At € 12,999, the Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap is the most expensive bike on test. It promises to be a bike that can do it all, with added compliance at the rear, and the most feature-rich frame. But can the high price tag be justified, and how does it compare to the competition in our 2023 gravel race group test?

This bike was reviewed as part of our 2023 gravel race bike shootout. You’ll find a comprehensive group test and test field overview here: Which is the best gravel race bike of 2023? 9 gravel race bikes in review

Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap | € 12,999 | 8.28 kg (size 56) | Manufacturer’s website

As one of the world’s largest bike brands, Trek have access to nearly inexhaustible resources. The Checkpoint incorporates all the brand’s know-how and promises to be a gravel race bike par excellence. Originally designed for long rides on everything from asphalt to rough gravel, the Checkpoint has gradually evolved into a gravel race bike over the years. It still has a clear focus on long-distance comfort and therefore comes equipped with Trek’s IsoSpeed system for more compliance on bumpy terrain. But how does the bike compare to the Canyon Grail CF SLX 9 eTap and Berria Belador Allroad 8? These two bikes also feature damping elements that go beyond the inherent flex in the frame. Can the Checkpoint SLR achieve the promised balance, combining comfort with that race bike feeling? How much value for money can the most expensive bike on test offer at just under € 13k? Do you really get more than with the Canyon Grail, which costs less than half as much?

Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap – A true all-rounder or a jack of all trades but master of none?

The Checkpoint isn’t the lightest, fastest, or the most comfortable bike. Instead, Trek’s aim is for it to perform well in all conditions, which should make it the best all-rounder, capable of dominating all disciplines. It’s designed for stability and control, comfort, and functionality, placing little focus on aerodynamics and weight savings.
Surprisingly for a bike in this price range, it doesn’t feature a fully integrated cockpit. In contrast, the internal cable routing has been very cleverly solved. A neatly integrated rubber cover encloses the cables and prevents the ingress of dirt, unlike on the Argon 18 Dark Matter. The convenient storage compartment in the down tube has a multi-tool hidden in the lid, and the compartment is big enough for more than just a spare tube.

Not entirely convincing
The Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap features limited integration. We’d expect more for the price!
Ready for all eventualities
The down tube protector doesn’t just fend off flying stones and debris but also serves as mounting point for a bottle cage.

Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap

€ 12,999


Seatpost Trek Sitzturmaufsatz Carbon matt
Brakes SRAM Red eTap AXS HRD 160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Red eTap AXS 1x12
Stem Bontrager RSL Carbon 90 mm
Handlebar Bontrager Iso Core pro 420 mm
Wheelset Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37V
Tires Bontrager GR1 Team Issue TR 700 x 40c

Technical Data

Size 49 52 54 56 58 61
Weight 8,28 kg

Specific Features

active damping thanks to IsoSpeed
storage space in the down tube
protected downtube
generous tire clearance

To drive the rear wheel, Trek rely on the flagship SRAM RED eTap AXS groupset, using a 1x setup and featuring a power metre – you wouldn’t expect anything less for the price.
The 45 mm tire clearance is above average in our test field and appropriate for a gravel race bike. The 40 mm Bontrager GR1 Team Issue tubeless ready tires, however, couldn’t deliver. Fitted to skinny rims, the tires inflate like balloons and tend to bounce. In addition, the tread pattern isn’t good at self-cleaning and quickly reaches its limits on loamy soil.
Visually, the Checkpoint is a low-key bike with round and voluminous tube shapes. It relies on understatement. The discreet paint job and restrained look don’t look like a € 12,999 bike. That said, you can customise the bike with the Trek’s Project One configurator, allowing you to design your very own, one-of-a-kind colour scheme.

Well hidden
The IsoSpeed system is well hidden in the rear end, visible only to those in the know, and constructed of one piece on the SLR model. The seat mast is one of the system’s unique features.
Simple and functional
The top tube bag bosses aren’t unique to the Trek, but they’re neatly integrated and the bronze-coloured screws are quite the eye-catcher.
The Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap features an integrated storage compartment in the down tube, letting you store a ton of snacks and spares – more bikes should have this!

Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap – Compliant long-distance racer?

