Pinkbike Product Picks

Nov 8, 2013
by Mike Levy  
Bontrager Race X Lite TLR Disc CL Wheels

Bontrager's RXL wheels may look like just another aluminum rimmed 29er wheelset, but their subdued appearance hides some impressive figures. Not only do they weigh in at 1,580 grams, which is a number lower than some 29er carbon options, they retail for a surprisingly reasonable $999.98 USD for the set. That isn't in any way a small amount of money, of course, but it is well within logical realms when you compare their weight to some carbon fiber wheelsets on the market. To put it in perspective, that is roughly the same price of a single carbon rim from certain manufacturers. The RXL's are built around Center Lock hubs that accept straight pull spokes, with stacked lacing that Bontrager says helps to build a stronger wheel, and DT Swiss' Star Ratchet clutch has been used for its proven reliability and ease of service. As with most of today's wheels, they can be adapted to fit all sorts of axle options: 9mm or 15QR front, and 135QR or 12 x 142mm rear. Twenty-eight bladed spokes on both the front and rear wheels are threaded into aluminum locking nipples, with each nipple located at ''Reinforced Spoke Nodes'' that are claimed to improve strength in high stress, high tension locations on the rim. The rims measure 19mm wide internally (24mm external), so they are certainly aimed at tires around the 2.3'' width or smaller, and they come with molded plastic tubeless rim strips that have been shaped to fit the exact profile on the rim bed. You'll also get a set of Bontrager's TLR valves with removable cores, all of the interchangeable axle parts, and the required 15mm TA Center Lock lock rings. MSRP $999.98 USD. www.bontrager.com


Bontrager RXL wheels
Reasonably priced and impressively light, these Bontrager wheels fly under the radar but are winners out of the box.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesWe've been putting some serious trail time on two sets of RXL wheels, an approach that allows us to flog them twice as hard as if we only had one set in the stable, and one that also has shown them to offer some impressive performance. We've run one set with the supplied TLR tubeless rim strips that, while being a bit tricky to install on the rims, have proved to be more robust than wrapping the rim bed with tubeless tape - they are strong enough not be be punctured or damaged by wayward tire levers, and won't shift over time either. Just for experimentation's sake we tubeless'd the other set of RXL wheels with tape and found that it makes for a bit of a loose fit with tires due to the tape not sitting as high on the rim bed as the supplied TLR trips, and we'd definitely recommend using the TLR strips and valve stems that the rims were designed for instead of a ghetto tape approach. Tubeless tire installation and setup was painless (with the TLR strips), and the tires seated evenly at a low pressure and with no air escaping from the bead or valve stem interface from the get-go when using a floor pump. They proved to be just as reliable on the trail, with no issues of pulling the tire off at low pressures, and only one small dent in the rear rim that we'd put down to rider error more than anything else. At under 1,600 grams they spun up quickly, especially when compared to the 1,800 - 2,000 gram options that come as original equipment on many bikes, and both wheelsets on test held their tension nicely during our time on them. We did have to break out the truing wrench to straighten a slight wobble in the front wheel that came as a result of a good sized crash, but again, this was more down to rider error than anything, and we're confident that any other wheel would have required the same sort of attention. Their bearings are turning nearly as good as when they were brand new, with only a slight notchiness to the rear hub that might warrant some attention once we get through our wet and muddy B.C. winter, and the DT Swiss Star Ratchet internals should last for countless miles given what we've seen of the design over the past years. We do have a single design related complaint, though, that stems from the lightweight aluminum freehub body that is sporting some serious gouging left over from the XT cassette that required some screwdriver work to pry off. This isn't a deal breaker in our books, and it's something that can be cleaned up with a file, but worth noting if the cassette that you plan to use on the RXL rear wheel employs a number of loose cogs instead of using a carrier design from bottom to top. We would also like to see the RXL hubs come in a standard 6 bolt disc option instead of the Center Lock only setup that is offered, which requires the use of an adapter to fit common rotors from anyone but Shimano. With subdued graphics and dark colours, the Bontrager wheel lineup always seems to go a bit under the radar. That's a bit of a shame given that the Race X Lite wheels, at $999.98 USD and weighing under 1,600 grams, might have one of the better cost to weight ratios of any wheelset on the market right now. Compare those numbers to some carbon fiber options and the RXLs start to look pretty damn impressive. - Mike Levy



