Bontrager isn't typically one of the first brands that comes to mind when considering an aftermarket wheel purchase, but they are looking to change that with their high-performance carbon model, the Line Pro 30. These wheels are a relatively affordable (for carbon) lightweight wheelset that are stiff, fast-rolling, and have some of the best freehub engagement of all the models tested. Testers were very impressed with the 3.3-degree freehub engagement of Bontrager's Rapid Drive 108 freehub system that gives these wheels a very quick and responsive feel. These are also the lightest wheels we've tested, and a solid option for the trail rider looking to shave some grams. These wheels are stiff and little less forgiving than some of the competition, but riders prioritizing weight savings and value should give the Line Pro serious consideration.
Bontrager Line Pro 30 TLR Boost 29" Review
Cons: Difficult to mount some tires, SRAM XD driver sold separately, not as damp as competition
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Bontrager is the house brand of cycling industry giant, Trek Bicycles. They make just about every part and accessory you can imagine and that includes an extensive selection of wheels. The Line Pro 30 is their affordable carbon option which they have aimed squarely at the trail and enduro market. These wheels have all the makings of a quality wheelset, so our testers put them through the wringer to see how they compare to the competition.
The Line Pro 30 wheelset features an OCLV Pro Carbon rim. These lightweight carbon hoops have a 29mm internal rim width and a 36mm external width measurement. Unlike many other carbon rims on the market, the Line Pro has a hooked bead and a symmetrical zero-offset design. The rims come with a TLR (tubeless ready) rim strip installed as well as a TLR tubeless valve stem. The rim strip is specific to the Line Pro rims and is made to perfectly fill in the groove on the inside of the rim. The Bontrager logo graphics are painted on and covered with a clear coat, so there are no decals to scratch or peel.
The rims are laced to Bontrager's nicely manufactured house brand hubs with 28 straight-pull DT Swiss Aerolite bladed spokes with Alpina alloy nipples. The spokes are arranged in a three cross pattern. Inside the rear hub is Bontrager's Rapid Drive 108 freehub system. Six pawls pair with a 108-tooth drive ring to create an impressive 3.3-degrees between engagement points. The Line Pro 30 wheels are currently only sold with a Shimano HG freehub body, although a SRAM XD driver is available as an aftermarket purchase. The hubs have a six-bolt brake rotor mount and are available with Boost axle spacing only.
The ride quality of the Line Pro 30 wheels is quite good but is defined a little by their stiffness. These are among the stiffest wheels we've tested and that gives them a very precise steering feel and responsive handling. That same stiffness has the adverse effect of making them feel a little bit harsh and less damped than some of the competition with more balanced ride qualities. We wouldn't say they are too harsh, but notably less comfortable than the more compliant ride qualities of our top-rated models.
The Line Pro 30 wheels roll fast and feel quick and responsive, but the stiffer nature of them made them somewhat more prone to deflection. Our testers couldn't pinpoint exactly what gave these wheels the stiffer feel, though we assume it is due to the shape and profile of the carbon rim. The Bontrager rims have a deeper rim profile when compared to shallower rim designs like the Ibis S35, for example, which have a more forgiving and compliant ride quality. While the rims certainly feel robust and we appreciate some stiffness, a little more lateral compliance would have been welcomed by our testers. We can't however, complain about the freehub engagement, which at 3.3-degrees is very quick and helps to give these wheels, and the entire bike for that matter, a higher performance feel.
Bontrager has optimized their wheels to work best with Bontrager tires and in our testing, we found that mounting and seating those tires was quick and easy. Mounting tires from other brands, like the Maxxis DHF/DHR II combo, is another story entirely. These wheels proved to be some of the most difficult to get tires onto the rims of any wheels we've ever tested. Not a deal-breaker, but something to consider if you wear out tires quickly or change tires regularly.
Bontrager wasn't messing around when they designed their Rapid Drive 108 freehub system. The freehub is housed inside of an exquisitely machined Bontrager branded hub. The freehub employs six pawls paired with a 108-tooth drive ring that provides a quick 3.3 degrees between engagement points. This isn't the fastest engagement we've ever experienced, but it is quite impressive and helps to give these wheels their quick and responsive feel. Sure, there are faster-engaging hubs on the market, but there is very little lag or dead space in the pedal stroke, and the response is almost immediate when you want to lay down the power out of a corner or when jockeying the pedals through a technical section of trail.
The 3.3-degree engagement of the Line Pro 30 wheels is among the best we've ever tested. This is just a mere 0.3-degrees less than the Editor's Choice Award winning Race Face Next R31, and better than almost every other model in this review. Only the Industry Nine Enduro S Hydra wheels have faster engagement with a class-leading 0.52-degrees.
This is cycling, so all other things being equal, lighter is usually considered better. Wheels are one place where shaving some grams can really make a big difference, as the rotational weight of the wheel affects acceleration. In this regard, the Line Pro 30 is very impressive considering they are the lightest wheel we tested with a measured weight of 1,713 grams. This is very lightweight for a 29-inch wheelset with boost spacing and a 29mm internal rim width. These wheels will likely lighten up the overall weight of just about anyone's trail bike, and our testers noted that they felt the difference out on the trail. These wheels were quick to accelerate and the reduced weight helped to take the sting out of long climbs.
Throughout the course of our testing, we experienced no issues with the durability of the Line Pro 30 wheels. Our testers took it to them over several hundred miles of riding with questionable line choices and numerous rim outs. The rims were checked after each ride and we have nothing to report other than a slight loss of spoke tension on the rear wheel after the first few rides. It isn't uncommon to need to re-tension some spokes on new wheels after a few rides, so we didn't consider this to be a problem. We've read user reviews online complaining of issues with the rims cracking, but after our abusive testing, we can't report the same. We haven't put a full season's worth of riding on them or anything, but our test wheels show little signs of wear other than a few cosmetic scratches on the rims. Bontrager also backs the Line Pro wheels with a 2-year no-fault guarantee for added peace of mind.
We feel that the Line Pro 30 represents a pretty solid value for a carbon wheelset at a retail price of $1,300. Most carbon wheelsets cost at least a couple hundred dollars more than that, and at that price, you get a stiff, precise, and lightweight option with great freehub engagement. The one caveat we have about the value of these wheels is that if you use a SRAM Eagle drivetrain you will need to purchase a SRAM XD freehub body for an additional $100 to make it compatible. That drives the price up to $1,400, which is still less expensive than most other carbon models. These wheels would be a better value to more users if Bontrager gave you the option to choose between the Shimano and SRAM freehub bodies.
The Line Pro 30 are a quality set of carbon wheels for trail riders. While they didn't take home any awards in our test we would still recommend them to anyone seeking a lightweight, stiff, and relatively affordable carbon wheelset. These wheels appear to be very well made and our testers experienced no durability issues, plus they come with a 2-year no-fault guarantee.
Other Versions and Accessories
Bontrager makes the Line Pro 30 TLR wheels in both 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes. In addition to the Line Pro 30, they also make a Line Pro 40 which has a 41mm internal rim width that is intended for use with plus-sized tires.
They also make the more XC-oriented Kovee Pro 30 wheels which have the same dimensions as the Line Pro at a lighter weight.
— Jeremy Benson, Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens