In Trek’s three cross-country tyre line-up, the Bontrager Team Issue TLR uses a very low profile tread pattern that’s shared across the three tyres from the XR1 at the lightest end of the scale to the XR3 for extra grip at the other.
Splitting the difference, the XR2 I’ve tested is a fast-rolling tyre that performs best in dry and hardpack conditions.
The Bontrager XR2 Team Issue TLR is also the tyre of choice for the Trek Factory Racing XC race team.
Bontrager XR2 Team Issue TLR 29 x 2.2in details
The XR2 has been designed for racing on dry to hardpack trail conditions with an emphasis on low weight.
It uses a high-quality 120 TPI casing, the sidewalls are reinforced with an Inner Strength lightweight nylon casing design, and it offers easy tubeless installation.
Bontrager has formulated its own tread compound aimed at boosting cornering traction, while claiming to lower straight line rolling resistance for maximum speed on XC race courses.
The 29 x 2.2in tyres I tested weighed 647g.
- Using as a rear tyre
- XC use in hardpack conditions
- Pairing with Bontrager’s XR3 for more hardcore riding
Bontrager XR2 Team Issue TLR 29 x 2.2in performance
Thanks to the low weight and minimum rolling resistance afforded by the shallow tread pattern, the Bontrager XR2 Team Issue makes ridiculous levels of speed easily attainable and should help XC racers who want to go flat-out fast everywhere achieve those goals.
The speed potential was noticeable right from the off and helped me scorch climbs and fly through singletrack.
The widely spaced blocks and supple sidewall deliver decent grip over obstacles and they don’t feel as delicate as their looks and low weight might suggest. They showed good durability against pinch flats and sidewall damage, resisting rips and tears during the testing period.
The flipside to all that lovely speed is limited traction when the trail gets loose and blown out, or slippery with exposed roots in the wet.
I found myself holding onto the brakes longer on the descents because the tyres aren’t as reassuring through the turns or when trying to brake hard into corners, which limits their appeal to experienced XC riders. This means they’re not as versatile or predictable as Bontrager claims.
The chunkier XR3 fitted to the front boosted braking traction and gave more confidence on technical descents while not impacting the overall speed capability all that much.
For dry, dusty trails, the pure exhilaration of speed the XR2s give, especially in capable hands, is hard to rebuke, but they aren’t very reassuring in wet conditions and braking traction is compromised by the low-profile tread pattern.
Tubeless installation was a breeze using just a floor pump on the DT Swiss XR1501 control wheels.
Bontrager XR2 Team Issue TLR 29 x 2.2in bottom line
A supremely fast and lightweight tyre that will suit XC racers wanting the feeling of speed on dry and hardpack courses. They don’t suit all conditions, or riders wanting a bit more confidence from their rubber, though.
How we tested
We pitted 10 of the best cross-country-style tyres against each other to find out which we think is worth your time and money.
- Continental Race King BlackChili Protection tyre
- Maxxis Ardent EXO TR 29 x 2.25in
- Maxxis Crossmark II EXO TR
- Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo TLE 29 x 2.25in
- Schwalbe Rocket Ron Super Ground SpeedGrip
- Schwalbe Racing Ray Addix Speed 29 x 2.25i
- Specialized Ground Control
- Vittoria Barzo TNT tyre
- WTB Ranger TCS Light Fast Rolling