Bontrager Frame Frameset

4.84/5 (91 Reviews)


Product Description

Bontrager Frame


Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating

Reviews 1 - 15 (91 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Sizzler a Cross Country Rider from OR

Date Reviewed: March 29, 2011

Strengths:    Light, strong, well thought out, great geometry.

Weaknesses:    1" headtube is increasingly limiting.

Bottom Line:   
These frames are truly timeless, perhaps the best built steel frame past or present, and can easily hold their own against modern frame designs and materials. The exceptionally light gusseted tubing, wishbone seat stays and short seat tube make it a fantastic ride. My 94 Race is set up for single speed and I can climb and whip it around like no other. Very pleased!

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Similar Products Used:   Bontrager Privateer Comp

Bike Setup:   SS

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Robert a Weekend Warrior from South Lake Tahoe, CA, USA

Date Reviewed: July 4, 2007

Strengths:    Lightweight, nimble, proven hard tail and motorcycle-style front suspension. I bought the extra-small (XS) Race Lite, since I'm only 5'3" (160cm) tall. The short tubes on a bike my size already make the bike stiffer, so I steered away from stiff alloy frames. Rear suspension design was still in its infancy in 1997, and I didn't want to get something I couldn't get parts for later on. This was an excellent decision, as rear suspensions are still very much in an experimental stage ten years later, and it's impossible to get parts for full suspension bikes that are even 2-3 years old. In summary, this bike has proven that I was right: It will never become obsolete. Another plus is that it's lighter than a full-suspension bike.

Weaknesses:    1" steerer tube. Fortunately, Marzocchi still makes them, albeit for a small fortune. You can't put disc brakes on it.

Bottom Line:   
Ten years after purchasing it I can still get replacements for every part on it, though a new fork would be over $700. I haven't needed to replace anything yet. I bought it with the expectation that it would be the last mountain bike I ever buy for myself. I've been raising a family, so haven't had so much time to take it on trails, but this thing is so light and nimble, it's like riding an expensive road bike with knobby tires. I've been pulling a bike trailer with either my own or friends' toddlers in tow with it, and my friends not pulling trailers have difficulty keeping up with me. If I ever see one of these in small or extra-small; even just a frame; I'm going to snatch it for my sons.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Anywhere around Lake Tahoe

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $1700.00

Purchased At:   Chain Reaction Bicycles

Similar Products Used:   I tried a handmade Ritchey a few years before I could afford one, and it was really sweet; even with solid forks.
I tried various incarnations of Stumpjumpers over a five-year period that weren't bad.


Bike Setup:   Totally stock, with two exceptions. At my size (5'3"/160cm), I'm at the tall end of fitting the extra-small, and at the short end for the small. I liked the exra-small a tiny bit more. So, the shop swapped a longer Bontrager seat post and a ZOOM gooseneck for the stock parts.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mike Palmer a Weekend Warrior from UK

Date Reviewed: May 28, 2007

Strengths:    Simple, bombproof, plainly sexy, responsive (it's like it's hardwired into my brain). An absolute classic.

Weaknesses:    Rust and the 1" steerer.

Bottom Line:   
Mine is one of the ultra rare XXXL 'basketball player special' Race frames (I'm 6'7" tall!!!). It fits like a dream, rides superbly, accelerates like a demon on speed and descends quickly enoough to scare me periodically. In the UK I ride weekend orienteering events. At one event a fully suspended, hard-riding dude came hurtling past, slowed down until I'd caught up and said "cool Bontrager" before riding off. You know what; he's right. I sincerely hope my frame outlasts me 'cos I don't intend to replace it.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Anywhere

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $900.00

Purchased At:   Global Fridge (the UK distributor)

Similar Products Used:   None

Bike Setup:   Pace forks, Shimano XT, Mavic wheels.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jeff from Bay Area, CA

Date Reviewed: August 7, 2005

Strengths:    feel, responsiveness

Weaknesses:    Steel is not impervious to rust! Not a lot of choices up front.

