Fast, well-damped tyre with predictable grip
The new Bontrager XR5 model we’ve tested in SE (Super Enduro) casing comes in 2.6in size with a lighter carcass under the ‘XR’ (trail) name.
Newer Bontrager tyres have been a hit with us in the last few years. The different tread patterns between categories are logical, and the brand’s compounds cope well with mixed conditions and last well.
The blocky, squared-off shape and tread pattern is the same as the Bontrager SE5 we’ve used successfully for week-long Alpine trips and enduro races, and the lighter, more compliant XR should make even more sense in the UK as it’s very fast rolling (considering the aggressive tread) and easier to lug uphill.
The XR is ten quid cheaper by using ‘inner strength’ sidewall protection that reinforces the sides and bead area against cuts, rather than ‘core strength’ that offers wrap around protection at both the sides and underneath the crown in the tougher version.
Bonty’s centre knobs are 61a and 50a on the edges, so aren’t super-soft, but the tyre feels more composed than similar rubber firmness tyres on wet rocks and roots, which might be due to the tread pattern, the squared-off, high-volume inflated shape or the suppleness of the 120tpi casing. Whatever the reason; the comfy XR5 tracks the terrain well and is extremely predictable, without feeling too bouncy.
Grip levels are constant at hard lean angles and the firm traction never breaks away suddenly. The edge blocks aren’t as fanged as some, so the XR5 isn’t quite as good in proper slop or loose mud, but from rock to hardpack to dry dirt, friction and hold is excellent.
This moderately fast and well-damped tyre has tons of predictable grip for aggressive trail riding, but the thicker SE version has more cut and puncture protection if you frequent the roughest trails.