18 Jul 2018

You can't rip singletrack all the time! Getting out on quiet country roads away from traffic is the best way to train, so as we put in a few miles ahead of the Port to Port MTB race we've been spending a lot of time on gravel bikes, including the new Checkpoint SL 5 from Trek. We're aiming to hang onto this bike for a while, so tell us what part you'd like to see fit for review.

The not-so-minor details


Trek Checkpoint SL 5


Trek Bicycles



Stable and compliant on rough roads.
Easy on the body over a long day.


Brake fade on fast and long fireroad descents.
Need to convert to tubeless.

We’ve grown quite fond of this thing, and the result is the traditional road bike in the garage has been gathering dust. We ride mountain bikes for the fun of it and to get outdoors, we ride road bikes to go long distances and hopefully get ‘fitter’. Combining the two is made simple with a gravel bike, the Checkpoint is a comfortable and versatile rig that we are really enjoying riding.

For a more detailed look at the Checkpoint, check out our first impressions article here. Trek Checkpoint SL 5.

Watch the video for an update on the review.

We’ve received the new Shimano Ultegra RX rear derailleur for review, which is essentially a combination of a road and mountain bike derailleur, using the clutch mechanism to stabilise the chain over the bumps for a quieter ride and less risk of a dropped chain. A handy addition as the 105 derailleur currently fitted is low on the tension required to keep the chain from slapping about on rough gravel roads.

That’s what we’re talking about, back country roads for days!

The ISO Speed decoupler at the seat tube is designed to add compliance to the ride.

The brakes are going to score an update too, with the Shimano Dura Ace units adding power and hopefully resisting fade on the longer descents, as some of the fast roads over the mountain ranges we’ve been riding have us feeling a little nervous when we’re used to the power of mountain bike brakes!

We’ll be back, so stay tuned for an update soon, there are backcountry roads to explore.