Bottom Line:   
This is absolutely the best bicycle ever made. If you are an experienced mountain biker, you will love this bike. Bought a new Race Light in 1997 (last chance), it has now been my favorite for 15 years. I never have to go to bike stores anymore except for the Phil Grease and such. I just don't care what is going on gear-wise as I know I have the best bike (frame) ever. I only have to think about where I want to go and this thing is there. Nimble is the word. Nothing else feels this natural. Keith, please make some more. I want my friends to have them.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $1700.00

Purchased At:   Encino Bicycles, Concord

Similar Products Used:   '90 Bridgestone semi high-end steel. closest thing I could find to the feel of the Bontrager in 1990 for under $800.

Bike Setup:   stock XT/Judy plus White hubs, Mavic rims

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Shaun Fogarty a Cross Country Rider from Bay Area

Date Reviewed: February 5, 2005

Strengths:    Still working like the day I first put it together. Light, durable, and a good value... I have a late Santa Cruz shop race light and I love it. The steel ride is my cup of tea, it is a predictable yet quick handler and only gets sketcy when it gets pointed downhill at a steep angle on bumpy stuff, but it more that makes up for that on all the time i spend climbing and riding on every other sort of terrain. I put a pretty big chunk of change into this bike and it did not fall apart or become obsolete, no matter what mr cunningham had to say about steel or hardtails. A honest well thought out product with the end user in mind.

Weaknesses:    I try to avoid letting it happen, but water and my sweat do take a toll on the steel. 1" has proved to be a surmountable hassle, but a bit of a pain. a little short for me.

Bottom Line:   
One of the best products I have ever purchased. Keeps on giving.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   dirt ones

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $600.00

Purchased At:   bontrager

Similar Products Used:   kona, trek, giant, santa cruz....

Bike Setup:   xt-xtr, king.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Scott Fraser a Cross Country Rider from Victoria, BC, Canada

Date Reviewed: June 14, 2004

Strengths:    best frame ever made

Weaknesses:    can't think of any

Bottom Line:   
Okay folks. I need help finding info about Bontrager frame specs and geometry.
As I can no longer buy a new frame, I am having a custom one built. Years ago I had a race-lite (think it was a small). I am 5' 9" in height, so it may have in fact been a medium. If someone who owns a medium and someone who owns a small can take frame mesaurements and email that would make my day. As all the reviews state, this is the sweetest hardtail ever made. It climbed like a goat, got air like a hawk, and it was part of you.

Thanks in advance everyone. If you are going to send the frame specs, please email them to me directly sfraser@deckersinc.com.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   hartland MTB park

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $1.00

Purchased At:   N/A

Similar Products Used:   rocky mountain, brodie, Stumpjumper

Bike Setup:   N/A

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mario a Cross Country Rider from Randolph, VT USA

Date Reviewed: May 22, 2004

Strengths:    light, tough, durable, adorably simple, easy to ride, fast, not an f/s, rare, cool, et al.

Weaknesses:    not made anymore

Bottom Line:   
you can't find a better bike on the market. for all you f/s lovers, my humble opinion is that nothing beats a steel hardtail, and keith made one heck of a frame, no doubt about it. it handles singletrak like nothin' else and even going downhill, which is not my strength, it is a beast. quite the steed!!! OH KEITH, PLEASE MAKE MORE!!! if you want to experience mountain biking at its truest level, buy one, even if used. do it!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   frasier park, ks; mari castle, vt

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $2000.00

Purchased At:   can't remember bike shop, minneapolis

Similar Products Used:   trek 7000

Bike Setup:   xt/xtr/raceface cranks,bb/rs judy xc/onza hox pedals/bontrager rims, saddle, stem/ primal levers

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Rob Uetrecht a Cross Country Rider from Bend, OR, USA

Date Reviewed: March 24, 2004

Strengths:    Climbs like a goat, snakes through single track, accelerates effortlessly, descends deftly, and is plainly beautiful.

