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Bontrager LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

A few months ago I bought a new Felt F65X Cyclocross bike and it came stock with Vittoria Cross XG Pro 700×32 tires (150tpi). Those tires looked like they would shed mud extremely well, but I was concerned about how well they would handle glass and road debris (I live in the Chicago area and broken glass is everywhere). After looking at several cyclocross tires I finally settled on a new set of Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires.

Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

Bontrager LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

The Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tire is lightweight and has “triple flat protection.” Since I live in an area with a lot of broken glass on the roads I used to get a lot of flat tires, but that problem has almost entirely ceased since I put Bontrager Hardcase tires on several of my bikes. This tire is intended for use on paved streets and packed light trails. While not a true cyclocross tire, it does shed mud fairly well. Bontrager claims that the tread on this tire will last 50% longer than standard tire treads—I have put over 1,000 miles on this tires and they still look like brand new!

Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

Bontrager LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tires

The recommended tire pressure for the 700x35c tire is between 60 and 80psi. I am a larger rider so I keep the tires at 80psi when I’m on the road and 75psi when I’m on the trails. I am sure there are other tires on the market that would work just as well as these, but I have to tell you that I love these tires! One of my favorite off-road rides is a 60-mile route on the Des Plaines River Trail in Lake County, Illinois. The trail follows the Des Plaines River and is mainly crushed limestone—but when it rains it gets pretty muddy. In the past few months I’ve set several new personal time records on this trail and I think the Bontrager tires are part of the reason (the new Felt F65X didn’t hurt either).

The Bontrager  LT2 700C Hardcase Plus Tire retails for around $45 and is covered by Bontrager’s unconditional 30-day performance guarantee (you’ll be satisfied, or they’ll take it back).

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 8, 2013 in Bicycle Tires, Product Reviews

 

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Bontrager Unisex Balaclava

Even though I own several different brands of balaclavas, I am always on the lookout for one with better features. A few weeks ago the owner of the local bike shop showed me the Bontrager Balaclava and I decided to try it out on a few cold weather rides.

Bontrager Unisex Balaclava

Bontrager Balaclava

The feature that appealed to me most about the Bontrager Balaclava is the way the front folds down so you can get a drink or eat a carbohydrate gel. The Bontrager Balaclava fits well and offers full head, face and neck protection. It is thin enough to easily fit under your helmet, but thick enough to provide real warmth. The flatlock seams on this headpiece means that, unlike some balaclavas, you won’t have the imprint of a seam on your forehead for several hours after your ride is finished.

Some balaclavas are so thick that they restrict your ability to breathe (not a good thing during aerobic exercise). I had absolutely no problem breathing while riding with this balaclava. However, the fabric around the mouth held moisture like you wouldn’t believe! All of the balaclavas I own hold moisture to some degree, but this one held a lot more than most. One other negative with this item is that because it holds moisture it will also fog up your glasses every time you stop. On the other hand, the way this balaclava folds down in front makes me love it anyway.

While Bontrager does not usually have “top of the line” clothing, I do think their products are reasonably priced and offer a decent value for the cost. In addition, Bontrager offers one of the best guarantees you will find anywhere for cycling product: “If for any reason you’re not satisfied with the comfort of your Bontrager saddle, shoes, or technical apparel, return the item(s)—along with the original sales receipt—to the place of purchase within 30 days of purchase date for exchange or store credit.”

The Bontrager Balaclava retails for $25 and should be available at any bike shop that sells Trek bikes. If there is not a Trek dealer in your area you can order it online from hundreds of different Trek bike shops. This balaclava only comes in one size and one color (black).

If you are looking for a higher quality balaclava I would suggest the Seirus Combo Clava—it is lightweight, extremely warm, quick drying and highly breathable. The main body of this clava is made of Polartec fleece and the smaller face mask part is made of contoured Neofleece. Neofleece is really five layers rolled into one. The first layer is the outer shell, the second is a waterproof liner, and under that is fleece lined Neoprene, followed by Thermolite insulation and finally a wicking Microfleece lining next to your skin.

 

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Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey

I can read the calendar and I realize that mid-November is not the time most cyclists are looking to buy another short sleeve jersey. However, you know that you are going to by a jersey or two next year, so why not shop for them now when most bikes shops have them on sale? Bontrager cycling clothing, found at your local Trek dealer, is moderately priced and decent quality (but not on the same level as Pearl Izumi). The Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey is a comfortable cycling jersey that should be more than adequate for most cyclists.

Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey

Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey

The Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey is a semi-fitted jersey made with %100 polyester, a moisture-wicking, fast-drying fabric. This jersey has a 1/4 length zipper and the elastic band around the hem is covered so the hem stays in place.

Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey

Three Back Pockets With Reflective Piping And Logo

On the back of this jersey you will find three standard storage pockets. One very nice touch on this jersey is the reflective piping—there is a vertical stripe on each end of the pockets, along with a reflective logo on both front and back. I wish every jersey came with at least this much reflective piping!

This jersey is available in three colors (Black, White, Red). Why would anyone buy a black cycling jersey? I would never wear a black jersey on the road—I bought this jersey for off-road trail use only. Do you know why? I live in an area where one of the local bike clubs likes to ride on the same off-road trails I use. In my experience most of the guys in this particular club are simply obnoxious (just like their loud jerseys)—they are rude to walkers, joggers and other cyclists on the trail. I wanted a black jersey so no one who confuse me with one of these jerks. The good news is that during the winter these guys are all riding their bikes on a trainer down in their basement so those of us with Fat Bikes can have a good time playing in the snow.

