Bontrager Line Elite Carbon Wheels.JPG
REVIEW

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon Wheels

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major Unless Noted
Date Feb 8, 2021
Reading time

Line Elite Carbon

I would argue, fairly passionately, that there have been excellent options for mountain bike wheels going back over twenty years, to the first time a Chris King, DT Swiss star-ratchet, or Profile Racing rear hub was laced into a Mavic D521 or D321 rim. That's probably why I don't get that jazzed about the latest and greatest wheels whether they feature a carbon or aluminum rim.

A bit of extra stiffness, a small chunk less weight, dent-proofing for those that don't run inserts, and potentially less frequent wheel destruction, again for those that don't run inserts; I totally understand the allure of carbon hoops and I regularly have, and appreciate, the discussion justifying the extra up-front cost for a pair. That could be jumping up a spec level to have them included with a bike* or buying a pair of wheels aftermarket.

*for example jumping from a Trek Slash 9.7 to 9.8

Here I'm looking specifically at the Bontrager Line Elite OCLV carbon wheels. They come on a few different models of bike from Trek, and they're available aftermarket for a very reasonable 900 USD for the pair. Trek doesn't claim they are the second-coming a la WaveCell, but they do claim these budget carbon wheels sport "best-in-class impact strength, durability, and resistance to pinch flats."

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM.JPG

Carbon rims with a two-year guarantee against hacking, smashing, bashing, and crashing (and a lifetime warranty against defects in manufacturing and materials) laced with J-bend spokes into a Bontrager branded hub with 3.3° of engagement.

The Line Elite wheels check-in at 1890 grams for the pair, have J-bend spokes - for the win - and feature Trek's 54-tooth, 108-point, 6-pawl, 3.3° hub setup out-back. The front hub is 'just' a front hub and gets the job done with no fuss. It's all tied to their carbon hoops that feature a massive (4.6mm) hook wall to absorb a beating and a 2-year NQA guarantee against brutal smashage and a lifetime warranty against defects in manufacturing.

I covered a lot more information about the wide (internal width 29mm) and shallow (depth 27mm) in my first look piece on these hoops. The rims themselves are a touch heavier, for the same durability, as Bontrager's higher-end, higher-priced, Line Pro wheels but they share the same hub guts for the obvious win at 900 USD and a small 130-gram penalty. Plus the Line Pro wheels use direct pull spokes, instead of J-bends, so they'd be a non-starter for plenty of folks I know anyways.

It's a Bontrager mountain bike wheel so of course,there are only 28x spokes per wheel. I've never heard a good argument for socially distancing the stainless steel wires that tie the whole bike together, and would prefer 32x spokes myself, but Trek has been building wheels this way for long enough that it's probably not valid to complain much about my squad of spokes being down four.

Rimposter Syndrome

I'm confident in my ability to trash an aluminum rim. I haven't owned a wheel, pre-inserts, that didn't have a few dents pulled out of it, so it would still air up tubeless. Even running fairly high air pressure, even trying not to ride like a hack, even though my wheels are generally on the ground, said damage was inevitable.

Running heavier-duty rubber, or more air pressure, lessens the number and gravity of the dentification I experience but I've only found two ways to eliminate it. One is running CushCore inserts, front and rear, in my aluminum rims and the other option is switching to carbon.

I really like the damped ride quality of CushCore, especially on my hardtail, but for folks who don't, or more commonly, don't like the extra rolling weight and unsprung mass, high-quality carbon rims are the only solution. For someone who is relatively hard on wheels and isn't going to run inserts, a set of carbon rims (even more expensive carbon rims than I'm looking at here) could certainly pay for themselves over time just in the cost of replacement rims and wheel builds.

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

The huge 4.6mm hook wall is designed to absorb impacts and prevent the tire from folding over and burping or pinching. Bontrager claims these rims are "best-in-class impact strength, durability, and resistance to pinch flats."

