Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM.JPG
RIDE IMPRESSIONS & DETAILS

Bontrager's Outrageously-Priced Line Elite Carbon Wheels

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jun 18, 2020
Reading time

SMASHY SMASHY!

I've never met Bontrager's Graham Wilhelm, who happens to be the mustachioed monarch in charge of their wheel & tire program. I understand that he's ruggedly handsome in a Hemsworth-esque way, smart like Will Hunting, and the absolute best person to green light the 29 x 3" SE5 and SE3 Bontrager tires I've been dreaming about for a couple of years‽

Pandering aside, Bontrager has also shouted out Mr. Wilhelm by name for his involvement in the new carbon wheels of which they are obviously really excited. After the Oprah's Couch moment that was their WaveCel release, it's understandable that the Bontrager Line Elite and Line Pro carbon wheels are receiving more muted marketing but "strongest carbon mountain bike wheels... from any manufacturer*" is a powerful claim. That powerful claim is accompanied by a powerful new tool, a mean-as-f*** looking impact anvil that the folks at Bontrager built to smash their rims and everyone else's.

While smashing rims all day sounds like tremendous fun, the results, even just compared to the past Bontrager carbon rims are impressive. Almost twice the impact strength thanks to a new shape, shallower profile, and a doubled-up hook wall.

*The actual quote adds the cop-out, "...Bontrager has ever tested–not just from Bontrager, but from any manufacturer"

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

The 4.6mm thick hook wall represents a doubling in size and impact strength while a shallower 27mm depth promises to add a bit of compliance to help absorb impacts. Internal rim width is 29mm (i29).

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

The massive hook wall should also help disperse impacts in a way that limits damage. I would still add a rear CushCore insert, for the performance boost, if these were on my hardtail - which is approved by Bontrager.

The carbon rims are mated to the 108 point engagement 6-pawl Bontrager hubs which I've previously had an excellent experience with, and a combination of a lifetime warranty for defects in materials and manufacturing, and a two-year guarantee, called Carbon Care, for defects in rider judgment.

The two-year Carbon Care guarantee makes these wheels Line Elite wheels a real value proposition for a number of riders I know. At 900 USD for a pair with 3.3° hub engagement and 1890 gram/set, you don't have to smash very many aluminum rims to cover the difference in hoops, spokes, and labour.

Also, because I was asked to ask, Bontrager fully approves the use of tire inserts, like CushCore, with these rims. I've been riding them with straight rubber - Bontrager G5 29 x 2.5" tires - on my full suspension bike but on my hardtail I'd still prefer to run CushCore, not out of a concern that I'll break the rims but just for the performance boost out back on my Waltworks.

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (6).JPG

So desperately want to see this thing in action. How is it possible Trek hasn't released a video of the eRIMinator smashing rims?! Photo: Trek-Bontrager

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (8).JPG

And I mean, don't be all meek and smash some debadged black hoops. Let's see some brand logos accompanied by some real data! Photo: T-B

This piece is a combination of a product release, first look, and all mixed with a healthy dose of editorializing so I have a fair amount to unpack here. Suffice it to say that the rims are in for a summer of sh*t kicking before I draw any hard conclusions. As someone who isn't generally into carbon anything I felt it was worth mentioning that my motivation in spending time on these wheels is entirely down to the value proposition of a pair of compliant-enough carbon rims that can be ridden forever without failures.

As good as my previous experience with Trek's 54-tooth, 108-point, 6-pawl, 3.3° ratchet was, my expectation is that these rims will out-survive the hubs they're laced into. In other words, the initial investment and, currently, non-recyclable environmental impact of the rims should both be paid back many times over without considering any performance improvements.

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon Wheels.JPG

Mated to the Mezzer on the front of my Marin, I don't notice an appreciable increase in stiffness over my handbuilt 32-spoke wheels with WTB KOM aluminum rims. That's a good thing in my book.

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon Wheels (2).JPG

Riding aggressively, the rear wheel is stiffer enough that it had me checking the spoke tension on my own hoops (which is fine). I hadn't originally planned to hardtail these wheels but now I'm tempted to try them as a comparison.

Rubber To Rims

My general aversion to carbon is well documented and multi-fold but the newest factor, thanks to Santa Cruz, is that I can't work on anything carbon without singing Boy George. It is a damn good thing that these rims practically inflate the tires themselves because I really can't stop myself singing, but check yourself a moment before getting too excited.

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.

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

The 6-pawl Bontrager hub delivers a very healthy 3.3° engagement using a 6/3 pawl arrangement where 3 pawls are engaged at a time with a 54-tooth driver.

