TREK Emonda ALR Disc 5 (2020): An Honest Owner’s Review

All products are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission.

What’s The Verdict?

Hands-On Tested
Trek Émonda ALR 5 Disc
4.5

The TREK Emonda ALR has taken the alloy bike game to another level. Priced at just under $2000, the ALR comes equipped with high-end Shimano components, internal cabling, and disc brakes. You'll be hard-pressed to find another bike in this category that offers the features, comfort, and style the Emonda ALR delivers.

Check Price

A Few Things About My Experience

In recent years alloy bike frames have fallen out of favor as riders and manufacturers increasingly opt for carbon. But there’s a new bike in town that may revolutionize how the cycling industry views alloy frames.

I purchased my TREK ALR Emonda in 2020, and it’s quite frankly been the best bike I’ve ever owned, and yes, I’ve owned some expensive bikes from other manufacturers like Giant and Cannon. The TREK ALR is super comfy, very reliable, and delivers everything the higher-priced bikes offer but for probably half the price. 

The Emonda ALR is the latest from TREK, and although this bike is at a lower price point, it looks and rides like a top-of-the-range model. 

For most riders, bikes like the iconic TREK SL models are out of the price range. However, the TREK ALR helps bridge the gap between premium-end bikes and offers world-class ride quality with the looks of a carbon superbike.

The Emonda ALR is made from lightweight aluminum and even comes equipped with a full Shimano groupset and disc brakes. Priced at just under $2000, this bike is perfect for riders who want the looks and performance of higher-end bikes at an affordable price.

TREK Emonda ALR 5 featured

Build Quality

TREK’s Invisible Weld Technology is quite simply exceptional. If I had a dollar for every cyclist who asked me if the bike is fully carbon, I would be a millionaire. 

The high-grade alloy uses a hydroformed process to shape every tube into the exact sizes, which helps give the impression the ALR is made from expensive carbon rather than alloy.

I’ve ridden expensive carbon bikes before, but in my opinion, the TREK ALR with the carbon front fork offers the best balance of rideability and comfort at a cheaper price point. 

As stated, although the bike‘s frame is alloy, the front fork is made from TREK’s high-grade carbon and is the same fork used on the more expensive Emonda SL Disc. The carbon fork does an excellent job of soaking up the road’s vibrations. I’ve been riding the Emonda for two years, and the comfort is second to none, especially on longer rides. 

I’ve done hundreds of rides over 150kms, and the TREK Emonda ALR never seems to disappoint. I run tubeless 28 X 700 Pirelli tires with the PSI at 70 on the rear and 60 upfront. The comfort is astounding, and it’s a good lesson for cyclists who believe that only the most expensive bikes are comfy; that’s simply not the case. 

While more expensive bikes are typically much lighter, the average cyclist is more concerned with comfort and reliability. I also ride a TREK SL disc which is considerably lighter than my Emonda ALR, but I typically only ride the SL Emonda if im heading out for an epic climb through the Japanese mountains.

TREK Emonda ALR 5 zoom

Design

When it comes to design and paintwork, in my opinion, no manufacturer does it better than TREK. A whole array of colors are available on the ALR models ranging from Purple Abyss, with my bike finished in Slate to Black Fade. 

TREK has done an amazing job as the cabling also runs internally down through the top tube; this helps to give the TREK Emonda ALR that sleek, high-end look similar to that of the SL models. 

Amazingly, my eyes were first drawn to the TREK Emonda ALR because of the Matte Black paint finish, which I found to be very cool looking. You’ll also notice that TREK bikes usually come in outlandish colors, so when I saw the understated finish of the Matte Black paint job, I had to have it.

The bonus came at the cash register when I realized just how inexpensive the model was. I was almost certain by the look of the TREK ALR Emonda that it was the higher-end SL model, which was considerably more expensive; thousands of dollars more, to be precise.

TREK Emonda ALR 5 in front of a sign

Components

Shimano is a high-end Japanese manufacturer known for making the finest groupsets in the industry. Even their lower-end products shift and feel like the more expensive versions, with the ALR outfitted with Shimano Tiagra. Although Tiagra is at the lower end of the groupset range, I have not experienced a single problem in two years, and if maintenance is kept up, shifting remains crisp and smooth.

Again, I feel this is another valuable lesson to cyclists who are on a limited budget and can’t afford some of the higher-end groupsets like Ultegra or Dura-Ace. Expensive doesn’t always mean better; it may mean lighter, but depending on what type of riding you’re doing, lighter is not always better. I would say newcomers, in particular, should choose comfort over weight. 