It's this scenario where I start to feel a tinge of imposter syndrome when I'm testing wheels. Aside from my first pair of ENVE hoops, where the rear detonated spectacularly on the back of my XC-bike, I haven't had a carbon rim fail. These are scratched and worn-looking but the rims themselves just keep on rolling down the trail straight-and-true. I've run XC and DH tires on them, predominantly on my 6" full suspension bike but also on my single speed, and I've had low enough air pressure to ding the rims a fair few times. I recently put a spoke wrench on them and the rear was happy for a couple of small part-turns. This was very minor for how long I've been on the wheels, even compared to my own aluminum wheels with inserts, which have required much more maintenance.

When I previously tested Reynolds' Blacklabel carbon rims, I rode my bike down Ned's - a trail that's notorious for eating rims - purposely choosing bad lines enough times that my, fairly fresh-looking, tires were bleeding sealant out the sidewalls and the wheels were still good-to-go. I'm confident I would have written off an aluminum rim, doing the same bad riding and I think I can say the same about the Line Elite rims here.

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (6).JPG

I would love to spend a day smashing things in Bontrager's rim testing facility. The eRIMinator v. random bike parts could make for a run YouTube channel. Photo: Bontrager

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

When doing the value calculations for your significant other don't forget that the half-a-centimeter Hulk of a hook wall will help save money on tires too!

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (8).JPG

Bontrager has tested enough competitors products that they're confident this is the most durable carbon rim on the market. Photo: Bontrager

While I can't talk first-hand about the durability of the rims versus large drops or DH racer-speeds through rock gardens, I am confident of the amount of abuse I've put into the hub guts themselves. As with the Line Comp wheels I tested previously, the solid engagement of the 2x3-pawl, 54t, drive system works great in delivering a very quick 3.3° engagement. The bearings are easy to access so a higher-quality setup could be installed at the first full hub service, and otherwise, there shouldn't be a lot to say here.

There shouldn't be but, over the last month I have started to get an occasional loud release noise from the rear hub. There's no resistance felt at all through my pedals, it's simply audible. I've taken the hub apart and inspected the pawls and drive ring and I don't see any wear or damage. I've ridden it on two bikes with three different drivetrain setups and it's been the same in all cases. It is not an issue I experienced with the Line Comp wheels.

I reached out to a couple of Trek-Bontrager dealers I know well and they told me they've seen more hub warranty requests this year than last, per units sold, and that if it becomes more than a once-every-few-rides sound or if the hub actually starts sticking, then that's something that would absolutely be covered under warranty. These fellows are headed back into NSMB.com's carbon-wheel test pool so I'm certain we'll have an opportunity for a future update if anything does come of the noise in the future.

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

The Line Elite wheels use the same 6-pawl, 54t for 3.3° engagement hub guts as Bontrager's other wheels - both less and more expensive.

That F'ING Rim Strip

I'm just going to take the lazy route and quote myself here before I talk about what has changed:

"In general, my experience with Bontrager's rubber rim strip has been good but I know more than a few experienced bike-wrenchers that have tossed them and I have also had a singular experience that almost resulted in tire (and rim) fire. It's a double-edged sword as the rim strip absolutely aids with tubeless inflation when it's not helping the neighbourhood kids learn an exciting new arrangement of curse words.

The worst part is that there seem to be two categories of riders. Either they've never had a problem and these rim strips are endlessly awesome or there's an abject refusal to work on bikes with Bontrager rims because one of these strips may be involved. I left them in for this round and have already had the tires on and off a few times with no issues."

It turns out that I've never really had an issue with the rubber Bontrager rim strips using their own tires - SE4, XR4, G5. But I ended up mangling a nearly-new non-Bontrager DH-tire during this round of testing, simply because I wanted to swap it to another wheel. I suddenly joined the club of folks that have a simmering hatred for Bontrager's rubber rim strips, and it's a club that where membership is hard f***ing earned let me tell you.

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

From this day forward these Bontrager rubber rim strips are straight in the can for me. Haven't had a bad experience with them yourself? I truly hope you can ride ever onwards in blissful ignorance - I'm jealous.