Gravity Light Thin Lock-On Grips

Another lock-on grip option, this one from Gravity in the shape of their Thin Lock-On model that uses trademarked Kraton rubber. They take their name from their obviously slim cross section, with a diameter that measures just 22.2mm at their center and a 135mm length. We say ''at the center'' because the the Gravity grips feature an interesting concave profile that sees more rubber at the inner and outer ends of the grip, with a gentle taper down towards the middle, a unique shape that is in contrast to most other grips that are consistent in diameter from left to right. The Thin Lock-Ons are available in black, red, blue, green, and ''Gravity yellow'', all for $24.99 USD. www.ridegravity.com

Gravity grips review test
Thin grips with a unique concave profile that is different from the norm.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesWhile most grips on the market use something close to a constant diameter from left to right, Gravity's Light Thin Lock-On grips taper down towards the middle, a design that we weren't sure what to make of before using them. As it turns out, they proved to be extremely comfortable while also offering a relatively small diameter cross section to hold on to. In fact, they felt just as thin as anything else out there, but the slightly thicker edges felt invisible in our hands yet seemed to offer a bit more shock absorption than if they were thin across their entire surface. Traction in the wet felt to be on par with other grips, as did their wear rate. Downsides? None that we can complain about, although grip choice is always such a personal thing. If you have small hands or just prefer thin grips, these are worth checking out. - Mike Levy



All Mountain Style Honeycomb Frame Guard

AMS's Honeycomb Frame Guard is a thin and semi-rigid PVC material with an adhesive backing that can be applied to high wear and impact vulnerable areas of your frame such as the underside of the down tube, your chain stays in order to protect against heel rub, or places where brake lines and shift housing makes contact. The material used by AMS is a bit different than your common clear stick-on protection in that it features a honeycomb outer face that the company says offers more protection against both impacts and abrasions, as well as being ''automotive grade''. It also certainly gives it an interesting look as well, with the AMS product not quite as invisible as your standard clear patches. We tested their standard sized offering that is available in either the clear shown here or a black option, and includes one large, long section intended for a bike's down tube, five arrow shaped sections that can be used in a number of places, and three circle shaped pieces that are ideal for housing rub zones. This setup retails for $30.96 USD, or you can pick up the XL offering that includes ten pieces for $40.42 USD. www.allmountainstyle.com

All Mountain Style frame protection
Stick-on frame protection that adds another layer of defense against abrasion from cable rub, heel rub, or shuttling.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesWe installed the AMS protection onto our GT Fury's down tube and a few spots where cable rub had been significant, particularly just behind the head tube and on the vertical upright of the bike's swing arm, all locations that have either shown wear over time or small chips from rock strikes. As directed, we cleaned the frame first, although probably not as well as we should have, with intentions of seeing how well the adhesive PVC would adhere if we just gave the areas a quick wipe as we suspect some consumers might do. Surprisingly, they all stuck well regardless, but we'd obviously recommend cleaning the frame with an alcohol spray first as AMS suggests. We didn't end up having to chase out any air bubbles that were trapped underneath, either, and the stick-on protection easily wrapped around the contours of the frame without any difficulty or peeling edges. The material is a bit thicker and more robust that the thin, clear stick-on circles that sometimes come with new bikes, and the PVC material certainly offers more protection because of that. Cable rub leaves no visual scarring, and although the honeycomb pattern makes them a bit more visible than thinner stick-on options, we have no doubt that the AMS Frame Guards offers much more protection. What the material won't do, though, is protect against any serious rock strikes in a location such as the underside of a bike's down tube - it hasn't been designed to keep a fist size rock from leaving a dent behind. If you're looking for a long term solution to protecting your frame against things like heel rub on the chain stays, cable rub, or cosmetic damage from rocks or loading your bike into the back of a truck for shuttle runs, the All Mountain Style Honeycomb Frame Guard is an option that makes a lot of sense. - Mike Levy






