be everything that you would ever want.


So this is the full lineup to the SL series. Once launched, we’re going to be going further into the SLR Emonda we’re really looking forward to seeing that bike. But hopefully for now you’re going to be really enticed by this new SL range. And if you’re looking to replace your old Emonda or an older bike, then look no further. This range is absolutely fantastic.


So I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. Please share it about and we look forward to seeing you on the next one. Thanks so much for watching.