Bontrager Unveils New Line of Road Tires Including New Road Tubeless

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Not to be left out of the Sea Otter festivities, Bontrager has just released a new line of road tires dubbed the R-series. The new aptly named race series will try to alleviate confusion from their previous model names and tire models (they’ve done away with the “Race”, “Race X”, etc., naming scheme). There are plans in the future to release a T series, which would be for Touring/Training – get it? The tires will be available in six models, the R1, R2, R3, R4, R4 Aero (the new ‘World’s Fastest Tire’), and ……. R4 Tubeless!!

This is exciting news for anyone who has had the chance to ride a tubeless road set up, as most come away from the experience impressed. However, ask anyone who is on the fence about road tubeless why they haven’t made the switch, and they will tell you most likely it is the lack of choices for tires. There is a good chance though that these tires are made by Hutchinson, which currently owns the market for road tubeless. The fact that the R4 Tubeless has the same weight as the new Fusion 3 at 290g, and both tires are 127 tpi casing, all this in addition to the fact that Team Radio Shack is riding Hutchinsons makes you wonder. Regardless of who makes them, the fact that another manufacturer is willing to invest in the technology and put a tire on the market is encouraging.

In addition to the new Tubeless version and the “R” naming, the numeral in the name indicates the performance level, with 1 for casual riding and 4 being their race-level performance tires.  They’ve incorporated an improved version of their Aero Wing bead technology into the new line of tires. Basically, the Aero Wing is a small lip that filled the gap between the rim and the carcass of the tire which improved aerodynamics. Unfortunately the old design was fairly difficult to seat, and required patience. The new Aero Wing design promises to be easier to seat and will require no “hand seating” Bontrager claims.

Full specs, prices, and pictures after the break!

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The two pics above show the Aero Wing on the R3 tire.  While it doesn’t completely close the gap between the side walls of the tire and the rim, it creates a smoother transition than a rounded tire coming into the flat top of the rim’s brake track.

The Bontrager R1 Tire is the base model, and, to be honest, it looks like a tire, so no picture was taken.

  • Light and durable 60 tpi casing
  • Tread profile helps give low rolling resistance
  • Lightly textured tread design for excellent cornering grip in all conditions
  • Wire bead affordability

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Bontrager R2 Tire gains the Aero Wings, colors and a folding bead, but shares the same 60TPI carcass.

  • Light and durable 60 tpi casing
  • Bontrager-exclusive aero wings for advanced aerodynamics
  • Integrated sub-tread puncture protection
  • Available dual-color tread allows you to customize the look of your bike, or solid black.
  • Aramid Bead
  • 220 g
  • Red, Blue, Yellow, Pink and Black
  • $29.99 MSRP

The Bontrager R3 Tire moves up to a 120TPI casing and gets two more colors…natural and pink, which are all shown at the top of this post.  (Editor’s note: I grabbed a set of these from the Otter for testing)

  • Light and supple 120 tpi casing
  • Bontrager-exclusive aero wings for advanced aerodynamics
  • Integrated sub-tread puncture protection
  • Available colored sidewalls allow you to customize the look of your bike
  • Yellow, Blue, White, Red, Natural, Pink and Black
  • 185 g
  • $59.99 MSRP

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The Bontrager R4 upgrades to a svelte 220TPI casing and comes in any color you want, as long as you want black.

  • New 220 tpi casing gives unparalleled comfort, light weight and low rolling resistance
  • Bontrager-exclusive aero wings for advanced aerodynamics
  • Integrated sub-tread puncture protection
  • 165g to 175g (depending on who you ask)
  • $69.99 MSRP

The R4 Aero continues it’s title as the World’s Fastest Tire, this time upping the ante with a new rounded profile and 22c width, 62A durometer rubber and a very light weight. Bontrager says it’s good for shaving 3 minutes off an Ironman distance bike leg, or about 9 seconds off a 10k and 37 seconds over a 40k time trial versus the closest competing aero tire.

  • The new ‘Worlds Fastest Tire!’
  • New 220 tpi casing gives ultra low Rolling resistance and excellent ride quality
  • Aero wings help slice through the wind
  • Integrated sub-tread puncture protection
  • 160g t0 165 g (depending on who you ask)
  • $74.99 MSRP

Bontrager’s R4 Tubeless has been in development for over seven years, with much of that time spent getting the tolerances right for the carbon bead.  Unlike wire and kevlar beads, carbon beads won’t stretch at all, which is good for the tight demands of tubeless tires, but bad for tire production standards.  Tires can have a lot (relatively speaking) of variance, and since there’s no give with the carbon bead, they needed to get it right in order to make sure a) you could get it on the rim and b) it would stay put in the grooves.

  • Road tubeless compatible with both Road Tubeless and standard hook bead rims
  • New levels of comfort over a wide range of inflation pressures
  • Super Juice compatible for additional flat resistance
  • 127 TPI Casing
  • 290 g
  • $79.99 MSRP

So who’s going to go tubeless now that there’s more than one tire on the market?

(Editor’s Note and Update: Word on the street is that Kenda and others have some Road Tubeless tires coming out soon, so look for plenty of options by Interbike. Shimano already has a tubeless road wheelset, and A-Class has a tubeless road wheelset now, too, so more people are jumping on the bandwagon every day.

Also, Bontrager’s rep said that while they don’t officially condone it, you can convert road wheels to tubeless in much the same manner as mountain bike wheels…just a strip and some sealant should do the trick…and they’ve heard of people doing it, but they can’t suggest it.  The R4 Tubeless tire will seat and work on any clincher rim.)

Comments

wvcycling - 04/18/10 - 9:21am

“Bontrager’s R4 Tubeless has been in development for over seven years…”

Does this read as “Bontrager has finally been able to license (then spec) a Tubeless Tire after seven years…”?

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