I was a bit self-conscious when I first received wheels and tires from Bontrager to ride and review. I’ve only seen Bontrager components on Trek bikes and hoped not to commit a mountain bike faux pas by running them on anything else.
My area’s summer trails are more flowy, with jumps and berms as you gradually lose elevation. Once the snow sets in, we begin riding our chunkier and steeper winter trails. An El Niño winter had me regularly bouncing between the two while testing the Bontrager Line Elite carbon wheels.
Overall, I was impressed by this carbon wheelset with a very reasonable price, but still had some questions and things to consider.
Bontrager Line Elite 30 Carbon Wheelset Specs
- Carbon rim dimensions: 29mm inner width, 38mm external width, 27mm depth
- 28-hole rims; 108 points of engagement hub
- Weight: 1890g (pair)
- Price: $1,000 (pair)
- Buy from Trek
A customer has two options with Bontrager’s trail carbon wheelsets—the Line Pro and Line Elite. The Bontrager Line Elite 30 is the more affordable of the two, and is the wheelset that Bontrager sent to Singletracks to test.
The wheels are fairly standard as far as trail wheels go. Of course, tubeless and Boost spacing is standard, but sorry to our Super Boost friends, this isn’t an option in the Bontrager line-up.
Also unavailable on the Bontrager Line carbon wheels, Elite or Pro, is the option for Centerlock brake rotors.
Bontrager boasts a new design for the Line Elite carbon wheels. They feature a 29mm inner rim width paired with a 38mm external width and a rim depth of 27mm. Bontrager claims the “shallower 27mm depth increases vertical compliance and helps better absorb impacts.”
Protection against flats is improved with the Line Elite’s thicker, 4.6mm hook wall. Bontrager boasts more surface area coverage at the tire/rim contact point, reducing the chance of pinch flats.
The Line Elite carbon rims are 28-hole and laced to Bontrager’s hub. This original equipment manufacturer (OEM) hub is nothing to scoff at with its 108 points of engagement (POE). SRAM and Shimano are both offered as driver options—I chose SRAM XD for the wheelset Bontrager sent.
For weight, the Bontrager Line Elite front wheel comes in at 890g, while the rear wheel weighs an even 1,000g. In total, you are looking at a carbon wheelset that weighs just under 2,000g.
While the weight may seem a little heavy for a set of carbon wheels, the price isn’t. The Bontrager Line Elite carbon wheelset will set you back $1,000—not bad for carbon wheels with high-engagement hubs.
When thinking about “upgrading” to a carbon wheelset, there are usually boxes we want those carbon wheels to check. One such box is that a carbon wheelset will be lighter than an alloy set.
First, let’s address the weight of the Bontrager Line Elite wheels. For a set of carbon wheels, 1,890g isn’t a super weight saving. I have a comparable set of alloy wheels that weigh only about ten grams more, though an entry-level OEM alloy wheelset likely weighs much more than the Bontrager Line Elite wheels.
With that said, I have also ridden carbon wheelsets that cost twice as much but only weigh ten grams less than the Bontrager Line Elites. For an aggressive trail wheelset, weight isn’t a particularly significant concern for me.
Riding the Bontrager Line Elite carbon wheels
The ride quality is a significant concern, however. This is where the Bontrager Line Elite wheelset impresses me, starting with the hub.
Bontrager’s Rapid Drive 108 hub offers 3.3 degrees of engagement with 108 POE. The hub spins up fast and carries momentum well on both descents and climbs. The high engagement is noticeable, especially on technical climbs where I frequently apply power, slow down, and apply power again.
The Bontrager Line Elite has good vertical compliance, absorbing trail chunk well. I spent about half my time on them riding flow trails and the other half riding more technical, rocky descents. And the chatter-absorbing quality of carbon fiber lives up to my expectations.
Especially over the constant, smaller chunk in the trails, the wheels do an excellent job soaking up the vibrations. I did have two big “pings” off larger rocks, where I stopped to see if I compromised the wheels but continued to roll on with no evidence of damage.
As I would anticipate with carbon wheels, the Line Elite wheels are stiff and hold lines well, but they don’t set my world on fire. While the Line Elites absorb trail chatter better than my higher-end alloy wheelset, they don’t feel significantly stiffer in the corners.
It seems that with carbon wheels, there is a fine line between being stiff and being too harsh. I like a wheelset without much lateral compliance. Stiff wheelsets hold corners well, have me touching the brakes less, and inspire confidence overall. But if the wheelset is too stiff, the ride becomes harsh and rattles your bones. Some of the more expensive carbon wheelsets I’ve ridden dance a bit closer to that point where stiff crosses into harsh, providing optimal rigidity while still being forgiving.
The Bontrager Line Elite wheels are a bit further back from that point. Again, the Line Elites are noticeably stiffer if you’re coming from a lower-end OEM alloy wheelset. But, comparing them to a higher-end alloy wheelset, the difference may not be noticeable.
Lots to consider
When it comes to the Bontrager Line Elite carbon wheels, there are many different things to consider before buying them.
First and foremost, the wheelset performs well overall, especially considering the relatively slim $1,000 price tag. The wheelset also comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects and an immediate two-year crash replacement warranty. If you break a wheel in the first two years, Bontrager will replace it.
However, there are many limitations with this wheelset. You are out of luck if your preference is a 32-hole wheel or if you have a Super Boost frame. If you currently have Centerlock rotors, you’ll need to buy 6-bolt. Plus, weight savings are relatively insignificant, if at all.
Also, the Bontrager Line Elites felt very close to a high-performing OEM wheelset. The performance is there, but the customization isn’t. For the same price, I could build a high-end alloy wheelset.
Pros and cons of the Bontrager Line Elite 30 wheelset
- $1,000 for carbon wheels
- 108 POE hub
- Good vertical compliance
- Limitations (6-bolt and Boost only)
- Nearly 2,000g for the pair
- For the same price, you could build a custom alloy wheelset
If you are carbon-wheel curious but don’t want to spend $2,000 or more, the Bontrager Line Elite 30 wheelset is a great option. They absorb trail chatter well, are significantly stiffer than the OEM alloy wheelset on many bikes, and have a high-engaging hub. But, there are limitations to this carbon wheelset, and you may consider building a custom, top-of-the-line alloy wheelset for the same price.