After trying every single other trick I could think of, after wailing away with a hammer and CushCore BeadDropper trying to break the bead of the tire away from the rim strip, I had to get positively medieval and ended up writing off a $100 tire in the process. I can barely imagine what I would have done if there had also been any kind of insert inside the tire.

If you buy a set of these wheels, aftermarket or with your bike, I'd recommend pulling the rubber rim strips and replacing them with tape - Stan's, Gorilla, etc - right away. It's that or potentially rueing the day spending way too much time getting a tire off, hopefully without damaging the tire. Or, for those who aren't super-handy with bikes, getting in the queue at the local bike shop for an overworked mechanic to charge you a project rate to remove a tire. I don't know about other locales, but things are already really picking up on the North Shore. In peak season that could mean missing more than a few rides because of an inane rubber strip.

If And Then

I think the best argument for the most durable carbon rims out there is for those who don't love the extra rolling weight and ride damping that most volume-heavy inserts bring. Combined with even heavy DH tires, the Line Elite is faster uphill, and lighter weight, than a CushCore setup for the equivalent application.

There's also that great upfront argument that the large hook wall will save money in the long run. In addition to making the Line carbon rims very durable themselves, the big smooth bead should also protect tires. At 900 USD for the wheelset and looking at the price of tires these days I think that's an increasingly magnificent reason to go carbon.

Banshee Titan NSMB Deniz Amajor (3).jpg

What's in a centimeter? I find in the long wheelbase model I ping the tires off more rocks and drop them off more skinnies than I did previously. Photo: Deniz

Banshee Titan NSMB DenizM (7).jpg

The Line Elite wheels are sleepers. You have to get very close to realize there's something going on besides the typical black-on-black OE hubs. Photo: Deniz

I'm a bit disappointed that Bontrager doesn't sell the Line Comp carbon rims on their own. Even if it was just in the 28h pattern, it would be nice to be able to lace the rims up to other hubs whether it's bombproof Chris Kings or instant engaging Industry Nine Hydra. That's not to say that the stock Bontrager hubs haven't been excellent for me, they have. It's just that a rear hub is the one place on my bike I'll always drop more coin to maximize performance and reliability, and, if I'm being honest, bling factor. I'm also untrendy enough to wish that Bontrager did an i35 rim option instead of just the i29, though I've run tires up to 2.6" with no complaints about their profile.

The ride quality is as good as any other carbon wheels that I've spent hours on and the 3.3° is more than fast enough for the vast majority of riders. 900 USD is very reasonable for a pair of good carbon wheels. The fact that they're guaranteed durable for two years after purchase, warrantied for life against defects, and available with all three hub driver standards, just adds to the value.* I don't notice any large stiffness gains compared to my own handbuilt, aluminum-rimmed, hoops, which is actually a validation.

*shipping with XD but HG and MS can be ordered

If I wasn't running inserts in my personal rims, I would be running carbon wheels. If I was running carbon wheels I think the Line Elite wheels make a very strong argument for me to choose them.

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Comments

jaydubmah
+1 Pete Roggeman
jaydubmah  - Feb. 7, 2021, 10:20 p.m.

That's an informative and eye-opening review Andrew - especially about the ridiculousness of the rim strip. Did you have the cut the tire off with shears? 

Jeez - Life is stressful enough with COVID and keeping everything else on the rails - I would LOSE MY MIND dealing with that shit.  

We Are One's are still the best for me. No goofy rim strips, made in Canada, lifetime warranty, top-notch service and a beautiful finished product.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 12:34 a.m.

I mean, it is just a rim strip - easily removed and replaced with tape. But yeah, I certainly would pull them, or at least recommend pulling them, out of any Trektrager wheelset I was working on.

Reply

muldman
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
muldman  - Feb. 11, 2021, 1:30 p.m.

I had a WR1 Agent wheelset, and used Gorilla tape as the rim strip. I had a Minion DHF Exo+ absolutely weld itself to the rim/tape combo (using Stan's) and it took me a good 3 hours to get the tire off the rim. I should have just cut it off, because I had bleeding and sore fingernails for a week and the tire was trash in the end.