Bontrager Line Comp 30 Wheels

Choice is chief here though, as a rider who prefers a wider engagement range can easily pull out every other pawl (3 total).

The drive system itself is the same as the one in the upgraded Bontrager Line Comp 30 rims I reviewed previously so I haven't done a teardown at this point in the review. My plan is to ride them through what's left of the wet season and then lube them up with my favourite slurry of Dumonde Tech freehub oil & grease.

This is a straight forward 6-pawl system where 3 pawls are engaged at a time to disperse load and deliver rapid engagement. A really nice rear hub is generally one of the first pieces of kit I splurge on when min-maxing any build but in this case I have a lot of hours on this drive system on both geared and single-speed bikes, so I'm feeling confident that despite not being Chris King or DT Swiss, or the Industry Nine hubs coming as spec on a lot of carbon hoops, that these will hold up to another round.

Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM.JPG

The Bontrager G5 tire pattern has been around a long time but this is my first experience with it. Very happy with the performance in Shore slop especially at the price compared to other high-end rubber.

Bontrager G5 NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG

They are a true 2-ply DH tire with a wire bead so I did receive some queries about whether they'd be good to set up tubeless. Absolutely zero issues mated to the Line rims. The beads jumped into place and I've had no abnormal leakage of air or fluids.

The 'Downgrades'

I'm going to be mean for a second. George, you can skip this part. You see, Bontrager is also releasing some higher-end Line Pro Carbon wheels today and I can't wrap my head around them. According to Bontrager both the Pro and Elite carbon rims are identical in terms of impact strength. Both wheels use the same guts in terms of the hub drivers and bearings. They even look almost identical when mounted on a bike and share the same rim profile and i29 width. But, for the privilege of riding the Pro wheels, I have to pay an additional 400 USD.

  • At 900 USD, v 1300 USD, the Line Elite wheels have a few notable downgrades. First, they have J-Bend spokes instead of straight-pull. Wait, I'm thinking the same thing. That's not a downgrade at all.
  • The Elite wheels I'm testing also weigh an extra 130 grams for the pair. This is a combination of the carbon being used in the rims to achieve the same strength and also the larger flanges on the less-finished looking J-bend hubs. For anyone not following along at home that's about 3 USD per gram saved.
Bontrager Line Elite Carbon NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

At 1890 grams for the set, these Line Elite carbon wheels outweigh the Line Pro by 130 grams (at 3 USD per gram) and come with J-Bend spokes! At 900 USD per pair, the value potential is very high for the routine wheel smasher.

The only other 'downgrade' that I wish Bontrager had added to the Line Elite wheels is to make them 32h. I know I'm always giving Trek a hard time about things like Boost, and Tapered head tubes, and Trunnion Mount, and so on, but I don't think I'll ever understand why they started marching to the 28-spoke drum and why it keeps in step. If anything, going from 26" to 29" wheels, I've always wondered why 36h never made a comeback.

It's not that I think the Line Elite wheels need any kind of stiffness boost, thus far they're a perfect compliment to my Alpine Trail frame and 180mm Manitou Mezzer fork. But I've broken plenty of spokes in my riding career and any number subtracted from 32 spokes is going to 4 spokes bigger than the same number subtracted from 28 spokes. Now, maybe the rim has enough structure that it doesn't matter? I've been riding like a total goon lately so I'll, of course, report back if I find out.

Rims To Trail

My past carbon rim experiences have been mixed but my best experience to date was with a set of 29" Reynold's Blacklabel wheels I tested three years back. I regularly rode my hardtail down Ned's Atomic Rock Bin with carelessly less air pressure than I would ever put in wheels that I paid for and yet they never winced even after my fresh-looking Schwalbe tires spewed cups of sealant out the sidewalls. I definitely would have written off multiple aluminum rims behaving in the same way - and they opened my mind to the possibility that carbon rims, under some riders, could be a significant investment in future cost savings when it comes to rims, spokes, nipples, and labour required to build replacement wheels.

Bontrager takes that to another level with the Line Elite with a significantly lower initial purchase price, bold claims about rim durability, and a really decent rear hub all attached via J-Bend spokes, and that's a beautiful thing. As to those bold claims, there are going to be tonnes of these wheels showing up on high end 2021 Treks, so real world feedback will be legion.

Overfork NSMB AndrewM.JPG

I've been riding like an over-forked goon lately. Whether it's the COVID-19 (that is the nineteen pounds I've gained during COVID), skill regression or too much coffee I don't know.

