Bontrager Releases New XC and Aggressive Trail Tires

Jul 1, 2021
by Mike Kazimer  
Bontrager XR1


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.

Bontrager's Inner Strength casing uses an added layer of nylon to provide extra sidewall protection.
The Core Strength casing found on the SE level tires has another layer of nylon that runs from bead to bead.


Bontrager SE5

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.


Bontrager SE6

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


104 Comments

  • 80 0
 I bought an aggressive trail tyre once. Didn't like it, it kept punching me.
  • 2 0
 @bigtim:It happens when you're jabbing it down a trail, using side lugs. Hook-worms tend to hurt the most.
  • 68 3
 assegai and DHR2 similarities? they look the same! and by the way, cool to have the same tire option in different brands for when there is no maxxis in stock
  • 6 1
 En chile nunca hay maxxis en stock Frown
  • 6 1
 sorry to burst your bubble, but bontrager tires are mostly all out of stock until november/december
  • 2 0
 @basticf: nunca la cago!
  • 1 1
 Haha my first thought was DHR2 and magic mary.
  • 1 1
 total copies, except bondrager's compounds and casings are terrible
  • 33 1
 Gotta appreciate Bontrager no-nonsense approach here. While other brands have fancy fabrics: snakeskin, apex, exo, black belt etc, Bontrager just say: here's some nylon and be happy with it!
  • 63 8
 Gotta appreciate Bontrager no-nonsense approach here. While other brands spend money on new developments: new tread patterns, snakeskin, apex, exo, black belt etc, Bontrager just say: here's a counterfeit Maxxis, be happy with it!
  • 11 0
 @thedirtyburritto: I believe their tires are actually made BY Maxxis.
  • 3 1
 @LeDuke: are they? ...probably the same as frames... only 3 factories in the world make all tires blah blah blah
  • 14 4
 @thedirtyburritto: Rather take a 70 dollar top of the line Bontrager tire over an nearly identical Maxxis Tire for 95 dollars.
  • 11 1
 @LeDuke: If you think that makes them equal, then we need to have a long conversation about the bike business.
  • 13 4
 @AddisonEverett: yeah but you are like 12 and live in Utah.....one day you'll learn.
  • 4 0
 @LeDuke: Correct, all the higher end Bonty tires are made by Maxxis
  • 22 2
 @mattomoto: maxxis doesn't make tires..Chen shin rubber intl does.
  • 3 0
 @Themissinglink83: This guy gets it.
  • 1 0
 @thedirtyburritto: yep wonder how many times you can sell a tire with blocks of varying sizes on it
  • 1 0
 @LeDuke: probably not, i dont think maxxis could make tires that bad if they tried
  • 1 0
 @AddisonEverett: . . I just grabbed some Specialized Elliminator and Butcher Blk Dmd for $40 a pop, plus discount on top of that. . Kenda also offers discount codes for half off tires. I see no reason to pay $65,$70, or $90 a tire anymore.
  • 4 0
 @AddisonEverett: who pay that much anyway? Did you guys really pay that much in the US?
Europe pay mostly 50euros or even less for top of the line. Vat included ofc.
  • 2 2
 @thedirtyburritto: I have ran both Bontrager and Maxxis tires and they are both awesome, unlike you.
  • 1 0
 @Serpentras: yeah it feels so weird seeing americans paying 100 bucks for a tyre, i bought most of my top end tyres less than 45€
  • 32 1
 Pick your tire and be a dick about it. Clearance/sale bin of last year's for me...except for a few sidewall issues a few years back with contis all the big brand tires in general are damm good these days. My only complaint is there is too much choice and all the marketing BS give me a headache...
  • 3 0
 ride on. hard to pick up anything of truly inferior quality on a bike these days. not in the industry to get the DL on all the best products? point and shoot - youll be fine
  • 1 0
 One exception to this was the Vee Rubber downhill tires I bought from them for $10 each. The knobs started ripping off the first run and they didn’t last the day. I paid too much.
  • 1 0
 @carym: Vee are genuinely the worst tyres I've ever run. I put 2 flow snaps on my HT and felt like I was on slicks. Never again. You couldn't pay me to ride em.
  • 18 1
 Welcome to the clone wars!!
  • 1 0
 Hello there
  • 13 0
 Cue the comments that judge a tire based solely on tread pattern. MX tires all use the same tread patterns, but that market understands enough to not call them copycats of each other. Those are just the shapes that have proven to work.

