Posts Tagged ‘bontrager’

Bontrager 29-3 Front/Rear Tires: Final Review

July 29, 2009

I have had the pleasure of rolling these Bontrager treads now for several months. Here are my final thoughts on the combination. If you want to get into more detail on some of the aspects of the tires, you can check out my previous posts here, here, and a comparison post here.

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Taking my initial impressions into account, let’s see if the observations I had at first held true. The trails were mostly dry during this period and moisture wasn’t an issue. Some dry over hard pack and sand was present along with rocks and roots.

Rolling Resistance: The rolling factor was good. I never felt that the 29-3 was a hindrance in this area. In fact, I am betting the production tires are even better in this regard, since my casings were pre-production, and were stiffer and heavier. Even the front, with its deeper, bigger knobs rolled quite nicely.

Climbing: This is still an amazing feature of the rear tire. It hooks up really well and the drier the better. It doesn’t like loose, or rocky stuff real well though. Technical climbs may break the rear loose, but over all, the 29-3 rear scores highly on climbing.

Cornering: The 29-3 front tire really is a great cornering tire. Lateral support is excellent, and you really have to overcook the corner to make it break loose. The front fairs better in loose over hard than the rear, and doesn’t need to be leaned way over to work. The squarish profile has a lot to do with this. Cornering for the rear tire isn’t as solid, with the rear wanting to break free and slide far before the front will. The smaller volume casing also trends the tire in that direction as well.

Braking: The front is great in braking traction, but you will break the rear free very easily. This could be a problem on very technical courses for some folks.

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The 29-3 front is a great all round tire and would probably mimic the WTB Prowler on the rear, which is a solid all round tire. Running a bit taller and squarer casing, the 29-3 front specific tire should lend plenty of mud clearance and be great on a rigid bike. As a front tire it is a very good choice, especially if you want a fast, grippy tire that rails corners.

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The 29-3 rear tire is surprisingly good as a climbing tire and overachieves in most situations as a rear. Racers are using this as a front to match it on the rear with great success. That said, this is a finesse tire that will reward a skilled, patient rider. Those that are more aggressive and care free in style will over tax this tire quickly. It rolls very well, and the size may make this a great choice for a “monster cross” application.

Overall Wear: These tires are pre-production, but I have noticed some significant wear, especially on the rear tire, during the course of the test. This is a racing tire, so expectations for pavement wear should be less.

Conclusions: Hands down, this is one of- if not the most- odd combinations of tires for front and rear ever made for a mountain bike. Still, as a team the tires work well. Tubeless they had the same bomber reliability that the TLR system is known for. I would like to see Bontrager up the width on the rear to “true” 2 inch width to better balance with the excellent front tire. As it is, the combination is not quite what it could be. I would highly recommend the front tire, and the rear is an excellent racing tread for skilled riders that can finesse the performance out of this tire without overwhelming it. Make that rear tire a bit wider,add volume, and we would really have a great set up for all around race conditions here.


Bontrager 29-3 Tires: Update

May 31, 2009

With some trail time on these tires, I am ready for an update on them for you. Let’s take a look at what I’ve been doing on them, and the rig I’ve been riding them on first though.

The Salsa El Mariachi with a Bontrager rigid fork

The Salsa El Mariachi with a Bontrager rigid fork

The Salsa El Mariachi I have is outfitted with a Bontrager Race X Lite Switchblade fork. The wheels are also from Bontrager and are the Race X Lite TLR wheels which are being run tubeless with the 29-3 tires. The main testing grounds have been at “The Camp” which has a wide range of terrain consisting of steep, rooty climbs, sweeping turns, switchbacks, off camber traverses, and soil ranging from some embedded rocks, to dirt, to some sandy traps.  In other words, a pretty varied pallette to judge a tire by.

The 29-3 front specific tire

The 29-3 front specific tire

The Front Tire: The 29-3 tires are front/rear specific, so I am going to break down each tire and give my thoughts on how they do their jobs at each end. The front tire reminds me a whole lot of a Specialized Resolution tire that has tie bars on the base of the lugs. (The Resolution, a discontinued tire, did not have this feature.)  The performance is very similar as well. I ran the front tire at about 27 psi  and felt it was very good at absorbing some trail chatter, but not supple. I should say that this is a pre-production pair of tires and that the casings are somewhat stiffer than the casings the production tires will supposedly have. The lateral grip is really good, as you might expect from a tread pattern featuring this sort of layout in regards to the knobs. Braking traction was great. The cornering performance in the conditions I have run it on so far s been top notch. I have yet to get some real “loose over hard pack” yet though, so the jury is still out in that regard. However; if your trails consist of any dirt that is tacky, loamy, hard packed, or buff single track, these tires will rail. Sand isn’t their friend, although they do okay because of the volume of the casing here. Mud performance is decent, but not spectacular. This tire seems as though it would be a great all-round tire, in my opinion.

