Bontrager wheel set
Teardown | Upgrade

2018 Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels (US$300?)

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Nov 16, 2017

The Hubs

My first step in testing Bontrager's Line Comp 30 wheelset is a trip to the thesaurus to see if there's a usable synonym for game-changer. This is a $300US Boost wheelset with a 29mm internal rim width and 3-pawl 54-point engagement hubs that weighs around 2100 grams for a 29'er set. Yes $300US for both wheels. With tubeless strips and valve stems installed in the box. 

Bontrager Hubs

The Bontrager Line Comp 30 level hubs are a basic black affair with plain ordinary J-Bend spoke drilling and 6-bolt rotor mounting. No complaints here. Photo: Cam McRae

My second step is sitting down for a beer with Jeff from Bikeroom to install a $20 (USD) upgrade kit that doubles the number of engagement points from 54pt to 108pt - taking the hub from 6.7° to 3.3° rotation between engagements. There's just one problem...

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

More than everything needed to clean and lube any of Bontrager's 2018 hub drivers. No tools are actually required!

...it's such an easy job it barely justifies the prep time. How easy? We were halfway through our first round at Beere (North Van's newest craft brewery) when we started. And we were halfway through our first round of beers when we finished. Jeff actually pulled the wheel apart again, and I took a few bonus photos, so we'd have a solid excuse for a second cup. 

Jeff did use his trusty Knipex locking pliers to pull off the driveside end cap. It's on fairly tight but in actual fact anyone with a firm grip will be able to pull it off by hand. For the rest of a us a gentle clamping in the vice or a few wiggles with the pliers and *pop* it's upgrade time. 

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

*Smiles* "Wait, I don't need any tools to do this!"

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

*Frowns* "Wait, I don't need any tools to do this!"

The Upgrade

For 2018 Bontrager wheels share the same hub guts through most the line from the $300US Line Comps to the carbon-rimmed Line Pro. The spoke arrangement and shell detailing changes but the hub driver is identical. Going from the 54pt engagement to 108pt engagement is simply a matter of adding three pawls and three springs to the stock freehub body.

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

The part numbers. 

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

The steel pawls.

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

The finished product. 

I'm in the process of comparing Dumondetech's Pro-X Freehub Oil and Freehub Grease in cases where one would be used specifically and in cases where they can be used interchangeably. The coil springs backing Bontrager's pawl system make the Freehub Oil the obvious choice. 

For comparison a Chris King hub would run the Freehub Grease on their drive-and-driven ring system and the Project 321 hubs that both Tim and I are currently riding, with their magnetic pawl retraction, ship with the Dumondetech Grease but can run either product. 

As lubrication products go I've never had something recommended to me as highly as Project 321 recommends the grease and Industry Nine, with their leaf-spring backed pawls, recommends the oil. 

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

In the same vein that a chain should be lubed up one pin at a time, best practice is to apply lubricant to the pawls and springs individually as well as the drive interface. 

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

And slide it all back together. $320US for 108pt engagement wheels. 

The Wheels

I recognize that I'm a sucker for value but still, I haven't been this excited about a Bontrager component since my buddy bought an old set of their rim brake 26" wheels for $150 and then realized they had Chris King internals. 

Ignoring the price point the wheels aren't particularly light. I'd also prefer 32x spokes over Bontrager's long standing choice to run 28x. The logo, while understated, could be a bit smaller? I'm short on out-of-the-box nitpicks. 

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

Ready to run tubeless right out of the box with a sweet molded rubber rim strip and valves pre-installed. 

Bontrager wheel set

Brass nipples, J-bend butted spokes, and clean graphics say workhorse wheelset. The 108pt engagment rivals many boutique options. Photo: Cam McRae

I'll be testing the Line Comp 30 wheels over the winter and will report back on the ride quality as well as any issues I come across. 

The Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels are available through any Trek dealer and come equipped on the Trek Fuel EX7, Fuel EX8, Remedy 7 and Remedy 8 complete bikes. I know that not everyone loves fast engaging hubs but from my perspective don't leave the shop without the upgrade. 

For more information on Bontrager's full wheel program check here

Comments

Holgerfromgermany
0
Holger Baer  - Nov. 15, 2017, 11:37 p.m.

