Trek has launched a dedicated adventure bike, the Checkpoint, which the American brand says is designed to excel in conditions ranging from gravel riding and bike packing to daily commutes and “finding some trouble", thanks in part to the adjustable geometry.
Instead of designing a road bike tweaked for gravel riding - in the guise of the Domane Gravel - Trek has followed the example of Specialized with its excellent Diverge all-road machine and developed a bespoke bike for the emerging and fast-developing gravel scene.
The Checkpoint is the result, and at its heart features a new ‘performance’ geometry that mirrors the Boone cyclo-cross bike in its wheelbase and chainstay length, with claims of aggressive and responsive riding as a result, but with key modifications in a taller stack height and lower-slung bottom bracket.
Central to the Checkpoint is the adaptability achieved through the rear ‘Stranglehold’ dropouts, which allow for customisation of the overall geometry. Set at its longest setting, Trek says the bike is perfectly set up for stability and longer bike-packing rides, while when drawn forwards it produces a more aggressive ride and handling, better suited to fast off-road excursions.
Additionally, this innovation allows the frame to adapt to both 1x and 2x drivetrains without the downside of a sub-optimal chain line and tension, according to Trek. Clever stuff.
There are two frames available – an ‘SL’ model that features 500 OCLV carbon weighing in at a claimed 1,240g in a size 56cm, and an ‘ALR’ version with 300 series Alpha aluminium coming in at 1,570g. The carbon SL frameset features a lighter carbon fork (470g vs. 600g), simplified IsoSpeed decoupler in the rear seattube for added compliance as well a visibly dropped asymmetric chainstay design on the driveside.
Whichever model you choose, Trek tells us the Checkpoint boasts clearance for 700x45c tyres – the main source of comfort on the new bike. In fact, the American brand claims the potential for wider tyres means the inclusion of a front IsoSpeed decoupler, seen on the latest Domane endurance road bikes, is unnecessary, while if riders decide narrower rubber is the order of the day, the bike will happily run more road-specific 28c tyres.
Elsewhere, the Checkpoint supports flat-mount disc brakes and 12mm thru-axles, while Trek’s ‘Control Freak’ internal cable routing is designed to keep cables and hoses protected from inevitable wear and tear of off-road riding without losing easy access for servicing.
Meanwhile, the bike has mounts for practically any accessory you want to throw at it. In a 56cm frame or larger, you get mounts for up to four bottles (three in smaller sizes), a toptube mount for a bag (SL only), space for a toptube frame bag, rack mounts on both the rear stays and fork, and hidden mounts for mudguards. There’s also compatibility and supplied accessories for Trek’s Blendr system, which allows near-seamless integration of lights and computers to the handlebar.
The carbon Checkpoint is available in a top-level SL6 model with a full Shimano Ultegra groupset for £3,400 and carbon seatpost, and an SL5 version fitted with a Shimano 105 groupset for £2,700, complete with a women’s-specific version with a smaller handlebar and different saddle. Alloy bikes cost £1,700 with a Shimano 105 groupset, and £1,450 with a Shimano Tiagra drivetrain, both men’s and women’s builds.
It’s worth noting Trek are expecting a refresh of the 105 groupset from Shimano in August 2018, while all bikes come fitted with 35c Schwalbe G-One AllRound tyres shod to tubeless-compatible Bontrager hoops.
That just about covers everything - we’re looking forward to getting hands-on in the near future to tell you exactly what it’s like.
Trek Checkpoint 2018 bikes (available from March 1)
Trek Checkpoint SL6 (Shimano Ultegra) - £3,400
Trek Checkpoint SL5 (Shimano 105) - £2,700
Trek Checkpoint SL5 WSD (Shimano 105) - £2,700
Trek Checkpoint ALR5 (Shimano 105) - £1,700
Trek Checkpoint ALR5 WSD (Shimano 105) - £1,700
Trek Checkpoint ALR4 (Shimano Tiagra) - £1,450
Trek Checkpoint ALR4 WSD (Shimano Tiagra) - £1,450