Trek Checkpoint ALR 5

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I’ve been lucky enough to be given a Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 “gravel” bike to play with long term and I’ve been riding it now for nearly 4 months in the dry of summer, the dampness of autumn and I would have said the cold of winter but thus far it’s been really mild.

The bike comes with a complete Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic brakes and a 50/34 chainset and 11-34 rear cassette. the reast of the kit is from Bontrager, all good stuff that is reliable.

I found that the gearing for the riding i do (lots of off road steep mtb trails) was over geared, the 34T sprocket on the back was too high for my puny legs so i swapped to a 34T chainring and a 11-40 cassette and i’ve found that to be excellent. i even used the stock chain and rear mech without it being stretched. the nech also isn’t a clutch version. the chainring is a narrow wide one though. I’ve not lost the chain due to bouncing once since i fitted the new configuration.

The stock tyres are schwalbe G-Ones, fine for summer or road use but didn’t cut the mustard once a bit of dampness set in. i fitted WTB resolutes in 42mm size (the frame with take 45mm!) and set them up tubeless and they have been absolutely excellent, can’t fault them at all.

The other item i changed were the handle bars, i swapped in a pair of Ritchey venturemax for their extra flair and compactness, they are so comfortable and will be my go to bar from now on.

the ride is sublime, i set the “stranglehold” adjustable dropouts at the half way point for a mix of stability and manoeuverability  and for me that seems about right, the masochistic amongst us can run it single speed easily. The bike will cruise on tarmac all day, 100 miles? not a problem, the geometry is stable and not full on race bike twitchy, the disc brakes give you confidence both on road and off, it’s definitely a ride along and look over the hedge at the view bike rather than a ride on someones wheel looking at the lycra covered back side in front bike, but with the right tyres i reckon it could do this too

I’ve put Gravel in inverted commas as I think to bracket this bike as a gravel bike only is wrong, it is much more versatile than that. in fact there isn’t a lot that you can’t do on this bike at all. I’d say adventure bike but that makes it sound that it would be a rubbish road bike or commute to work bike and it really isn’t. pop some slick tyres on and this could (with the help of your legs obviously) join and club run. pop a saddle bag on it and do a extra long Audax with ease. fit a rack and panniers and you could tour the world or go credit card touring via B&Bs. bike packing? no problem, with multiple bottle mounts and frame bag friendly spaces spending nights out in the middle of nowhere carrying your breakfast and tarp would be a doddle. See that bridleway you’ve never been down before because it’s 30 miles away from home via some grass up the middle lanes? this bike can get you there in more comfort than riding an MTB on the road and still handle the roughness. I’ve also taken this bike down some of my favourite singletrack, yes it’s slower than an MTB on that stuff but so engaging, just like MTBing was back in the days when the sport was new. this bike does everything well. personally I’d like a little more height on the head tube, a bit more stand over and some dropper post compatibility but that is just my preference it wouldn’t stop me buying one. One great bike that could replace many of your other bikes!

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