Road Bike Trek Checkpoint SL6

Tom K.

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I've had this carbonium gravel bike for about two months now. I'm in love. With 38c gravel tires, it will go almost anywhere. With 33c mixed surface tires, it will go on, well, mixed surface rides. With 26c slicks it will keep up on a fast group ride, as long as I don't have to pull quite my fair share.

Trek's approach on this bike was a bit different from most. It is unabashedly NOT super long and relaxed. It keeps a fairly nimble cyclocross geometry. I was a bit spooked by this, but have found that the stability of 38c tires is all I need in that area, and we have STEEP hills here. Sliding rear dropouts (silent so far, thank goodness) allow the rear wheel to be pulled back quite a ways for more stability and/or convert to single speed. I've done neither.

The frame has mounts everywhere, like sixteen bottle mounts, fender mounts, rack mounts, and even mounts for a top tube bag. Since this will double as my Winter Rain Bike, fender mounts were a must and Trek does a nice hidden version of them.

My only two cons on the bike have been gearing and bars. The bars were harsh riding, inexpensive aluminum units, and rattled me around too much even with relatively low pressures in the front tire. A set of Bontrager Isocore carbon bars seemed like a high dollar risk, but they worked better than I could have hoped, especially on high frequency buzzy roads like chip-seal.

The second con for my location was gearing. As noted, some of our best gravel roads are very steep, and a low gear of 34 x 34 was not cutting it. This turned out to be a little more involved to solve than I first thought, but with some help from the fine Minnesota boys at Wolftooth Components, I got the gearing down to a low gear of 34 x 40. It required an 11-40 XTR cassette, an XT derailleur, and a nifty little Wolftooth thingamajig called a Tanpan, which is basically a nicely manufactured variable pulley that allows my road shifters to pull the correct amount of cable for the mtb XT rear derailleur.

This bike will never be as fast on a good road as a pure road bike, and it turns out that I don't care, especially when riding alone. The smoothness and control on stupid-fast descents more than makes up for it. And I love being able to re-route things mid-ride at my whim, regardless of surface.

Finally, I'll never buy another bike without disk brakes again, living in the hills and mountains of the Columbia River Gorge!
 
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Tricia

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Nice!
 

ScottB

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Glad you like your new bike. I lived in Mosier for a while and the hills in that area are pretty long and steep.Very different than suburbia north of Boston where I live. Your feedback on gearing is of great interest to me. I own a mtn bike with 2 X 10 gearing and I really like it becasue of the low gearing that can climb up a tree if you want. I forget the sproket teeth numbers, but it goes down to a ratio of 0.60. Your original ratio was 1.0 and you modified it to a ratio of 0.85 (34 / 40) which seems lilke a good improvement and should work well for long steep hills. The 0.60 low gear I have is not needed on the road.

I just got an old Schwin Le Tour road bike back on the road after sitting in my basement for quite a while. It is a 1986 bike and has 12 speed gears (2 sprokets in front, 6 in the rear). Back then, there weren't a lot of options on gearing. My largest rear sprocket is a 28 and the original small front ring was a 42, which gave me a ratio of 1.5. Way to tall even for suburbia. I changed to a 36 front sproket and I am now at 1.3 which helped. I would still like to go lower, close to 1.0, but I am as small as I can go on the front sprocket. To get lower, I am looking at more major changes. Either new cranks or a new cassette and probably rear derailer. I found a rear cassette that is still 6 speeds with a bail out gear, which gets me to 1.06 which is good, except I will probably need a new derailer to make it work. I also loose my 1.3 ratio which I use quite a bit. Probably my ideal solution is to convert to a 7 speed so I can get one more lower gear and keep my 1.3 ratio.

I will probably have to talk to a local shop about what my options are. Appreciate the info on your bike's gears. It confirms my thinking that a lower gear would be desireable for long steep hills. I rode it in the mtn's of Vermont a long time ago and I couldn't pedal straight up some of the long climbs, I had to do S turns up the hill. Good thing the traffic is very light up there.
 
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Tom K.

Tom K.

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Glad you like your new bike. I lived in Mosier for a while and the hills in that area are pretty long and steep.Very different than suburbia north of Boston where I live. Your feedback on gearing is of great interest to me. I own a mtn bike with 2 X 10 gearing and I really like it becasue of the low gearing that can climb up a tree if you want. I forget the sproket teeth numbers, but it goes down to a ratio of 0.60. Your original ratio was 1.0 and you modified it to a ratio of 0.85 (34 / 40) which seems lilke a good improvement and should work well for long steep hills. The 0.60 low gear I have is not needed on the road.
Interesting! Wilson, Huskey, and Carol Roads in Mosier are exactly what I did the re-gearing for. I recently discovered that I could also have changed to an FSA crank geared at 46/30 for about the same price, but would have given up a little "top end" with that approach.

