Bontrager XR4 Team Issue Review: A Fantastic Trail Tire

Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29x2.4

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
Lots of spacing between knobs help the tire shed mud and really bite.

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

Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29x2.6 Vs Bontrager XR4 29x2.4
Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29×2.6 Vs Bontrager XR4 29×2.4.  Both are very close to the same height and width on 30mm ID rims.

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.

Bontrager XR4 VS Maxxis Aggressor
The 2.5WT Aggressor is about 1-2mm wider, but the 2.4 XR4 is about 1-2mm taller.

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.

Bontrager XR4
This XR4 looks pretty done after 800~ miles but surprisingly still felt reasonably good as a rear tire.

Long Term Durability

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.

Sram GX Norco Sight Bontrager XR4
The subtle (not yellow) graphics of the Bontrager brandings.

Overall

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

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Serviceyards

    The SE4 model brings more support and durability to the equation at an average weight penalty of about 10% over the same sized XR4. It trades the XR4’s subtle 1pi single-ply casing for Bontrager’s Core-Strength reinforcement in the sidewall and casing.  One model for weight conscious rider looking for good rolling and good grip. One model for heavier rider concerned with support at lower pressures, tire durability, rim protection, and flats.

    1. Chad Davis

      Well said ?, I totally agree!

  2. Warren Kurtz

    I would tend to agree with your test results. They came as OEM on my Trek Fuel EX and I wrongly thought that it was a very slow rolling tire. After my initial impression, I went out and purchased a Maxxis Rekon Race front and Ikon rear only to find it rolled no faster. Here is where I shamelessly admit that I found that my stock hubs had horrible bearings and that is why it rolled so slowly. That set of XR4’s now resides on my hardtail and it flat out flies! This is now my go to tire for just about everything and I look forward to getting a set back on the Fuel EX.

  3. Steven Rowley

    I’ve been using them for over a year on a Trek Powerfly LT 7 and I can’t fault them, particularly their low rolling resistance. At low pressures (I ride about 15lbs, yes 15) they just glide through bumpy sections. My riding area is not particularly rocky, although their are some and of course tree roots, hence why I ride at low pressures to take advantage of the low rolling resistance and 120TPI carcass. Otherwise I’m just careful and ‘ride light’ when I see rocks and edges. Not had a flat yet. Great tyre, well recommended.

  4. Rob Urban

    I actually like the XR4s on my 2018 Trek EX 8….rolls well, really sticky on my trails, great volume in 30mm internal rims….way better than Hans Dampf and Nobby Nic (and I like both). Lighter, nice rolling, sticky…I would definitely replace with XR4s.

  5. tOm gatdner

    Howdy,

    Just following up on your post on the XR4 which is now a few years old. Any further thoughts on this tire?I’ve been running a 29×2.4 XR4 as a rear tire on my Ibis Ripley v4 on the Colorado Front Range for almost a year now it looks very much like the tire in your pic. I run a Maxxis Dissector 29×2.4 (860g claimed weight) as a front to give me a faster somewhat light rolling trail set up for loose over hard. I’ve spent most of the last year on flat peddles trying to work on leaning the bike and pushing hard into the corners. The Bonty in the back probably has a 120% more volume than the Maxxis up front. Today I mounted a 2.6 DHF on the front and will compare my ride times w the larger tire. The 2.6 DHf doesn’t appear to have much if any more width than the 2.4 XR4 though it is taller/more volume. Next up I’m buying another 2.4 XR4 for the back and may run it up front for a bit to see how it grabs. Anyone tried a 2.6 XR4 on the front?

    Thanks,

    tOm

    1. Chad Davis

      I definitely still really like the tire XR4, but don’t really have further thoughts on the tire. I find tires from Bontrager and Specialized more appealing as the differences that Maxxis may offer/claim don’t justify the added expense to me (now $100+ for many EXO tires). I am a smaller guy (140lbs) so I’ve found that I feel the extra weight and rolling resistance more than the normal rider. My preferences are light, faster rolling, and reliable tire over a grippy slow tire.

      Like a lot of people, I tend to be into the tires I currently am riding. At the moment I have the Specialized Ground Control on my bikes. I still like the XR4 a lot as it’s a reasonably priced, reliable and fastish rolling tire. 

      I’ve found the differences in the way most 2.6″ tires feels on the trail isn’t that noticeable to me. And when I tried to run lower pressures, I started having rim strikes. So in the end I ended up running the same pressures I do in 2.35″ and 2.4″ tires. I have not ridden the XR4 in a 2.6″, but hear good things.If I remember correctly, the real weight of the XR4 2.6 is over 1000 grams though.

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