Weaknesses:    Not made anymore.


Bottom Line:   
I have two Ti-lites (one for me and on for my wife). My goal in writing this review is to let people know that the 1" steerer is not a hopeless weakness. Folks, forks are available! Check out Phattire.com. The fellow there specializes in 1" steerer tubed bikes. If you go to the site you will see that all 80mm travel Marzocchi forks come in 1" steerers. Call him before you even think of cutting a head tube! I bought 2 Marathon SL's from him last year. He is in the know! He will set you up with all the necessities (headsets, stems, bars etc).

I can't say anything about the ride that hasn't already been said. I love my ride and all of you with old, dated, flexy forks can find hope. Why, Keith, did you have to abandon the best hard tail ever made??????

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Waldo Lake

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $2500.00

Purchased At:   Mt. Bachelor Bike (when they sold bikes)

Similar Products Used:   Specialized Stumpjumper, Barracuda AT2, Yeti, Marin, many others.

Bike Setup:   Sram 9.0 SL, XTR, XT, Crossmax, Marzocchi Marathon SL (yes an '03 SL, hence my need to write this review)

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:2
Submitted by Brent Van Eps a Cross Country Rider from Rancho Cucamonga

Date Reviewed: January 23, 2004

Strengths:    still not broken, excellent singletrack handling, super tough paint job, I don't think a stronger bike has been made. mine is a xl race lite

Weaknesses:    1 inch headtube, that is all and back when I bought it it wasn't a problem at all

Bottom Line:   
This is a follow up to my older review .The bontrager is retired for now. I will never make it a singlespeed, singlespeeds are lame, way too trendy you lemmings. You know you want gears. Anyway the 1 inch headtube is the downfall. I was unable to get anyone to do anything but rigid in 1 inch and the 1 inch marzocchi mx comp I tried was awful. Heavy and sticky. I will be getting a Rock lobster steel frame soon with a manitou skareb fork. It is the closest I could find to my old Bontrager. I had to strip my Bontrager for parts to put on my new frame so it now hangs unridden and alone. Absolutley the best bike I ever owned though but I am too old and my wrists are too to ride rigid forks off road anymore. Someday she will ride again, but not for now. Bye Bye old friend.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   pauley creek downieville,ca

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $600.00

Purchased At:   Montrose Bike Shop

Similar Products Used:   fat chance yo eddy, talon slayer x frame, dean titanium

Bike Setup:   The last setup was race face prodigy crank sram 9.0 drivetrain xtr hubs on 517 revolution spoked wheels, sycip custom rigid fork, king headset, flat bar, speedplay frogs

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Dror Regev a Weekend Warrior from San Jose, Ca

Date Reviewed: January 15, 2004

Strengths:    Geometry, confidence inspiring handling, life span/durability, "soft tail steel ride", Paint/stickers and minimum maintenace and adjustment.

Weaknesses:    1" steerer tube, chain suck in lightly muddy conditions.

