The Bontrager SE5 Team Issue tyres have been redesigned with direct input from their EWS team.
Words and photos: Gerard Lagana
Creating components, apparel, accessories since 1980, Bontrager are no strangers to the ever evolving technologies and disciplines of our sport. Naturally you mainly come across Bontrager tyres and components on Trek Bicycles, but with the mountain bike world providing more and more choice every year we are finding our selves looking towards other options for upgrades and new parts. Bontrager tyres received an update across the range in the middle of the year and I received a friendly delivery of some fresh SE5 27.5x2.5” Team Issue TLR tyres to test out. These tyres have been spotted on a few hoops of the Trek Factory Enduro team throughout the start of the season.
A closer look
The Bontrager SE5 Team Issue tyre have a 120tpi (threads per inch) casing and is available in 27.5 and 29 in a 2.5”. The 27.5 tyre weighs in at 960g. The tread is a Dual Block centre tread pattern with aggressive side knobs for grip as well as their proprietary TM Grip Compound (50a rubber). Bontrager's casing on the SE5 is called ‘Core Strength’ which is about the same as a Maxxis EXO+ casing tyre.
I usually run a EXO+ tyre up front and a Double Down (2x120tpi) on the rear for slightly more protection so its a slightly lighter set up then usual for me. For comparison the SE5 Team Issue is a similar tread pattern to a Maxxis Minion DH II.
First impressions of the SE5 after beading the tyre was a good feel and profile size looking down onto the tyre. The SE5 tread pattern has been designed and tested with EWS (Enduro World Series) riders. So what do those riders want out of a tyre? Everything in one package from low rolling resistance, good braking performance and grip where you need it most. Not being allowed to change set up over the duration of a race day, you want to have a reliable tyre to conquer whatever EWS stages are going to throw at you. That’s a great start for what I might expect from this tyre.
On The Trail
Riding on the SE5 tyres they feel very predictable. Leaning into loose corners the tyre was comfortable to be on the edge of those side knobs. I have definitely felt other tyres get a bit nervous once you start tipping onto those side knobs and you don’t know if the tyre is about to lose traction or is it still gripping, which is going to cause you to hesitate and not be able to give 100% on the trail. Most of the trails I was riding are loose and dry, sometimes with steep corners and heavy braking. Throw in a bit of off camber where the tyre is working really hard for traction, and it was good not feeing that nervous twitch of the tyre when you’re on the edge.
Even though it is a fairly beefy tread you didn’t get that feeling of a sluggish tyre holding you back from rolling speed. Once you hit the hard pack berms or a fast fire road the rolling speed and the ability to transfer from corner to corner is great. Riding a lot of high speed trails I could maybe see the SE5 start losing its stable feel a little where riders and racers are now opting for the slightly beefier DH tread for that little extra grip and confidence.
The Bontrager SE5 Team Issue tyres are definitely a great choice for any enduro or trail rider out there that are looking for some new rubber. Only being available in ‘Core Strength’ casing it would be nice to see a slightly heavier duty casing as an option for more rockier trails and harder riders or racers for better protection against flats. I personally didn’t have any issue but I wasn’t riding hard rocky trails where I could see pinch flats may become an issue.
When I was really pushing the front wheel into flat corners I could feel the tyre starting to lose grip earlier then anticipated. I can see the new SE6 being a popular choice of front tyre to give you the confidence and grip over loose, higher speed trails.
From: Trek Australia