What *also* differentiates tires are the profiles (round vs squared, "2.4" vs actual 2.4), the casing (suppleness and durability), and rubber compounds. Which everyone here intuitively knows when they point out that, say, the e13 tires ride nothing like a DHRII despite... wait for it... having the same tread pattern.
  • 14 0
 It’s good to see companies branching out form DHF copycats.
  • 10 0
 branching to an assegai copy
  • 10 0
 Sweet! I really like the SE5/SE4 setup, & that new SE6 looks killer for the right terrain.
  • 4 0
 I ran an SE4 on the rear of the old bike - not to expensive, didn't weigh to much, not too draggy, gripped plenty, finally got killed by some sharp rocks in Finale. Certainly like the look of these.
  • 5 0
 I've been using the XR4/SE4 combo on my bike for a while. I run a 2.6F and 2.4R. I really like them, plenty of grip and they wear pretty well too. For the price I don't think you can beat them.
  • 10 0
 I rode the XR4 for awhile and really liked it. The pricing was good too compared to Maxxis.
  • 2 4
 Must have pretty smooth trails… will never use XR4s again here in CT.
  • 8 0
 XR4 is a great allround trail-tire, rolls well and is predictable even in fairly wet. Pick the reinforced SE4 if the very light sidewalls of the XR4 dont hold up where you ride. I ride fairly techy terrain on XR4s with no issue though.
  • 1 5
flag dualcrownscottspark (Jul 1, 2021 at 9:58) (Below Threshold)
 @FredrikWestman: huh. I have ardents now. They feel better, I can corner confidently with them, and they don’t flat every week. Maybe the SE4 is better, but the xr4s tread pattern wasn’t for me.
  • 5 0
 I've been riding the XR4 for the last year on my trail bike and am really impressed with them. I don't treat them any differently than the dh casing Assegai/Dissector combo I have on my big bike and haven't had any issues. I'm seeing a lot of riders run their suspension and tire pressure way too soft in the name of comfort, but it leads to a lot more force on the sidewall and torn casings. You can't expect to run the same pressure in a 800 gram tire as a 1,200 gram tire and get away with it.
  • 3 0
 @dualcrownscottspark: I'm from CT originally, lived there until I turned 40. Rode all over New England for 20-ish years. Yes, I ride smoother trails now, but I definitely rode some rock on the XR4s and they did fine.
  • 2 1
 @dualcrownscottspark: Used XR4s successfully on many nasty AZ trails, which make CT trails look smooth. Maybe it’s not the tire?
  • 1 0
 @SvenNorske: CT trails (New England and the northeast in general) are filled with slow speed technical sharp rock and outcrops, definitely not smooth. I’ve ridden AZ trails around Phoenix and Sedona a dozen times and while rocky, so much faster.
  • 4 0
 26 whole grams of nylon spread though the entire tire? How much difference is that really making? If it truly does make a diff, then what's the point of the XRs since it only costs 26 grams for more better?
  • 3 1
 XR has lower rolling resistance due to the more supple casing.
  • 2 0
 @MaplePanda: again, how much of a difference? It's 26 grams of nylon, ~0.25% of the total weight, spread through the entire carcass. Is it really that much more supple, or vice versa, is the SE really that much tougher to cost 15 bucks more?
  • 2 0
 @justinfoil: I can speak from experience as I own both SE4 and XR3 tires. That 26 gram number sounds suspiciously low; possible number fudging on Trek’s part? The SE casing is moderately stiffer on the sidewall. (in no way does it feel like a DH casing though) Under the tread though, the SE is far, far stiffer than the XR.
  • 1 0
 @MaplePanda: I think I'd feel better if they are fudging the weights. ~1000g sounds too light for a really aggressive tire. Can you comment on how the casing compares to any of the Maxxis casings?
  • 1 0
 @gibspaulding: SE casing is probably closest to EXO+. Uninflated, the tire holds its donut shape quite well, compared to the XR casing which just flops into a pile if you let go of it. I don’t think it’s quite DD level though, where you can basically ride it without air…
  • 1 0
 @MaplePanda: OK, maybe those numbers aren't spot on, and maybe that image is a bit inaccurate. It's weird that the tread is more stiffer than the sidewall because that's the opposite of what really helps. Usually want the tread to be soft but tough to conform, but the sidewall a bit stiffer and tough to help hold shape to keep the bead locked and the rim off the ground.
  • 3 0
 Funny that most trail and gravity tyres are so heavily "inspired" by the Maxxis catalogue, but the truth is that two similar looking designs may ride very differently. Carcass shape, rubber compounds, siping, casing reinforcements all dictate a tyre's character. And while there are 5 or 6 DHR2 clones out the right now (with more announced, see Continental) I believe Maxxis themselves where "influenced" by the Magic Mary when they designed the Assegai. They had no gravity tyre with intermediate knobs up to then, every one of their offerings featured the trademark Maxxis channel between center and side knobs. Also companies want to make products that sell, so if a designs becomes very popular it forms a trend, and brands want to get a piece of these sales. Nothing bad here, even in terms of R&D, having 2-3 teams fine tuning a design is a benefit for the end user.
  • 5 0
 Store brand DHR and Assegai… I’ll take it.
  • 1 0
 TBH I liked the feel of the G5 and even the se5 and a lot of other tires better than the Assegai and wayyyyyy better than the dissector. Looking forward to giving these a try. Maybe they have side knobs that don't fold over so easily after 2 rides.
  • 1 0
 @ksilvey10 Do you have first hand experience with dissector side knobs folding over? Was looking at buying one.
  • 1 0
 @joemo5: yeah. The maxxgrip version does not last long at all. I would not recommend if you're looking to push it going down hill. Braking is terrible as well
  • 2 0
 I didn't get the memo, is Bontrager's version of 2.6 dead or is the 2.5 width they're going with here just a more accurate measurement compared to their previous line of 2.6 tires?
  • 1 0
 I run XR4, XR3 on my trail/enduro bike for most trail centres up north here in the UK.
Nice, fast rolling tyres with enough side grip for cornering to cope with the additional speed they add compared to folk running Dh/heavy Enduro tyres for red/black UK trail centres.

