22 Mar 2018

What have those tricky Trek people dreamed up this time...? Is the new Checkpoint a mountain biker's road bike, a gravel bike, a touring and commuting bike? Well, by the look of it, the Checkpoint could happily be all of those things.

The not-so-minor details


Trek Checkpoint SL 5





Grab your flannel shirt, lace-up shoes and enamel camping mug, Trek has a new bike that might just be what you’ve been looking for. The all-new Checkpoint 5 SL might confuse you as to what it is exactly, but in fact, Trek has let you decide yourself what to do with it, so far what we can tell is they’re calling it a; ‘gravel bike for epic all-road adventures’.

We know what we’ll do with it – adventures! – but before we give it a run to the hills let’s take a look at this unique animal in closer detail.

So many things to look at.

It might look like a road bike from afar but take a couple steps closer and you’ll notice frame features you’d never see on a classic road bike. We’re talking about; rack/utility mounts, multiple water bottle cage mounts, loads of tyre clearance, 12mm thru-axles, impact protection under the downtube, and an adjustable wheelbase.

Thick bar tape and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.
Robust frame shapes, loads of mounts for carrying stuff and protection from debris.
Flat mount disc brakes on both ends. Braking performance is paramount.

IsoSpeed decoupler, the fancy little bump-diffuser.

As seen on the Trek Procaliber is Trek’s unique vibration dampening system; IsoSpeed. Seen on Trek’s cross-country hardtail; the Procaliber, the Boone cyclocross bike and their endurance road bike, Domane.

The seat tube is a separate piece from the top and down tubes, for less feedback when seated.

It’s like the tiniest bit of suspension to take the sting out of the road.

It essentially uses a bushing and axle arrangement at the junction of the seat tube and top tube to allow the seat post to bend backwards independently from the top tube, adding comfort when seated. The top tube and seat tube tube are completely separate parts, joined by the decoupler unit.

It’s like the tiniest bit of suspension to take the sting out of the road.

See the IsoSpeed used for the purpose of mountain biking here: Trek Procaliber review.

Flow ‘GravelCross’ Bike, sorry, what?

We are aware that our name Flow Mountain Bike is completely void of words like ‘cyclocross’ or ‘gravel’, nor do we profess to be experts in the field of gravel but we’ve ridden quite a few nowadays, and our road bikes are gathering dust because of it. What’s going on?

C’mon, we know mountain bikers are hard on road bikes. There are even gravel events popping up like this one!

Isn’t it just a cyclocross bike?

In comparison to Trek’s cyclocross bike – The Boone – the Checkpoint’s frame geometry is lower in the bottom bracket, taller up the front and has considerably more tyre clearance. The adjustable wheelbase will provide the rider with the ability to select a fast and agile feel, or long and stable.

A wide range of gears for going everywhere.

Other gravel bikes we’ve recently tried out.

Norco’s Search XR shares a lot of features with the Checkpoint, check out the chainstays, multiple mounts, tyre clearance etc. Have a look here.

Cannondale Super X SE is an adaption from a cyclocross race bike for the gravel, a fast bike indeed! Check it out here.

Checkpoint options?

Trek provides the Checkpoint in three models, the SL 6 for $4699 is the top-end carbon frame version with the fancy Shimano Ultegra, the SL 5 we have sells for $3699 with Shimano 105. The ALR 5 uses a is aluminium frame option for $2699.

What now?

We are excited about this bike for a few reasons; like we said our road bikes are gathering dust, so we’ll punch out some ‘training’ km on this for a while. But more exciting is we are planning an adventure where a road bike would not survive (it’d most certainly explode) and a mountain bike would be overkill, plus we’ll be carrying a lot of gear. Presto, we have the right tool for the job! How convenient, Trek…