Boost only? 😭

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1
Andrew Major  - Nov. 16, 2017, 12:06 a.m.

Not really surprising? Trek was the Boost originator and all their frames have used it a couple seasons. I don't know Bontrager's aftermarket numbers but I'd bet 95%+ of the Line Comp 30 wheels sold will come stock on Fuel and Remedy models - ready for a quick engagement upgrade.

Reply

Holgerfromgermany
0
Holger Baer  - Nov. 16, 2017, 4:56 a.m.

I can imagine. Still very sad for me :)

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1
Cam McRae  - Nov. 16, 2017, 7:44 a.m.

The good news for you is that you should be able to get a set of used non-Boost wheels for not much cash.

Reply

Holgerfromgermany
0
Holger Baer  - Nov. 17, 2017, 8:57 a.m.

absolutly. just did that. new one would have been fine but there are many nice used option out there

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1
Andrew Major  - Nov. 16, 2017, 7:46 a.m.

Mostly ‘non-Boost’ frames / wheels at my house so I get it (still have some 26” bikes too). 

There hasn’t been the massive fire-sale of new non-Boost wheels some folks expected but in the used market you can pick up some sweet as-new wheels pretty reasonably if you’re in need.

Reply

sospeedy
0
sospeedy  - Nov. 16, 2017, 4:02 a.m.

“I know that not everyone loves fast engaging hubs“

😳

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1
Andrew Major  - Nov. 16, 2017, 4:25 a.m.

Some riders theorize that on some suspension designs a greater distance between engagement points can uncouple the drivetrain from the suspension making for more consistent rear wheel traction.

In those cases a hub with, for example, 20-degree rotation would be more desirable.

Personally, I love the feeling of instant engagement - especially climbing - but can appreciate there may be some trade off, particularly on bikes with more chain growth at the sag point.

Reply

JVP
+1
JVP  - Nov. 16, 2017, 11:17 a.m.

I'm one of them.  Not that I dislike fast engagement, just don't see much benefit over about 40 point.  I do my fair share of tech climbing, too.  I'd much rather have durable, reliable and low maintenance over fast engagement.  Hopes, DTs, etc.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 16, 2017, 11:55 a.m.

You can have it all though? For someone who feels faster engaging hubs make a positive difference on trail.

In my experience Industry Nine is just as reliable and easy to rebuild as Hope?

DT hubs are great with the 16t (20-degree engagement) but the 36t and 54t aren’t reliable options for everyone.

I understand why home mechanics would avoid hubs like Chris King and True Precision - as awesome as the hubs are - due to wanting and easily maintained product at home. 

Hubs like Industry Nine or Project 321 on the other hand are really easy to work on (as easy as what you’ve listed)

On that note, there’s nothing besides the price that indicates the Line Comp wheels wont hold up as well as other spring/pawl hubs and they are really easy to take apart - 54pt or 108pt.

Not disagreeing at all with you preference for less engagements just noting that durability, ease of maintenance and number engagement points aren’t necessarily linked.

Reply

kos
0
Kos  - Nov. 16, 2017, 7 p.m.

Early versions of DT 36t and 54t were a bit questionable -- I destroyed two sets of each -- but the 36t is now rock solid, and I've heard the same on the new 54t star ratchets, though I'm not diving in there, yet.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 16, 2017, 7:05 p.m.

Do you know what changed and when?

I’ve don’t own a DT hub so it isn’t personal experience but I know a couple guys who stripped 36t faces last year. The only guy I know still running 54t carries the 16t ratchets in his pack in case he needs to field swap.

Reply

kos
+1
Kos  - Nov. 17, 2017, 6:24 a.m.

No details for certain, I just know I was told the replacements were revised, and I quit stripping them.  The speculation is that they might have slightly undercut the ratchets so that they "pull" into each other.

One thing with DT star ratchet hubs, is that you have to be VERY careful to use only light, non-sticky lubes on them to make sure the wimpy springs fully engage the two ratchets.

Somebody with some big time street cred -- NSMB maybe !!! -- should check with DT and get a definitive answer to this, though this might not be the right place.

kos
+2
Kos  - Nov. 16, 2017, 7:26 a.m.