wouldnt run them for the local dh tracks that folk run on their trail/enduro bikes though.
2 sets of wheels, XC/Trail and Enduro/Dh for the Enduro bike Smile
  • 4 2
 When you see your mate has copied the Smart Kid's homework and you decide to do the same! That SE5 is literally a Specialized Butcher which is almost the same as a DHR II...
  • 3 0
 not really much new here apart from apart from ncrease in weight and cost wait, thats not new either.
  • 1 0
 Who'd like to read a review of those XR1s? @Mike - If you don't want to mount those on your Meta I'll put them on my Honzo and do a few laps up at Galby. LMK where to meet you...
  • 1 0
 I wonder what the actual size of the tyre is in real life? Their 29er XR3 is claimed to be a 2.4 but is closer to a 2.2 in real life. Even trek admit on their website that its only 2.4 on the tread, not the casing.
  • 5 2
 I'll call them AMR II and Assgal
  • 7 4
 Maxxis makes Bontrager tires for Trek
  • 2 0
 Source?
  • 3 0
 And CST makes Maxxis tires.
  • 4 0
 @Mayzei: My local shop told me that. CST owns Maxxis. It’s their high end offering like TRP is Tektro’s fancy stuff.
  • 3 0
 @Someoldfart:
TRP = Tektro Racing Parts Wink
  • 1 0
 @Hamburgi: The "P" actually stands for "Products"
  • 2 0
 @barp: okey Smile
  • 1 0
 Maxxis is the ball bearing company of the MTB tire world.
  • 1 0
 Correct.
  • 1 0
 @barp: P stands for "performance"
  • 1 0
 @AnibalR: I was going to @TRP to ask them to settle this once and for all, but they apparently don't do Pinkbike. So maybe it stands for "poop".
  • 1 0
 Any word on how soft the dual-compound TM-Grip rubber is? I've had good luck with the xr/se4/5 as trail tyres in the past but always wished they were a touch softer compound.
  • 2 0
 And I've become so desensitized that I see 1000g and $75 for a dd-like tire casing and think both numbers sound great.
  • 2 0
 Oh shit. That's more like exo+. NVM...
  • 3 0
 50 bucks says it rides like a bike tire.
  • 1 0
 We need a oem shootout, Bontrager vs Specialized vs white label Maxxis! What’s the best when we can buy a new bike in 18 months lol
  • 1 0
 Glad to see Bontrager is finally putting burlier casings on their tires. Already liked the tread patterns/compounds but the casings would tear in a few rides.
  • 1 1
 Why isn’t there some kind of protection from companies ripping off other peoples tyres and why would these companies think we’d ever buy the fake version for the same price as the originals?
  • 2 0
 The tread pattern is only one part of tyre design. Casing, siping, rubber compound, all those things aren’t immediately visible but really influence how a tyre works.
  • 1 0
 @riish: still ripping off someone else’s product. If you copy someone’s homework but reword it, your still copying.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: and Maxxis copied Michelin, but people tend to forget that.
  • 5 3
 As long as they don’t have paper sidewalls of the xr4s
  • 4 3
 Both Dualcrown and I ride together. I am a 90 lb, 14 year old rider and I pinched an xr4 with 19 psi in it. It ripped a hole in two spots. Multiple members of my team have destroyed Bontrager tires. The sidewalls are like paper . . .
  • 1 1
 @shepridesbikes: agreed, had the same exact stick put two separate holes in the same tire.
  • 3 0
 SE6 29er only? Frown
  • 1 1
 When they say release they mean, here is a new tire tread we copied from another pillar of tires, oh and they aren't available till 2022.
  • 1 1
 If they had different options of widths and lighter weights to the Assegai and DHR, it would cool, but basically they have the same weights and sizes as those tires.
  • 1 0
 Bro why do all tire companies just copy maxxis. Here I give u the Bontra-ass and the Binion DHB I
  • 2 0
 $15 bucks for 26 grams of nylon?
  • 3 0
 AsSE6gai
  • 3 2
 630 grams for XC tire? That's a tank.
  • 2 0
 Looks like a minion.
  • 1 0
 Those weights are impressive
  • 1 0
 Bontrager SEgai and DHxR.
  • 1 0
 Ok now plz make a copy of the Minion SS too
  • 1 0
 great day to work for trek
  • 1 0
 Trek is so sad that they have to copy tire... bleee
  • 1 0
 Look pretty nice.
  • 1 0
 Still no G5 tubeless?

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