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Trek Emonda Strictly For Hills?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Trek Emonda Strictly For Hills?

Old 07-09-18, 03:15 PM
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GeorgePatton
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Trek Emonda Strictly For Hills?

So I'm checking out the Trek Emonda ALR 4 2017/2018 and it has all the specs I want (10 speed, carbon fork, lighter). I am thinking about getting it but I hear the bike is strictly for hills, is that true? I currently gave a Giant Contend which is an 8 speed. How much of an improvement will I get if I move to a carbon fork and a 10 speed like the Emonda has? Should I go with a Domane instead?
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Old 07-09-18, 03:28 PM
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Its good at going downhill and on the flats too.

It will have a bit more aggressive geometry than the Domane. But, both are good bikes and are great for general road riding.
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Old 07-09-18, 03:31 PM
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It's not really the carbon fork or the 10-speed that will make the Emonda better, though they are better.
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Old 07-09-18, 03:36 PM
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The Emonda is a good all-around road bike that was pigeonholed as a climber because the high-zoot carbon models were some of the lightest productions bikes around at the time of introduction.
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Old 07-09-18, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
It's not really the carbon fork or the 10-speed that will make the Emonda better, though they are better.
What would make it better?
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Old 07-09-18, 03:38 PM
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You should test ride them. I'm not even a Trek guy and the Emonda and Domane are obviously different. I mean, sure, it's the same letters, but completely different order!

They're both good bikes and you can't go wrong on either (as long as it fits you) but they're made for different kinds of riding, and as such they handle and perform differently. Not better, but suited to different tastes. You might find that one feels more "right" to you than the other. You should try them both.
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Old 07-09-18, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgePatton View Post
What would make it better?
It's the frame geometry, the riding position, and the quality of it all. The number of speeds on the rear and he carbon fork are more incidental to all that.

It's like how the difference in engine power between a Mercedes and an Accord isn't really the biggest differentiator.
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Old 07-09-18, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
It's the frame geometry, the riding position, and the quality of it all. The number of speeds on the rear and he carbon fork are more incidental to all that.

It's like how the difference in engine power between a Mercedes and an Accord isn't really the biggest differentiator.
Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
You should test ride them. I'm not even a Trek guy and the Emonda and Domane are obviously different. I mean, sure, it's the same letters, but completely different order!

They're both good bikes and you can't go wrong on either (as long as it fits you) but they're made for different kinds of riding, and as such they handle and perform differently. Not better, but suited to different tastes. You might find that one feels more "right" to you than the other. You should try them both.
​​​​​​​

Thanks thats good advice. I'll try test riding both bikes and see how I feel about them. I was just worried Emonda was strictly for hills.
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Old 07-09-18, 03:58 PM
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Some bikes are better than others for climbing, but I've never heard of one that was strictly for hills.
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Old 07-09-18, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgePatton View Post
I am thinking about getting it but I hear the bike is strictly for hills, is that true?
Under current marketing vernacular, the Emonda line is classified as "lightweight" or "climbing" road bikes. This contrasts it with "aerodynamic" road bikes like the Madone, or "endurance" road bikes like the Domane.

There are tangible differences in their designs, but the suitability of the different bikes for different tasks is sometimes blown out of proportion. Yes, an Emonda is a bit lighter than the others. Yes, a Madone's frame tubes and several of its components are profiled to reduce the bike's aerodynamic drag somewhat. And yes, a Domane has a few features and design choices that can allow it to ride a little more plush.
But.
There's nothing wrong with climbing hills on a Madone. An Emonda works great for long rides. And if you bring your Domane to a criterium, you've brought a road bike to a road race and that's just fine.
Saying that an Emonda is strictly for climbing is like saying that a Specialized Rockhopper is specialized strictly for hopping over rocks. In reality, it turns out that riding over a tree root does not cause a Rockhopper to spontaneously explode.

I have an Emonda ALR 5 and I like it a lot. I even like it a lot when doing things other than going up hills.

Try bikes out. Get a bike you like.

I currently gave a Giant Contend which is an 8 speed. How much of an improvement will I get if I move to a carbon fork and a 10 speed like the Emonda has?
I don't know. What problems do you have with the Contend's 8-speed drivetrain or aluminum fork?

A 10-speed drivetrain will allow for a wider-range cassette and/or tighter spacing between the gears. Otherwise, the performance and behavior of a Tiagra drivetrain isn't worlds apart from Claris; they should both shift fine when you shift the shifter, and they both make the bike go forward when you push on the pedals.