Funny, I do gearing comparisons with the same ratio approach you use. After 15 years of endurance mtb racing, I've got tables and tables of gearing ratios from each bike. It's interesting to see how much gearing has changed.

Good luck gearing down the old Schwinn. Sounds like a fun project!
 

Ron

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FWIW- I put a set of Compass Bon Jons on my wife's Domane and even at 36mm ( I actually put my rear wheel on her bike which is 23mm internal, the Bon Jons seat at 38mm and there was ~3mm clearance) , there is still ~5mm clearance on both sides. these run plenty fast for chips seal road and are supremely smooth and robust for hard packed dirt roads. As long as the stone is not jagged/sharp, these tires rock. with 3mm of tread thickness, they provide good protection. their weakness is the 320 tip sidewalls on sharper, loose stone but that 320 tip also makes them ultra smooth and fast on the roads.

Although this bike is marketed towards a one quiver bike, I'm not sure theres a huge difference between it and the Domane, @Tom K. can you elaborate more on what you see as significant differences?
 
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Tom K.

Tom K.

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FWIW- I put a set of Compass Bon Jons on my wife's Domane and even at 36mm ( I actually put my rear wheel on her bike which is 23mm internal, the Bon Jons seat at 38mm and there was ~3mm clearance) , there is still ~5mm clearance on both sides. these run plenty fast for chips seal road and are supremely smooth and robust for hard packed dirt roads. As long as the stone is not jagged/sharp, these tires rock. with 3mm of tread thickness, they provide good protection. their weakness is the 320 tip sidewalls on sharper, loose stone but that 320 tip also makes them ultra smooth and fast on the roads.

Although this bike is marketed towards a one quiver bike, I'm not sure theres a huge difference between it and the Domane, @Tom K. can you elaborate more on what you see as significant differences?
Compared to the Domane, the Checkpoint has lower gearing, greater tire clearance, surprisingly sharper handling (steeper CX geo in front and shorter chainstays), no isospeed decoupler in front (assumption that larger tires renders this moot, and cost point also may factor in), and mounting holes everywhere for bags, racks and fenders.

Honestly if I had a current Domane, I'd have stuck with that, since it is a great bike, though it is a bit tight on tire clearance. My OG Domane had crazy tight clearance. You really couldn't safely fit a 32c tire.
 
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Ron

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@Tom K. thought of you on these new Chain rings

https://janheine.wordpress.com/?utm_source=Retail+Customer+Newsletter&utm_campaign=a091c8b547-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_29_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f74fbd5ca8-a091c8b547-108673545&mc_cid=a091c8b547&mc_eid=2d0bb7b17a

"Chainrings choice. It’s one of the main attractions of our Rene Herse cranks – together with light weight, supreme reliability and, dare we say it, good looks. So when we presented our first 11-speed chainrings, it was only a matter of time until the program was expanded. Now we are introducing our 42/26 and 44/28 chainrings, which complement the 46/30 rings already available in our program."
 
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Tom K.

Tom K.

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@Tom K. thought of you on these new Chain rings

https://janheine.wordpress.com/?utm_source=Retail+Customer+Newsletter&utm_campaign=a091c8b547-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_29_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f74fbd5ca8-a091c8b547-108673545&mc_cid=a091c8b547&mc_eid=2d0bb7b17a

"Chainrings choice. It’s one of the main attractions of our Rene Herse cranks – together with light weight, supreme reliability and, dare we say it, good looks. So when we presented our first 11-speed chainrings, it was only a matter of time until the program was expanded. Now we are introducing our 42/26 and 44/28 chainrings, which complement the 46/30 rings already available in our program."
Now that it's too late, I kind of wish I'd gone this 46/30t route offered by Absolute Black for Shimano cranks:

https://absoluteblack.cc/oval-road-chainrings-30-46-and-32-48-for-110-4bcd/

It moves the chainline inwards a bit, but probably tolerably, and I wouldn't have needed a new cassette, derailleur and Wolftooth Tanpan. The difference between my current 50 x 11 high gear and the resulting 46 x 11 would probably be tolerable on this bike, and I appreciate the more tightly-geared stock 34-11 cassette, as opposed to the XTR 40-11.

Dare I say it?! First world problems.......
 
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