92 Comments

  • 122 7
 Paragraphs. Can we please have some? ;-)
  • 34 1
 I took one look at the endless, unbroken stream of sentences, and kept scrolling. Your average Pinkbike reader needs maximum 4 sentences per paragraph to go with our average (lack of) attention span. Like in the newspaper.
  • 15 2
 I agree. I'd also recommend giving bullet-points a try. Especially when it comes to listing product features.
  • 6 4
 read?

moar pictures, this is PB, k thx.
  • 25 0
 22.2mm diameter in the middle... I though handlebars were 22.2mm at the thin bit? How can you have zero thickness but have rubber there?
  • 5 3
 I just thought the same thing, hadlebar is 22mm, and i think condom is thicker than 0.1mm. Can somone confirm the thickness of this grips? I realy like them.
  • 1 5
flag roks (Nov 8, 2013 at 6:25) (Below Threshold)
 smaller diameter handlebars are 22.2 at thick bit...
  • 3 6
 Yeah, bmx bars, and they have zero taper to them.
  • 4 6
 I can only see those grips being good on light XC, any real bumps or jumps and they would not have enough cushion. Plus they would wher out faster. Personally, I like my extra thick in the middle chromag squarwaves.
  • 4 9
flag b-mack (Nov 8, 2013 at 19:58) (Below Threshold)
 Grips are for control...suspension is for cushion.
  • 4 3
 not entirely B-mack... they are more for vibration dampening and yes control...
  • 4 2
 Fair nough'. Actually everything from your grips to the suspension, tires, frame flex, etc are for both comfort/vibration dampening and control. But in my experience, putting a premium on comfort with grips is good way to loose bar feel and input as well as fatigue your hand from death gripping too soft of grips...
  • 20 3
 Waterproof outdoor electrical tape - sticks to anything, protects against fist-sized rocks and is about $10 per 25 feet. But I think it only comes in black... Sometimes style wins.
  • 10 4
 I much prefer 3m protective tape, transparent, easy to instal. I put it on all my bikes, saves the paint with no added weight.
  • 6 4
 Any motorbike store will sell Scuff Tape. It's transparent, durable and easy to install.
  • 6 3
 Don't forget helicopter tape as well.
  • 6 3
 Yeah the 3M stuff is like $3 for 2 8"x8" sheets on ebay. It's durable as hell, you can layer it up on itself, and if you apply it correctly you can't even tell it's there.

Camo duct tape for extra style points though.
  • 6 3
 I disagree about it turning brown.. I put it on all my bikes with no problem, ever. No browning, no wear marks, it does not really even show scratches because impacts just deflect off it seems.
  • 6 3
 One vote for helicopter tape.
  • 1 10
flag Arteus (Nov 9, 2013 at 4:55) (Below Threshold)
 I havent hopped on the enduro train yet..... ist there a enduro specific version of this tape? sorry but i had to.
  • 1 1
 I dig my electrical tape. Black color looks good and it holds up great.
  • 2 1
 The Helicopter tape I used turned brown, 3M doesn't. When it gets some dirt scrubbed into it you can clean it with alcohol......mmmmm alcohol, well I'm done here.
  • 2 2
 I sell strips of protective moto x grade protection. Will do custom sizes. Also have some specific frame kits. Have them for Santacruz Bronson and solos A few full sus specialized Cube hard tails and new style sterios Intense carbine Orange five Look on my profile
  • 7 2
 alloy freehubs are a waste of time.. when are manufacturers going to realise that for the 99% out there reliability is the key factor. I always change my alloy freehubs to steel ones....well "always" being 4 times over the past 15 years on various wheels when the alloy one is goosed after one season of cassette use lol
  • 7 3
 If you can afford a cassette with a wide spider, those aluminium ones are fine. Haven't got problems with PG990 cassette and Hope alu body.
  • 3 0
 Have to say, I have an FR600 with an alloy driver and an FR600 with a steel driver and after 2 years of riding both relatively equally they are both showing zero cassette wear. So far the steel is just extra weight Smile
  • 4 2
 www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001B1AP3O/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 thats all I need for frame and component protection, cable management, and noise reduction