I don't think Bontranger is the only rim that sees this problem!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - Feb. 12, 2021, 8:34 p.m.

I mean, I’ve wrestled with plenty of awful combos - including DH tires and inserts - and I’d say working in shops I’ve changed a lot more rubber (including rubber folks couldn’t remove themselves) and nothing I’ve experienced was comparable to the experience I had with this rim strip when it refused to cooperate.

I’d never had an issue before - but had heard stories - and it ended up being an ordeal.

Easy enough to tape instead.

Reply

denomerdano
+5 Andrew Major Kos mrbrett Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman
Deniz Merdano  - Feb. 7, 2021, 10:27 p.m.

The trick for a few of us hub destroyers have been dumonde tech freehub oil and/or mineral oil on those pawls. 

Clean that southern weather, red blooded thick goop out of there and get some Pacific Northwest winter loving millennial avocado oil in there. That does the trick..

Excellent observations all around..

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Chad K Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 12:33 a.m.

Yeah, I've been running Dumonde Tech Freehub Oil in there since day zero.

Only the Best Of Lubes around here.

Reply

kos
0
Kos  - Feb. 8, 2021, 6:23 a.m.

I was going to say your freehub grease is too thick, but you're there already with the DM Tech.

Generally, as POE goes up, depth of engagement goes down, so that may have something to do with it. I've had no such trouble with my Bonty hubs, but have had them with high POE DT Swiss star ratchets, and NEVER with the old 18 point stars.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:01 a.m.

These are the 6-pawl v. 54t hubs not the DT 54t star ratchet hubs.

Reply

kos
0
Kos  - Feb. 12, 2021, 6:22 a.m.

Right, got that. Just a comparative example. I trash DT 54t stars in less than a season.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Kos
Andrew Major  - Feb. 12, 2021, 8:31 p.m.

I know of folks who upgraded the the 54t ratchets but carry the 18t ratchets in their packs for trail side swapping!

GladePlayboy
+1 Speedster
Rob Gretchen  - Feb. 8, 2021, 5:57 a.m.

Hey Andrew.... its a well (or relatively well) know fact that the Bontrager rim strip does not play well with some tire inserts such as Cushcore.    We sell these wheels and I ride them personally and yeah, toss them if you are running an insert.   Small detail.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Rob Gretchen Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:05 a.m.

Hi Rob,

I haven’t ever run CushCore - or any insert - in these wheels. Just a mix of Bontrager and WTB rubber. I can only imagine the potential sorrow that the combo of this strip and an insert could deliver.

Until now I’d really only heard the odd horror stories but now that I’ve been bitten I’d never leave one of these strips in a wheel.

Reply

GladePlayboy
+1 Speedster
Rob Gretchen  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:17 a.m.

The strips are fine if you run Bontrager tires.   We don't see many if any issues at our shop.    And they generally work fine with Maxxis tires IME... beyond that I would only be speculating.

Reply

andy-eunson
+2 Speedster Rob Gretchen
Andy Eunson  - Feb. 9, 2021, 8:16 a.m.

I was told that Bontrager high end tires are made by Maxxis so that makes sense. I’ve used both brands on my Line Comp with zero issues. I’ve used Michelin Wild Enduro too and those were also fine. Zero issues with my wheels in two seasons. But I’m light.

Reply

twk
+1 Andrew Major
twk  - Feb. 8, 2021, 9:47 a.m.

I can echo that -- Bonty Rimstrip + WTB Tough casing = a day of swearing getting the damn thing on and then seated evenly after the initial seal

Reply

joseph-crabtree
0
Joseph Crabtree  - Feb. 9, 2021, 11:49 a.m.

WTB spec's their bead diameter on the old UST standard so they are tight on a lot of rims regardless of rim-strip. Mounted on Stan's rim they can reduce the spoke tension to almost zero and I've had to cut one off of a Derby carbon rim.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 9, 2021, 12:37 p.m.

