Discerning mountain bikers know that that the best way to a better ride without forking out cash on a new bike is a new set of wheels. But aftermarket wheelsets have traditionally been pricey, limiting this obvious upgrade option. Bontrager has made a commitment to change this, offering a range high performance wheelsets at killer prices.

The first thing you wonder when you see that the Bontrager Line Pro 30 wheelset sells for R19 499 is ‘what’s the catch’? Well, there isn’t one. Seriously. Dripping with high-end spec, this sleek looking wheelset, which comes in 29-inch and 27.5-inch versions is light, strong and, well, cheap, for want of a better word.

Those who have been mountain biking for some time will know that this goes against the famous Keith Bontrager cycling gear quote: “Strong, light, cheap – pick two”. But that just confirms that Bontrager, one of the world’s leading cycling component, accessory and clothing brands, has achieved a new level in designing and delivering relevant, quality product at accessible prices. However, nowadays. ‘cheap’ would indeed be referred to as ‘value’.

Alex Applegate, Bontrager Marketing Hard Goods, explains how Bontrager was able to achieve this high-quality, high-value position:

“The simple answer is, by increasing volume, increasing manufacturing efficiencies, and by decreasing margins. We set out to make the best wheel we could for a retail of US$1200 – a really aggressive price. To hit that, we leveraged OE spec to increase volume. We utilised existing, proven shapes, and consolidated our hub designs, along with manufacturing processes and sourcing efficiencies to keep costs down. And then we priced them aggressively,” says Applegate.

Consider this; the Line Pro 30 wheelset, aimed at upgrading the ride of Trail/Enduro bikes, comprises a OCLV carbon rim, DT Aerolite spokes and Bontrager’s new Rapid Drive 108 hub. For under R20 000. That’s value that’s hard to come by these days…

LINE PRO 30 – specs

Rapid Drive 108 hub

29mm internal rim width/36mm external

OCLV carbon rim

28 DT Aerolite spokes front/rear

1 539g (27.5); 1 630g (29er)

Price: R19 499

Line Pro Wheels

Dealers, South Africa

Let’s just focus for a while on the Bontrager Rapid Drive 108 hub. It was only introduced a few months ago and is the leading edge in hub design. It features a 6-pawl mechanism, which uses two pairs of three pawls, set in a two-phase offset to double the engagement.

If that sounded like a foreign language to you, stop shaking your head. It basically means that when you begin to pedal again after a freewheel, there’s virtually no time delay in hub engagement as you turn the crank to accelerate again. All the Rapid Drive hubs are now Boost width with a 17mm axle, which translates to greater stiffness too. They’re also easily serviceable.

South African Marathon and XC racers can rewrite their Festive Season wish lists. The Bontrager Kovee Elite 23 carbon wheelset is priced at a recession-friendly R11 999. That’s a 29-inch OCLV carbon rim with Rapid Drive 54 hub with 22.5mm internal rim width (29mm external) weighing in at 1 690g…

KOVEE ELITE 23 – specs

Rapid Drive 54 hub

22.5mm internal rim width/29mm external

OCLV carbon rim

28 spokes front/rear

1 690g (29er)

Price: R11 999

Kovee Elite Wheels

Dealers, South Africa

It’s not only carbon wheelsets on the Bontrager hoop hot-list though. There’s a range of aluminium rim wheelsets too, one of which is the Line Elite 30 Trail/Enduro wheelset. It’s essentially a copy of the Pro Elite 30 but obviously has an aluminium rim. At 1794g for the wheelset, it’s only 164g heavier than it’s carbon cousin, but a whole chunk lower in price at R8 999.

LINE ELITE 30 – specs

Rapid Drive 108 hub

29mm internal rim width/33mm external

Alloy rim

28 DT Aerolite spokes front/rear

1 708g (27.5); 1 794g (29er)

Price: R8 999

Line Elite Wheels

Dealers, South Africa

Every Bontrager wheel is impact tested for strength and durability before it leaves the factory. However real-world riding does deliver some unexpected surprises and occasional wheel damage is a reality. With this in mind, Bontrager offers Carbon Care, essentially, out-of-warranty support/peace of mind for owners of certain carbon models of Bontrager wheels.

“Carbon Care is great in that it instills confidence in a consumer. Line Pro 30 offers a great value, but are still a significant investment to the consumer. By having this program in place, we are showing that we stand behind our products and will take care of the customer if there ever is an issue.  From a business perspective it made perfect sense,” adds Applegate.
A list of local dealers stocking Bontrager can be found on:  Bontrager, South African service centers