Despite the understated looks, the Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap is a high-tech bike. One that is more comfortable thanks to the IsoSpeed system in the rear. The decoupled seat mast of the IsoSpeed system effectively absorbs small bumps, such as on woodland paths, and it doesn’t bounce back uncontrolled. It is very subtly integrated into the frame and doesn’t stand out. Unfortunately, there’s an imbalance in comfort between the front and rear. The front end is rigid and offers minimal compliance. We would have liked a little more compliance up front, especially for long distances. To complicate matters, Trek decided to fit a round handlebar. Sure, the Checkpoint isn’t an aero bike, but gravel bikes also benefit from the comfort of oval shaped tops, and it’s something we no longer want to do without.
The riding position is neither upright nor aggressive, fitting for a comfort-oriented gravel race bike. It’s similar with the handling: it offers pronounced straight line stability but is slightly lacking in agility, which has a negative influence on the handling in technical terrain, whether you’re riding uphill or downhill. On the other hand, the bike excels on fast descents with long, open corners.

A bike with a trunk that looks slower than it is.

The intuitive steering is easy for beginners to get to grips with.
Thanks to the light wheel and tire combination and the fast-rolling tread pattern of the tires, it’s very responsive and loves sprinting. Here, it pays off to opt against having flex in the frame. By limiting the compliance to the IsoSpeed seat mast, the frame can be designed to be stiff and direct, keeping power transfer losses to a minimum.

Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap

Size 49 52 54 56 58 61
Seat tube 490 mm 520 mm 540 mm 560 mm 580 mm 610 mm
Top tube 541 mm 555 mm 570 mm 584 mm 597 mm 617 mm
Head tube 90 mm 105 mm 125 mm 145 mm 165 mm 195 mm
Head angle 71.2° 71.6° 71.8° 72.2° 72.3° 72.6°
Seat angle 74.1° 73.7° 73.2° 72.8° 72.5° 72.1°
BB Drop 78 mm 78 mm 76 mm 76 mm 74 mm 74 mm
Chainstay 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
Reach 393 mm 399 mm 403 mm 407 mm 411 mm 417 mm
Stack 538 mm 553 mm 571 mm 592 mm 609 mm 639 mm
Helmet MET Manta Mips | Glasses Alba Optics Delta original | Jacket Pas normal Mechanism Stow Away Jacket | Jersey Velocio Dark Floral SE | Pants Pas normal Mechanism Bibs | Shoes Giro Empire vr 90 | Socks Pas normal Solitude Socks

Who is the Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap for?

As a premium bike brand, Trek promise a lot with the Checkpoint SLR 9, and they deliver, too. However, it’s positioned as a bike for a less athletically ambitious target group. Like the Canyon Grail, the Checkpoint isn’t made for fast gravel races, performing best on relaxed weekend trips and forest service ways. If you’re out to rack up kilometres and avoid technical trails, the Checkpoint is the bike for you and is sure to put a smile on your face. The optional bikepacking equipment also makes it an ideal companion on big off-road adventures. This is where the Checkpoints racing ambitions lie. It can play to the strengths of its versatility and integrated damping on multi-day events and long self-supported races. However, it will need some tuning before you head off. A more compliant handlebar and more grippy tires will make the Checkpoint a high-performance bike.

Tuning tips: A handlebar with flattened tops and more compliance as well as tires with more grip and cushioning.

Riding Characteristics



  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Fun factor

  1. boring
  2. lively


  1. firm
  2. comfortable

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Technical Data

Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap

Size: 49 52 54 56 58 61
Weight: 8,28 kg
Price: € 12,999

Indended Use

Smooth tarmac 1
Allroad/Gravel 2
Everyday/Commuting 3

Conclusion on Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap

Due to its components and the imbalanced comfort between the front and rear, the Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap isn’t entirely convincing as a gravel racer. The do-it-all approach doesn’t make it feel like a race bike but rather like a bike for tech fans, which is further emphasised by its cutting-edge features. However, the comfortable rear end helps the Checkpoint perform well on long distances, making it a viable choice for multi-day rides together with the optional bikepacking kit.


  • IsoSpeed system is inconspicuous and functional, providing added comfort at the rear
  • versatile
  • storage compartment in the down tube


  • round, less ergonomic handlebars
  • Bontrager GR1 Team Issue TR tires lack grip in damp conditions and tend to bounce
  • unbalanced level of compliance between the front and rear

You can find out more about at

The testfield

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: Which is the best gravel race bike of 2023? 9 gravel race bikes in review

All bikes in test: Argon 18 Dark Matter | Berria Belador Allroad 8 | BMC Kaius 01 ONE | Canyon Grail CF SLX 9 eTap | Factor OSTRO Gravel | Fara Cycling F/All-Road | Ridley Kanzo Fast | Specialized S-Works Crux | Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap

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Words: Calvin Zajac Photos: Robin Schmitt, Jan Richter, Nils Hofmeister