I've yet to have an issue removing a WTB tire from a Stan's, WTB, RaceFace, Velocity, Reynolds, or Bontrager rim other than the issue related to this rim strip. I'd agree they fit a bit tighter than some Maxxis tires I've mounted but not more so than Schwalbe tires for example.

I've used a fair number of WTB tires so I'd say my sample size is solid.

Reply

neologisticzand
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Tjaard Breeuwer
Chad K  - Feb. 8, 2021, 6:37 a.m.

This article spoke to me on a personal level.

Because of the trails I ride (lots of small, often very punchy climbs, with a lot of accelerations/decelerations), I just can't bring myself to using inserts because of the weight... so I've found myself on carbon wheels instead, albeit a different brand. So far I've gotten around 3 years out of my carbon wheels, and hopefully many more to come! I'd definitely say the higher intial cost has turned out to be well worth it for me. 

And a similar tire scenario has happened to me. Couldn't get a Schwalbe tire off the aforementioned rims. Ended up having to cut the actual bead in half and ruin a perfectly good tire. But hey, at least it wasn't a trailside mishap!

Edit: With some level of irony, I do ride cushcore on my gravel bike to avoid blowing up a rim while riding rocky/rooty singletrack sections

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Chad K
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:08 a.m.

That’s the kind of #noboringbikes irony that I love! 

It’s like my single speed buddy who also HAD to ‘upgrade’ his SRAM drivetrain to the new 52t.

-

It just makes sense to me fir around here. No insert, I’d ride  carbon.

Reply

Jotegir
+4 Marc Fenigstein Pete Roggeman Neil Carnegie Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - Feb. 8, 2021, 8:58 a.m.

I'm pretty sure they do actually sell this rim on it's own - but it's marketed as the one above. I'm fairly certain the only difference between the line elite and the line pro carbon wheelsets is the hubs and spokes. Perhaps that's not something that Bontrager wants us to know? I might be wrong.

I also took one look at Bontrager's crash/warranty/damage program and instead of picking up the Lines, I went for the 30mm internal Kovees at substantially less weight. They've held up a year so far (mostly on a trail hardtail) without even needing any spoke tension or anything (carbon wheels, duh) - after many a cased jump and feature. I also went up to the Kovee pro model with the nicer hubs, because bling matters (even though they're still Bontrager). This is my second set of Bonty carbon wheels, all with the nicer hub designs. Once you drop the extra pawls in to bring em' up to the 108 PoE over the 54 they start with, it seems to help spread the forces out enough that they've been extremely reliable for me over several years of use between the couple sets. Funnily enough, I've irreparably grenaded more DT Swiss fancy freehub/hub interfaces over the years than bontrager ones, to the point that I'd take high end DT swiss stuff off a bike if it came with it - and dodging the Kovee XXX if I were so inclined to spend that much. Give me the nice bontragers over the 240s any day!

Sidenote: it probably helps that I consider the Trek warranty department an absolute joy to deal with, both for my rare issue and for customers. This is unlike some other companies/distributor that are like pulling teeth. The only warranty wheel issue that I've had personally with Bontrager is when [Shipping Company Redacted] very clearly drove the truck over my Kovees and delivered them anyway.  Trek rushed up another set and I was on my way.

Credit where credit's due though - Since we're talking carbon wheels, We Are One's "warranty department" locally is also insanely good. Some customers have come back to me and said that they've been helped out with a fresh rim and build on the very same day they destroyed their old one. 

I ended up building my Aurum HSP with vibrocore rims this summer after trashing the standard alloy ones. I was mighty tempted to throw on a set of the cheapest carbon hoops (at least on the back, if you can handle mismatched rims!) I could just to avoid the near daily spoke tensioning sessions (fat boy corner hard? spokes loose daily). Vibrocore seems to be doing a wonderful job so far at a similar kind of dampening. If you don't care as much about weight, I'd seriously keep these guys in the mix too for that sort of issue. I've even taken a couple hard rim hits to the back and they don't show it. I'm looking forward to seeing how they hold up over an entire park season this summer.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Lu Kz
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 9:12 a.m.