Should I go with a Domane instead?
I don't know. Have you tried a Domane out and decided you like it more than an Emonda?

Last edited by HTupolev; 07-09-18 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 07-09-18, 04:01 PM
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I don't think there could be such a thing as a bike "strictly" for hills. Even assuming that it was built with lightness as the biggest design goal, it'll still work just fine for the flats. There might be other things you'd want in a bike that would guide you towards the Madone or Domane, but they can all certainly handle general riding of whatever sort you care to do, and will be nicer than your Contend by a country mile.

If you can, do go ride them.
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Old 07-09-18, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgePatton View Post
What would make it better?
Actual hill-climbing gears.
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Old 07-09-18, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Actual hill-climbing gears.
I'm not sure how the OP's bike is set up, but the Claris-equipped 2018 Contend 3 actually comes stock with a much lower granny gear than the Tiagra-equipped Emonda ALR 4. By about 20%!
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Old 07-09-18, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
I'm not sure how the OP's bike is set up, but the Claris-equipped 2018 Contend 3 actually comes stock with a much lower granny gear than the Tiagra-equipped Emonda ALR 4. By about 20%!
Yeah, that is what I was getting at. The gearing is designed as if you aren't going to need to climb, which is why I thought it was interesting that is was suggested to be strictly for climbing hills.

It puts me off getting one.
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Old 07-09-18, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
The Emonda is a good all-around road bike that was pigeonholed as a climber because the high-zoot carbon models were some of the lightest productions bikes around at the time of introduction.
This.
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Old 07-09-18, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
I'm not sure how the OP's bike is set up, but the Claris-equipped 2018 Contend 3 actually comes stock with a much lower granny gear than the Tiagra-equipped Emonda ALR 4. By about 20%!
what does that mean?

Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Under current marketing vernacular, the Emonda line is classified as "lightweight" or "climbing" road bikes. This contrasts it with "aerodynamic" road bikes like the Madone, or "endurance" road bikes like the Domane.

There are tangible differences in their designs, but the suitability of the different bikes for different tasks is sometimes blown out of proportion. Yes, an Emonda is a bit lighter than the others. Yes, a Madone's frame tubes and several of its components are profiled to reduce the bike's aerodynamic drag somewhat. And yes, a Domane has a few features and design choices that can allow it to ride a little more plush.
But.
There's nothing wrong with climbing hills on a Madone. An Emonda works great for long rides. And if you bring your Domane to a criterium, you've brought a road bike to a road race and that's just fine.
Saying that an Emonda is strictly for climbing is like saying that a Specialized Rockhopper is specialized strictly for hopping over rocks. In reality, it turns out that riding over a tree root does not cause a Rockhopper to spontaneously explode.

I have an Emonda ALR 5 and I like it a lot. I even like it a lot when doing things other than going up hills.

Try bikes out. Get a bike you like.


I don't know. What problems do you have with the Contend's 8-speed drivetrain or aluminum fork?

A 10-speed drivetrain will allow for a wider-range cassette and/or tighter spacing between the gears. Otherwise, the performance and behavior of a Tiagra drivetrain isn't worlds apart from Claris; they should both shift fine when you shift the shifter, and they both make the bike go forward when you push on the pedals.


I don't know. Have you tried a Domane out and decided you like it more than an Emonda?

Thanks for all this advice! One issue I currently have with the giant contend is that it making an annoying crank noise like something is broken, totally randomly. Sometimes I'll be biking along fine no noise and other times its clank clank clank clank every time I turn the pedals. I took it in a bunch to different bike shops and nobody could seek to fix it. I just bought my first road bike last year and im ready to get a better bike this year.

Last edited by GeorgePatton; 07-09-18 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 07-09-18, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgePatton View Post
what does that mean?
Because the Emonda lacks a third chainring, you'll have to pedal harder or at a lower cadence up hills, even though the bike is lighter and nicer overall.
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Old 07-09-18, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgePatton View Post
what does that mean?
Being in a smaller front chainring gives you a lower gear. Being in a bigger rear cog gives you a lower gear.

Both the Emonda ALR 4 and the Contend 3 have a 34-tooth small chainring, but the biggest cog that the Emonda has in back is a 28-tooth, while the Content 3 has a 34-tooth. A 34-tooth cog is 21% bigger than a 28-tooth cog, so the Contend's lowest gear is 21% lower than the Emonda's lowest gear.

If you have the 2017 Contend 3 with the 32-tooth big cog, then the 21% becomes 14%, but the same idea applies.

Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Yeah, that is what I was getting at. The gearing is designed as if you aren't going to need to climb
The stock gearing on road bikes is still mostly chosen per the expectations of very strong riders.

And within that expectation, it being a "climbing bike" isn't necessarily helpful. A Domane has a lower granny gear because you're more likely to want to pace slowly up hills during an endurance ride. But an Emonda? The logic is that if you're racing up the climbs, you don't need as low gears as if you're riding calmly up the climbs.

Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
Because the Emonda lacks a third chainring, you'll have to pedal harder or at a lower cadence up hills, even though the bike is lighter and nicer overall.
The Contend 3 lacks a third chainring as well. It just has a very wide 8-speed cassette.
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Old 07-09-18, 05:15 PM
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My primary ride is an Emonda, and I ride more that just hills. It's perfectly fine for any terrain. Perhaps you are being told a tale, or listening to the hype of "lightest production frame EVAR!", which is probably not even true anymore. It's got huge, bulbous tubing that is far from aero (at least the carbon version I have), but I would doubt you will really feel a difference. Other models may be more aero, but I just love riding a really light bike, it feels great! I've heard nothing but positive feedback about the ALR, it would be a solid choice for sure.
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Old 07-09-18, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgePatton View Post
One issue I currently have with the giant contend is that it making an annoying crank noise like something is broken, totally randomly. Sometimes I'll be biking along fine no noise and other times its clank clank clank clank every time I turn the pedals.
Is it particular to certain gear combinations? Like if you're riding in the smallest or biggest rear cog while in one of your front chainrings? Does the amount of force you're pushing on the pedals affect the behavior? What particular kind of noise is it? Like clunking, or like grinding? Does it matter whether you're pedaling in or out of the saddle?
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Old 07-10-18, 09:33 AM
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No... I live in pan flat south Florida and I love my Emonda. I'd take it over the newer Madone anyway since I'm not worried about marginal gains, I'm out to have fun. FWIW... I ride 7500-8000 miles per year, a few hundred in rolling hills so no it's not just for hills
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Old 07-10-18, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
The Contend 3 lacks a third chainring as well. It just has a very wide 8-speed cassette.
Dang, it has an 11-34 according to Giant's specs, spread across 8 gears. That's gonna leave some pretty big gaps where I'd personally find it hard to ride at my preferred cadence. OP's mileage may vary, of course, but based solely on that cassette I think he'll benefit somewhat from a 10 speed with a 12-28 for all-purpose riding.
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Old 07-10-18, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Being in a smaller front chainring gives you a lower gear. Being in a bigger rear cog gives you a lower gear.

Both the Emonda ALR 4 and the Contend 3 have a 34-tooth small chainring, but the biggest cog that the Emonda has in back is a 28-tooth, while the Content 3 has a 34-tooth. A 34-tooth cog is 21% bigger than a 28-tooth cog, so the Contend's lowest gear is 21% lower than the Emonda's lowest gear.
Slightly odd that the Emonda is 50/34 and 11-28, whereas the Domane is 50/34 and 11-32. Trek must figure that the climbers attracted to the Emonda already have strong climbing legs.

Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
There's nothing wrong with climbing hills on a Madone. An Emonda works great for long rides. And if you bring your Domane to a criterium, you've brought a road bike to a road race and that's just fine.
Wait, you don't have a support wagon that jumps out as soon as you hit the hills to allow you to swap your Madone for your Emonda?
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Old 07-10-18, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
Trek must figure that the climbers attracted to the Emonda already have strong climbing legs.
No, probably not. The Domane has clearance for 35mm tires and many models come equipped with 32s - the larger diameter tire changes the effective gearing and rolling resistance. There's also riding surfaces to consider - the Domane is intended to be used on cobbles and gravel, too. Add all of this together and it's shouldn't be a surprise to see the shorting gearing on the Domane - look at CX and gravel bikes that frequently come with a 46 big ring. Or do CX and gravel riders just have weak legs?
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Old 07-10-18, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by GeorgePatton View Post
So I'm checking out the Trek Emonda ALR 4 2017/2018 and it has all the specs I want (10 speed, carbon fork, lighter). I am thinking about getting it but I hear the bike is strictly for hills, is that true? I currently gave a Giant Contend which is an 8 speed. How much of an improvement will I get if I move to a carbon fork and a 10 speed like the Emonda has? Should I go with a Domane instead?
Have you gone to your local dealer and tried them out? Doing so will most likely clear up any uncertainties you may have.
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