Plus, it looks awesome/isn't noticeable if applied well
  • 3 2
 Yup, that stuff is the best, and no sticky residue when u remove it.
  • 2 0
 Idk where the lance comment comes into play, Or for the fact how trek isnt that good... Seems like turd comments. Bontrager wheels work really well in the recent years and although i dislike 29ers... I will be sugesting these wheels based on overall value!
  • 1 1
 I agree. The low poll numbers can sometimes indicate poor quality, but clearly these wheels are fine. The case is likely to be (a) the wheels are out of a lot of price ranges, and (b) the majority of riders are still using 26 inch.
  • 2 0
 What XT cassette was used on that hub? The past few XTs I have used were mostly caged and only a few small loose cogs. Just curious. I keep eyeing the Bontys but really love that tube guard!
  • 4 2
 When I first saw this I thought it was carbon disc's, from the thumbnail. So close to losing faith is the product picks sanity.
  • 2 0
 For the amount of shit everyone gives them, the carbon Discs are pretty sweet
  • 1 0
 Just curious how the freehub body got gouged with an XT cassette, as the 5 biggest cogs on that cassette are attached to aluminum spiders to spread out the forces preventing just that?
  • 1 0
 These days there are more complainers on PB more than ever. If it's not some idiot crying about the one too many tire choices available it's another one complaining about proper grammar. What a bunch of whining wusses. Lol.
  • 3 0
 where did the carbon disc review go??? for next week?
  • 4 0
 It's coming. Waiting for an updated versions of the discs.
  • 1 0
 sweet, stoked to see it, thanks mike!
  • 2 0
 Tired of waiting....I'm making my own =D
  • 2 0
 "Waiting for an updated versions of the discs"

Does this mean the current version has got some sort of issues ?
  • 1 0
 maybe, or it just means the update is better and they want to review a current product
  • 1 0
 hell yeah please test carbon rotors.
  • 1 0
 About those Carbon-Fiber rotors...having ridden them with stock organic pads for six months before going back to metal rotors, I'm curious to see what a more DH oriented test (I'm an XC racer, so weight and modulation was more important than outright stopping power) reveals...hope they were tested with the dedicated pads to give a true evaluation.
  • 3 4
 Quick PSA about the Gravity Grips: the wear rate is WAY WORSE than other grips when it comes to crashes/abusive shuttling practices. Once a small rip or puncture is made to the soft rubber on the outside, they deteriorate incredibly quickly. My friend put them on, brand new, and after 3 days of shuttling on dirt roads with a rack where the bars knocked together, they were absolutely useless, while my Lizardskins Peatys showed no signs of wear. They were super comfortable while they lasted but I would Not recommend these grips, purely for durability's sake.
  • 1 0
 i'm not nit-picking, but could the increased wear have been caused because he put the bars in irregular places? I took my brand new gambler on a roadtrip to some tracks 3 hour drive away, but on the way back I had it stacked a different way and the grips were touching somebodies brake lever and shredded the grip to pieces.
  • 3 4
 Bjammin- maybe you should stop putting your buddies bike in the crappy spot on the truck. Save him some grips. Yours are more durable, take that spot. Just sayin'.
  • 5 0
 The Gravity Grips are concave so you hands don't slip off the end of the bar as easily if you get squirrley landing low or are riding in wet conditions. We also updated the rubber on the grips to give them more durability during "Abusive Shuttling Practices". They are available from our webstore in the USA, if ride without gloves or like thin grips, check a pair out. Our team riders helped develop them and worked well for them this season.

ridegravity.com/portfolio-item/graviy-light-thin-lock-on-grips
  • 4 0
 Also, the grips a 29mm diameter in the center, not 22mm as mentioned in the review.
  • 1 1
 Seanstdenis - nooot the point. No matter what, grips are going to get poked my a rock or tree or brake lever or handlebar sometime in their lifetime, and they should be able to withstand that. All the other grips (ODI/Lizardskins) I've had have been able to do that no problem, but the gravitys were not up to the task. BUT, I think things are much more promising with the updates RideGravity mentioned.

