Just In: Bontrager Rhythm Pro Carbon 27.5″ Wheels and XR4 Tires

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels261

Light, strong, cheap – pick two. That was Keith Bontrager’s mantra back in the 80′s and 90′s and it still rings mostly true today. The new carbon Bontrager Rhythm Pro wheels look to follow the saying to a ‘t’, built with  burly, wide rims, hubs, and Bontrager’s lightweight TLR tubeless set up. While they certainly aren’t cheap, the Rhythm Pros sit in the middle of the carbon all mountain enduro wheel price scale, with a set of the 27.5″ hoops retailing for $2199.

Offered in all three wheel sizes, the Rhythm Pros claim to offer precision handling on the gnarliest descents, while remaining all-day XC light. We run you through the details straight out of the box, next.

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels266 Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels265

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels264 Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels270

Like many of the Bontrager Rhythm wheels, the Pros use an offset rim design, or OSB (offset spoke bed). The offset means the wheel can be built with less dish and more even spoke tension on both sides for improved stiffness and strength. Even though the spoke bed is offset, the rim channel itself is symmetric which means when you go to install the plastic Bontrager TLR rim strip, you don’t have to worry about installing it the wrong way.

The 29mm wide external, 22.5mm wide internal carbon rim is manufactured from Bontrager’s OCLV carbon fiber, though not in Wisconsin. Some of the Bontrager wheels are still made here, but these rims are manufactured in China though the wheel’s hand assembly is done in the US.

TLR for those not familiar, is Bontrager’s Tubeless Ready system which relies on a plastic rim strip that snaps into the rim and a metal valve with a removable core. The set up allows the use of tubes or tubeless tires with sealant, but is optimized for Bontrager’s TLR tires which have a tubeless bead and a standard casing (not UST).

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels263

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels262

At the heart of each wheel are these fairly large 6 bolt Bontrager hubs with sealed bearings and their Rapid Drive freehub design. The hubs are connected to the rims with 28 front and rear 14/15g spokes in a stacked, straight pull lacing pattern and held in place with Alpina alloy locking nipples.

Bontrager Rhythm Pro Hubs Rapid Drive 2

Bontrager Rhythm Pro Hubs Rapid Drive 3

Rapid Drive relies on a captured 3 pawl system, each with 3 teeth, which when combined with the 54 tooth ratchet ring results in a 6.67° engagement. The freehub spins on a large bearing pressed into the hub shell, and the axle is supported by a bearing on each end, for a total of 3. To service the hub, simply pull off the non drive end cap and slide out the axle with the freehub body. At this point you could also switch it to the available SRAM XD 11 speed freehub body that is sold separately.

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels272

The axle caps are interchangeable, and the wheels include standard quick release end caps for both wheels in the odd chance that you’re riding a 27.5″ bike without thru axles. Out of the box the wheels are set up as 15mm front and 142×12 rear.

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels268 Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels267

Without the rim strips and valves, the wheels weigh 730g for the front and 860g for the rear. At 50g more than claimed weight, the pair comes in at 1590g.

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels269 Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels271

Add in the strips and valves and you’re looking at 780g and 910g, or 1690g total.

Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels274 Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR 275 650b carbon tubeless enduro mountain bike wheels273

We’ll be testing the Rhythm Pros initially with Bontrager’s XR4 Team issue TLR tire. Labeled a 27.5 x 2.35″ the tires weigh an impressive 791g which is still 11g more than claimed. Considering this is an aggressive tire that is tubeless ready in a healthy 2.35″, we’ll take it. The Team Issues feature a 120 tpi Inner Strength casing, and a TLR aramid bead for $69.99.

Comments

Dyno-mite! - 11/05/13 - 10:42am

Greg wouldn’t lie about the weights.

suede - 11/05/13 - 11:20am

You forgot to include the dealer service bulletin for these wheels with your article.

thesteve4761 - 11/05/13 - 11:25am

“The offset means the wheel can be built with less dish”

Wrong. The wheel does not have more or less dish. The OSB changes the angle of the spokes, NOT the dish of the wheel. The wheel is either properly dished or not. Fail.

casey - 11/05/13 - 12:20pm

Everyone calm down.

