Little by little, the brands are presenting their new models for 2021. A few weeks ago we presented you the new range of Specialized gravel bikes and this time, we detailed an updated model such as the Trek Checkpoint ALR 4, which was presented back at the end of 2018 along with her younger (AL) and older (SL – carbon) sister. The main update for 2021? Shimano GRX groupset.

It is a very versatile model that you can use both for gravel, for trips of several days or even as a city bike. Below we present it to you, and we encourage you to make your comments.

Frame detail

The combination of aluminum frames with carbon forks is common. This is the case of the Trek Checkpoint ALR 4, which presents us with a frame with hydroformed tubes. That is, they are aluminum tubes with different thicknesses and shapes that as a result gives a lighter and stronger frame.

« The Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 2021 features the same frame with hydroformed tubes. The change is in new varieties of colors. This garnet color is beautiful and elegant»

The appearance of the frame is somewhat aligned to road bikes, but with wider tubes. Unlike the SL model in carbon, the upper tube does not have as much slopping. The set frame and fork in terms of weight stands at 2.39 kilos (size 56cm). The carbon version, the Checkpoint SL is approximately 1.7 kilos (same size). The difference, in my opinion, is not so substantial.

But what I like about this model unlike others, is that it has added eyelets for the installation of up to four cages to locate bottles. Also, in the top tube there are two holes that allow you to load a bikepacking bag. In addition, the user can install a rear rack, or fenders. Therefore, you could turn this model into a real bicycle for trips for several days.

«The ALR 4 has eyelets for the installation of up to four cages to locate bottles. In the upper tube there are two holes that allow you to accommodate a bikepacking bag»

As for its geometry, and as noted, it is remarkably similar to a road bike and far from a mountain bike design. The stem is not short like other gravel on the market. Therefore, with this bicycle you can go with some agility on asphalt routes and on various flat terrain off the road.

« If you like traditional design frames, then ALR 4 is for you. Its appearance is similar to a road bike, although with fallen chainstays»

Another aspect to highlight is that the bicycle has internal cable routing. As we always add, this gives it a much cleaner appearance than a bicycle that carries cables externally. Although there are those who prefer external because they are easier to repair.

Another thing that adds modernity is that the Checkpoint ALR frame and fork are designed for thru-axle placement, a must-have feature on today’s gravel bikes. In addition, the rear wheel can move a few millimeters back thanks to a rail located at the junction of the chainstays with the seatstays. This is a rare feature, but it serves to locate larger tires or turn the bike into a fixie, should the rear derailleur break down.

«The rear wheel can move a few millimeters back thanks to a rail located at the junction of the chainstays with the seatstays»

I left the fork for last. This is carbon, conical and does not have a completely straight design like other models. It has a certain curvature and looks more classic than what we usually see on other gravel bikes. And is that the Checkpoint ALR 4 looks, and I insist, as a whole as a road bike but with much greater clearance for tires.

Regarding the ability to install tires, it is possible to locate measures up to 45mm for 700c wheels. I personally believe that the gravel should be limited to sizes from 35 to 42mm. With this we achieve greater versatility and not lose rolling efficiency on not so complex surfaces. A matter of taste.

« The ALR accepts tires up to 45mm for 700c wheels. 650b tires? Trek says nothing about it. But some owners have installed them»

To finish, you have different sizes: 49, 52, 54, 56 and 61. In addition, you can choose this same model in two shades: garnet, or blue.

Drivetrain

Unlike its previous models, by 2021 the Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 has a transmission based on a mixture of components from the Shimano GRX. Specifically, RX400 and 600 levels.

Its development based on 10 speeds is made up of 46/30 teeth sub-compact chainrings and an 11-34t cassette. I would venture to say that it is a transmission that will perform well both on asphalt and on forest tracks. I think that you will go fast or agile on a multitude of surfaces without envying much of a road model.

The brakes are Shimano GRX hydraulic, although Trek does not specify the model. Possible be model 400.

« Its transmission is 10-speed consisting of a 46/30 teeth sub-compact chainring and an 11-34t cassette, all Shimano GRX»

Unfortunately, Trek does not offer the ALR 4 (or ALR 5) in a single chainring version, which does not allow it to compete with other brands that do offer both 2x and 1x options.

Components

The components (stem, seatpost, handlebar), and as expected, are provided by the subsidiary brand Bontrager. They are aluminum components and of acceptable quality with the aim of not increasing the price.

« The components are provided by the subsidiary brand Bontrager and are made of aluminum»

As for the handlebar is not specific for gravel and it does not have an opening or pronounced flare. In particular, I am not very devoted to flare bars and I like the traditional road bike type much more. It is for an aesthetic reason.

Wheels and tires

The wheels are provided by the brand itself and are the Bontrager Tubeless Ready. As its name indicates, its wheels are Tubeless and aluminum. Let’s say they are standard wheels that do not stand out for being light.

The tires, unlike many brands are also provided by Trek. They are the Bontrager GR1 Comp for a measurement of 700c and 40mm wide. These tires have numerous small blocks that allow you to roll well on asphalt and have a somewhat acceptable grip on rough roads. These tires remind me a lot of Schwalbe G-One Allround tires.

Summary

  • Model: Trek Checkpoint ALR 4
  • Modality: Gravel for any type of terrain. Bikepacking.
  • Frame: Aluminum.
  • Fork: Carbon.
  • Drivetrain: Shimano GRX 10 speed
  • Hydraulic brakes.
  • Chainrings: 2x Sub-compact 46-30t
  • Cassette: 11 / 34t.
  • Components: Aluminum.
  • Tires: Bontrager GR1 Comp 700c x 40mm.
  • Wheels: Bontrager Tubeless Ready 700c.
  • Weight: 10.1 kg.
  • Approximate price: € 1,899.00 or US $1,699.99

Verdict

The Trek Checkpoint ALR 4 is a very versatile bike that you can use for gravel, touring and even as a city bike.

As for the drivetrain that rides, the Shimano GRX 10-speed, adapts very well on asphalt, or on rough forest tracks. Thanks to its 2x development, based on a 46-30t subcompact and its 11 / 34t cassette, it allows you to roll with some agility and climb steep slopes.

Its weight of 10.1kg deserves to be highlighted, as many gravels of its level weigh around 10.5kg

It is not a cheap aluminum model, but the Trek brand is a guarantee of quality and finishes.

Price

Su precio oficial es de 1.899,00 € or US $1,699.99

More information

Trek official website

TodoGravel on Instagram

You can also see the detail of the images in our Instagram: Instagram.com/todogravel.