Bottom Line:   
Thanks to the many reviewers who take the time to update and post. It was very helpfull reading other's reviewes and surely help my late decision to spend almost $750 upgrading my fork and adding the seat post. It is my turn to add some feedback.
1. The original bike is legendary for a reason. It is great fun to ride and support even older ridders (almost 43) with stiffer bones. The handling and soft tail feeling are great and hard to beat. I've demoed twice a new Fuel 98 from a friend and am sure that the bontrager is much more fun even down hill in 99% of trails and terrains. The only problem (was not there when the bike was new but very consistent now) is the chain suck in muddy condittions. This can be very painfull especially when friends with less legendary names experience no chain issue in the same conditions. Currently the only remedy is changing my bad shifting habbits and it holds fairly well since I tried it.
2. Marzocchi upgrade was done after the old Judy XC gave up 2 months ago at the Demostration Forrest trail. After that the rides were traumatic for my arms and I had to give up this great bike or upgrade. After reading all the reviewes I had no doubt I was ready for the upgrade which I am very happy with. I have looked into the option of changing the tube to 1 1/8 (~$350) but understood that the geometry will change a bit and decided to go with the only option I saw. I have ridden the bike only 3 times after the upgrade and it is clear that the bike is heavier to carry (not to ride in any way) despite the Chris King and Ritchy WCS top end products I added. The ride is extremely plusher and faster down hill on rough terrain and I can't wait to add the Thudbuster to the equation (waiting on a nut). The climbes with the new shock and furthermore the out off saddle attacks, introduced me to mr. bob which I knew formerly only from other's reviewes or my FS experiences. I'll try to ride with higher air pressure to see if the bob gain worth the loss of some plushness. I have talked much about the little issues I've experienced just to help others but the bike is realy great and I can't even think of departing from them. All the great reviewes are well put and the Bontrager legend is alive. Happy trails.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Saratoga Gap

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $999.00

Purchased At:   Bike Outfitter

Similar Products Used:   Trek 6500, multiple old dualley test rides and lately 2003 Trek Fuel 98 FS

Bike Setup:   97 Privateer Comp with original full XT, stock old Bontrager wheels, seat post and saddle, new 2004 Marzocchi MX Comp (replaced the Judy XC), Chris King HS, Ritchey WCs Stem and handlebar. I have purchased but installed yet the Cane Creek Thudbuster seat post yet.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jeff Hiestand a Cross Country Rider from Toledo, OH. USA

Date Reviewed: November 24, 2003

Strengths:    Excellent build quality, beautiful(but durable)paint, Classic Frameset, Santa Cruz built, Outstanding Ride.

Weaknesses:    1 inch headtube...but can be worked with*

Bottom Line:   
I bought this frame back in 1998 while Santa Cruz had 3 left in my size 'S'(according to the shop). It represented my dream frame at the time...that belief still holds true 6 years later. What has been said by the majority of reveiwers is absolutely true. This bike handles telepathically at speed on rolling singletrack. It climbs like a demon on WV singletrack and fire roads. It descends predictably and is resilient enough to take the edge off the trail-even w/o the suspension post. In short, I believe strongly that there is no finer handling hardtail to be found. If you find one do not let the 1" head tube keep you from buying. It takes a little cash, and some hunting for the parts, but you can build up a nice light fork for this superior frame.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   potowatomi trail MI

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $800.00

Purchased At:   bikeworks, sylvania OH.

Similar Products Used:   Specialized stumpjuper, Specialized rockhopper

Bike Setup:   Full XT drivetrain, XTR V-brakes, Valient rims built w/ XTR hubs & DT revolution spokes, Judy SL with englund air, Ritchey bars, Salsa stem, King headset, Specialized tires, U.S.E. suspension post, Flite saddle.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by shaun a Cross Country Rider from moss beach

Date Reviewed: October 19, 2003

Strengths:    works great, easy on the body, very well engineered, fab geometry, looks like a cool bike...

Weaknesses:    the 1" inch head tube problem can be overcome, but it is a hinderance. it really is too bad these frames, and whatever was coming next out of that santa cruz shop are not.

Bottom Line:   
i have saved so much money by ignoring fasion/corporate hores like cuningham and the bike wreckeing crewwe who insist you got to replace your bike every month. this bike works great, and show no inclination to quit doing so. i squirt anti rust stuff in it and slaather grease on the exterior rust prone bits and it keeps working. i wish i could haave a xl long instead of a xl for my monkey clide self.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   dirt ones

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $2000.00

Purchased At:   doug's

Similar Products Used:   lots of flavor of the month stuff, some of it very good. i have really not enjoyed aluminum bikes.