Having played around with engagement on my Line Pro 30s, it is inarguable that 3 pawls coasts better in the stand than 6 pawls.

Hard to imagine that it's significant on the trail, so I stuck with 6 pawls. To be clear, my 3 pawl experiment didn't get any further than the stand.

I've been pounding the Pro version of these wheels for at least 50 hours now without a peep, and that includes over 20 hours in Moab, which I find to be a great test for freehub sturdiness, given the large amount of low cadence, high torque climbing you find there.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 16, 2017, 7:42 a.m.

Great test for a hub - especially with it being an alloy freehub taking the load since they’re more likely to fail if tolerances aren’t good.

I’ve known people to remove 3x pawls from Industry Nine wheels to reduce drag - I’d also guess that’s why the non-DT Kovee wheels come spec with 3-pawl.

I didn’t ride the wheels as 3-Pawl on the trail (good idea for review) but in the shop I didn’t perceive any difference. Maybe testament to the Dumondetech freehub lube?

Reply

trumpstinyhands
0
trumpstinyhands  - Nov. 16, 2017, 6:35 p.m.

Presumably the second set of pawls are slightly off-set from the first? Doubling the engagement points doesn't increase the engagement speed unless I'm missing something really obvious? So in effect the points of engagement stay the same as only half of the pawls are engaged at any one time? ;)

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 16, 2017, 6:53 p.m.

Exactly. It’s 3x3 arrangement stock w/ 54pts of engagement. Add the three pawls and it’s a 6x3 arrangement with three pawls engaged at a time for 108pts of engagement.

That is the easiest way I think to explain that while the number of pawl interfaces does not physically change the offset pawls are effectivetively decreasing the degrees of free rotation by half.

Project 321 offers both 6x3 and 6x2 versions of their drivers for example with the latter boosting engagement points by only engaging two pawls at a time.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
0
trumpstinyhands  - Nov. 16, 2017, 7:10 p.m.

A ha! Yeah that's what I was thinking thanks. I've probably worked on thousands of hubs but both a work mate and I were puzzled on how doubling the pawls would double the engagement speed earlier then suddenly all became clear but thought I'd check :D (W from DB Burnaby ;) )

Reply

kesa
0
Kesa  - Nov. 17, 2017, 10:46 p.m.

Big deal. If they really want me impressed they can make a quieter wheel. Those things are damn loud!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 17, 2017, 11:06 p.m.

What are you comparing them too Kesa?

I don't have any experience with the 2017 Bontrager wheels, but these 2018 Line wheels, with Dumondetech lube, are pretty quiet as spring-loaded pawl hubs are concerned.

Way quieter than the Hope, e13 or Industry Nine hubs I've ridden recently which are all significantly more expensive. Quite different sounding than Mavic. 

They don't whisper like Project 321's hub or run silently like True Precision's but this whole wheelset costs less than either of those rear hubs so it may not be fair to compare.

There certainly isn't quieter hub with close to as many engagements anywhere near the Comp 30's price point.

*Edit: All spring/pawl hubs are especially loud if they are being run dry either from poor assembly or simply basic service required from use. A little bit of oil makes all the difference noise wise.

Reply

kesa
0
Kesa  - Nov. 18, 2017, 12:13 a.m.

Actually i was comparing to my 2012 GT. My GT has zero freewheel noise which i love. It allows me to ride down a trail in complete harmony with nature. When i hired a trek Fuel Ex i was repulsed by how loud it was. It completely ruined my fantasy of pretending to be a bird flying along the trail. 

In general i think bikes are a lot louder now than they were 5 years ago. Although i like quick engagement i prefer my bikes to be stealth quiet. I'm planning on buying a Trek at the end of this month and it comes with these wheels so i am going to see about an Onyx or True precision solution. I haven't used these before so it should be interesting.

Sorry if my post was a bit random ;)

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 18, 2017, 12:52 a.m.

Zero stress - was just asking after some context. I prefer quiet hubs too.

Check out Project 321 too while you’re doing your research. Not as silent as the clutch hubs but damn close with the quiet pawls while maintaining a simple/traditional layout and light weight. 

True Precision Stealth is awesome but waiting to hear what BOX is going to do having bought them.

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.

Trending on NSMB