Review: Bontrager’s XR5 Team Issue might just be the ideal aggro trail tyre

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As condition-specific as mountain bike tyres are, some are just a little more versatile than others. Like this Bontrager XR5 Team Issue tyre I’ve been testing for the past 12 months.

Having already enjoyed such a positive experience with the Bontrager SE4 – a tyre that earned itself a Singletrack Recommended award – I had high expectations when the XR5 first showed up. Since it features a knobblier tread pattern than the XR4 and SE4 tyres, the XR5 is purportedly better suited to loose trail surfaces in medium-to-wet conditions. Sounds ideal for the Grim North™ then eh?

bontrager xr5 team issue tyre
Bontrager’s XR5 is pitched as an aggro trail tyre.

On test here is the XR5 Team Issue tyre. Boiled down to the fundamentals, it combines dual compound rubber, a blocky tread pattern and a relatively lightweight and supple 120tpi casing to create a sticky and dependable tyre for aggressive trail riding.

Bontrager XR5 Team Issue TLR Tyre Features

  • Trail tyre designed to excel in loose, rocky and wet conditions
  • Size tested: 29×2.3in
  • Also available in 27.5in diameter, and 2.6in widths
  • 61a/50a dual compound rubber
  • Inner Strength reinforced sidewalls
  • Lightweight 120tpi casing
  • Tubeless Ready (TLR) bead
  • Confirmed weight: 866g & 846g
  • RRP: £39.99 / $79.95 AUD
bontrager xr5 team issue tyre
The blocky tread pattern promises loose-chunder domination.

Construction

The pair of XR5 Team Issue tyres I’ve been testing are the 29×2.3in size. The same tyre is also available in a 27.5in diameter, and you can also get it in the new-school ‘British Plus’ 2.6in width. For hard chargers, the SE5 uses the same tread pattern with a heavier and more robust enduro-ready casing.

Weighing in at an impressive 846g and 866g, the XR5’s initially replaced a Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C MaxxTerra (990g), and a High Roller EXO (939g), which resulted in a noticeable drop in rotational mass. For further reference, I’ve recently been using a 29×2.3in Specialized Ground Control GRID tyre, which weighs about the same as the XR5 Team Issue, albeit with a lower profile tread pattern.

bontrager xr5 team issue tyre
You can get the same tyre in a 27.5in diameter, and 2.6in widths are available in both too.

The finely woven 120tpi casing features Bontrager’s Inner Strength reinforcement, which adds meat to the sidewalls to protect them from slashes and cuts. The sidewalls do feel thicker than your typical XC tyre, but not as thick and stiff as the SE casing, or Maxxis’ DoubleDown casing.

Bontrager has cooked up a dual rubber compound for the XR5, with a softer 50a durometer used for the cornering blocks and a firmer 61a durometer for the centre tread. This rubber compound is exactly what you’ll get on the SE5.

As for the tread pattern itself, it’s very blocky in profile, with the directional design taking just a little bit of inspiration from the Maxxis Minion DHF. One of the differences with the XR5 is that the L-shaped corner blocks get a central cutout to give it a touch more flexibility and bite.

bontrager xr5 team issue tyre
It isn’t a revolutionary tread pattern, but it works exceptionally well.

The centre tread consists of a repeating pattern of two rows of rectangular blocks that are much wider and shorter than those on a Minion DHF.

The two individual blocks in the centre are nice and wide, with ramps on the leading edge aiming to lower rolling resistance a touch. The two blocks behind those then get deep vertical sipes to help them pinch the ground, while a rubber bridge between the two aims to stop them squirming about too much.

bontrager xr5 team issue tyre
The softer cornering knobs are starting to show their age.

Setting Up

 

 

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Review Info

Brand:Bontrager
Product:XR5 Team Issue
From:Trek Bikes, trekbikes.com
Price:£39.99 / $79.95 AUD
Tested:by Wil Barrett for 6 months

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