Overfork NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

Either way, I've bottomed the rear wheel enough times, even with the DH casing, that I've added a bit of air. So far everything is straight and true and looking tough, but you don't necessarily know with carbon.

In the meantime, I completely accept that when it comes to mountain biking sometimes there is better living through carbon fibre. Rims aren't the first place I'd invest my hard-won scratch on bicycle upgrades, but if it's time for new hoops, they're worth a visit to your preferred Trek dealer to have a look. They may even have a set you can demo off of a test bike.

I'll report back when I have enough hours to call this a worthy test. In the meantime, the Bontrager Line Elite carbon wheels are 1890 grams for a 29" set, 1820 grams for a 27" set, cost 900 USD, carry a lifetime warranty against defects, and they'll replace the hoops within the first two years no questions asked. There's more information at Bontrager.

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Comments

Shoreloamer
-1 Esteban bingobus IslandLife Lu Kz MattyB
Greg Bly  - June 18, 2020, 8:05 a.m.

Half the price . Twice the strength. I'm really tired of the sensational claims and crazy prices. All of a sudden carbon fiber wheels dropped to half price? There are a lot of suckers lured by the wonder material carbon fiber. Paying a huge markup for the priveledge. 

I really like Bontrager tires SE4 is a treat! I have an aluminum Bontrager wheelset. Works great! 

Bontrager does have mass purchasing power. All the same I'm guessing these rims cost 50$ out of the factory if you buy 500 rims and 100$ each if you buy less. 

This proves the mark up on carbon fiber parts is stupid expensive.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+9 DarioD IslandLife Vik Banerjee Tremeer023 Mammal Pete Roggeman Lu Kz toddball MattyB
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 9 a.m.

I think the most extensive behind the scenes looks on carbon wheel manufacturing are probably the pieces that have been done about We Are One and I think when you factor in design, testing, manufacturing moulds, manufacturing rims, customer service, warranty, etc, never mind building in a bit of margin so shops can keep the lights on that, whether you can justify the cost for your own usage or not, it’s unfair to flippantly throw out something like “I’d guess these rims cost $50 to make and therefore the mark up on carbon is huge.”

Anyways, aluminum wheels are great and, as you note, Bontrager has some great value products but I specifically addressed the value case here in terms of riders smashing aluminum rims v. carbon rims with two-year free replacement v. Bontrager’s durability claims which should result in rims that significantly outlast the equivalent aluminum rim which could save money for some riders.

For example, again based on durability claims, previously these would have saved me money on my hardtail v. running aluminum. Now with CushCore that isn’t the case. It all comes down to individual needs.

Reply

nouseforaname
+1 Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - June 19, 2020, 10:23 a.m.

I have gone through 4 rims in the past two seasons and a bit, have a fresh rim on the back wheel right now. While that wheelset is still fresh, I'll be selling it, and have a pair of these arriving Wednesday. It's a no brainer. If they offered an alloy wheelset with a 2 year no questions asked policy, that might be different, but for now, the idea of Treks backup for 2 years sounds like a dream.

Reply

shoreboy
+1 Andrew Major
Shoreboy  - June 18, 2020, 8:27 a.m.

For that same ~$900 ill take my CK hubs on Stan's Flow MK3 any day of the week. The set will be lighter than these as well.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Shoreboy
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 9:03 a.m.

Value certainly comes down to individual needs. 

I’m interested in exploring the idea of riding these wheels until the rear hub wears out and replacing it with a King.

Certainly for folks that aren’t drawn to carbon and don’t smash rims (or run CushCore) there is a strong value proposition to going with nice aluminum rims and a really nice rear hub.

Reply

shoreboy
+1 Dan
Shoreboy  - June 18, 2020, 9:26 a.m.

You've got some 28H CK hubs you can put on there?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 11:33 a.m.

As a total down the road aside, I do have an older King hub laced into a road hoop that I’ve been thinking of updating to Boost.

I’d need a driver, axle, and of course the hubshell. 

I don’t have a matching front, and would be getting a new hubshell anyways so, my preference for 32h aside,  if these wheels are still kicking around NSMB it’s kind of a no brainer?

Reply

dan
+1 Andrew Major
Dan  - June 19, 2020, 11:02 a.m.

Yeesh that sounds like a spendy update to bring that hub back to active duty. :(

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 11:40 a.m.

Not really when I consider how old it is, initial investment, and the miles on (and yet to go on it). It’s one of those ‘amortize your life’ things that King bearings and hub guts really reflect well.

nouseforaname
+1 Andy Eunson
Nouseforaname  - June 19, 2020, 11 a.m.