Juice - 11/05/13 - 12:31pm

It’s cool to see Bontrager stepping up their game. Kudos to the crew there.

ajp45 - 11/05/13 - 12:52pm

Kudos to the guys and girls that worked on the design at both Trek and the manufacturer… It’s great to see the product finally reach the market after so much work.

Seraph - 11/05/13 - 1:53pm

@thesteve actually it does mean there is less dish on the drive side. A wheel being dished properly and wheel dish are two different things.

dgaddis - 11/05/13 - 2:05pm

$2200 is a lot of coin for wheels that still need a plastic rim strip to convert to tubeless. Why not mold that shape into the rim???? I can build wider 650B carbon rims laced to hubs with faster engagement that will weigh less (a good bit less including tape vs rim strip) and cost $500 less.

David - 11/05/13 - 2:14pm

I have to ask, what makes these worth 3x the price of the very similar LB wheels? I don’t mean to pick on Bontrager here, as this seems to be an issue with carbon wheels from “name brand” companies on both the road and mountain sides. The rear hub might account for $100, but I can’t believe a pair of rims deserves an extra $1300. That’s more than the differential between an alloy and a carbon full suspension frame…

Bas - 11/05/13 - 5:13pm

@David: ENVE sells rims at $700+/piece. just sayin’
not that they are NOT expensive, hehe

apart from the blank alu look of the hub shell, I dig ‘em

Gazoo - 11/05/13 - 7:23pm

22.5 internally is not burley, its average.. nearly 1700 grams w/ Rim strips in a 27.5 size is out right heavy for $2100 wheels. When will companies get the memo that even xc riders want wider rims. AC got the wide lightning right if only that was in carbon. And why does hardly any mfg offer rim only options or SS hub options?

Fisho - 11/06/13 - 8:13am

A lot of cash for a set of wheels not much lighter or having faster engagement than competitors aluminum rims wheel sets.

MissedThePoint - 11/07/13 - 12:05pm

Why so heavy and expensive? It better be super strong (stronger than other rims that weigh 1750g or more at half the cost, else I don’t believe that “strong, light, cheap, pick 2″ saying.

Charlie - 11/07/13 - 6:46pm

I think with wheels the Bontrager Law of Cycling Component Attributes should be modified to: “Strong, stiff, light, cheap – pick two.” Carbon rims are both strong and stiff. At least today, I don’t think they are that much lighter than aluminum and they are hideously expensive. (Aluminum rims are cast and machined. Carbon rims are assembled, molded and finished by hand by Chinese craftsmen who are getting paid a whole lot more than they used to.) For an all mt rim, you probably care a lot more about strong and stiff than you do about light because you’re focused more on downhill speed than average speed over the course of the ride. For a 584 mm (BSD) rim vs an old-style 559 mm rim, these seem pretty light to me and I bet they can’t be dented like aluminum. As with any wheel, it’ll be the spokes that fail first and so it’s smart to have the rim perforated by spoke holes for the inevitable spoke replacement.
I wonder if carbon wheels couldn’t be made more cheaply in Detroit. $2200 will buy you a set of these wheels at your LBS but it would buy a whole factory in Detroit.

MissedThePoint - 11/07/13 - 7:30pm

I was only joking about the saying, basically implying that it’s becoming obsolete.

With carbon potential being tapped, there’s a whole lot more variables to consider along with the original three. There’s all the ride tune aspects, such as vibration damping and stiffness/compliance levels, aesthetics, and general user friendliness. There’s no real easy way to determine “performance to weight ratio” in a manner that’s accurately detailed according to the engineers’/designers’ goats. It would become a match of who puts more thought into their products over the others, which actually can make a product worth its astronomical height. It’s why a brand like Enve can be popular, since they actually do offer value by putting more thought into their products, why the competitors can be out there milking a higher margin %.

Honestly, I’m impressed by recent Bontrager wheel design. Actually reminds me of SRAM’s Roam 60, with the stacked flange and offset spoke bed, but the ROAM 60 in 27.5 is only 1570g with UST (their alloy version, ROAM 50 is actually lighter). Based on first impressions and basic stats, I wouldn’t choose this unless it some how proves to have a ride feel worth the weight and price.

Juice - 11/12/13 - 2:57pm

Kudos to @MissedThePoint. Spot on, sir.

You’re essentially paying for the high level of engineering and expensive tooling that allows these wheels to be lightweight and strong – not the actual materials or time it takes to lay up the carbon.

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