As per Bontrager, the Line Pro rims use a higher end carbon to achieve the same strength with a lighter weight.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Lu Kz twk
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 12:52 p.m.

All these Bontrager pawl hubs use identical guts, which is where a wheelset like the aluminum Line Comp for 300 USD really has some value over what comes on similarly priced bikes.

Some, like those Line Comps, ship with 3x pawls and you can add +3x pawls / these wheels I tested ship stock with the 6x pawls. The only thing that changes between the different wheels is the amount of machining and finish on the hubs and then of course some of them use direct pull spokes instead of J-bend - which, as far as I'm concerned, is paying more money for a downgrade. 

Good to know re. the Bontrager warranty department. I haven't had any personal experience with them.

Reply

Jotegir
+2 JVP Tjaard Breeuwer
Lu Kz  - Feb. 8, 2021, 3:16 p.m.

I've been selling the 40 dollar upgrade kit on nearly every bike that doesn't come with em' because the difference is great for how little money the upgrade kit is.

When I build for myself, it's J-bend all day every day. But with how reliable my two sets of bonty carbon wheels are, I don't mind moving to straight pull for the weight savings. If I was dicking around with spoke tension constantly like many a alloy rim, I'd be furious. But not with the carbon hoops.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:25 p.m.

Yeah, that upgrade is awesome. Especially getting 3.3* engagement on the bikes that come with Line Comp wheels for $40!

Reply

LWK
+1 Andrew Major
LWK  - Feb. 8, 2021, 9:05 a.m.

I've had the Line wheels on my 2018 and now 2020 Remedy.  First, I had a busted spoke while on vacation last summer and had to take a knife to the tire to get the thing off.  I thought it was just my inexperience so good to know re the rim strips.  It was a Bontrager SE5 tire but thankfully it was basically worn out anyway.

Second, the freehubs are well known for their lack of durability in my riding area/LBS.  I've wrecked two of them now and the LBS moved me over to an Onyx freehub.

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AndrewMajor
+1 LWK
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 12:46 p.m.

When you say the "freehubs" do you mean the driverings or are wearing the pawl seats or the freehub bodies themselves? I know of a couple of folks who've had hubs warrantied due to driver issues but I've had good results myself, using Dumondetech freehub oil, thus far - other than the recent arrival of the sound I noted.

Reply

LWK
0
LWK  - Feb. 8, 2021, 2 p.m.

good questions, I dont know re the precise failure mechanism.  All I know is that in each case after about a season of riding I'd start to get some "slipping" when pedaling and then within a few kms I could spin the cranks forward and nothing happens at the wheel.  LOL.  The shop seems rather familiar with this and simply proceeded directly with warranty.  

And yes, Trek does seem pretty good on the warranty end of things.  Aside from the time required, its a pretty much "no questions asked" sort of thing.  However, my shop is excellent and I suspect that plays a role too.

Reply

Kenny
+1 LWK
Kenny  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:25 p.m.

Yep, this is what I posted below and happened to me recently. The drive ring separates from the shell and simply spins inside.

Reply

cedrico
+2 Timer Tjaard Breeuwer
cedrico  - Feb. 8, 2021, 12:32 p.m.

"Combined with even heavy DH tires, the Line Elite is faster uphill, and lighter weight, than a CushCore setup for the equivalent application."

But if I understand correctly, the Cushcore setup with lighter casing tires would have lower rolling resistance, because heavy casing tires create drag from the heavy casing being more resistant to deforming. Also, the Cushcore setup might produce more grip on rough trails because the lighter casing tire conforms better to the rough stuff. Considering the lower rolling resistance of the hypothetical Cushcore setup, can you confidently say that the carbon rim plus heavy tire combo is faster uphill? I'm not sold on the idea that heavy tires are a comparable alternative to Cushcore.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 12:47 p.m.

I've heard solid arguments both ways and I guess it really depends on how much lighter of a tire you can personally get away with by running an insert. I don't cheat that much relative to my non-insert setup - certainly much less than other folks I know and I've ridden these back-to-back with my own wheels in which I always run inserts.

