Reviewing the all-new 2022 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5
The 2022 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 is a welcomed update to an already successful line of gravel bikes from Trek. As a long-time cycling coach and native of the Flint Hills of Kansas, we didn’t hold back on our Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 review.
2022 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5
- Lighter frame than the previous version
- Nicely equipped components.
- Feels quick and nimble even with the long-wheelbase
- Updated geometry
- Lifetime Warranty
- We don’t mind but the removal of sliding dropouts
- Not as relaxed geometry as Trek Domane making it more of a race bike than a relax gravel bike
The Checkpoint needs almost no introduction to most riders familiar with the gravel scene but this year brought along an update to the already popular bike. While you could spend big money and go for the incredibly well-equipped and lightweight SLR model, we decided to stay more modest and review a more humble ALR 5 that will likely find its way into your garage.
Before we get too far, I want to mention I am VERY familiar with the Checkpoint, and this is the 4th different one I’ve owned. And well before that, I was part of a bike shop that helped contribute and give input on the “new gravel” bike from Trek, or what we would later learn was the first version of the Checkpoint. I sold my 2020 SL after just deciding it wasn’t the right fit for me, but here I am again with another Checkpoint added to the stable of bikes.
Straight out of the box, I was impressed with how light it was, even with all the stock components at the time. Also, the updated paint schemes on all the models are gorgeous in person! However, I quickly realized while assembling the bike my taste for carbon would likely result in some upgrades reasonably quickly to help lighten the bike even more and improve the feel. More on that later.
Riding the Checkpoint
It wouldn’t be a Checkpoint ALR 5 review without putting it on the gravel in Kansas, and luckily that’s exactly where we are located. While you miss out on the Iso-Speed of higher-end carbon Checkpoints, you won’t notice it much. Having ridden a variety of carbon Trek bikes with Iso-Speed, I was pleasantly surprised at the ride quality of the ALR. To help take the edge off, I added an RSL seatpost, and then the bike came to match the ride quality of much more expensive bikes.
On the same idea of changing things, take the stock tires ASAP. They aren’t that good! They roll fast, but you will flat in no time and ruin that new bike experience.
After a quick 20-mile break-in ride with stock parts, I changed the wheels to a pair of Bontrager RSL 37V and changed the seatpost and stem to Bontrager RSL carbon bits. I also put a wider 44cm width bar on. Is this necessary? Absolutely not, but the bike really comes alive!
One note on the geometry, it feels great but is noticeably different than the previous model. While the effective top tube says it is longer it felt shorter! The wheelbase also got shortened this year but has more front toe clearance and a similar chainstay length to previous years.
Since putting this bike together, I have almost shelved my carbon bikes completely. I even went to a couple of gravel races and left the carbon race bike at home because I enjoy the new Checkpoint ALR 5 that much! The best part is having riders come over and pick it up and their shock when I tell them how much I have invested in it compared to what they have spent.
At $2500 retail, you cannot go wrong with the Checkpoint ALR 5. It is just a all around fun bike to ride. The stock Shimano GRX R600 and R800 components and tubeless-ready wheels will have you ready for whatever you want. If you can swing it, grab a carbon seat post, I recommend the Bontrager RSL for the “flex” to help take a little more out of the gravel.
If you can find a shop with an ALR 5 in stock then give it a ride and don’t think twice about taking it home if it fits!