Bontrager 29-3 Tires: On Test

Coming home from Sea Otter, I thought my carry on felt a little bit heavier. Well, come to find out that someone from Bontrager had stuffed a pair of the front/rear specific Bontrager 29-3 tires in there!


These tires use the old, retro idea that a smaller, narrower rear tire mated to a bigger, more voluminous front tire is the optimal set up for going fast on the single track. And obviously, the tread designs are completely different as well. I’ll be setting these up tubeless, as they have the Bontrager Tubeless Ready beads. Check back in a few days and I should have some more to say on these new treads from Bontrager.


No Responses to “Bontrager 29-3 Tires: On Test”

  1. Theran Martin Says:

    Nice, I cant wait to see how they perform. I am in the market for some tires.

  2. Rus Kappius Says:

    Raced the 29-3 front tire on Sunday at Sea Otter, with a Bonty XR-1 on the rear compliments of Matto of team Gary Fisher. Tire weight was written on the side: 528gms.

    I prerode the course with an XR-1 front and rear, but felt the smaller profile tires were a bit squirmy in the multiple deep sandy descents. The casing size of the 29-3 was only slightly (1-2mm?) wider than the XR-1 but the tire performed much better for me in the sand than the XR-1 on the front.

    My thinking this year is I’ll race the XR-1s when small tires are OK, but swap to a 29-3 frontside for more volume.

    Overall the tire worked great in the sandy dry conditions at Sea Otter. Looks like it would shed mud pretty well too, but don’t have any direct experience there.

  3. dental lab handpiece Says:

    Wow, this site is great! Will add to my rss reader list. Very innovative. Ralph

  4. t0m Says:

    Am I really that old that smaller rear/ bigger front is retro? In Colorado I think it’s almost standard.

  5. t0m Says:

    Old enough to forget my html skillz too I guess.

  6. Cloxxki Says:

    I look forward to hearing sand performance comparisons with the original XR 2.25 front tire, which I rate among the very best, even if it’s not the widest. Being able to track on sand is a big deal in the summer for us here. No rolling resistance can make up for that, but good cornering sand tires are usually not bad rolling either.

  7. Mike Says:

    Can you use the wider front tire on the rear as well, or is it front-specific where the climbing/braking traction might not be as good if you used it in the rear?
    Just wondering since I don’t know if I’d want to go that low volume-wise with the rear tire.

  8. Guitar Ted Says:

    Mike: I think the front 29-3 is very similar to a Prowler which works fine as a rear tire. I don’t see why this wouldn’t work with the 29-3 front.

  9. Chris Says:

    Mike, the 29-3 front tire works just fine as a rear tire in many (most?) cases. I’ve been running the 29-3 front, on both front and rear (and in same direction) for a few weeks and really liked them a lot. Big volume, easy to mount up tubeless, roll really well, and they stuck to wet rocks amazingly.

    Bontrager also has a new FR-3, which is even bigger at 2.35 coming, and they rail (just mounted them up and rode them last night). Pictures and comparisons to the 29-3’s and such here:

    Oh, and on both the 29-3’s and the FR-3’s, running tubeless, I’m running them at 21/25 (front/rear) for the 29-3’s, and last night wound up at 18/23 for the FR-3’s, at least according to my gauge. Shiggy put his digital gauge on them last night and got 13/18, so one of our gauges is wrong, but obviously they can run at a nice reasonably low pressure. Oh, and I got no burping with either of them.

  10. Fo Says:

    so are the FR3s actually available yet? cheers

  11. Chris Says:

    I don’t think the FR-3’s are available just yet, but probably pretty soon. They are available as a 26″ I think, but I don’t believe purchasable as a 29er tire yet.

  12. Fo Says:

    thanks chris. it looks like a manly tire so i was really hoping…though my current project is a custom frame so it’ll take a while so mabe timing will work


  13. Chris Says:

    Fo, the FR-3 is definitely a manly tire – they really rail, and they are big, and heavy. Also, you need to ensure they’ll actually fit your frame (if your frame can accommodate a WTB WeirWolf 2.55 with room to spare, then you’ll probably be ok – see the pics I mentioned above to clarify).

    In the meantime though, I’d definitely check out the 29-3 front tire, it’s the other one I’ve been running. It doesn’t rail corners quite as well, but it’s very fast rolling, and is still pretty darn huge. It’s labeled as a 2.25 instead of the FR-3’s 2.35, but it’s still very good volume and really worth checking out. Depending on your conditions, I’d run the 29-3 instead (it’s what I plan to run on my Jet 9 once that arrives (hopefully September). I’ve run the 29-3 front tire both front and rear (as a pair), and that’s great. The 29-3 rear is supposedly actually quite an excellent tire for climbing and traction wise, but it’s just too small for me, I like the big ‘uns.

    Oh, also, if you can run them tubeless, that’s even better 🙂 They mount up and run tubeless with sealant really well – I was able to use a pump and easy mount them on C29ssmax wheels, and that let me run them all at quite low pressure as mentioned above. Since that comment above, I’ve verified that I was running about 13/18 on the FR-3’s and about 5psi higher for the 29-3’s, maybe a shade more on the rear tires.

  14. Fo Says:


    I will probably wait for the FR3 as a front…this is for what i would label, as pathetic as the label is, an “AM” intended bike so i really would LOVE the FR3, or a 2.4 Ardent if I can get on the prototype list or otherwise.


  15. Fo Says:

    I got me a set of FR3s :>) booyah!

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