Ridegravity - I'm so glad to hear the rubber has been updated because if it wasn't for that these would've been a pair of super sweet grips! Super comfy, and the concavity is a nice feature as well. Also Super solid end caps, which is nice and an under-appreciated feature.
  • 1 1
 Also, I'd like to add one thing: Gravity has pretty amazing customer service. As soon as they got wind of my dissatisfaction, they promptly offered to warranty the grips and were genuinely concerned about the issues I (or rather, my friend) experienced. I've loved all the other gravity components I've owned and I have to give props to them for being a great company with overall great products. These grips, before they changed the rubber compound, were just a miss for me. Pinkbike and Kelly McGarry seem to like the refined versions, so I guess they must be pretty great now.
  • 1 0
 is core of these grips hard plastic, or does it have some give? I've been using the Loaded noslips, and I love the flexible core, but I think I'd like the rubber part of these better.
  • 3 0
 ...one can never have too many wheels. ..
  • 1 0
 just too little storage
  • 1 0
 Think grips? That's new.

Please can someone design thick grips for us people that suffer from the terrible affliction that is "large hands" thanks.
  • 2 1
 Oury grips.
  • 2 2
 To be honest, my favorite frame guard is the Frame Defender. It's 25 bucks which isn't terrible and it has saved me a sh*t load of dings.
  • 2 1
 Ugly as sin
  • 1 0
 I really don't think its that bad to be honest. It "blends" with my paint pretty good.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the review. If you have any doubts on the product ... and on the list of incredible products to come, just Ask
  • 1 0
 I can't stand small grips. I feel like i'm holding onto the metal bar its self.
  • 1 0
 That gravity grips sucks... i got a pair in august of this year and got broken with only 2 uses...
  • 3 2
 Stupid alloy freehub body
  • 5 8
 "reasonable $999.98 a set"
Thats hilarious! i think anybody who has ever buckled a wheel even slightly would wince at paying nearly a grand for a set of wheels. mines cost about 200, thats reasonable, and to me maybe even a little luxurious.
  • 2 1
 i will add though that if you can afford it then lucky you, and im not saying these are bad wheels, i wouldnt know. these wheels cost about what my bike cost to build in total and even then im chuffed to have a bike worth a grand. (maybe im just a tight arsed scotsman after all Razz )
  • 7 1
 These wheels are a lot better than yours though, in almost every category. $1000 is not an unreasonable price for a set of 1500g 29er wheels.
  • 8 3
 1200g in size 26...just sayin.
  • 3 5
 Someone probably bought your 200$ wheels for 100$ on a sale. Spokes are slightly worse than yours and rims are pink, but he doesn't care and dies to call a sucker anyone who cares!
  • 4 8
flag dchill (Nov 8, 2013 at 3:36) (Below Threshold)
 Only problem is they are made by trek
  • 2 5
 yes dchill - I still haven't coped with Lance thing
  • 3 2
 These are 1390 grams and $50 less:
www.notubes.com/ZTR-Race-Gold-29er-Wheelset-2013-P1218.aspx

These are 1610 grams (30 grams more than RXLs) and $400 less:
www.notubes.com/ZTR-Crest-29er-Stock-Wheelset-P452.aspx

