Review: 2016 Trek Edmonda SLR 6
Any week long bike tour can be a bit of a haul. That is even true of RAGBRAI. On Sunday, I rode over 80 miles and 3,900 feet of elevation gain on my Giant. On Monday, got wet riding the 2016 Trek Madone 70+ miles. Here is a link to the review. On Tuesday, I was back on my trusty steed and I completed my first Kerras Loop bringing the daily total up to 100+ miles. If you factor in adjusting to the heat and humidity, I was a dragging a bit by the end of the day Tuesday. However, as I discovered on the damp roads from Storm Lake to Fort Dodge, nothing improves your disposition on a ride like playing with new bike toys! So my first stop when I rolled into Eldora was the Trek demo booth.
It had been my intent to ride the 2016 Domane. This bike is more of an endurance bike and would likely suit me well on the 60 mile ride from Eldora to Cedar Falls. Unfortunately, they did not have a Madone in my size. Instead the offered me the 2016 Trek Edmonda SLR 6. The Edmonda is Trek’s featherweight offering weighing in around 14.5 pounds, it is a hell of a lot lighter than my bike or even the slippery Madone. I laughed at the Trek rep and asked about a rider weight limit when he suggested the Edmonda. The rep responded by telling me I would be fine, it has a 275 pound rider weight limit. What?! Why on earth would a 275 pound need a lightweight bike? It is cheaper (if not easier) and more effective to lose weight. Even so, I decided to take the Edmonda. I was interested to feel how stable it would feel.
The Edmonda’s form is not as attention grabbing as the Madone. Its tube shapes and geometry are far more traditional even boring than its more aero brethren. However, the Edmonda’s smoked red color is subtle, but dead sexy! My photos do not come close to doing it justice. The 58cm Madone I rode two days earlier felt a little small so I decided on a 60 cm Edmonda Demo. (Note: Size and fit vary from bike manufacturer to manufacturer. BMC’s 58 cm bikes fit me like a glove, but Trek’s 58 cm is too small.) My Edmonda was outfitted with the following components.
- Brakes: Bontrager Speed Stop, direct mount
- Brake Levers/Shifters: Shimano Ultegra
- Crank/Chainring: Shimano Ultegra 50/34t
- Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11 Speed 11-28t
- Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
- Wheels: Bontrager RL Race Lite, tubeless ready. 20 Bladed Spokes Rear, 18 radial laced spokes front
- Tires: 700×23 Bontrager R3 Hard Case Lite
- Seat: My own Specialized seat. A 60+ mile ride is no time to break in a new saddle!
- Bars: Bontrager Race Lite Aluminum.
- Stem: Bontrager X Race Lite.
The Edmonda was mine for day four of RAGBRAI 2015. This ride would be from Eldora, Iowa to Cedar Falls, Iowa. The ride was around 60 miles with only 1,644 feet of elevation gain. Unlike the Madone, this demo bike was lubed up with properly inflated tires and was ready to go. However, it was not clean there was plenty of sweat, slobber and water spots on the frame. Ick!
The town of Eldora sits on a bit of a hill, we descended into the valley and headed into the flats. The weather, this day was ideal, not too hot and barely any breeze. The Edmonda felt very stable on the descents. It was also very composed during hard acceleration and standing exertions. I did not notice any excessive flex. The Edmonda is not blessed with the Madone’s Iso-Speed Decoupler. This means that Edmonda’s ride is harsher than the Madone, but it felt more connected to the road without being excessively harsh. The Edmonda has Trek’s more aggressive H1 geometry. It did not feel too aggressive or uncomfortable to me, however my very sexy and very uncomfortable 1988 Cannondale ST1000 commuter may skew my opinion. At rest stops, walking the Edmonda, I frequently found myself accidently lifting the front end of the bike rather than steering it. Yup. It’s light.
The Edmonda’s light weight is really apparent! This light weight made the Edmonda a blast on ascents. Its lightweight wheels mean that acceleration is snappy. Climbing is never effortless, but the Edmonda did make them enjoyable. I only wish there were more on this day!
In the Madone review, I was really impressed. So what is this Clydesdale’s verdict on the 2016 Edmonda SLR 6?
- The Brakes: I was impressed by the Bontrager center pull brakes on the Madone. It
seemed that they were able to achieve a great aero brake without compromises. I think that the Bontrager Speed Stop are even better. The Brontrager stoppers are luscious. They grab quickly with initial contact and modulation is phenomenal. I never locked up the rear wheel under hard braking. I only wish I had more descents to use them. These brakes are quite possibly the best rim brakes I have ever ridden whether on a road or mountain bike. I cannot say enough good things about them. If I were to purchase another bike with rim brakes, I would go Trek based on the brakes alone.
- The Ride: The Edmonda felt more responsive and connected than the Madone. It was certainly firm, but not too rough. The most impressive thing about this bike is how well it managed my heavy ass. It accelerated quickly under hard acceleration and was rock solid under hard standing acceleration. I would have never expected such a light bike to feel so solid.
- The Wheels: I typically fear low spoke count wheels. They break easily and typically have a lot of side to side flex when ridden by a large rider. The Bontragers on the Edmonda only have 18 spokes on the front and 20 in the rear. The Bontrager RL Race Lite wheels felt unbelievably sturdy while spinning up to speed in an instant.
- The Components: Shimano Ultegra Shifters… They are awesome. There is nothing like the feel of crisp mechanical shifting. It is almost arousing.
- The Color: The Trek ‘Red Smoke’ is not attention grabbing, but wow is it ever sexy. I am sick and tired of black and carbon colored bikes. I love seeing Trek add some color to their game.
- Fragile: There is nothing really bad I can say about the Edmonda in the short term. It performed admirably on a day long demo. It felt sturdy, stable and composed. I am stunned that Trek specified a 275 pound rider limit on a 15 pound bike. I have seen similar bikes with a 180 pound limit. That prior experience and knowledge leads me to believe that a bike with a 700 carbon, 680 gram frame and 18/20 spoke wheels will not last the long when ridden by a Clydesdale like me. However, if Trek bike would like to send me a test bike to prove me wrong, I would be happy to eat my words.
- The Price: The 2016 Edmonda SLR 6 retails at around $6,000. I LOVE bikes, but that is a lot of money for a bike. That is more than I spent for my last car!
- Weight Wimps: Like most riders. I have a few pounds to lose. If you were able to lose 20 pounds it would be far more effective than upgrading from a 20 pound bike to a 15 pound bike. There are other ways to improve your performance.
- Not Aero: The Edmonda does its job remarkably well. It is a fantastic feather weight climber, however it is not aero. If I were a flat lander who had a lot of wind to contend with, I think I would opt for the Madone.
Trek was never my favorite bike manufacturer. Their bikes always seemed rather conservative. I was really impressed with the Madone and the Edmonda. The Madone is a great do it all aero bike. The Edmonda is a featherweight which handles like a champ. Thanks to my experience with these bikes, I have a much greater respect for Trek. The Edmonda is best suited for a pure climber looking for an advantage on the next big climb. It may also be an excellent reward to someone struggling to lose a few extra pounds from their own frame.