Can you actually BUY a set of king hubs through a LBS at SRP for $900? Even Jenson is $625+ tax for just the rear. With paying a shop to do the build, and DB spokes you're well over that $900 figure. I would argue that you're comparing two different price points, and that King/Flow wheelset is more like a $1400-1600 build. And will still have a big dent in it after the first couple of months use.

Reply

shoreboy
0 bingobus ChocolateThunder
Shoreboy  - June 19, 2020, 11:13 a.m.

I think you are converting to CDN, while the article is being written in USD. Using Jenson as your source:

Rear hub = ~$460US (microspline or HG cuz Shimano rules)

Front hub = ~$181US (on sale right now!)

Stans Flow = $100US x 2

Spokes = Lets say $1 each? Nipples $0.20 each? = ~$80

Total = $921

Granted this doesnt include the build, but I would be doing that myself.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 ChocolateThunder
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 11:44 a.m.

King sells them built in house for $1060 USD. Manufacturer to manufacturer so that’s probably the closest apples-to-apples comparison you get. 

Reply

nouseforaname
+1 Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - June 19, 2020, 12:04 p.m.

Yes, I misread and thought these carbon wheels were $900CAD not USD.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+9 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee Andy Eunson Mammal Dan Andrew Collins Lu Kz Velocipedestrian goose8
AJ Barlas  - June 18, 2020, 11:27 a.m.

"First, they have J-Bend spokes instead of straight-pull. Wait, I'm thinking the same thing. That's not a downgrade at all." (Clapping) Thank you, sir.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+6 AJ Barlas Vik Banerjee Andy Eunson Mammal Dan Velocipedestrian
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 1:45 p.m.

Has to be said! Again, and again, all the times.

Reply

tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - June 18, 2020, 10:24 p.m.

Yup, nailed it entirely.  The reason I'm on cheap chinese (LB) turds is because at the time, that's the only way I could get a 32h j-bend setup on carbon under $1500.  Even rims I expected to be write-offs, in that configuration they're surviving tons of abuse on my hardtail, it's great.  Granted, 110kg (post-COVID) means I'm an odd duck there, but to me the ultimate answer in weight/strength/performance is running 32x aero spokes.

Reply

Endur-Bro
+1 Andrew Major
Endur-Bro  - June 19, 2020, 10:37 a.m.

I’ve literally cases every jump at WBP on a set of LB 33mm 26ers with the HD layup. Key was brass nipples and DB spokes. 

Plus the pair of LB 29er rims with a similar configuration.

Reply

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - June 19, 2020, 10:49 a.m.

Yeah, running DH layup rear and EN front seems to be working for me in that precise setup.  That spoke/nipple setup is unquestionably the right answer (at least for my heavy untalented self).  I can see why somebody building whole wheelsets is going to be unavoidably drawn to the swan song of cool looking and slightly lower BNIB weights of 28H straight pull setups, but those aren't the ticket for wheels that last through seasons of use and abuse.
For all my arguing below about environmental impacts of products we pedal around, being on season 4 of utterly smashing on my LB38's and LB35's with little maintenance has got to be better than churning through most any other option.

Reply

Ceecee
0
Ceecee  - June 18, 2020, 11:42 a.m.

That doesn't look like the Alpine Trail seat tube currently shown on Marin's website. What gives?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Ceecee
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 1:07 p.m.

I had a look v. website and I don’t see what you’re seeing. There is often a little variation between sizes but they are welded the same (Above main pivot, upper linkage mount, top tube, and mast). Can you be more specific?

This frame is a production unit (tore down a complete bike).

Reply

Ceecee
+1 Andrew Major
Ceecee  - June 18, 2020, 4:58 p.m.

Front of tube profile next to coil is flat and broad compared to rounder profile shown elsewhere. Maybe it's just the low, close camera position and a size XL tube. You must like it--been on test for a while.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Ceecee Tehllama42
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 5:27 p.m.

It’s actually not a test bike/frame, it’s my personal mule that I use as a familiar platform for testing different products.

It’s been a great platform. Forced to split hairs I think my personal riding style is better suited to my Rift Zone I had previously (less rear travel; still over-forked) but the Alpine Trail has plenty of AS so it pedals great even with the coil shock open and it is also a better platform for the tires, forks, long travel droppers etc. that I regularly test. It’s also great for smashing wheels!

Reply

tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - June 18, 2020, 10:25 p.m.

I love this so much - do we get to see an article at some point about your Rift Zone to the point where you show how much 'room to grow' is really on offer on that one, if you want to min/max it, or just outright full-max it?  That's the kind of NSMB epic content that keeps us coming back.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 2:54 a.m.

