‘Gravel’ has been a bit of a gap in Trek’s extensive lineup. The Boone ‘cross bike got a long way there, while the Domané SLR Disc, with room for 35mm tires, crossed much of the divide as well, but neither satisfied the craving for truly monstrous rubber volume on a drop bar bike. The gap has been filled. Say ‘hello’ to the new Trek Checkpoint gravel bike.
First things first, despite similarities to many 650b/700c swappable bikes like the Open U.P. or 3T Exploro, namely the dropped drive side chain stay, the Checkpoint was designed for 700c wheels alone. But Trek didn’t let that get in the way of the tire volume. While many, like our Checkpoint SL6 test bike, will ship 35mm Schwalbe G-One Allaround tires, the bike can straddle 28mm to 45mm knobby tires with ease, while running traditional road gears.
Trek’s launching a full line of Checkpoints, from an alloy ALR version starting at just $1700, to the carbon SL6 we’re testing with mechanical Ultegra, tubeless ready Paradigm comp disc wheels, Schwalbe tires, and Trek’s IsoSpeed rear decoupler, debuted on the first Domané, for $3800. These are very appealing price points, for what will likely be someone’s second bike, although in our experience, these kinds of platforms can capably be every day riders, on and off road.
The Checkpoint shares its geometry with no other bike in Trek’s line up. It is slightly taller than a Boone, it has a lower bottom bracket too, while featuring Trek’s adjustable Stranglehold dropouts out back. Want to run it with road tires and a rear end as short as a Domané SLR Disc? You can. Need more stability and clearance for deep gravel or a bike fitted with 45mm tires and loaded with packs? Slide the 12mm through axles back and you’ve got a long and stable bike. The flat disc brake mounts also slide along with the axle. Bonus for all you single speed nut cases, you can use the Stranglehold set up to tension your chain, just don’t run a front ring smaller than 40t or the chain may impact your dropped chain stay.
In the ALR versions, Trek is relying on tire volume for compliance, while the SL5 and SL6 carbon versions get IsoSpeed rear ends, but not the adjustable rear end and IsoSpeed front end on the new Domané SLR. The reality is, tire volume does the heavy lifting when it comes to compliance, and with 45mm tires on the bike at low pressure, the IsoSpeed will be almost irrelevant. But with a set of 28mm tires, it will be a welcome addition on rough road. It’s just more evidence of the Trek Checkpoint’s potential versatility.
In the name of that versatility, Trek has covered the Checkpoint in bottle mounts (up to four!), rack mounts, body armor, and fender mounts, but very stealthily. The bike can easily be mistaken for a Boone or Domane race bike, but can transition to a Tour Divide machine if needed.
Our Checkpoint SL6 test bike is a size 61cm, and with the Ultegra build, Bontrager Paradigm wheels, Bontrager alloy cockpit, carbon seat mast, Bontrager Montrose saddle and Schwalbe G-One tires our test bike weighs 8.89kg/19.5lbs. That’s not light, but it is the biggest size Trek makes. With a 56cm frame weighing 1204grams and a few choice upgrades the bike could shave significant weight. At $3800 for this build, there might be some budget for upgrades left over. We’d recommend a set of Aeolus Pro 3 TLR wheels as the first move.
Look for a full review in the pages of PELOTON Magazine very soon, the Trek Checkpoint is available now, go to trekbikes.com for more info.