The fastest growing discipline in cycling is gravel biking. The problem is, your road bike doesn’t make a good gravel bike. With the Checkpoint you get the best of both worlds. In this 2022 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 review I’ll explain why the Trek Checkpoint is the do-it-all bike of the year.
The 2022 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 is the perfect bike for road cyclists making the switch to gravel biking, as well as a great beginner bike for the new to cycling rider that wants to keep their options open.
A price tag of $2,499 scares away a large percentage of beginner cyclists, but it shouldn’t. With the Checkpoint ALR 5 you no longer need a road bike and a gravel bike.
The ‘A’ in ALR means this bike comes with an Aluminum frame. The ‘R’ indicates it is Trek’s Race aluminum, or lightest weight aluminum. On other Trek Bikes the SL and SLR mean carbon fiber and race carbon fiber, respectively.
Both the Aluminum and Carbon Fiber Checkpoint models have plenty of mounts for bags, racks, and storage. The Checkpoint ALR 5 also has clearance for 45mm tires, but it comes with Bontrager GR1 Team Issue 700x40mm tires.
The 2022 Checkpoint ALR 5 comes with a 2×11 Shimano GRX drivetrain. Crank arm length varies by frame size shown below, and all sizes have a 46/30T.
- Size: 49 – 165mm Crank Arm Length
- Size: 52 – 170mm Crank Arm Length
- Sizes: 54, 56 – 172.5mm Crank Arm Length
- Sizes: 58, 61 – 175mm Crank Arm Length
For cyclists looking to upgrade the crank, maximum chainring size is 1 x 44T from SRAM and 50T or 50/34 from Shimano.
The cassette is Shimano 105, 11-34. That means 11 teeth on the smallest sprocket and 34 teeth on the largest sprocket. Because this is an 11 speed cassette we know there are 9 additional sprockets in-between with the number of teeth on the sprocket increasing as they go up in size.
Shimano GRX is the gravel specific groupset. When comparing to road bike groupsets it is the equivalent of Shimano 105. In fact, there are some parts that still keep the 105 label on a gravel bike, like the cassette on this ALR 5.
Due to GRX being a gravel specific groupset, the engineers at Shimano were able to customize features to benefit gravel riders. The ergonomics of the shifters, and optimized gearing options are two key features from GRX.
Shimano GRX derailleurs feature a built in clutch. It keeps tension on your chain even when. the trail gets rough. A tight chain is less likely to slip or change gears unexpectedly.
Most importantly, the GRX groupset was built with durability in mind. The bumpy gravel trails and rocks getting kicked up can do serious damage to your bike. The beefy GRX groupset is able to handle the rocks and vibrations better than the Shimano 105 equivalent from the road side.
The list of features included with this bike is long, but there are three key features I cannot go without mentioning. First is the number of integrated frame mounts. The Checkpoint ALR 5 is capable of being your bikepacking or touring mode of transportation.
The second key feature worth mentioning is the frame geometry changes Trek made for 2022. They call it a progressive geometry, but that simply means there is more slack in the fork. This provides stability and control on choppy trails, while also being quick and responsive.
Finally, the tire clearance on this road or gravel bike is insane. You can fit 45mm tires, which are perfect for gravel and winter riding. Switch to 35mm tires for the summer pavement rides. With two sets of tires you can eliminate the need for two separate bikes. The wheels are tubeless ready, and changing tires is an easy 15 minute task that gets completed at home.
Checkpoint ALR 5 Problems
If you do a lot of climbing the Checkpoint is not a great bike due to its weight. The 2022 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 weighs 21.5 lbs. Bike weight isn’t a big issue if you ride the flats, but when climbing a couple extra pounds will adversely impact your ride. Cyclists living in the mountains may prefer one of the lighter carbon fiber models.
Another common complaint about this bike is the saddle (seat) being uncomfortable. The best upgrade you can make to improve comfort on the bike is riding with cycling shorts. They have a built in pad called a chamois that will keep you comfortable. Pearl iZUMi Escape Quest shorts are great because they are comfortable, durable and the price is usually $50 or less. (Check Current Price on Amazon Here).
For the cyclist looking for a do-it-all bike, you won’t find a better value than the Checkpoint ALR 5. The price is great considering the GRX groupset and the lightweight race aluminum frame. Durability will not be an issue for gravel riders, and the lifetime warranty on the frame from Trek cannot be beat.
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