My Rifty has been re-homed but I even single speeded it at one point so would have been interesting to write it up. We don’t generally review our own bikes (my Walt or AJ’s Geometron being rare exceptions) but I’m always happy to talk about them.

Certainly still min-maxed with parts like the Afterburner cranks (they just look expensive), Wolftooth stainless ring (up front cost but lasts and lasts), PNW Rainier Dropper, G5 tires...

Even the carbon wheels, on paper, could be considered min-maxed.

andy-eunson
+1 Andrew Major
Andy Eunson  - June 18, 2020, 4:10 p.m.

I’ve been very happy with the Line Pro wheels that came on my Remedy. I’m not that hard on wheels though. People are swayed by emotion. Carbon is cool so they justify the expense. Or aluminum is cheaper and durable enough so that makes me smart and therefore cool. If a carbon rim lasts a lot longer than aluminum than it may be a better choice. I read about people going through Cane Creek 40 headset bearings. People often recommend Chris King but you can buy a lot of CC 40 bearings for the cost of one CK headset.

Reply

T-mack
+4 Andrew Major Endur-Bro Dan 4Runner1
T-mack  - June 18, 2020, 4:19 p.m.

Yeah but you'll have a a bunch of shitty headsets for the same price as a CK. As I get older I'm finding I like to pay the premium up front and not worry about it anymore.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Andy Eunson luisgutierod
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 5:30 p.m.

Can always buy a 110 bearing and pop it into the 40 headset cups. 

They don’t have King life either but they outlive a 40 bearing by enough to make them a solid upgrade value.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Andy Eunson mrbrett Dan
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 5:33 p.m.

Counter point. My King headsets have all been punched out of so many frames that I only remove/install them outside after midnight in the dark under the light of a full moon so that I can be 100% sure no one will see me. I have no doubt my daughter will inherit my King hubs but I’ll have the headsets cremated with me so the brutal evidence will remain a secret.

Reply

Endur-Bro
+2 Andrew Major Dan
Endur-Bro  - June 19, 2020, 10:40 a.m.

I’ve had the CC110 in my hardtail for close to a decade now. No issues what so ever. 

I really like the Hope Split crown race included with my G16. Makes fork swaps a breeze.

Reply

T-mack
+1 Andrew Major
T-mack  - June 20, 2020, 11:07 a.m.

I always cut a slit in whatever headset I get for this exact reason. I've even done it to a King one lol

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 20, 2020, 3:28 p.m.

Yep, me too.

esteban
-7 mrbrett Andrew Major Mammal Nouseforaname Lu Kz MattyB Alex D
Esteban  - June 18, 2020, 9:18 p.m.

> my expectation is that these rims will out-survive the hubs they're laced into

I've heard of other rims outlasting their hubs. Almost every other cheap aluminum rim. Were carbon rims disposable until now?

Apparently, the author is clueless of the environmental cost of making anything out of carbon (read Carbon Ideologies for a starter course).

> increase in stiffness over my handbuilt 32-spoke wheels

Are there machines to assemble spokes in wheels? I thought all wheels were "handbuilt" (which is really just a fancy way to say "some assembly required", I mean, you don't "build" anything, you just assemble it).

Reply

AndrewMajor
+4 lewis collins Mammal Andy Eunson Dan Velocipedestrian 4Runner1
Andrew Major  - June 18, 2020, 9:52 p.m.

The vast, vast majority of bicycle wheels are machine built and have been for a couple decades.

This includes high end wheels. For a prominent example, watch the Santa Cruz Carbon Chameleon video linked above.

‘Hand built’ has been the accepted terminology for a wheel that is “assembled” from individual components for at least the twenty years I’ve worked in the bike industry.

Mining has an environmental cost as well. Are you riding bamboo rims? My point was that the environmental impact of a carbon rim is reduced the longer it’s in use. Yes, an aluminum rim can be recycled but how many aluminum rims = the impact of one carbon rim?

I’ve dropped hundreds of complete wheels off at the recycling depot in my time working on bikes because the hubs were blown and the rims weren’t worth building into a fresh wheel. Personally, I can’t think of the last time I blew up a hub and the rim was in such a condition that I’d consider using it for a fresh build.

Please check your tone. It’s unnecessary.

Reply

esteban
-2 4Runner1 Nouseforaname Mammal MattyB
Esteban  - June 18, 2020, 11:07 p.m.

It's obvious new rims are machine built, I should've been clearer and specify I meant if you buy new rims, then you have to assemble them by hand always, so to call them handbuilt is a bit rhetorical.

