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Trek Emonda ALR Review: A Fast Yet Affordable Road Bike

I don’t think there is anything in the cycling world better than “new bike day.” Or, well, so I’ve heard

When I got my first road bike, I was honestly so overwhelmed with the idea of owning a nice bike that I am not sure I fully appreciated “new bike day!”

Emonda ALR Rear

There were all of these thoughts, such as, “Will I ride it enough? Do I really need a bike? Gosh this is a huge investment!”

They almost overshadowed the fact that I was getting a new bike to begin with!  Now, though, I know that I love to ride. I want ALL the bikes. 

A cross bike, an e-bike, even a new road bike. You know, just because

I am quite sure there is no such thing as too many bikes, and I cannot wait to get my next one! I will be doing an extremely celebratory happy dance. A million photos will be taken. I will revel in its shiny newness.

Road bikes are obviously a huge investment, though. Therefore, it will hardly be a surprise that when I was offered the opportunity to try out a Trek Emonda ALR with Di2 I was an enthusiastic YES.

Interested in learning if the Trek Emonda ALR is right for you? Read on for our in-depth review of this amazing road bike! 


Review in a Nutshell

Pros:

  • The Trek Emonda is FAST. This bike is built to race, and you can tell. I don’t race, but if I did I would definitely want an Emonda!
  • Great on hills – I can climb hills faster on this bike than my carbon bike. 
  • It’s comfortable! For such a fast bike, I actually find it to be almost as comfortable as my Trek Domane (more of an endurance bike). 
  • It’s SOLID. The aluminum frame is SO sturdy. 
  • Even though it’s aluminum, it has a very light and responsive feel. 
  • The disc brakes are super responsive. 
  • The Shimano Di2 electronic shifting makes this bike so smooth and so easy to shift. 
  • The price! Likely the fact that it is aluminum keeps the price of this bike VERY economical for what you get. 

Cons:

  • The Trek Emonda is built more for race than comfort, so if comfort is more important you might want an endurance road bike like a Trek Domane, or a hybrid bike. 
  • It is not carbon. For some people this is a deal breaker. I expected to be bothered by this and I wasn’t, and I kind of liked it, but this is still an important consideration if a carbon bike is important to you. 

Price & Where to Buy:


The Trek Emonda ALR is a Fast Road Bike 

If you are into road bikes, usually your brain tends to think “the faster the better” and this bike is fast

There are a lot of things that go into making a bike faster than another…weight, components, etc.

The big thing that makes the Emonda ALR fast is that it’s “more aero.” The idea is that the whole entire bike is designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. It is lightweight (even though it’s aluminum) and it places your body in a less upright position so that you and the bike are creating less drag.  

Emonda ALR with View

Trek also makes the Domane road bike, which is more of an endurance bike. This means that the bike is built for comfort, for long distances, and places you in a more upright position. 

My current everyday road bike is a carbon Trek Domane, and I can absolutely say that the Emonda is a faster bike (even though it’s aluminum!). My times on similar rides/segments are faster with the Emonda. BUT it is definitely not as comfortable as the Trek Domane.

The Emonda is stiffer and when I go over bumps I feel it a lot more. If you are riding on rougher roads you will definitely prefer a carbon bike or a Domane to an Emonda! 

I also find that for me the more aero position means that I have more pressure points between my soft tissue and my saddle. 

This means that no matter how padded my bike shorts, or what saddle I use, I know that I am going to have at least a little more saddle/soft tissue pain with the Emonda. 

For a shorter ride this really doesn’t bother me, but if I am doing a longer, endurance ride I would find myself reaching for the Domane.

A Lightweight, Aluminum Alternative to Carbon

I know, we kind of have it emblazoned into our heads that a carbon bike is always more lightweight and the better option, but it’s not quite that simple. 

There are plenty of people who prefer the sturdier, stiffer feel of an aluminum bike, and aluminum bikes are not necessarily all that heavy! 

Carbon is more expensive than aluminum, so if price is a concern, getting an aluminum road bike is a great option. 

Trek has also done a lot of research into creating an aluminum bike that allows the stiffness and sturdiness of aluminum and the lightness of carbon. The fork in the Emonda ALR is actually carbon though, so this does lend to the bike being a bit lighter too! 

According to Trek.com, an aluminum bike can provide enhanced stiffness and responsiveness, and their “Alpha Aluminum” technology means that their aluminum bike provides an experience “that rivals many of their carbon counterparts.” 

The Emonda ALR is Stiffer and More Aero and You DO Feel It 

That being said, the Emonda is stiffer and when I go over bumps I feel them a lot more. 

