2023 Trek Checkpoint: The Ultimate Gravel Bike
Now that gravel racing is fully recognized by the UCI (for better or worse), riders and manufacturers are fighting to claim the first-ever gravel rainbow jersey. It seems that Trek has the advantage in this race, as they have updated their Checkpoint lineup to include a super-luxury SLR frame designed for gravel racing, but that’s not all…
The Updated Checkpoint Lineup
The updated Checkpoint frames are not just for those looking to claim the rainbow bands. The new Trek Checkpoint lineup encompasses three distinct models with the same geometry but different ambitions in gravel riding and adventure…
Trek was slower than most in entering the specific gravel market. They tried rebranding the Domane and offering some spec package upgrades, testing the market to gauge interest. It wasn’t until 2018 when they launched the Checkpoint, a dedicated gravel bike, that Trek fully entered the gravel scene. The Trek Checkpoint blended the best technology from their road, cyclocross, and adventure lines to create a race machine that gained popularity among both road and off-road enthusiasts.
With the steady rise of the gravel market, Trek has refreshed the Checkpoint every two years. In 2020, the frame set allowed for even bigger tires and added unique packing and single-speed offerings. For 2023, the Trek Checkpoint lineup has received its most significant update yet: three different frames, each aimed at different adventure/gravel riding segments, from full-on racing to daily commuting and fully loaded bikepacking adventures with Bontrager’s new bags – oh, and don’t forget the T-47 bottom bracket.
What’s New – 2023 Trek Checkpoint
For 2023, the Trek Checkpoint lineup offers three different model levels: SLR, SL, and ALR. Each model is designed to cater to a different type of gravel cyclist but maintains the core features. All 2023 Trek Checkpoint models can accommodate 45c tires, with an updated BBT-47 threaded bottom bracket. The tube shapes are inspired by the updated Emonda lineup and push this gravel bike in an aerodynamic direction for 2023. Trek has also slightly tweaked the geometry, making it more progressive, agile yet stable, perfect for open roads and rough gravel descents.
Flat-Pack Internal Storage
The updated carbon models of the Trek Checkpoint come with a flat-pack and flat-pack BITS internal storage area, just like the Trek Domane lineup. The pack has space for a tube, CO2 inflator head/cartridge, a small Bontrager multi-tool, and tire levers. Accessing the port is easy, with a large flip lever that’s easy to use with bulky gloves or bare hands.
The stowable pack is sleek and secures with Velcro, allowing you to make it as slim as possible to fit into storage space. And to prevent it from getting stuck, Bontrager has added a sturdy bright red pull tab for quick access to your flat-pack. Adding the flat-pack to the frame frees up valuable cargo space for those who want to carry more on their bike.
Upgrades and Geometry
The updated geometry of the Trek Checkpoint features a longer front center, effectively elongating the frame by 2cm. Trek compensates for the lengthening by using shorter handlebars and stems. All bikes come equipped with the new Bontrager GR Elite handlebars with a shorter reach and flared drops.
2023 Trek Checkpoint Models
A straightforward breakdown of the new Trek Checkpoint line and their intended riding style.
Trek Checkpoint SLR – Race
Trek doesn’t hold back with the SLR version of the Checkpoint. The SLR is Trek’s lightest and fastest gravel bike, with a Trek OCLV 700 carbon frame and aerodynamic tubes inspired by the Emonda. The updated SLR frame features a seat mast design similar to the Boone, Madone, and Emonda. The 2023 carbon Trek Checkpoints receive the same sleek cable routing as the new Boone, running directly into the spacer above the head tube.
The updated frame features a handy internal storage compartment for tools and non-adjustable Top Tube IsoSpeed. Although the Checkpoint SLR is race-oriented, Trek has equipped it with plenty of three-pack mounts and a plethora of water bottle mounts. The Trek Checkpoint SLR is available in SRAM eTap and Shimano GRX, with the top-of-the-line version priced at $12,000 and the more affordable GRX 600 Checkpoint SLR 6 at $7,600.
Trek Checkpoint SL – Race/Adventure
The Checkpoint SL is very similar to the high-end model from previous years, with the addition of a redesigned frame featuring the same tube shapes as the SLR. The Checkpoint SL is more than capable of racing and equally adept at venturing into new adventures. The frame switches from Trek’s OCLV 700 carbon to a more robust OCLV 500 carbon (capable of withstanding a crash), just like the previous model.
The frame has the same internal tool storage as the SLR but transitions from a seat mast-style IsoSpeed to a seat tube IsoSpeed. This conventional seatpost configuration allows for compatibility with dropper seatposts and overall strengthens the frame for more accessories and versatility. While it may appear less race-ready than its SLR counterpart, this bike is lightweight and ready to roll. Those looking to create their own gravel masterpiece can do so with a Checkpoint SL7 frame as their canvas…
Trek Checkpoint ALR – Do-It-All Alloy
The Trek Checkpoint ALR is the most versatile bike in the lineup, leaning towards utility, adventure, and entry-level racing. The frame is Trek’s 300 Series Alpha aluminum and comes with tons of mounts for literally anything you can think of – fenders, bags, front, and rear racks, and loads (loads) of water bottle mounts.
The Checkpoint ALR may not have the nifty bag compartment or Iso-Speed suspension like its carbon counterparts, but it’s capable and better suited for daily use. The Checkpoint ALR is available as a GRX 400 version or as a standalone frame. The GRX 400 model suits the practical nature of the Checkpoint ALR and makes it more than capable for off-road adventures, daily commuting, and even some racing.
2023 Trek Checkpoint Specifications
The Trek Checkpoint is one of the few gravel lineups released for 2023 with a wide range of component specification options. If you look closely, you’ll notice a slight inclination towards SRAM and 1X specifications, with only eTap being offered. The wheels are well distributed across the range, ranging from the performance-oriented Bontrager Paradigm Comp 25 to the ALR, SL5, and SL6.
The specifications quickly escalate to Bontrager OCLV Aeolus Pro 3V carbon wheels for most of the lineup. Only the high-end Trek Checkpoint SLR 9 comes with the Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37 wheels, a $2,400 retail wheelset – and we understand why, we really liked them. One thing is certain: Trek has taken the time to carefully specify each of the new Checkpoint models, with all of them receiving top-notch Bontrager GR1 Team Issue tires and the appropriate equipment to excel in their intended use.
2023 Trek Checkpoint Models and Prices
- Checkpoint SLR 9 eTap Red: $11,999.99
- Checkpoint SLR 7 eTap Force: $8,299.99
- Checkpoint SLR 7 Shimano GRX: $8,299.99
- Checkpoint SLR 6 eTap Rival: $7,599.99
Our final Conclusion.
With the unveiling of the updated Trek Checkpoint lineup, Trek not only propels its legacy forward but also significantly contributes to the gravel racing sphere. The meticulous design alterations, notably in the geometry and the high-end specifications, reflect Trek’s earnest endeavor for supremacy in gravel racing competitions.
The variety within the Trek Checkpoint range serves a broad spectrum of riders, ensuring that whether for racing or adventuring, there’s a model tailored to meet the riders’ aspirations. The integration of premium components across the range, accentuates Trek’s commitment to delivering unrivaled performance and versatility, manifesting a formidable contender for the Gravel World Championship1.