Arthur's Emonda SLR
With a team made up of passionate cyclists, if you’ve visited us in-store before you’ll know that we don’t just sell and service bikes at Richmond Cycles; we live and breathe them! From the workshop to the shop floor, whether it’s crit racing, embarking on multi-day off-road adventures, or simply riding to the café with mates, you can be sure that one of our team has done it before.
With that being said, what better way to introduce you to our incredible team than by showcasing the very bikes that they rely on day in and day out? In our new ‘Staff Bikes’ series, we'll be taking a closer look at the bikes that our staff ride, discovering all of the cool little details and discussing the thoughts behind their choices. First up: Arthur and his rather snazzy Trek Emonda SLR!
What is the bike?
It’s a Project One Trek Emonda SLR 9, decked out with 62mm Aeolus RSL wheels and the latest 12-speed Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. Admittedly it's more bike than I probably deserve, but it sure is fast!
What made you go for the Emonda?
I used to ride a 2015 Supersix Evo, which was fantastic. But as racing has evolved, aerodynamics has become a top priority. I needed something faster without sacrificing the lightweight, nimble feel that I loved. With that in mind, the Emonda was the obvious choice. Trek’s expertise in aero combined with their lightweight and simple frame design made this the perfect bike for my needs.
How does it perform in racing?
In one word: brilliantly. Initially, I considered the Madone due to its aerodynamics, but I'm so glad I went with the Emonda. Equipped with those 62mm wheels, it feels like a rocket ship on the road. What's remarkable is that it's still incredibly responsive uphill and out of the corners even with those deep wheels, thanks to the low system weight. Sure, those wheels can get a bit twitchy in strong winds, but the sheer speed they offer is unparalleled. This bike is built for racing, no doubt about it. It's like having a secret weapon. It feels like cheating, to be honest.
What's changed about the build since you got it?
The beauty of Project One is the ability to spec your dream bike from the get-go – it’s essentially like building a custom bike. However, I have made a couple of small adjustments since then, notably switching to 38cm integrated RSL bars. These bars are fantastic – they feel great, have a clean look, and are conveniently routed. It's technically still external cables, but it looks as sleek as fully internal ones, and it's hassle-free when I need to travel with the bike.
One other change I made was swapping out my Vittoria Corsa tyres from 25mm to 28mm, and the difference is like night and day. The increased confidence in corners with the wider rubber is a game-changer. I’ve experimented with low pressure on 25mm tyres in the past, but pinch flats were a recurring nightmare. With 28mm at 70psi and latex tubes, it's the sweet spot for me. I've never felt more secure in those tight turns.
What has it been like switching from rim brakes to disc brakes?
I must admit I was a bit of a slow adopter when it came to disc brakes. However, Shimano seems to have cracked the code with their latest generation of road disc. The setup is much easier now, and the modulation and all-weather braking performance upgrade goes without saying. I’ve got no complaints whatsoever about this latest generation of road disc brakes, and while servicing might take slightly longer, that’s a compromise I’m willing to make!
Coming from mechanical gearing on your previous race bike, how are you getting on with Di2?
Di2 has been an absolute revelation. Shifting is reliable and precise, making it ideal in fast, hectic sprints. It's also super convenient in cold weather; no need to push the lever all the way, just a simple button click! Fast, convenient and consistent – I couldn’t ask for much more really. With 2x12-speed, the gaps between cogs are minimal, yet there's still a wide range of gears, so you can always find the perfect cadence, no matter the gradient. It's crazy to think back in the day when pros (and amateurs alike!) would be grinding away at 40-50 rpm! Di2 has spoiled me; it's just so easy to use and incredibly dependable.
What would you change about the bike now?
Honestly, this bike is pretty much my dream setup, so there's not much I would change. If I had to nitpick, maybe I'd opt for a slightly shallower rim depth. In the windy criterium race I won this year, it got a bit sketchy around some blustery corners with those deep rims. I certainly wouldn’t be taking my hands off the bars in a race or out on the open road unless conditions were completely still. With that being said, the sheer speed advantage you get with these wheels is hard to resist.
Have you got any big race ambitions or rides planned?
My big goal for this year was to achieve Cat 1 status, something I've been working towards for a while. However, it's a time and dedication-intensive process. Acquiring the necessary points can be quite a challenge, and sometimes life just gets in the way. I had a strong start to the season, but illness and a few weekends lost to weddings set me back. That's the reality of it. Maybe next season, depending on how winter training goes, I'll have a better shot at it.