The Bontrager SSR Short Sleeve Jersey retails for $35, but it is no longer listed on the Bontrager Website. However, you have a very good chance of finding it at your local Trek dealer. Any local bike shop will probably have this jersey on closeout with at least 20% off. It is also still listed at numerous online retailers (sometimes for as low as $20). This jersey is made in China.

 
 

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Bontrager Solstice Cycling Helmet

This past spring one of my sons decided to take up cycling and in the process of getting him ready for hitting the road I gave him my favorite cycling helmet (a beautiful Giro road helmet). He liked the Giro helmet because it was so lightweight (certainly lighter than the Kevlar helmet he wore in Iraq). Since I have several other helmets for special uses (night, rain, MTB) I decided to replace the Giro with an inexpensive Bontrager Solstice Cycling Helmet.

Bontrager Solstice Cycling Helmet

Bontrager Solstice Cycling Helmet

The Bontrager Solsctice is a durable, lightweight helmet that provides excellent airflow due to the large air vents. This helmet is a “one size fits most” and unless you are either very petite or have a large head it should fit you well. Bontrager’s propriety “Micro-Manager Fit System” make this helmet very easy to adjust.

Since I planned on using this helmet for riding on the road I took off the “removable snap-on visor” that comes pre-installed on the helmet. Unfortunately, the plastic pins that hold the visor on place broke while I was taking it off the first time—which means I will never be able to put it back on the helmet. Several “wicking pads” on the inside of the helmet not only make the helmet comfortable, but dry as well. These wicking pads are held in place with Velcro and are both removable and washable.

The Bontrager Solstice cycling helmet comes in four different color combinations and retails for $45. You should be available to find this helmet at any bike shop that carries Trek or Bontrager products. If you can’t find a dealer in your area, you can always buy it online from the Trek Store. If you are looking for a helmet that will make it easier for motorists to see you, please see the review I wrote for the Hardnutz Hi-Vis Yellow Bicycle Helmet.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Bicycle Safety, Product Reviews

 

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Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Bicycle Tires

Sometimes it is pretty easy to figure out what kind of tire you need for your bike. If you spend all your time riding on paved roads then you get a smooth road tire that will greatly reduce rolling resistance. If you spend your time on off-road trails then you buy a knobby tire so you get great traction. However, what type of tire do you get if you have to ride on a paved road just to get to the off-road trail? My favorite tire for this type of situation is the Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Bicycle Tire.

Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Bicycle Tire

Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Tire

The Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Tire has a semi-slick center tread that offers minimal rolling resistance while you are on the road, and slightly aggressive outer stability knobs on the sides so you get great cornering, even in wet weather. The 26×2.0 tire weighs 750 grams and is listed as having 60 TPI (threads per inch).

As an added bonus, this tire has Bontrager’s Hardcase triple puncture protection. First, there is an aramid (a strong heat-resistant synthetic fiber) belt that helps prevent tread punctures caused from glass or stone. Second, there is an anti-cut casing that also resists cuts from glass and other sharp objects. And third, it has an anti-pinch sidewall to prevent snake-bite punctures (this is the type of puncture you get from hitting hard objects like railroad ties or potholes).

Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Bicycle Tire Close-up

Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Tire

I have used this tire on one of my mountain bikes for a long time and would highly recommend it to anyone who rides a hybrid bike or uses their mountain bike for both road and off-road riding.

As a final note, Bontrager tires come with an unbelievable guarantee: “All aftermarket Bontrager tires are unconditionally satisfaction guaranteed for 30 days from the date of purchase. If you—for any reason—don’t like your new Bontrager tire, return it (along with your original sales receipt) back to the place of purchase within 30 days of purchase date for full refund or exchange.”

The Bontrager H4 Hard-Case Plus Tire is available in two sizes—the 26×1.5 tire retails for $40, and 26×2.0 retails for $45. This tire is available at local bike shops all over the United States and Europe, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them in stock at a dealer near you.

 

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Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tires

When it comes to cycling we all have different skill sets. One of the things I am really good at is patching bicycle tires. This skill was not acquired by choice, but by the fact I used to get puncture flats at least once a week. When I finally wised up and put Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires on my road bikes my tire patching days pretty much came to an end.

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tires

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tire

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires offer triple flat protection: a Kevlar belt provides puncture resistance, anti-pinch ribs stop pinch flats, and bead to bead woven construction dramatically reduce your chances of cutting your sidewalls.

My Trek Madone uses 700 x 25C tires and I keep them inflated at 120psi. I’ve used these tires for over 10,000 miles on this bike and have only had two flats during that time. Since this tire is a bit stiffer than your normal bike tire you will find it takes a bit more effort to change (not impossible, just a little more work). I’ve been able to get around 2,500 miles on a set of these tires, but your mileage will vary depending on tire pressure and road conditions.

The most common complaint I’ve about these tires is their increased rolling resistance. That might be a valid complaint, but honestly I’ve not noticed it. While it is possible to get a faster ride on different tires, any savings is eaten up with your first flat.

While these tires do offer great protection against flats, it is still possible to puncture a tire under the right conditions. Nearly every training route of mine crosses a road that leads to the county landfill and garbage trucks have a tendency to drop a lot of debris on their way to the dump. Last year I hit a piece of shaved metal that was as sharp Marine’s KA-BAR knife and it cut right through my rear tire and tube.

The downside of this tire is that is it not very responsive in the rain. In fact, during a hard downpour they can be rather scary. If you ride a lot in the rain I would suggest you either choose a different tire or just ride a different bike when it rains (that’s what I do). If you do get caught in a downpour just slow down a bit and allow a little more room for braking.

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires retail for around $43 at your local bike shop. While it is still possible to get a flat while using these tires, the chances are very remote. While these are not the tires I would suggest for a race, I would highly recommend these tires to any other cyclist.

 

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