It’s only early days for 2018, but some of the bicycle industry’s biggest manufacturers are already pulling the covers of new additions to their 2019 product line-up. After testing the waters with its Domane gravel bike in 2017, Trek have released its first full-blown gravel bike, the Checkpoint.
Featuring plenty of space for wide tyres, adjustable geometry and plenty of armouring to shield its frame from the harsh roads it’s designed for, here are nine things to know about the 2019 Trek Checkpoint gravel bike.
Related reading: What is a gravel bike?
1.Drop Bar Quiver Killer
With the addition of the Checkpoint to its range, Trek now have a complete offering of drop-bar bikes suitable for a range of different riding types. Designed to sit between its dedicated road range and its proven Crockett and Boone cyclocross race machines, the all-day anyroad Checkpoint looks, on paper at least, to provide the perfect option to riders wanting a do-it-all drop-bar road bike.
Gravel bikes by their very nature are very well rounded steeds, and the Checkpoint is no different. With hydraulic brakes fitted to the entire line-up, a range of groupset and component options on offer, it lends itself remarkably well to suit those wanting to traverse the road less travelled, yet be equally as adept on a Saturday morning road bunch ride.
2. Big Clearance for Big Tyres
Take a quick glance at the spec sheet for the Checkpoint and the fact that Trek ships the bike 35c tyres from the factory is commendable. What’s even more impressive is that the American company claim the Checkpoint is capable of swallowing tyres up to 45c despite having the same chainstay length as its cyclocross cousins, the Boone and the Crockett.
One interesting thing to note is that this is the first bike in some time that Trek has forgone fitting its own Bontrager branded tyres too, opting for tubeless-ready (SL models only) Schwalbe G-One rubber instead.
3. Adjustable Handling to Suit Your Terrain
Arguably one of the most striking additions to Checkpoint is the sliding “Stranglehold” dropouts at the rear. Implemented across the entire range, these sliding dropouts allow for an additional 15mm of chainstay length. This allows the rider to fine tune the handling of the Checkpoint to suit their needs or the terrain.
In the shortest position, the Checkpoint is said to handle similarly to a cyclocross bike, nimble and eager to accelerate, lengthen the chainstay length and, combined with the lower centre of gravity, the Checkpoint transforms into a comfortable all-day cruiser.
4. Geometry Tweaks for a Fun Ride
Working in tandem with the sliding dropouts mentioned above, Trek have paid particular attention to the geometry of Checkpoint. With a similar reach, stack and chainstay length to the Boone and Crockett cyclocross bikes, Trek claim the Checkpoint puts the rider in a similarly aggressive riding position.
This is not to say the handling is as the same as its race focussed stablemates, Trek has both lowered the bottom bracket and increased the fork rake on the Checkpoint, which is said to increase stability and aid in quick steering – perfect for a bike designed to handle both road and off-road needs.
5.Hydration and Bag Mounts Aplenty
The Checkpoint, much like many other gravel bikes on the market, is designed to be ridden across a range of distances. With this in mind, Trek have ensured its gravel offering is equipped with a range of accessory mounts that let users tune their setups to suit their own needs.
With mounting space for three bidon cages, as well as frame bags, racks, and fenders, Trek is clearly looking to please a wide range of riders, from those wanting an any-road cruiser to bikepacking aficionado's seeking a ride for a multi-day adventure.
6. Competitive Weight (For a Gravel Bike)
Built robust for a range of road conditions and terrain, lightweight is not typically something that is associated with gravel bIkes. That being said, the Checkpoint is no slouch in the scale department, with Trek claiming a 56cm SL6 tips the scales at 8.94kgs. Whilst this is on the hefty side compared to dedicated road options found elsewhere in the Trek line-up, its competitive amongst its any-road competition.
7. Built Tough with an Armoured Underbelly
A nod to the varied terrain that the Checkpoint is likely to traverse, Trek have fitted shielding, or “armouring” as Trek refers to it, to the downtube and bottom bracket area that extends out onto the chainstays. This shielding is to protect both the frame and paint against damage that can be caused by loose rocks and debris on unsealed roads.
8. IsoSpeed Equipped
First rolled out on its Endurance focussed Domane to reduce road buzz and increase compliance, a rear IsoSpeed decoupler has been integrated into all carbon frames models of the Checkpoint. Trek claims the addition of IsoSpeed reduces the amount of vibration and buzz generated from unsealed roads, leaving riders feeling fresher on longer rides.
It’s worth noting that unlike some of its road-going cousins, the IsoSpeed decoupler at the rear is not adjustable. Aluminium models of the Checkpoint do not feature the IsoSpeed technology.
9. Carbon and Alloy Options
Trek will offer the Checkpoint in both aluminium and carbon fibre frameset options. Internationally, there are six aluminium bike options and four carbon models, as well as bare frameset options in each material.
Imagery courtesy of CyclingTips