Bontrager SE4 Team Issue Tire: Good All-Around but Stay out of the Mud [Review]

The Bontrager SE4 Team Issue mountain bike tire is designed for trail and enduro riding. We put one to the test to see how it performs.
Bontrager SE4 Team Issue tire, rear mounted
Photos: Travis Reill

I’ve been testing the Bontrager SE4 Team Issue as a rear mountain bike tire since late last year.  I paired it with the Bontrager SE5 Team Issue tire in the front and I was impressed by that tire’s performance, its familiar feel, and its consistent traction and control. Would it be the same for the SE4 Team Issue tire?

I mounted the SE4 tire to a Line Elite 30 carbon wheelset, which we also reviewed, and  I have never had a more difficult time mounting tires to rims than with this Bontrager wheel/tire combo. I assume the difficulty is due to the nearly zero tolerance between the two.

My second time mounting the SE4 to the rim (after trying the SE5 as a rear tire for a bit) was more manageable but still difficult. However, once the SE4 was on the rim, the rest of the tubeless setup went normally, and I had no further issues.

Bontrager SE4 key specs

  • Weight: 905g (29×2.4)
  • Price: $84.99
  • Buy from Trek

Overall, Bontrager has four options for the SE4 Team Issue tire, with two widths (2.4 and 2.6) offered on both 29er and 27.5 wheel sizes. Planning on pairing the SE4 with a slightly wider front tire, I opted to test the 29×2.4 SE4.  

Bontrager’s “Core Strength” construction feature “nylon inserts that provide strong, supple sidewall protection for added tire durability and support” that protect the sidewalls on the SE4. The tire also boasts a 61/50 dual-compound rubber that offers “DH-level protection at a fraction of the weight.” This added protection puts the SE4 at 905g for this 60TPI tire and will set you back $84.99. 

Bontrager places the SE4 in their trail or enduro tire category, claiming it is a tire that excels in loose and rocky conditions, providing confident braking and cornering traction. The 2-3-2 middle tread pattern is paired with aggressive side knobs and takes a more rounded look and feel when compared to some boxier tires I’m used to.

Riding the Bontrager SE4 Team Issue tire

Overall, I am impressed with the Bontrager SE4 as a rear tire. I initially thought the SE4 looked as if it might not provide the traction I am used to. As I rode the tire, I found that it provided ample traction, with some limitations.

I am impressed with how fast-rolling the SE4 is when considering the amount of traction it provides. Typically, these two aspects of a tire are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The more traction a tire has, the slower rolling it will be, and vice versa.

The lower profile 2-3-2 middle tread allows the SE4 to spin up quickly and easily maintain speed. More aggressive side knobs dig in well on corners, similar to its SE5 bigger brother. And the overall round profile of the SE4 makes transitioning from middle to side knobs consistent and predictable, keeping the tread in contact with the dirt at all times.

I even had difficulty finding the SE4’s “break-free” point. Especially when testing a rear tire, I like to locate a good corner, gradually hitting it faster to see when the rear tire will break free. With the SE4, due to its low rolling resistance, I anticipated losing traction sooner. Tacky dirt and a solid corner had me putting the SE4 on its edges at much higher speeds than anticipated. It may not be hard science, but the results impressed me.

Share your Bontrager SE4 review

Tried it? Tell us what you think about it.

So far, everything Bontrager boasts about the SE4 matches my experience. The SE4 does provide good traction on loose and rocky trails. The SE4 brakes and corners well, all while delivering fairly minimal rolling resistance. However, when the SE4 finds steep trails, much of this goes out the window.

The winter riding where I live consists of much steeper trails than the trails I tested the tires on in the fall. On steeper trails, I found the SE4 has difficulty with braking traction and control. The instant I touch the brakes, the tire loses traction and begins to skid. 

Granted, this only happens on particularly steep sections of trail that are on the looser side, where braking control is already tricky. With that said, I didn’t have the same issue for the small window of time when I used the SE5 as a rear tire.

The only other problem with the SE4 is that it doesn’t shed mud very well. The results are that a muddy splash down on one part of the trail will cause a loss of traction in the following corner. 

Pros and cons of Bontrager SE4


  • Fast-rolling
  • Great traction 
  • Consistent cornering


  • Traction and braking control are limited on steep trails
  • Doesn’t shed mud well

Bottom line

The Bontrager SE4 Team Issue tire works great for a large portion of my riding. I could see myself using this tire from late spring to early fall. With that said, because control in the steeps and mud was such an issue, I wouldn’t be rolling the SE4 as a rear tire year-round. Much of my summertime riding isn’t on the steepest trails; however, some is, and I would like to have a tire I am confident in—preferably without having to switch tires out every time. And while I enjoyed the low rolling resistance and corning of the SE4, it doesn’t “wow” me enough to wrestle it off and on the rim for steeper or muddy trails.