In this 2022 Trek Checkpoint SL 7 eTap review I’ll cover the pros and cons of the SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset. That includes a detailed review of the drivetrain. Finally, a quick review of the SL 7 eTap’s key features and any problems or recommended upgrades.
The 2022 Checkpoint SL 7 eTap comes with a $6,499 price tag. It’s made for cyclists that already know gravel biking is their passion. If you want a carbon gravel bike that keeps you comfortable without sacrificing speed this is your bike.
The 500 series OCLV carbon frame is not the lightest offering in the lineup, but it’s very close. This bike weighs 19.63 lbs. which makes it a capable climber, especially if you run a second set of road specific tires. On a bike this fast, I recommend the Continental Grand Prix 5000. (Check Price on Amazon).
If you do run a second set of tires, make sure they are at least 32mm wide. Trek doesn’t recommend anything smaller on the Aeolus Pro 3V wheels that come on the SL 7 eTap.
Trek Checkpoint SL 7 eTap Drivetrain
The Checkpoint SL 7 eTap drivetrain is made up of SRAM Force eTap AXS shifters and derailleurs. Electronic wireless shifting works with precision accuracy when shifting the 2×12 drivetrain.
The 2×12 drivetrain offers the most range of any bike in the Checkpoint lineup. From the high to low end, and everything in between, the perfect gear is available. The 10-36 cassette only fits on a SRAM XD-R driver and will not be compatible with most smart trainers.
Checkpoint SL 7 eTap Groupset
SRAM Force eTap AXS can be decoded to mean second best road groupset with wireless electronic shifting. Second only to SRAM Red, Force is every bit as accurate as Red, with a weight that lands squarely in the middle of Red and Rival.
The AXS (wireless electronic shifting) was released by SRAM in February, 2019. It’s been around long enough to know a few things. The first thing we know is the reliability and accuracy are best in the industry for shifting.
When it comes to stopping, the debate between Shimano and SRAM on which brakes are better is… controversial. There are cyclists that prefer the aggressive feel of SRAM hydraulic disc brakes. I prefer the increased modulation from Shimano brakes.
In addition, one final point of contention with this groupset is the battery life. It varies greatly depending on temperature, as well as how and when you ride. What doesn’t vary is the fact that Shimano’s Di2 lasts longer than SRAM AXS.
SL 7 eTap Key Features
The carbon wheels on the 2022 Checkpoint SL 7 eTap are top of the line race wheels. They have a massive 25mm internal width, which means you cannot run tires less than 32mm wide. Don’t let that width scare you. The friction point of the 32mm tires is wider, but it’s not as long as traditional road bike tire widths. You get comfort without sacrificing speed.
Trek’s IsoSpeed acts like a suspension for a rigid frame road bike. It’s a decoupler built into the frame allowing the seat tube to flex without interference or restriction from the top tube. That means more vibration dampening than the competition.
IsoSpeed comes with increased weight, but the SL 7 eTap weighs just 19.63 lbs.. In conclusion, the benefit of comfort offered by IsoSpeed offsets any conerns about weight.
Trek Checkpoint Problems
There are no problems with any Trek Checkpoint model in the lineup, but there are areas that need upgrades. If forced to complain it would be the SRAM groupset. I prefer Shimano Di2 over SRAM eTap AXS because the battery life is better. Di2 is a little bit heavier, so sticking with SRAM makes sense, too.
The Bontrager GR1 Team Issue tires that come on the Checkpoint SL 7 eTap are fine. The tires are tubeless ready, and work great on gravel. If you ride mixed use, meaning pavement and gravel, you will appreciate a tire with faster rolling speed. Personally, I love the Panaracer GravelKings. (Check Price on Amazon)
Another must have item on all of my road bikes is the Topeak Wedge Dry Bag with Fixer. The mounting is the cleanest you will ever see for a saddle bag. (Check Price on Amazon). It has plenty of storage for nutrition, cell phones, and more.
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