Bontrager's Line Pro carbon wheel set has an all-new rim - and it's seriously tasty!
Bontrager’s Line Pro 30 Trail and Enduro wheel set has been around for a while now, but has some fresh revisions for 2021. At first glance the look is a lot stealthier, with an all-black aesthetic thanks to black decals on the black carbon rims. There will be many that approve of the low key look, and black on black never looks dated! But there's a lot going on within that murdered out look that will give increased performance on the trail, and greater long term durability as well.
With a 29mm internal width the main changes are with the rim design and construction to enhance the vertical compliance of the rim and reduce deflection. The changes also create a stronger wheel that is less likely to damage your tyre in the event of a rim strike, and reduce the chance of damage to the rim as well. The hubs maintain Bontrager's epic 104 points of engagement.
Bontrager have two versions of the Line 30, both using the same rim profile. The Pro, which we have had for a couple of weeks, has the lighter straight pull hubs and DT Swiss Competition Race spokes with Alpina alloy nipples, while the Elite model has J-bend spokes built with Grand Forza spokes and alloy nipples. The Pro version has a lighter OCLV carbon layup compared to the Elite - but Bontrager claim that the Pro is the strongest wheel they have ever tested - from any brand. That's a seriously big claim!
Weights are claimed at 1760g for a 29er set of the Pro, and 1890g for the 29ers in the Elite. 27.5 are 1710g and 1820g respecitvely. Each wheel uses 28 spokes and is only available in Boost spacing with 6 bolt rotor attachments. XD drivers are stock, but HG and Microspline are available.
The Line 30 Pro will set you back right about $2000, while the Line 30 Elite will cost you about $1500.
By rolling on Bontragers own hubs with 108 engagement points, you end up with only 3 degrees of pedal rotation before the freewheel engages. This is great for technical climbs where you may need to get off and back on the gas quickly before losing vital momentum. It also means the engagement is super quick when getting back on the gas out of a corner. Some even say that a high engagement helps with chian retention, as the cassette isn't flopping around as much!
Bontrager obviously weren’t satisfied with their old rims bench mark and felt there were gains to be made to cope with and improve the ride on modern trail bikes. Two of the biggest changes they have made to their rims are to make the rim profile shallower, now 27mm, to improve vertical compliance, and also to increase the hook wall thickness to 4.6mm to increase the strength and durability but to also make it much harder to damage your tyre in the event of the inevitable rim strike. It's the width of the rim that can be part of what cuts your casing, so this is a pretty good improvement.
Both those features work together to help better absorb the energy from impacts as well as reduce the likelihood that you might damage the tyre resulting in a flat, and rim damage from rim strikes. Bontrager developed new torture tests for their rims and claim that these rims are the strongest in their class they have ever tested. We don't suggest dropping weights onto your bare rims like Bontrager did!
On the trail with the Bontrager Line Pro wheels
First ride impressions on our test wheels that were shod in Schwalbe Magic Mary and Hans Dampf 29 x 2.35inch tyres was that they were nice and responsive, with their quick engagement hubs and light weight for this class of wheel.
Handling was confident with great tyre stability from the 29mm width. They hold theirline well through the rocks and roots and seem to provide a nicely composed ride without too much harsh feedback.
Comparing them directly to my usual wheels which are also a set of carbon wheels, almost the same weight, but a 27mm internal width, the biggest difference I noticed right away was the improved tyre stability. That extra 2mm from the inside edge of the bead across doesn’t sound like much but I think it is a sweet spot for most trail and aggressive all mountain style rims. It’s ideal for tyres between 2.3-2.6 inches.
The wheels do feel more planted too, whether that is down to the rim profile’s better absorption of vertical forces, or what I feel is a better supported tyre. I am able to run slightly lower pressure than on my regular wheels too as a result, that enhances the grip level also without creating tyre squirm or increasing the risk of a rim strike.
We’re keen to get some more time on these and test out the durability and strength claims made by Bontrager. First impressions so far are good with performance levels that I’d expect for a wheel in this class. Bontrager offer a lifetime warranty for the original purchaser and a two year Carbon Care programme, whereby they will repair or replace your wheels if they get damaged during riding. This kind of product support is always reassuring when you are laying out your hard earned, as wheel upgrades are not the cheapest upgrades to make, but can make big changes to the way your bike rides. It’s nice to know the manufacture has got your back in case of any fault that may arise over time.
If you want more product details head to the https://www.trekbikes.com/au/en_AU/, or drop in to your local dealer.
Words: Brad Babel
Photos: Colin Levitch/Mike Blewitt