Bontrager has released a quartet of new tires, and while many of the model names will look familiar, the tread pattern, compound, and constructions have all been updated. XR1
First up is the XR1, which is designed for cross-country racing, where light weight and low rolling resistance are the top priorities. The tire uses Bontrager's new TM-Speed rubber compound, and has just enough center tread to maintain climbing traction, with taller side knobs to add cornering security. A nylon insert provides sidewall protection without incurring too much of a weight penalty. Available in a 29 x 2.2” width, the XR weighs a claimed 630 grams and retails for $59.99 USD.XR5 / SE5
Next is the XR5, and its beefier sibling, the SE5. Both tires use the same tread pattern, which consists of alternating L-shaped and rectangular side knobs, and alternating rectangular and square center knobs. Compared to the original version, there's more siping on the center knobs to bump up the level of traction, and both tires use Bontrager's new dual-compound TM-Grip rubber.
The difference between the XR5 and the SE5 lies in the casing construction – the XR5 uses Bontrager's Inner Strength casing, which uses a layer of cut-resistant nylon to provide sidewall protection. The SE5 adds in another layer of nylon that runs from bead to bead in order to provide even more puncture resistance.
Both options are available in 29 x 2.5” or 27.5 x 2.5” widths. The XR5 weighs a claimed 1000 grams for the 29” version and 945 grams for the 27.5” version and retails for $59.99.
The SE5 weighs in at 960 grams for the 27.5” version or 1026 grams for the 29” option. MSRP: $74.99. SE6
The most aggressive option in Bontrager's trail tire lineup is the new SE6. It's designed to dig in and hold on in loose terrain, with tall side knobs and relatively square center blocks for braking traction. It uses the dual-compound TM-Grip rubber, and has the same Core Strength casing design used for the SE5.
Available solely in a 29 x 2.5” version, the SE6 weighs a claimed 1045 grams and retails for $74.99 USD.Initial Impressions
I've been running the SE6 and SE5 for the last few weeks on my Commencal Meta TR, and so far things are off to a smooth start. There weren't any issues getting everything installed, and out on the trail there haven't been any odd handling quirks to get used to - predictable is the name of the game here.
It's been relatively dry lately, so I can't report on how the new tires handle greasy roots and slimy rocks, but I can say that they've done quite well on looser, dustier trails. The SE6 / SE5 pairing offers a good blend of cornering and braking grip without feeling too draggy on harder packed trails.
Wet, tricky conditions are guaranteed to return before long, so keep an eye out for a full review later this summer once I put these tires through the full range of conditions. And yes, I'll be sure to include comparisons to the Maxxis Assegai / DHR II combo, since there's no denying the fact that there are some similarities in the tread patterns.
More information: trekbikes.com