The XR3 is one of the newer offerings in Bontrager's lineup, a tire they say is, "designed to be a versatile trail or race tire that excels in a variety of conditions." The 120tpi tire is geared mostly towards XC racing and everyday trail riding, with a fast rolling center knob pattern and taller side knobs to provide bite while cornering.
The XR3 Team Issue tire is available in 29" x 2.4" and 27.5" x 2.8" sizes and sells for $54.99 USD for the 29" and $94.99 USD for the Plus-sized 27.5" option.
XR3 Tire Details
• 62a center 60a side durometer, 120tpi
• Tubeless ready
• Bontrager 'Inner Strength' casing reinforcements
• Sizes: 29 x 2.4", 27.5 x 2.8"
• Weight: 755 grams (29 x 2.4")
• MSRP: $54.99 USD (29 x 2.4")
The tires have Bontrager's 'Unconditional Guarantee' warranty, which states that you can "return the item, along with the original sales receipt to the original place of purchase within 30 days for an exchange or refund. Think of it as a 30-day test ride." That's about exactly how much time I've put on these tires so, let's see how they fared.Construction
The XR3 is designed to be versatile and fast rolling, and it's also the tire Trek specs on their new Top Fuel
, among other bikes. The tire has a 120tpi casing, which is designed to give a better ride feel and be more soft and supple. The sidewalls are reinforced with Trek/Bontrager's 'Inner Strength Casing'. These casings are nylon inserts designed to reinforce the tire and add some durability without sacrificing ride quality.
The casing is fairly round with staggered taller knobs on the side and shorter, faster-rolling center blocks. The tread pattern is varied in size and depth, according to Bontrager, to better adapt to the terrain and give better traction. There are small sipes in the side and center knobs.
When they set out to revise the XR3, the team at Bontrager wanted to make their "all-around" tire more versatile than it was previously. They took some cues from where XC racing is heading, and worked to make a tire that is quick, light, and capable.
With the XR2 and XR4 being more specific purposed tires than what Bontrager considered an all-arounder, the new XR3 takes the center tread of the fast-rolling XR2, and combines it with the side tread of the more aggressive XR4 trail tire. You can see in the diagram above the cues from each that were meshed together to form the XR3. Fast in a straight line with traction in corners and tech is a story as old as time, but the XR3 executes it well.Performance
The XR3's showed up ready to go on the new Top Fuel
, and I've put several hundred miles in on them so far.
Mounted to Bontrager's Kovee Pro wheels, with a 29mm internal rim width and inflated to a generous 25psi, the tires measure a little narrower than the advertised 2.4" at 2.34". I typically run the tires at around 19-21psi in the front and a couple of pounds more in the back. I've run them as low as 16-17 psi in the wet.
Although it's been dusty and dry for the last couple of weeks, I have been caught in the rain with the XR3's as well. Wet roots and rocks were easy to navigate with slightly lowered pressures, and the tread pattern stayed very clear and clean in the muck.
While climbing, the tires offer heaps of traction on varied terrain and roll quickly. The casing is supple and seems to mold around roots and uneven soil. The tires have a smooth and compliant trail feel without feeling overly soft when pushing into turns or bounding through rocks.
Leaning from the center tread over to the side is seamless, and there's no question of when the tires are going to break traction. It's an intentional feeling, and there's always more traction than expected, which encourages faster and more aggressive riding. Hanging with friends on 160mm trail bikes and 2.5" Minions down some of the more technical descents around where I live is not an issue.
The big thing that stands out with these tires to me is the versatility. Bontrager have done a good job on making a tire that not only rolls quickly but can hang with heavier and more aggressive tires in technical terrain. The tires have an ample amount of traction in dry and loose soil and are very predictable.
After the time I've spent on the tires thus far, I am starting to see a little bit of wear on the knobs. They are losing some sharpness, but I would say that they are still at 85-90% of their tread life. Keep in mind, I've been rallying the bike down some pretty fast and technical terrain at times, which is sure to accelerate wear on any tire.
For a rider looking for a more aggressive setup that still rolls fast, the XR3 would work well as a rear tire paired with a meatier front tire like the XR4 or something similar.
Now, for the sake of comparison, since a lot of riders maybe aren't as familiar with Bontrager's tires, the XR3 falls in the same category as a Maxxis Ardent, Specialized Fast Trak, or Schwalbe's Racing Ralph and I prefer it over any of those options. As far as that 30-day test period is concerned, It's difficult to find a reason anyone riding the XR3 in proximity to its intended use will need to take Bontrager up on their guarantee.
Fast rolling and versatile+
Excellent trail feel
Limited size options