Just sayin'...
  • 4 2
 It's just that those bontragers are wider, and crests cannot be used for anything else than fire road rally. You'd better compare that to ArchEX rims. Then Anerican classic freehub body ratchet system is a joke so you need to spend 150 for equivalent decent hub. Those Bo ties are overpriced, no doubt about it, so are ZTR products
  • 3 0
 Bontrager internal width - 19mm Stans Crest internal width - 21mm They do not use AC hubs. Also, unless you already have CL rotors, you need adaptors for the Bontragers...either way more weight. Don't let facts get in the way of a good arguement. I don't care either way, but when a site posts a review that reads like a commercial, they need to be accurate...nothing too special about these wheels.
  • 2 1
 Too skinny. Cost the same as carbon, but can't be as stiff unless they found some way to make aluminum as stiff and light as aluminum, in which case, why do we need carbon?
Sure they are super light but I'd say at that price you need more from a rim.
  • 1 0
 @taletotell they definitely don't cost anywhere near as much as carbon. A good carbon wheelset will set you back at least $1500. And by "good" I mean not some Chinese knockoffs from eBay.
  • 1 0
 e*thirteen TRS+Trail 29" Wheelset retails at $1200. Is that not a good set? I don't know 29er wheels, but I would have guessed they were good.
Cheaper on sale of course:
www.artscyclery.com/ethirteen_TRSTrail_29_Wheelset_/descpage-E13TRSWS29.html?gclid=CILfjrHv1boCFYNxOgodbVkAiw

Oh, and the Easton Haven Carbon Disc are almost 1300 msrp.
I know $200-300 is not pocket change. I am just saying that once you are dropping $1000 you gotta ask yourself what you are getting for that. The sacrifices made to get alu rims that light means something has got to give. If not then why should carbon exist? Seems like you can get something you know is strong for 200 bucks more and have them be strong and light, or 200 less and know they are strong.
  • 3 1
 Damn my bad! For some unexplainable reason I thought I read 24mm internal. Ok then, 19mm makes them useless in my world, especially on 29er. 19mm internal width for MTB rims in 2014 is a joke. Such rim provides stability for a commuter tyre
  • 2 1
 the easton haven carbon 29 is almost $1300 for the rear wheel. add another $1200 for the front wheel.
  • 2 0
 @taletotell TRS wheels are not carbon. They are expensive mostly because the rims are scandium.
  • 2 0
 touche.
In the world of wheels I guess I was deluded about cost.

Considering $1000 gets you a middling wheelset I think I'll never ride anything better than crap. $400 is where I top out. This is a rich man's sport.
  • 1 0
 its funny how in recent years the price point of what is deemed an "acceptable" bike has risen dramatically! i mean 5 or 6 grand will of course get you a hell of a bike, but i feel like people are desensitizing to these high prices and beginning to accept it as the norm. i mean, 5 or 6 grand will get you a car, and a car has way more in the way of engineering behind it overall. its actually obscene to pay that much for an item that is 100% guranteed to be subjected to damage.
  • 1 0
 So we are into moral issues related to highly priced bikes? How about F1?
  • 1 0
 The supply of cars so far outstrips the supply of nice bikes that the engineering becomes a non issue. Also, a 5 year old car costs way more than a 5 year old bike. Waki, the comparison to super cars is less accurate here. These wheels are more like a toyota camry than a McClaren f1.
  • 1 0
 No, I didn't mean that - I focused on being obscene with expensive toys. I mentioned F1 as an idea that it is often considered as yhr ultimate obscene toy, intedible "waste" of resources considering world problems... I have something to say if someone thinks so.
  • 1 0
 Oh. I'm not one of those people who thinks we can't have fun until the world is saved.
  • 2 0
 I was kind of that until I saw the movie Senna and scenes from the funeral, to realize what the man meant for the country by driving a gokart on steroids...
  • 2 1
 For down tube protection it's hard to beat the stuff made by Shelter.
  • 2 0
 blah
  • 1 0
 Now to use that frame protector as a chainstay guard on my dj.
  • 1 0
 why can't we pick more than one ???
  • 1 0
 Odi longneck - original and still the best. Nothing else feels right.
  • 1 0
 I use packaging tape, $3'gets you 110yards! Use wd40 to remove.
  • 1 0
 3M Carbon wrap does the same job for $8 on ebay.

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