Getting the right set of tires can make the difference between riding a slug or a rocket ship. Large, slow, sticky knobbies are great for DH courses, but when it comes to XC riding and racing, they might as well be boat anchors. The Bontrager XR3 Team Issue 29×2.4 tires have turned out to be fast, grippy and capable as replacements to the knobbier XR4 tires.
Bontrager XR3 Team Issue 29×2.4 Tires Features:
- Varying tread depth for optimized traction
- Aggressive side knobs for increased cornering traction
- Fast-rolling center tread maximize speed
- Supple and strong Inner Strength casing with light sidewall protection
- Tubeless Ready (TLR) design
- Lightweight 120 TPI casing
- Weight: 790 grams (each, actual)
- MSRP: $69.99
Smaller knobs means more speed
Swapping out a set of tires can be the easiest upgrade to your ride. Whether you need more traction and confidence or are seeking more speed and control, tire options abound. Within the Bontrager range, the XR1-XR5 tires offer different capabilities with enough overlap to blur the lines just a little. I’ve spent hundreds of miles on the XR2, XR3 and XR4 tires and the XR3’s just might be the sweet spot for riding everything.
Installation was straightforward aboard the Bontrager Line Pro 30 wheels. I was able to pop the XR4’s off the rim and XR3’s onto the rim without tools. I used the TLR rim strips, which ultimately aid in the inflation process too. Just a little extra thickness all the way around makes for floor pump-friendly tire seating. Pumping the tires to 35-40 psi will pop the beads in place with a bang. After that, I released the air and dropped in 3-5 oz worth of sealant in each tire and re-inflated to 21 psi front and 24 psi rear.
All testing was done aboard the Trek Top Fuel 9.9 XX1 AXS and immediately turned that bike into a leaner, meaner machine. Compared to the XR4’s that were on there, the XR3’s feel faster and smoother on the type of terrain I ride and dropped just a smidge of weight, but not anything to really care about. With a downcountry machine like the Top Fuel, I was obliged to test out everything that these tires can do on the local trails.
Let’s talk about the type of terrain I ride here in Utah. The trails are loose and dry with plenty of rocks spread throughout. Occasional rock gardens, drops and jumps are thrown in for variety. On my primary trails, the bermed corners allow higher speeds and angulation when descending. No matter the terrain, I’ve been able to confidently maintain speed and traction.
When ascending, the XR3’s deliver consistent traction whether standing or seated. Only while standing on the loosest of terrain did I get them unhooked. Aboard the wide, LINE Pro 30’s, the full shape of the XR3’s feels supported and supple. With that wider profile, the tires don’t ever feel squirmy on uphill, seated switchbacks.
I set these tires up and in three months of riding, I never experienced a puncture, burp or excessive air loss. I had a consistent amount of pressure to inflate front/rear before each ride — usually twice per week.
Note: I’m 173 lbs and ride without a hydration pack and inflate these tires to 21/24 psi front/rear aboard a 30mm internal carbon rim.
- Lightweight design
- Low treads roll fast
- Excellent traction for XC/downcountry riding
- Feels solid when pushed hard
- No punctures and minimal air loss between rides
- They will wear out… eventually
The Bottom Line: Bontrager XR3 Team Issue 29×2.4 Tires
Overall, I have loved the weight, traction and handling capabilities of the XR3’s. They made a noticeable difference in rolling resistance compared to the XR4’s. And, if it was up to me, I’d spec the Trek Top Fuel with the XR3’s all day long.