Q&A with Trek-Segafredo Technical Director Matt Shriver
Releasing a new model like the latest Émonda SLR is a uniquely exciting day for Trek-Segafredo. With its new aero shape, new carbon and new geometry, new bike day with this Émonda this month was something special.
Émonda’s launch day is something that Trek-Segafredo Technical Director Matt Shriver has anticipated for more than two years. Matt oversees all materials and equipment used in competition and training and his role is to be the bridge from Trek design and engineering into race day performance of equipment. It’s a two-way stream of communication that helps the world’s top road racers guide development of Trek’s next generation of bikes.
His favorite part of the job is listening to the riders and managing their feedback and providing Trek and Bontrager Engineering teams information to work on new products which ultimately will be used in races and become available for our customers.
Here’s Matt’s take on the new Émonda SLR.
Why was it a priority to improve the Émonda?
Our teams have been super happy with Émonda as a climbing bike. It’s the lightest disc brake bike in the WorldTour peloton. It handles very well in fast descents and aggressive cornering. What the riders regularly mentioned was the need for a more aerodynamic climbing bike. Approaching climbs at high speed on a less aerodynamic bike was taking too much energy. Even on the climbs at lower speeds the aerodynamics are important. The 2021 Émonda provides our athletes with a disc brake road bike that will still be at the UCI weight limit for the mountain stages and critical moments in races where power to weight is important, but it is now much faster with the huge aerodynamic improvements.
How has rider feedback been so far?
Interestingly the feedback has been really consistent about the bike’s performance. Some are riding the new Émonda for the very first time. Nearly all of them are commenting on how it really handles well in the downhills versus the previous Émonda. They are all loving the improved aerodynamics and how much faster it is. Already we are seeing their times are faster on the climbs by a few seconds. So the engineers did a fantastic job and we are seeing directly the results out on the roads.
What is achieved with the new Émonda tube shapes?
The new tube shapes improve the aerodynamics of the Émonda. The previous Émonda was focused on weight but didn’t have the aero features. The new tube shapes give our riders a faster all-around bike but still maintains the ride quality of a Grand Tour climbing bike.
What is improved about the cable routing?
The new cable routing just cleans the bike up and decreases drag. A piece of cable housing flapping in the breeze is just slowing you down. With the new RSL Handlebars and the cables entering the head tube neatly behind the stem reduces drag but also from a mechanics point of view it’s easy to change a bar now. No more wasted time fishing twisted cables inside a handlebar. All mechanics will be happy with this improvement.
The new Émonda now has “H1.5 Fit” geometry. What does that mean for the bike’s performance?
We launched H1.5 fit with our 2019 Madone to simplify the frames we offered to the teams and the customers. With H1.5 we still have an aggressive race fit that our teams prefer. Applying this same fit to the new 2021 Émonda makes it easy to get the riders’ fits identical on the two platforms. This wasn’t always perfect when riding an H1 fit on one model and an H1.5 fit on another. Having the same fit on each bike is ideal for changing bikes without any injuries and limiting handling issues. The riders often feel millimeters in fit changes.
In what type of races are you expecting this Émonda to be used?
The 2021 Émonda is a Grand Tour contenders bike. Our leaders in the stage races will be riding Émonda on nearly all their stages. They still have the choice for a faster Madone, but I believe they will pick Émonda more often than not. Breakaway specialists who attack for the KOM jerseys and punchy climbing stages. I expect we will see many wins in the mountains. Alpe d’Huez or Mont Ventoux are perfect stages for the new Émonda where the climbs are faster but the weight of the bike still needs to be low for fast accelerations and power to weight.
Describe the process design, prototype, and testing that went into this new Émonda.
The moment we launch a new bike we begin gathering feedback from our teams. What they love? What they don’t? What they need or want? This evolves over the season as we continue gathering information on how to improve and what the riders need. It’s important to gather as much information as we can to give them an advantage and check all the boxes on our next bike. Those ideas go into collaboration with Trek Engineering and concepts are developed. Multiple ride tests on different versions with the men and women whom would be users of the bike. When we feel close to a finished product a final ride test is done to understand if we have hit the mark. We want to walk away from a test ride with the riders confident this is their next race bike and never looking back to the previous model.
What differences are there between the men’s and women’s team Émondas?
There is no difference other than the paint scheme. The men race the same bikes as the women’s team. Both are able to get their fits and race feeling with the H1.5 fit. The only difference is due to smaller sizes the women’s bikes are a little bit lighter. We have to pay attention that the bikes are not under the legal UCI weight limit of 6.8 kilograms. We can be penalized for being too light!
What resources were needed to swap out all of these Émondas mid-season?
Great question! Under normal circumstances we would have riders bring their current home bikes to a camp or a race. Discretely we would check the measurements from one to the next and make sure the bikes are absolutely dialed. With the coronavirus situation, we had to adapt and build the bikes in our Service Course with all measurements then ship to the riders at either home or trusted dealers. We provided some tech calls and video call checks. It was a new experience and only one small change was needed among all the riders. It turned out well, all things considered.