Bontrager XR3 Tire

2.2/5 (15 Reviews)
MSRP : $29.99

Product Description

Bontrager's XR3 tire has an open, aggressive tread pattern with a fast-rolling center region and strong, aggressive shoulders so you can ride one tire with confidence in a wide variety of trail conditions. The tire for those who ride everywhere and prefer to use a single tire in every condition.

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Reviews 1 - 15 (15 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:3
Submitted by David a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: July 22, 2015

Strengths:    light weight
Great mix of traction and speed for cross country and all mountain. Have not had them wash out on me at high speed or in races
Super Super fast on hardpack and typical Syndey sandstone terrain.
high resistance to flats despite having rolled across sharp igneous rock and typical sharp sandstone pebbles.
OK wear characteristics. seemed to wear fast initially but then have stabilised.

Weaknesses:    More expensive than some compeditors
not so great in clay where they clog up a bit.
Go for an XR4 if you are planning more endeauro terrain or deep sand.
Sidewalls show suprising evidence of scuffs with hints of the canvas pattern showing. Does not appear to have impacted the structural rigidity.
Slow on tarmac - as expected

Bottom Line:   
This review is specifically for the 2014 XR3 Expert 29 x 2.3 as provided on the 2014 Fuel EX 8 29er.

I ride these tires using tubes most weekends on my local terrain which is best described as typical Sydney Sandstone
basin. All mountain mix of sand, sandstone, tree roots, clay and gravel. often damp or wet. I have only had 2 pinch flats in that whole time. One of which was due to me having the pressure way to low.

These tires have done about 1300km in that time and still have about 50% tread left. They did seem to wear fast initially but then stabilised. I focus on speed, cornering and flow and find these tyres perfect for that. They are great when cornering as they have more knobs between the centre and outer tread than a Maxxis Ardent so no weird feeling as you lean over. They always provide you feedback when you are close to the limit. They can be caught out occasionally by wet diagonal tree roots. I have noticed that the rubber on the sidewalls seems to be wearing and showing hints of the canvas patten underneath. However this appears to be an asthetic issue as the tires have not had any blow outs or cuts.

They do get out of their depth and slip when doing extreme technical uphill/downhill endeauro style riding or in deep mud or clay. Deep soft sand also is pushing their limits. Several people I know use an XR4 at the front for that terrain with an XR3 on the back for speed.

For their relatively light weight, I consider these tires an excellent match to the dual 120mm travel XC/trail focus of my bike. I would highly recommend them to beginner/intermediate riders and amateur racers who want a responsive tire that will not surprise them. They are definitely not pure race tires but they are light and fast and I have raced several trail events with no problem,

I like them so much so that I am likely going to replace them with the slightly lighter XR3 Team Issue and go tubeless next time.
Note that I have also considered Bontrager XR4's, Maxxis and Schwalbe as replacements however they seem to be a lot heavier and less suitable for my style.

Expand full review >>

Bike Setup:   120mm Dual suspension 29er.

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by Guy a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: May 31, 2015

Strengths:    Not a slow tire

Weaknesses:    very poor uphill traction, looks slimmer than claimed, bad in loose conditions.

Bottom Line:   
Its just not a good tire...

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Dean Wiseman a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: November 30, 2014

Strengths:    None

Weaknesses:    No traction on hard pack, slightly lose dirt or pebbles, or roots. Or anything else

Bottom Line:   
I have been riding a 26" hard tail for 20 years. I just bought a 2014 Trek Fuel EX 8 with the 29" Bontrager XR3 Expert tires. Today was my inaugural ride. I planned to ride a trail that I have ridden a million times to get used to the bike. Within a mile I hit the ground harder than I can ever remember hitting it. I was going down a slight grade with a fair amount of roots when the front tire washed out on a root, I was caught totally by surprise! I go through this area almost every time I ride, it is really not a technical area, crashing here has never come into my mind. Still surprised, I got back on the bike and continued excitedly. Within 30 seconds I was taking a hard left onto a 15" wide bridge, the fronttire washed out causing me to shoot off the bridge. Again, a first for me. Needless to say, I rode in fear the rest of the ride. These tires slid on every root and rock that I did not hit at a 90 degree angle. I was not able to carry any speed through the turns for fear of washing out. I will have different tires before I ride again.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 ride

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Tim a Racer

Date Reviewed: January 11, 2014

Strengths:    Loose over hard pack, Southwest Arizona rocks, control in pebbly corners

Weaknesses:    When pressure is too low you'll start to feel less control in corners

Bottom Line:   
This is a review of the newly designed 2013 and later XR3 for 26" (the 29er is the same tread design, just in the bigger wheel size).

