The hubs are laced with straight pull spokes, and use Bontrager's Stacked Lacing on the drive side, where the spokes are aligned more vertically than horizontally to improve the angle between the hub flange and the rim.Construction
Bontrager Line Elite Wheelset
The wide rim resurgence doesn't show any signs of losing momentum, and Bontrager's Line Elite wheelset is one of the newer additions to the field of contenders. Designed to meet the demands of all-mountain riders, the wheelset uses aluminum rims that measure 28mm internally and 33mm externally. Those rims are laced up with 28 straight pull spokes and come tubeless ready thanks to Bontrager's plastic TLR rim strips. Weight: 1750 grams, 1850g w/ TLR strips. MSRP: front, $461.99; rear, $537.99 USD.
• Rims: 6061 aluminum
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain / enduro
• Width: 33mm outer, 28mm inner
• Diameter: 27.5''
• Tubeless ready
• Spoke count: 28 DT Swiss 14/15 gauge
• Weight: 1750 grams, 1850g w/ TLR strips
• 15x100 front, 135/142x12 rear
• MSRP: front, $461.99; rear, $537.99 USD, XD driver sold separately
The 6061 aluminum rims found on the Line Elite wheels are drilled asymmetrically, with the spoke holes closer to the non-drive side, a feature the Bontrager calls OSB (Offset Spoke Bed). This allows for the tension and spoke length on both sides to be equal, as opposed to a traditionally drilled rim that requires the drive side spokes to be shorter and under a higher amount of tension. The 28 straight pull spokes are laced to a set of impressive looking hubs, which use Bontrager's Stacked Lacing on the drive side. Stacked Lacing means that that the spoke holes in the hub are oriented one atop of the other, another step that's meant to improve the bracing angle and increase wheel stiffness by keeping the spokes situated as far out on the hub as possible.
Inside the rear hub are 54 teeth that work in conjunction with a three pawl drive body for a quick 6.6 degrees of rotation between engagement points. To help keep the pawls from slipping under heavy loads, each one has three teeth to maximize the amount of contact with the drive ring.Three pawls on the driver body mesh with the 54 tooth ring, resulting in 6.6 degrees of rotation between engagement points. The wide rims make it easy to run a tubeless setup, and the asymmetric drills allows for the same size spoke to be used on each side.Installation
The Line Elite wheelset comes with Bontrager's TLR rims strips pre-installed, and a standard floor pump and some sealant was all it took to quickly get tires installed and ready to roll - there was never any need to resort to an air compressor to get them seated. The plastic rim strips are part of the reason this process is so easy, although the gram counters out there could knock 100 grams or so off the total weight by replacing them with a wrap or two of tubeless rim tape. On the Trail
Wider rims do bring a slight weight penalty compared to narrower options, but at 1750 grams the Line Elites are still reasonably light, especially given their all-mountain designation. Even shod with meaty tires they felt quick to accelerate, and there wasn't any popping or skipping from the freehub body when mashing on the pedals to get through a technical climb, or sprinting out of the exit of a corner. Wheel stiffness can be difficult to quantify when 160mm of travel and big tires are added to the equation, but that being said, there wasn't any noticeable flex when snapping through tight bermed turns or touching down after a jump or drop.
At 28mm, the Line Elite's inner rim width allows for most 2.3” tires to be run without drastically altering the tire profile, and even though the overall tread profile does become a little more squared off the handling characteristics are still preserved, with the added benefit of a slightly wider footprint and the ability to run lower pressures. We ran a number of tires during the review period, including Maxxis' Minion DHF and Highroller II, along with Bontrager's XR4, and were able to run pressures between 22-25psi without any trouble - no tires rolled off the rim, or emitted even the slightest burp of sealant at any time. There are still some naysayers who aren't convinced that there's a noticeable difference between a 28mm or wider rim and one that's 23mm or less, but I'm firmly convinced that going wide brings with it appreciable benefits for any rider. It's not a night and day difference, but the extra traction and diminished feedback from small obstacles on the trail make it worth choosing a wider rim if given the choice.Durability
This wheelset was subjected to a fair share of nasty winter riding, including driving rain, thick mud, and deep puddles, conditions that are tough on even the best sealed hubs out there. In this case, it was the large drive side bearing that sits just outside the drive ring that suffered, becoming gritty and corroded enough to need replacement after only a couple of months. Better sealing behind the XD driver body would help fix this, and after talking to Bontrager it sounds like plans are in the works for a design update in the near future.
The other issue we ran into was the rims' tendency to dent rather easily. Admittedly, the wheels did get ridden in extremely technical terrain, but they still seem fairly soft and prone to developing flat spots, and riders that are typically hard on wheels may not find the Line Elites to be dent-resistant enough to meet their needs. Pinkbike's Take:
|The Line Elite wheelset may not be the flashiest offering out there - there's no purple anodized spokes, or odd lacing patterns to be found - but they're chock full of features that riders in search of a new set of wheels will appreciate. The wide, asymmetrically drilled rims, slip-free and quick engaging rear hub, and easy tubeless setup are all appealing, although the dent prone rims are a chink in the Line Elite's armor. For riders who typically aren't hard on rims this likely won't be an issue, but it is something to keep in mind for anyone with dreams of enduro race glory - extra-hard chargers may end up needing to replace a rim before the season is over. - Mike Kazimer|
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