The rear 29-3

The rear 29-3 tire

The Rear Tire: The 29-3 tires are an odd couple. They just don’t have anything in common except the branding on the sidewalls. I will admit to still having some trouble with the looks of this combination, and most of my doubts are directed at the rear tire. It is diminutive. It doesn’t have a lot of anything, really- volume, width, or tread depth. What it does have, it makes to work above and beyond all my expectations. Let’s get to the point: I didn’t expect to like this tire at all. After riding it some, I have found it to be a very capable tire. The climbing traction this tire gives you is amazing, and all without a rolling resistance penalty. In fact, it rolls really well. I ran it at about the same 27 psi as the front, fearing pinching or bottoming out on roots, but I never did. Cornering traction was very good. Braking traction…..well, it gives away faster due to its size. If the tire was wider with a similar tread pattern, I think it would work far better. People that rely heavily on the rear brake will find issue with this tire though. Mud wasn’t a friend, and sand wasn’t either. The tread packs up fairly quickly and the narrow width of the tire just cuts right down into loose sand. (In fact, it does the same in mud, which may be good or bad depending on the type of mud you have.) Overall, an impressive tire, but perhaps better for drier, racing type adventures.

Thoughts So Far: The front specific 29-3 is intriguing and I would like to see how the tire would fare as a front and rear set. The volume for the width is fantastic. The cornering and braking traction has been spot on so far. I like this as a choice for a rigid front end especially. The rear is perhaps the best “monster cross” tire available. If I had a suitable rig, this rear tire would find its way onto both ends of it. Fisher/Subaru team racers and 29erCrew racers are reportedly all over the 29-3 rear tire as a front/rear combo for racing. I can totally see this as well. If you are an XC racer on a 29″er, check these out.

I will be doing some further testing of these treads and will give a “Mid Term” report in a few weeks. In the mean time, I hear that 29-3 tires will be coming into stock at Bontrager’s warehouse within days of this post. Stay tuned for more………..

Bontrager’s April Fools

April 1, 2009

Press Release – Bontrager inForm® Technology Aids Armstrong’s Recovery



Lance Armstrong and Bontrager today released more details regarding Armstrong’s recent collarbone surgery. While it was previously reported that Armstrong’s right clavicle was screwed and plated back together after his March 23rd crash at the Castilla y Leon stage race in Spain, Armstrong and equipment sponsor Bontrager, jointly announced that he was the world’s first recipient of an inForm® CarbonClavicle™ Upgrade.

Originally slated to be released at the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon) Convention May 18-24th in Las Vegas, Bontrager moved up the launch date of the inForm CarbonClavicle to aid the return of Armstrong to the peloton.

“The original intent of the Bontrager inForm line was to use medical research to aid us in creating better cycling contact points, such as saddles, shoes, and grips. But when we did the research into the most common cycling-related injuries, the broken collarbone proved to be an area where we could  actually help cyclists get back on the road sooner,” relates John Balmer, head of Bontrager Development.

The CarbonClavicle, available for both left and right shoulders in four male sizes and four WSD (Women’s Specific Design) sizes, is an actual carbon fiber replacement of the clavicle. Developed with the aid of Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Mark Timmerman, a Bontrager consultant, the inForm CarbonClavicle has greater shock absorption, greater impact strength, and a greater tensile strength—all while being grams lighter than the OEM bone.


“The installation on Armstrong was completely coincidental. But I must admit, the Bontrager marketing team was doing high-fives when we heard about Lance’s crash. It really was a marketing god-send. I mean, could there have been a better way to launch the new Bontrager medical Upgrade line?” explains Chris Clinton, Bontrager Marketing Manager.

The installation procedure is substantially quicker than the conventional collarbone repair procedures of stabilizing, drilling and pinning, as this is a full replacement. Essentially, the broken bone is completely removed and the CarbonClavicle is anchored in place. Armstrong’s procedure took approximately 30 minutes and will reduce his recovery time from 3 weeks, to 5-7 days for the sutures to fully heal.

The delay in releasing details was due to an extended approval process with the UCI, which has now ruled that since this piece is structural yet provides only minor aerodynamic advantage over the traditional ‘bump’ of a healed broken clavicle, it falls with the current parameters of the UCI rules.

Future sponsorship plans include full support and pre-emptive upgrades for the full Trek-Livestrong U23 team. “These guys are early in their careers, and if averages apply to the team, we think we can prevent about ten or more future breaks across the 12 members of the team,” adds Clinton.

Backed by Bontrager’s best-in-industry 5-year warranty, inForm CarbonClavicles will be available through referrals from Trek and Fisher dealers exclusively. Retail prices will be set by the retailer.

For more information, visit Bontrager online at