Ok, let me just say that the old XR3 design was crap. The new design however, is fantastic. I'm an avid Cat 1 racers and I only run Schwalbe tires, but after having the opportunity to ride the new XR3 in the lose and rocky Arizona trails I'm sold. The handling and cornering is fantastic. Grip in pebbly turns is predictable and I've never felt a tire track so nicely when things get loose.

I'm running the XR3 as a front tire on my 2011 top fuel and the XR1 on the rear. Both setup tubeless, and both 26". I'm about 135lbs and run 23.5 psi in the front, I found if I go much lower the knobs start to deform in the corners and I lose traction.

The entire Bontrager line is now TLR (tubeless ready). I ran this tire at 2013 mtb nationals where the course was insanely rocky with potential spots to puncture (there were over 100 flat tires) and it was great. I've never flatted it (been riding it for a year when they first came out.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   McDowell Mtn, AZ

Duration Product Used:   1 year

Purchased At:   n/a

Similar Products Used:   Schwalbe Nobby Nic

Bike Setup:   2011 Top Fuel 9.9 SSL

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Marc2211 a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: October 6, 2013

Strengths:    Solid grip and response on dry pack, fire trails, moderate woodland tracks.

Weaknesses:    Slow rolling, not huge amounts of grip on rough trails.

Bottom Line:   
I'll premise this by saying that I have only used these tires on 2 rides so far, so this is very much a review on 'first impressions';

I usually ride on 2.2 Maxxis Ardents, but XR3 tires were on my new Fuel Ex when it was delivered, so thought I'd give them a go - all in all, I found them to be pretty good for XC riding. Reading the other reviews, I thought that I'd be riding some kind of death trap sled bike with these equipped, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Not too much vibration on the flat, decent enough grip on some moderately damp woodland trails, seemed to dig in pretty well on sandy trails when climbing (although not as much as the Ardent's). I'd not buy them personally (yet), but plan on keeping them equipped for the next few months to see how they bed in.

Expand full review >>

Similar Products Used:   Maxxis Ardent

Bike Setup:   Trek Fuel Ex 29er

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by OZ QLD XC MTB

Date Reviewed: August 16, 2013

Strengths:    good fast-rolling centre and very fast on fire trail

Weaknesses:    cornering on loose single trail makes like interesting (keep up insurance payments !), when jumping at speed on hard mud can skid,

Bottom Line:   
They come standard on Fuel EX8 , great bike but TREK should consider better grip tyre.

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Chuck

Date Reviewed: June 2, 2013

Strengths:    None

Weaknesses:    The 2012 version of this tire sucks. Where the center tread forms an "S" curve - it leaves an almost 2" gap where there is nearly zero traction on any type surface - asphalt, hardpack, loose gravel, rocks, EVERTHING! They do a slip-grab, slip-grap, on and on. Makes for a very exciting ride. I bought a 2012 EX8 with these tires and they are going in the trash ASAP - I have a new set of Kenda's on the way. If you have these tires on your bike, get them off at once. They are dangerous!

Bottom Line:   
Do not use this tire

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:2
Submitted by ben a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: April 15, 2013

Strengths:    Great rolling speed, and wetter conition.... That's it!

Weaknesses:    All of the above!
Zero traction on dry, sandy condition. Southern Californian's stay away.
Tread life is pathetic, rode them for 3 months and they are nearly destroyed.

Bottom Line:   
These came stock on my 2013 Fuel Ex 8 and lets just say the main purpose must be to protect the wheels for shipping. They sure weren't meant to keep the bike on the trail. I live in so-cal so primarily ride dry/sandy technical trails.
I have washed out more times than I can imagine because there is absolutely zero side rail grip. With that said there is no chance of being able to predict the slide like most good tires. The slide with these tires will put you on the floor trust me. Any sprinkle of sand on a turn and expect to loose it. I did happen to take the same trail that I was slipping and sliding on after a sprinkle, and it did grip well. Positive note it does roll better than i thought.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Mathis or Rock-It Alliso

Duration Product Used:   3 Months

Bike Setup:   Trek Fuel Ex8 2013

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by XC lover

Date Reviewed: March 9, 2013

Strengths:    Low price with side track. Better rolling in the center especially hard dirt track not so well for wet track

Weaknesses:    Not so well with wet track. The compound of tires not durable easy peel off

Bottom Line:   
Fair to good performance. But good price

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Bridger

Date Reviewed: January 17, 2013

Strengths:    None

Weaknesses:    No tracking at all
Washes out when cornering

Bottom Line:   
These came stock on my Trek Fuel Ex 7. They suck, replaced them almost immediately.