Now I know that's the usual term. You learn something new almost everyday. Down here we just assemble them and that's that, nothing special to it.

Me riding bamboo rims has nothing to do with your... err... apparent lack of knowledge (notice I used that verb twice now, I'm not assuming anything, it's just apparent from what you write) about the environmental impact of making anything out of carbon (or aluminum, or steel!) (which is evidentiated by your belief that the longer you run a carbon rim, the lower its environmental impact: it's not, it truly doesn't work that way even though most people actually think it does). Why should it? I'm not the one writing this articles and stating those things. It's a fallacy, hence the book I mentioned.

I see; I asume what you mean by "the rims weren't worth building into a fresh wheel" is that rims are cheap and it's so much easier to just buy one full set than to hand build the old one?
If that's so, it may be because of where you live, certainly in the third world things are different. And of course there's personal experience too, I can only speak from myself and the riders I know (as opposed to you as a mechanic I'm guessing, hundreds of rims?), but the hubs we've destroyed were by just sheer riding, not by drops or big jumps, so the rims are intact and for us is much cheaper to assemble them into new hubs.

What's with my tone? English is not my native language, so that's perhaps a factor. I've read what I wrote again and I don't find anything wrong with my tone —which of course is very hard to infer from just a couple of paragraphs. Nonetheless I thank your advice and offer some too, at the same time I'm watching my tone, you should not think that someone saying you don't know about a subject is an attack on your person. Nobody knows everything, and the slightest "research" can usually prove what we believe is wrong.

Thanks for the clarification.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Mammal Nouseforaname Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 2:34 a.m.

Rims not in a condition to be worth building into a new wheel because they are too dented, flattened, cracked, etc. From mountain biking.

-

Also, rims that I’m going to buy anyways (probably in aluminum personally but I consider a bunch of factors) because, while I make decisions every day to decrease my personal environmental impact, I intend to continue mountain biking. I don’t think anyone disagrees that riding bikes has an environmental impact.

-

Basic math says that at some point the environmental impact of making one carbon rim will be superseded by the cost of making X aluminum rims. I don’t know what X is, or if it’s a reasonable number, but between mining, manufacturing, shipping, and etc a number exists.

I also don’t think the manufacturing of bicycles - any bicycles - is a green activity; however, riding them is a lot greener than most things humans get up to in an average day so I’m pretty self-satisfied in my ignorance, pedaling my bike in the woods and buying replacement parts as I need them.

-

Generally using words like “clueless” and essentially calling a person completely ignorant on a subject is less than polite when you’re trying to educate them on your opinion/ experience/ research/ understanding.

I remember you now from past conversations regarding drivetrains and I think a large part of our misunderstanding may again come down to mountain biking being a very different activity in your experience than mine.

Reply

velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - June 21, 2020, 3:17 p.m.

"I should've been clearer and specify I meant if you buy new rims, then you have to assemble them by hand always, so to call them handbuilt is a bit rhetorical." 

This is one misunderstanding Andrew was trying to clarify. Machine built means laced, trued and tensioned by a machine.

Reply

GladePlayboy
+1 Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - June 19, 2020, 6:07 a.m.

I've had a personal tour of the Bontrager carbon wheel building centre at Trek HQ in Madison Wisconsin.   There are a number of custom built wheel lacing machines doing the brunt of the setup work and then a final lacing/inspection by a master wheel builder.   Its uber impressive.   Our shop manager is currently running a set of the previous gen Line Pros and they have held up better than most carbon rims I have seen from Reynolds, Enve, etc... if the new claims are true then this wheelset is the best value proposition on the market.

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AndrewMajor
+2 Endur-Bro Dan
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 7:51 a.m.

Do you know off the top of your head what level of 2021 bikes come stock with them? As with the aluminum versions a big part of the value proposition is not even the after market price but the price of bikes they come on v. what’s delivered on competitors bikes for the same money. 

I mean Line Comp wheels (+$20 Pawl set to get 108pt) we’re coming on sub 3k bikes.

Did they smash any hoops for you?!

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nouseforaname
+2 Dan Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - June 19, 2020, 10:52 a.m.

AFAIK None of the current bikes come specced with these wheels (yet), but it will probably be the 9.8+ spec level as a solid guess. They're no more expensive than the "Line Carbon" wheels that come on those bikes right now.

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GladePlayboy
+1 Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - June 19, 2020, 9:23 p.m.

Yes.  I would expect the Fuel, Remedy and Slash 9.8 to get this wheel treatment for 2021.

tehllama42
+4 Andrew Major lewis collins 4Runner1 grcgrc
Tehllama42  - June 18, 2020, 10:19 p.m.