The trickle-down technology is so good these days that even groupsets like Shimano 105 now even come with electronic shifting. And let’s be honest, beginner cyclists will not notice the 250-gram difference between groupsets, but they will notice the $1500 price difference. 

I reside in a mountainous area with winding roads and harsh conditions, so quality braking is essential. Amazingly for the price, the TREK Emonda ALR comes with the latest braking technology with Flat Mounted Hydraulic Disc Brakes from Shimano. I’ve found braking on the ALR to be exceptional from the get-go, and it gives me the confidence to descend confidently with speed.

TREK Emonda ALR 5 Gear & Tire

Tech

If you’re a rider who loves the latest in tech, then the Emonda ALR won’t let you down. TREK has made tracking valuable ride data more accessible than ever with the left chainstay devised to fit the DuoTrap Speed and Cadence Sensor. 

To be honest, I haven’t used this feature because I prefer to use Wahoo Cadence and Speed Sensors, but still, it’s a nice touch, particularly for riders new to cycling who may not want to spend the extra money on external or third-party sensors. The stem faceplate is also Blendr-compatible which means you can attach any Bontrager accessory, such as a computer, lights, and even action cams, for filming your epic rides.

While on lights, I love the RT Flare light from Bontrager, TREK’s in-house brand. I’ve had the RT Flare light for over two years, and the battery is still going strong. The light has 5 different settings, which I never thought I would use; however, I ride through a lot of tunnels here in Japan, and changing the lights to the brighter, intermittent flashing setting is actually one I use often. 

Trek Émonda ALR 5 Disc Trek Émonda ALR 5 Disc
4.5

The TREK Emonda ALR has taken the alloy bike game to another level. Priced at just under $2000, the ALR comes equipped with high-end Shimano components, internal cabling, and disc brakes. You'll be hard-pressed to find another bike in this category that offers the features, comfort, and style the Emonda ALR delivers.

Specifications: 

  • Frame: Ultralight 300 Series Alpha Aluminum, Invisible Weld Technology
  • Fork: Carbon disc & tapered steerer, flat mount disc brakes, 12mm thru-axle
  • Headset: Integrated, cartridge bearing, sealed, 1-1/8 ̋ top, 1.5 ̋ bottom
  • Weight: 56cm – 9.19 kg / 20.25 lbs
  • Rims: Bontrager Affinity Tubeless Ready Disc
  • Tires: Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lite, 700x 25c
  • Cassette: Shimano Tiagra, 11-28, 10 speed
  • Shifters: Shimano RS405, 10 speed
  • Brakes: Shimano RS405 flat mount hydraulic disc
  • Saddle: Bontrager Montrose Comp, Chromoly rails

Pros & Cons

Things I Love about my TREK Emonda ALR 

  • Modern styling and a range of colors give the ALR a high-end look at a low price point.
  • The Invisible Weld Technology tricks your eyes into thinking the bike is fully carbon; a nice little trick to play among fellow cyclists
  • The ride feel, comfort, balance, stability, and performance are comparable to premium-priced bikes in the TREK Emonda range, such as the SL Models.
  • The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes provide a ton of confidence to corner and brake like you were riding a much more expensive higher-end bike with all the latest components.
  • Internal cabling helps give the bike a sleek modern look

Things To Consider

  • There is no doubt that the TREK Emonda ALR is considerably heavier than its carbon frame, big brother. However, I would say that if you have the money further down the track, you could swap out the wheels for lighter ones and even make some upgrades to the groupset. Doing this would save close to 1kg in bike weight and possibly more if you chose to change out the seat post and handlebars.

Summary

TREK Emonda ALR 5 with sea view

Although the TREK Emonda ALR is at a lower price point, it looks, feels, and rides like a high-end carbon bike. TREK has gone above and beyond with this frameset.

The Invisible Weld technology has made alloy frames chic again, and climbers will find the TREK Emonda ALR a capable bike. Cyclists who enjoy long rides aren’t left out either and benefit from the comfort of the front carbon fork.

So if you’re new to cycling or are limited by budget, I highly recommend testing the TREK Emonda ALR before spending your hard-earned cash on a premium model.

Brenton Barker

Brenton holds a Degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Delaware and was the former Head Advisor for the Japanese Government's Sports Science Institute. Brenton currently consults with several Professional Athletes and clients in Self- Accountability, Health, and Goal Orientation.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.