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by Dresdenlock

Date Reviewed: November 12, 2012

Strengths:    Light..Rolled well

Weaknesses:    Grip

Bottom Line:   
these came stock on my Trek EX5..and I liked how light and how well they rolled..but the grip is something lacking..going up hills and cornering would sometimes be a new adventure in fear..there was a few times where these skidded (more than usual) and I was off the trail where normally this would never happen..I think they are ok for greenways things like that..but a real trail that has some tech to

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Raj a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: June 1, 2012

Strengths:    None for Southern California riding, unless you like wasting all your energy climbing and being scared out of your mind descending.

Weaknesses:    Would slide out all over the place when going downhill. Absolutely no grip when climbing in or out of the saddle.

Bottom Line:   
I ride hardpack and loose rocks/sand here in So Cal. After 3 rides I gave up on these tires and ordered some Bontrager XR1's. My fantastic Trek Fuel EX frame was completely ruined by giving it these stock tires. I had more confidence on my hardtail with CST's than on my Trek Fuel with XR3's. Even my friend riding behind me noticed how much my tail was skidding out. NO GRIP.

Expand full review >>

Similar Products Used:   CST Caballero, Bontrager XR1

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by g-hed

Date Reviewed: May 25, 2012

Strengths:    Good traction and cornering grip on dry hardpack and in moist conditions.

Weaknesses:    Amazingly sluggish.

Bottom Line:   
Got these on my Trek Elite 9.7. I noticed a big increase in traction and grip over my old Vredestein Tiger Claws but man they are slow in comparison. I haven't had them wash out or lose grip unpredictably as yet but as expected they do lose some grip in the wet. Without trying too hard I have more confidence around corners resulting in faster times down the hill, but definitely not overall faster around the whole course. I might not be pushing the tyres as hard as I should because I don't want to crash my nice new bike. Keep in mind though that I am a lightweight aggressive XC rider.

I can't comment on durability as I have only done 30km or so.

I might keep these tyres for wetter conditions that my WTB Wolverines can't handle. If they don't perform I'll shell out for some faster wet weather tyres.

4 Stars for grip and traction
2 Stars for rolling resistance

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by micmorri a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: May 24, 2012

Strengths:    Roll fast

Weaknesses:    Slide out from under you in dry dusty conditions. Slides and gets sideways while rolling over small-large diagonal roots.

Bottom Line:   
Today was the first and only time I have ridden these tires, and the only reason is because they were on my new bike. I was going to swap them with my Kenda SB8's, but I just wanted to get out there and rip it. I also kinda wanted to see how these tires performed before I swapped them. Let me just say I have never been as terrified riding a bike as I was with these under me. Initially dropping into the trail I knew something was off. I felt the tire skidding out from under me in a banked flowy slalom section. My fears were realized in a technical section when the tire suddenly slipped out from under me in an area Ive ridden hundreds of times with Kenda SB8's without issue, sending me into a tree at full speed. After that you could say I rode a little timid for the rest of the day. Never again will I touch these tires. By the looks of them they could be decent on more of a muddy to tacky trail, but I will never know because I have Nevegals for that. Suffice it to say these weren't the best tires Ive ever encountered, and unless your living in Washington, where its always wet, I wouldn't touch them.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Leverich Canyon Bozeman, MT

Purchased At:   Richardson Bike Mart

Similar Products Used:   Kenda Nevegals
Kenda Small Block 8's

Bike Setup:   Brand new 2012 Trek Fuel EX8

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:2
Submitted by ChewynMe a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: May 17, 2012

Strengths:    Very good handling in moderately sandy conditions.
Good control/handling on dry packed & wet tracks.
Works well at lower pressures 35-40psi.
Good control/handling at normal and higher pressures 45-55.

Weaknesses:    Lack of speed overall through the trails.
Lacks grip (rear) in wet/soft conditions.

Bottom Line:   
This tire's review is it's grade for overall use as a pair on your ride (front and rear). Also, when considering value Bontragers price of $60 was the reference point.

As a front tire for use in a multitude of situations this is a great option for many riders. Though it was not ridden in the moutainous trails of NC, it was put to a tough test here in FL. My trail riding includes muddy conditions, wet (non-muddy) conditions, hard packed clay trails, hard packed/occasionally sandy trails, and all of them have 15-20ft drops and inclines. This tire will get into the corner, stick, and bring you out precisely on the line you chose with no room for worry.

As a rear tire the tread pattern leaves a lot to be desired. This tire clearly failed miserably in slighty/moderately muddy conditions. When the trails were dry and packed there was an increase in dig/grip, but overall was sluggish/slow through all conditions.

My plans are to remove this tire from the rear and keep it as a front spare, or maybe unload it to someone else who needs a decent front. My next step will be replacing the rear, and after looking through just how many options are out there at the many different price points, I am certain I will be able to purchase a much better substitute at a much better price than the XR3 from Bontrager.

Reviews 1 - 15 (15 Reviews Total)

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