We're talking about environmental impact of something that is, at best, rounding error compared to mainline consumer hobby and sport spending... the possibility that these can actually outlast the usage cycles of 6061AL wheels is nothing to scoff at.  
More realistically, if adding a wheelset can revive a bike instead of resulting in purchase of another entire bike, still collectively a better direction.

With low-talent high-mass oafs like me on wheels, I'm definitely above the 3:1 ratio of carbon wheels outlasting aluminum ones.

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esteban
-2 Mammal MattyB
Esteban  - June 18, 2020, 11:17 p.m.

Well, yes. From a personal point of view the impact is irrelevant. But then it all adds up, and to indulge ourselves into the fallacies of recycling and environmental impact, without actually knowing about the subject, is precisely what makes us fall into those fallacies, and what got us where we are as a climate-changing species. Carbon, in the long run, can't outlast aluminum simply because it's really not recyclable. It doesn't matter if your rims last from now until you can't ride anymore, it will stop there (at a higher environmental impact per unit), while Al can become something else. It's actually the opposite, it will outlast aluminum in a useless form (but you understood me).

Can't we just talk about expensive plastic bikes without injecting our poor understanding of energy consumption issues?

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Endur-Bro
+1 Andrew Major
Endur-Bro  - June 19, 2020, 10:46 a.m.

At first I was :( then I read further and I was :) 

Good value for a fantastic plastic wheel set. Be interesting to see what price point these show up on completes compared to Giant. 

I assume they’re a BOOST/BOOST configuration only though...

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tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - June 19, 2020, 10:52 a.m.

Yeah, I feel like this might be the setup that actually puts Trek on a solid footing for complete bike value for my price range of interest.
Fox PE level stuff, good Bonty composite parts, and if they stand in the right open field during a lightning storm to spec proper brakes, and I'll be all about those setups.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Mammal
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 11:57 a.m.

Was having this discussion the other day. Does it really cost bike companies more to spec Codes than Guides with the equivalent features?

Brakes are not a place to save a couple grams and cost me hundreds of dollars down the road.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 11:55 a.m.

It’s Boost/Boost. Can’t blame them for that - suspension companies aren’t even supporting their < five year old non-Boost forks, why would wheel companies?

Especially when you consider every trail bike with a ec34/ec34 headtube (1-1/8”) is rolling slag - except hardtails if you buy a rigid fork - and that kills a lot of the potential aftermarket for non-Boost and then consider who’s investing this much for wheels in an older bike to begin with and the potential market for a production wheel isn’t worth making SKUs for it.

Non-Boost carbon wheels are definitely the realm of the custom wheel builder.

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nouseforaname
0
Nouseforaname  - June 19, 2020, 12:05 p.m.

The only thing I'm PO'd about is not the Boost, it's the lack of end caps for stupid rockshox and their stupid 'Torque Cap' fork lowers.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 12:14 p.m.

Interesting; never even considered looking into that. What does Trek do when they spec a RS fork with their wheels?

*edit: never mind; they spec the non-Torque Cap lowers.

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shoreboy
0
Shoreboy  - June 19, 2020, 12:55 p.m.

The lowers are all the same AFAIK. They say 'torque cap compatible' but will still take a normal hub cap. Apparently wheels are easier to install if you have torque caps, and give a larger mating surface. Ive never had any issue with non-torque cap wheel installs, so Im not sure why they even exist.  Apart from the marketing gimmick of 'stiffness' I would presume.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 4:42 p.m.

Having torque caps on the wheels is definitely nicer when installing on a fork with the big cut outs for them but for how often I remove a front wheel it’s not a big deal.

nouseforaname
0
Nouseforaname  - June 19, 2020, 12:05 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

velocipedestrian
+1 Andrew Major
Velocipedestrian  - June 21, 2020, 3:22 p.m.

This lack of straight steerers still makes me sad. I've read both your old Save us Sram, and recent MeatEngines pieces... But I love playing bike lego, and rebuilding old into fun.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Velocipedestrian
Andrew Major  - June 21, 2020, 9:10 p.m.

Makes me sad too. Even if RockShox had kept building 120-to-160mm Sektor options in 27", that would have covered the vast, vast, majority of the bikes getting scrapped with a good-enough ~$500 1-1/8" option. Cheers for reading my stuff!

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dan
+1 Velocipedestrian
Dan  - June 19, 2020, 1:41 p.m.

Just an 'out there' thought...at what point is 'adding more material to improve durability' eclipsing the benefit(s) of carbon? That is, do these ride appreciably better than alloy like the so-called tuned carbon wheels? Or is it a product that weighs and performs the same as DT's Spline system but priced to allow a dental assistant to get into the plastic game?