Reply

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - Feb. 8, 2021, 3:10 p.m.

My personal experience is 3 broken carbon rims in three months (lifetime warranties ftw) without inserts, and none for over a year with inserts. Better be pretty xc with carbon rims and no inserts, or smoove, or you'll be spending a decent amount of coin on shipping and getting wheels relaced.

Reply

Kenny
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Kenny  - Feb. 8, 2021, 6:58 p.m.

After killing the rims on my line comps with 108t upgrade I replaced them to some xm481s

After about 10 or 15 rides the drive ring detached itself from the hub shell, it literary started spinning inside the hub. 

I suppose maybe I had higher spoke tension than the hub was designed for and it literally expanded the hub away from the drive ring. I also suppose the straight pull hubs are more resistant to this. 

At any rate, rational or not, this experience make me distrust Bontrager hubs a little, and distrust any design with a drive ring that's pressed/bonded to the shell, it seems inherently compromised. 

I feel like DT and King reliability is partly thanks to avoiding this. 

I ended up buying some turbine R's because I think the inverted design of the vault avoids this potential compromise as well but with more POE.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:29 p.m.

I love the inverted design of the Vault / Turbine R hub. Even with super-high end pawl hubs like the I9 Hydra that have no drivering issues I’ve heard of, the inverted design would make maintenance 100% user possible when right now if you did wear out a drivering the hub would have to go to I9.

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babyzhendo
+1 Andrew Major
babyzhendo  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:01 p.m.

Do you really think there's less case to be made for inserts on carbon rims? I've always run inserts not because of aluminum rim fragility, but because they've let me get away with running Exo+ tires and not getting flats. I ask because I just picked up some Nobl wheels, but was on the fence about inserts and ended up deciding to try Tannus.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 8, 2021, 7:33 p.m.

To each their own certainly. In my case the inserts I run basically cancel the types of rim damage I do to aluminum hoops that i don’t do to carbon (dents & flat-spots) and weigh enough that equivalent usage carbon v. aluminum rims I can’t justify the cost of the carbon to shave a few grams and see no other advantage for a solid investment for good rims.

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morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - Feb. 9, 2021, 10:26 a.m.

I think it really depends on how rocky the trails are and your style. Like I said above, I destroyed three carbon rims in 3 months until I added inserts.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 9, 2021, 12:34 p.m.

In the spirit of the review, I guess the starting place is to say that not all carbon rims are created equally so if they weren't 3x Bontrager Line carbon rims the comment is only semi-relevant.

That said if they were 3x Bontrager Line carbon rims, or 3x WeAreOne rims, or 3x some other premium + strong carbon rim I still stand by my point, I just come at it from the other direction. If rims don't last for you without running proper inserts, why not just run aluminum rims with said insert? 

If I'm going to run CushCore anyways why go through the extra investment to have carbon hoops when the inserts essentially equalize the only advantages that carbon has over aluminum for a rim application?

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morgan-heater
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Morgan Heater  - Feb. 10, 2021, 9:21 a.m.

Two light bicycle and one WAO.

I totally agree with your inserts+aluminium being the best value.  My bike came with a nice hub, and the added cost for a fancy rim didn't seem too crazy (roughly $300) for life time warranty. I'd read all the reviews about how average riders don't really break carbon wheels anymore, and figured that a zero maintenance rim with a life-time warranty would actually make sense, considering that I was going through an aluminum rim or two every season. What I didn't quite take into account is that a lot of the dings that I could basically ignore in aluminum, would completely destroy a carbon rim without an insert.  

The reduced maintenance is pretty sweet.

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geraldooka
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Michael  - Feb. 12, 2021, 10:52 a.m.

"If I'm going to run CushCore anyways why go through the extra investment to have carbon hoops when the inserts essentially equalize the only advantages that carbon has over aluminum for a rim application?."

Thats because you are the antithesis of weight weennie Andrew. My no name carbon i35 are about 115-130grams lighter per rim than an equivalent decent quality rim like a DT Swiss. So one obvious reason is you get the other benefits of an insert like softer landings (great for HT use) or tire support with overall less weight.