Bike Setup:   xt front der , xtr rr reat der, xt hollowtech cranks, 2002 zokes super flys, chris king hs, chris king and valinant wheels... um, rock shox seat post, im a wus.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Trip a Cross Country Rider from Tunbridge, VT

Date Reviewed: September 12, 2003

Strengths:    Beautiful welds. Supple ride. Handles like a dream. Has most of the benefits of Ti with none of the drawbacks of Al.

Weaknesses:    If you're nit picky, you won't like the stickers that peel off after a while. "Anti-chain suck thing" doesn't work for an XT MicroDrive set up.

Bottom Line:   
I bought this Race frame back in '95 and it is totally bomb proof. Bomb proof frame with double gussets for strength and a sweet arse ride. After 8 years of riding it into the ground and it's none the worse for wear, I'm buying another steel frame and upgrading some of my components to modern tech stuff. If you're looking for on Old School Classic Ride look no further.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $700.00

Similar Products Used:   This was my first steel frame after riding a Cannondale M1000 for two years.

Bike Setup:   XT deraillurs. XT cranks. Chris King headset. Mag 21 (yes I'm about to upgrade). Grip Shift. Syncros seatpost. Control Tech stem. Avid TriAlign calipers. Salsa skewers. Machine tech front hub. XT rear hub. Selle Ittalia Flite saddle.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tom a Cross Country Rider from Waterloo, IA, USA

Date Reviewed: August 4, 2003

Strengths:    Quality geometry. Feel of real steel. Dreamy, thinking-not-required handling. Well placed gussets.

Weaknesses:    That derned 1" head tube...why did all the fork manufacturers close the door on us!! Would have been super cool with a custom headbadge.

Bottom Line:   
Without a doubt, the best handling bike I've ever ridden. The only thing that comes close in my experience was the Gary Fisher Marlin (rigid) I had, but that pales by comparison. I almost don't even think about riding this bike, it's like an extension of my own body. It knows where to go far before I know where to aim it.
It is a very lively climber and yet not too sketchy on downhill sections. The choice of 4130 CrMo was maybe the best part of this quality build. Not too flexy, not too rigid, just the perfect steel ride. It is what all bikes should ride like.
I am really wishing that the fork manufacturers had not left the 1" frames out to dry. Maybe in light of it, I will buy a nice rigid fork for it and forget suspension altogether...it's not like anyone really needs it anyway??
I wish that KB could have kept this part of his business afloat! It is truly dismal that a bike with a ride quality such as this was swallowed up by Trek and discontinued forever. I will not forget, for my Bonny will live on forever. If you can find one in your size, BUY IT!! You will not be disappointed!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   The dirt ones

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   Mark's basement

Similar Products Used:   Gary Fisher hardtail, Trek hardtail, Schwinn hardtail, Specialized hardtail

Bike Setup:   1x8 speed setup with the infernal Judy XC, Paul brakes and levers

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mason a Cross Country Rider from Sunnyvale, South SF Bay Area, CA

Date Reviewed: July 30, 2003

Strengths:    A perfect bike. Takes singlestrack to a whole new level; climbs like a home-sick angel. Fun, light, fun, rare, fun, fast, and... uh.... fun.

Weaknesses:    I believe it is sacriledge to say "Weaknesses" and "Bontrager" in the same sentence.

Actually, in stock form, the bike has a 1-inch headtube, and thus a horrible Judy on it. However....


Bottom Line:   
Admittedly this is the only real mountain bike I've ever owned. However, I've ridden many others, and had this Bontrager Race Lite for five years and thousands of miles. Just a note: I am reviewing MY bike, in it's current form, with the new fork and great wheels, as opposed to it's stock form (which I haven't ridden in almost five years). I just doesn't get any better than this.