Emonda ALR Front

I also find that for me the more aero position means that I have more pressure points between my soft tissue and my saddle. 

This means that no matter how padded my bike shorts, or what saddle I use, I know that I am going to have at least a little more saddle/soft tissue pain with the Emonda.

This is not a problem for me on shorter club rides of 25 miles or so, but when I start pushing the 30/35 mile point on the Emonda I am feeling pretty ready to get off the bike. 

You Can Climb Like a Beast With the Emonda ALR  

This bike is a climbing machine. Some of this will definitely be personal preference, but there is just something about the stiffness of this bike that gives it an amazing, sturdy feeling when you climb. 

When I am standing up on my bike I love to feel like I can really put some stress on it and have it hold up, and the Emonda ALR definitely gives me this! 

I find that I can get up a hill a lot faster on the Emonda ALR than I can with my carbon Trek Domane. I think that part of this could be due to different gears/cassettes in the bikes too, so that is a consideration, but I just love how fast I can get up a hill with the Emonda in comparison.

Hill climbing can be a very daunting part of cycling. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are slowing down to a crawl and barely moving. You start to question everything about your ability in those moments, and having a bike that makes you feel strong can really inspire confidence. 

Components Matter 

At the end of the day, whatever bike you choose, I would be remiss to not mention that the components can make a difference. 

For example, the Trek Emonda ALR I am using has an Ultegra groupset which makes the bike a little bit lighter than the Shimano 105 that the ALR appears to come with standard. A groupset is the components that have to do with the braking mechanism/shifting of the bike, and the higher end the groupset, usually the lighter it is and potentially the better it performs.

It also has Di2 electronic shifting which is, in a word, AMAZING. Electronic shifting is a little annoying because you have to charge the bike (we won’t talk about when I lost half my gears because I didn’t charge the darn thing). However, in terms of functionality it is so smooth and easy. 


It also has Di2 electronic shifting which is, in a word, AMAZING. Electronic shifting is a little annoying because you have to charge the bike (we won’t talk about when I lost half my gears because I didn’t charge the darn thing). However, in terms of functionality it is so smooth and easy. If you get any hand/wrist pain electronic shifting is wonderful because your hands don’t have to work as hard to change gears.  

Finally, the carbon wheels that were put on this Emonda ALR will also make it a little bit lighter than wheels that come stock on the bike.

If you can’t afford a carbon Emonda (they do run significantly more) you can consider upgrading the components on the Emonda ALR to get a faster ride. This is also a great option if you prefer the stiffness of an aluminum bike to begin with. 

Trek is a Staple in the Cycling Industry 

In 1976 Trek’s founders, Dick Burke and Bevil Hogg began producing Trek bikes in Southern Wisconsin. Today Trek is an internationally renowned cycling brand. 

Emonda ALR 1

Trek sells bikes, bike accessories, and clothing. They have elite racing teams in pretty much every type of cycling event available. Trek even has STRAVA challenges annually where they give a little prize to everyone who rides at least 100 miles on STRAVA during this challenge. 

Whether you need a fast and fancy racing bike or your child’s first balance bike, it is likely that Trek makes a bike that will suit you. Trek is a top-tier cycling company with Trek retailers all over the US and all over the world.

From a bike owner’s perspective, the great thing about this is that you can likely find a retailer around you to purchase the bike, and maintain it for you too.

Bottom-Line Trek Emonda ALR Review 

No single bike is going to work for everyone. A friend of mine had a beautiful carbon Emonda that she ended up selling because no matter what she tried, it just didn’t quite fit her right.

My husband started on a Domane, switched to an Emonda, and much prefers the fit of the Emonda in terms of comfort. 

Everyone has their own personal preference in terms of fit and speed. Some of us will be more willing to make the sacrifice of comfort for a little more speed. Others of us, not so much. 

If you are looking for a racing bike, or just, like me, want to ride your road bike as fast as possible, the Trek Emonda ALR is a great, affordable option. Though it will be a bit heavier than its carbon Emonda counterpart, you can still go with a lighter groupset and upgrade the components to get a more economical, fast ride.

To be very frank, I love this bike. It is a dream, and it is NOT going to be easy to give it back.

My bike shop has given me an option to buy it though…one that I am seriously considering. If that’s not in the cards for me, though, maybe they will let me keep it for just a little bit longer! 

Learn More About Choosing A Bike

About The Reviewer

stacy smith

Stacy Ann Smith is a New England-based cyclist who strives to stay upright on her bike.  She is the founder of Sascy Cycling, and her mission is to encourage women to love their body and focus on what it can do, not what it looks like.  When Stacy’s not cycling she is teaching high school history and eating pizza with her husband and son.

IG: @sascycycling

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