Wheel weight sucks, it particular sucks for those of us on the lower end of the athletic scale. No other single bike part "upgrade" has made my bikes feel more fun to ride that a great lightweight set of wheels especially when combined with the right set of tires. Disclaimer: It goes without saying I hope, that if one is breaking stuff all the time, choose accordingly.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Michael
Andrew Major  - Feb. 12, 2021, 8:42 p.m.

I actually appreciate a really thoughtful gram counting build. Especially for a racing application. I may have laughed (I laughed) but I also always helped out that guy (always a guy) who brought his scale to weigh every Racing Ralph or Ikon to find the free weight savings in fresh rubber. 

I’ve even some lightweight single speeder where I cheated on rotors, sealant, bought Syntace cockpit parts, titanium bolts, etc. 

I still maintain once you’re grinding a 6”+ travel rig up the hill weight is mostly academic. Nice to drop the grams if you have the cash and you’re not sacrificing performance, but there are tonnes of places I’d invest money in said build before worrying about 100-grams a wheel when I’m packing them with inserts.

To each their own of course!

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geraldooka
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Michael  - Feb. 12, 2021, 9:49 p.m.

I admit to trying an Ikon out and pinch flatting both times (sans insert) I don’t have those anymore. But maybe with an insert... rubs delicate weight weenie hands together.. I dig your content dude even if I think your crazy sometimes. ;)

SpencerN
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Spencer Nelson  - Feb. 10, 2021, 7:10 p.m.

I have a set of the Line Pro 30's from 2018... the rim strip is odd. Is it really that much of a pain to re-tape, that Bontrager had to offer it? Because it makes spoke replacement a pain, as well as tire install/removal as you've covered. I've put a few different Maxxis tires on, my impressions: 

  • The strip really eliminates the middle channel to drop the bead into when nearing the crux of install. Really paying attention to tire spoon position and bead lubrication made it barely manageable. I can't imagine how difficult tire replacement would be anywhere outside my garage (ie on a road trip). 
  • Getting a feel for how pliable the strip is (knowing how much you can stretch it when removing) was unnatural and scary. Had to replace a spoke and thought for sure I'd trash it trying to remove it (and yes I re-used it, against Bontrager recommendations). 

Otherwise no complaints on the wheels, they've stayed true, and I really like their feel and engagement.

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irck
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irck  - Feb. 11, 2021, 6:28 a.m.

I’ve got a set of Kovees. The rim strip is definitely one of my favourite things about it. It is definitely difficult to impossible to remove a tyre in a normal fashion (I’d be screwed if I slashed a tyre on a trail) but it’s pretty easy with the right technique. I support the rim over a plastic bin, grasp the tyre on either side and progressively lean until the bead pops. Airing up is insanely easy because of the strip (I’m pretty sure I could use a hand pump). And it’s so nice never having to having to deal with old peeling tape after a few tyre changes.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Feb. 11, 2021, 7:09 a.m.

I’ve removed and installed a fair few tires in my life from current DH tires with CushCore back to old DH tires on Sun Rhyno Lites and all I can say is I hope your experience continues as it has. I didn’t have a problem with the strips (multiple examples) until I did, and when I did there was no magic technique that was going to fix anything.

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MattyB
+1 Andrew Major
MattyB  - Feb. 12, 2021, 7:25 p.m.

Commenting on a couple points made in your article, the rim strips are definitely hit or miss depending on tire brand, I've found that if you are aware of that you can tell by how the tire is going on if you will need to tape it to get material out from under the bead seat. 

Working in a shop setting I've seen drive ring failures in these hubs, its most common in large riders powering up rocky climbs with lots of traction, but I will also state that its a fairly low percentage and the Trek warranty department is amazing to work with to get people rolling as quickly as possible

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Feb. 12, 2021, 8:44 p.m.

Obviously a sample size of one, but that is why I tested the wheel on my single speed as well.

Good to know re. Warranty support!

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