I also wonder - does Keith's infamous "Strong, Light, Cheap - Pick Two" adage hold up as well as these wheels? I am surprised it was not referenced in the article. :)

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Brigham_Rupp
+2 Andrew Major sansarret
Brigham_Rupp  - June 19, 2020, 2:37 p.m.

For me it's been pretty simple: since I switched to carbon rims 8 or so years ago, my wheels became something that I pretty much never worry about. Granted, I haven't been on the same set that whole time (sold and purchased a few different sets) but I haven't ruined (or spent time truing) a rim since. I've found them to be far more durable and problem free. Before that, I was replacing alloy rims a couple times a year. Factor in the prevelant lifetime warranties, and if you can get a decent price, it's worth it to me. If they are lighter, that's just a bonus. I also personally like the feel of a carbon wheel, but that could just be in my head or personal preference.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Velocipedestrian
Andrew Major  - June 19, 2020, 4:26 p.m.

Dan, I don't know what to say other than "ugh." So over-utilized! It's almost pandering to put it in a Bontrager review. Besides, I already said all those nice things about Graham so he'll make my tires (that's how it works right?!)

Anyways, they really aren't that cheap (relative an aluminum wheel with the same hub), and they aren't particularly light, so I think if they ride well and prove to be really freakin' strong then we're still on point. It's more like "STRONG, sort of lightish, fairly affordable for an enthusiast - you can have all three."

Also, J-Bend spokes and regular brass nipples. Splined nipples and direct-pull spokes are just a PIA to deal with and aren't doing anything for rim durability.

Lastly, here's the best Keith Bontrager quote of all time:

"If you are a pro, you ride the fastest thing you can get. If you aren’t, then you can ride anything that suits you.”

Those are words to live by.

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zigak
+1 Andrew Major
ZigaK  - June 20, 2020, 2:58 p.m.

Only xd compatible?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 20, 2020, 3:27 p.m.

Good catch!

They’re selling aftermarket with XD drivers but Shimano HG and MS are available as well. I’m running an HG freehub.

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Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - June 21, 2020, 7:37 a.m.

I think that's worth noting as it may eat in to the value of the hubs substantially. The freehubs run approximately $120 CDN, plus another $15 end cap. Maybe at that point We Are One or whoever comes out ahead. You'd think Trek is planning on selling enough of these to justify at least offering them with 1. no freehub option so you can order end cap and freehub a la carte or 2. more options because they're going to have hundreds and hundreds of these wheelsets across their three North American warehouses. 

Personally I don't mind because I'm running an XD driver on 2 of my 3 shimano setups, but it'd be nice to give people the choice without having them drop a non-trivial amount of extra cash.

Do these come with all 6 pawls installed already? If so, FINALLY. I have a set of line pro 40's on my silly hardtail and that wheelset was quite a bit more money and I had to shell out to fill the freehub in.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 21, 2020, 9:06 p.m.

The counter-argument is that, although it may change for 2021, the Trek bikes that come stock with these wheels are SRAM models using the XD driver. The significant majority of these wheels that are sold will be coming on complete bikes so from a SKU management perspective it's probably just a case of limited HG and MS demand at this time. 

HG will be almost non-existent and MS growth will depend on how 12spd SLX and XT holds up.

Yes, these come with all 6 pawls installed. I thought it was just the more basic comp wheels that only came with 3 pawls.

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nouseforaname
+1 Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - June 24, 2020, 8:55 a.m.

Hey Andrew,  these came with 3 pawls installed. Weight with rim strips (no valve) was 1990g. About 100g more than the alloy Line Elites the replaced.

Edit: I know at my LBS there is an ever growing collection of FH bodies there for the asking, and much like changing parts out on new bikes I think this is an area where asking would probably get you the FH you want included with the wheels.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 24, 2020, 9:11 a.m.

Very strange re. 3 pawls v. 6 pawls. Mine have 6 and as per Trek they should have 3.3/108pt engagement out of the box. 

I haven’t weighted these myself yet (don’t own a scale) but 100g is fairly large margin over claimed. I will make arrangements to weigh this set for the actual review.

nouseforaname
+1 Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - July 6, 2020, 6:21 p.m.

Hey @andrew - my wheels got 'warranteed' and three new pawls and springs ended up in my possesion. Seems like I'm not the only one though.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 6, 2020, 10:38 p.m.

Thanks for the update! 

I'll note that in the review as an aside so that folks can take the 30-secs to check it out.

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