The only problem w/ old (and REAL, pre-Trek) Bontragers is the 1-inch headtube. However, there's a guy in Santa Cruz (Paul @ Rock Lobster Cycles), who will hack off the old headtube, put on a 1 1/8 incher, give it a beautiful paint job, and put some real Bontrager stickers on it for only a couple hundred dollars. Considering the fact that this bike is a screaming deal to begin with, it has a horrible stock fork, it will last almost forever, and it's one of the greatest ever built, I thought this was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The new SID World Cup on it completes the bike, making it THE greatest ever built.

Many other bikes must be man-handled and forced through singletrack. Others can get by in singletrack. Many make singletrack fun. This bike disappears, becomes one with the rider, and simulates flying a very, very low altitude jet, on rails, through trees. I won't bash this bike for being bad at something it was in no way designed to do; so I'll say that on really bouncy, steep, loose fireroads, it's fine. My slicks are light, fast-rolling, and rail singletrack, but are not so good on loose stuff.

Climbing frequently becomes a pleasure (yes, I'm one of *those* guys-the weird ones). The bike is so light, with such good geometry, it fairly eats up hills. Long grinders, technical singletrack uphills w/ switchbacks galore, they all fall prey to the Bontrager. I can concentrate on my body, what I'm doing wrong, thinking about the climb, etc., instead of thinking how much I hate lugging my bike uphill, and loathing whoever invented uphills.

Long rides are not a problem. The steel soaks up all the little trails vibrations, only requiring the rider to stand on really bike stuff. I once had a rider w/ a Sugar Team edition (something like 3.5 inches rear travel) ask me (on the steel hardtail), "How can you sit down for so long on the singletrack?" Apparently it's smoother than some dual suspenders. I was once again impressed w/ the old Bonty. On the other hand (don't ask me how Keith does all this), the bike is generally snappy when need be. When I rode the Klein (an aluminum bike known for being VERY stiff), I noticed very little difference in acceleration and responsiveness in turns, compared w/ the Bonty. But the Klein was much more painful over long rides. I'm tellin' ya, there's magic in a Santa Cruz-built Bontrager. There's no other way to describe it.

It feels weird to finally review this bike after I've had it so long, and it isn't made anymore, but I figure some lucky guy or girl will find one of these gems, overlook the old part groupo, take it home, love it, ride it, upgrade it, and love it some more.

PS- If I've missed something, assume the Bonty does it REALLY well.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $1300.00

Purchased At:   Chain Reaction

Similar Products Used:   Klein Attitude Pro, Superlight, and a few one-time rides.

Bike Setup:   XTR, Dave's Speed Dream wheels (the best!), SID World Cup (that's not a typo, read on). Geax Hubi slicks (the best!), Chris King, Thomson. 22.5 lbs, and it could be 1-2 pounds lighter.

Reviews 1 - 15 (91 Reviews Total) | Next 15

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating


18" frame - odd-feeling position

Hi guys, I just bought my first mountain bike in almost 10 years. The thing is I got it online, and one of my biker friends, roughly the same size as i am, said I should get a size M, L being reccommended as too big. I got it online, so I had no chance to test it before. I'm 6"2, inseam 34. The bi ... Read More »

Anodizing my frame

I want to have my frame anodized but don't know where. Can someone help me out with a place to send/take it to?Read More »

Anodizing my frame

I want to get my frame anodized but don't know where. Can anyone point me in the right direction?Read More »

Paid Spam: 2010 Hifi Frame

Frame for sale, 2010 Gary Fisher Hifi Pro, size medium. [url=http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showproduct.php?product=87812]2010 Gary Fisher Hifi 29 Frame - Buy and Sell and Review Mountain Bikes and Accessories[/url] I switched sizes to a large Superfly, so the medium must go. Thanks for looking.Read More »

650b/27.5 Titanium frame manufacturers

As topic. What options are there? I know On-One make Ti-frames, but they are not planning on introducing any 27.5.Read More »

Read More »



 

Enduro Compare-O

Contests





   

MTBR on Facebook