Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 27.5 x 2.8in tyre review

A smooth and stable plus-tyre

BikeRadar score4.5/5
  • Weight: 900g
  • Width: 68mm (35mm internal rim @ 15 psi)

Bontrager has made decent tyres for years, but its latest generation rubber puts it right at the top of the rankings across all sizes.

Unlike some previous super-tight and stubbornly lop-sided Bontrager TLR tyres, fitting and symmetrical seating of the latest Team Issue tyres is stress free.

Security is good right through the pressure range and, even with the prodigious grip they offer, and a relatively light weight, the 60tpi sidewall reinforcing skirts mean you have to drop them very low on the PSI before squirming and folding become an issue.

The sidewall reinforcement and 120tpi base carcass combine to give an impressively stable, cushioned feel over rocks and roots too, carrying speed smoothly where other tyres stutter and stop.

As long as you mount them on a reasonable rim width (Bontrager recommend a 35mm as a good starting point) they don’t ricochet off big landings or square edge wallops like a lot of high-volume sub-kilo tyres do.

If you want even more surefooted stability and 25 percent (according to Bontrager) more puncture protection, then the SE4 is the dedicated Enduro option with a sturdier carcass and sidewall and sub-tread reinforcement. That currently only exists up to a 2.6in size though.

Back to the XR4 and the 3-2-3 ramped and siped tread with 61-duro centre and 50-duro shoulders rolls efficiently but sticks corners with confidence in all weathers.

The remodelled cut for the 2.8in tyre is deep and aggressive enough to work okay in wetter winter conditions where plus-tyres normally struggle too.

Cut, scuff and wear resistance is good, so while the £20 price-hike compared to the 2.6in version is high, it’s still less than similar premium-performance plus-tyres from other brands. This puts the XR4 into pole position for year-round use where you want decent grip and damping without obviously compromised roll or crushing weight.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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