Updated from the original review in 2019 ~
Trail tires have a wide-ranging definition depending on your riding style and terrain. The Bontrager XR4 is a large volume, medium height well-spaced knobs with low rolling resistance tire. Some of the tires that I think the XR4s compare most closely to are Maxxis Aggressor, Rekon, and Schwalbe Nobby Nic.
These Bontrager XR4s are targeted at the all-around trail rider that wants a great balanced tire that’s good in a wide range of conditions but doesn’t need or want the extra weight and rolling resistance of the status quo Maxxis DHF and DHRs. The XR4 compares in size most closely to a 2.5WT Maxxis casing. Next to the Aggressor, the XR4’s closest competitors are the Schwalbe Nobby Nic and Maxxis Rekon. Did I mention the XR4 is as large or larger than most competitors’ 2.5-inch tires!? The XR4’s rounded profile makes it work well as a front and rear tire for most trail conditions. I tried my best to find faults in the tire while riding a wide range of conditions from slippery roots to sand and rocks.
Bontrager XR4 Team Issue | 29 x 2.4 | Retail Price: $54.99 | Weight: 774 grams (average of 4 weighed) | Actual width on 30mm ID rim: 60.92mm | Actual height on 30mm ID rim: 59.23mm
- Weight – At 774 grams this is one of the lightest tires in the category
- Very predictable – wet rocks and roots, dry and loose it’s a great all-arounder!
- Low rolling resistance for a large and grippy trail tire
- High Volume – Far more accurate than Maxxis in stating true size
- Excellent value at $69.99
- Wear’s slightly quicker than some – Still seems to perform even when worn though
Compared to the Nobby Nic:
The Bontrager XR4’s closest competitor is likely the Schwalbe Nobby Nic – NN review here. Compared to the Nobby Nic, the XR4 seems to offer similar traction and low rolling resistance. If I had to choose one over the other in corning and braking traction, I’d give the slight nod to the Nobby Nic though. On average, the NN is around 100 grams heavier. Surprisingly the puncture resistance seems better with the XR4 – I had zero issues but tore a couple of rear NN’s when really pushing it on rocky downhills.
Compared to the Maxxis Aggressor and Rekon:
The Maxxis Aggressor definitely has more closely spaced and taller knobs. This adds up to an extra 200+ grams that most trail riders don’t need. I feel that I can pretty much ride the XR4 as hard as the Aggressor and it bites and rolls very similarly. As a lighter rider, I prefer the XR4’s lower rolling resistance and weight savings. The more rounded profile also allows the use as a front tire whereas the Aggressor’s square profile is generally a rear only.
The Aggressor might be a better choice for a bigger more aggressive rider or for racing enduro when really pushing it due to its more protected casing.
The XR4 compared to the Maxxis Rekon 2.6 is a little closer since they are really similar in size, weight, and knob spacing. The XR4’s larger knobs give it both better corning and braking traction. Additionally, I feel that the XR4 has a little softer durometer rubber that help’s it in wet conditions on rocks and roots.
After some proper abusive conditions in the rocks of Pisgah and Sedona, I haven’t experienced a single issue with the tires. I haven’t had any punctures, torn knobs, or flats. I am fairly easy on tires until I get sloppy and start plowing into stuff. With several slams of the rear into rocks while pushing it I was surprised not to damage the tire.
The Bontrager XR4 is a fantastic trail tire for those that don’t need the robustness of an enduro tire but want similar traction. It’s definitely one of the most underrated tires on the market. If you’re looking for a light, low-rolling resistance tire without compromising grip too much, the XR4 is a winner. The tire excells rather in the front or rear with its cost-to-performance ratio at retail price that is considerably less than competitors. For now, I’ll say this is my favorite all-around trail tire.
Ready to give these sneakers a try? Buy them here: Bontrager XR4