Tested: Bontrager Line Pro 30 Wheels

Saying the two words ‘carbon’ and ‘wheel’ would send your credit card running to hide under the couch, with brands like Reynolds, ENVE doing wheels around and above the $3K mark, yikes! Sure, there is carbon, and there is ‘carbon’, and there is also a myriad of lesser-known or even imitation brands selling wheels for under $1500.

The Line 30 are a $1698 pair of wheels for the trail/all-mountain/enduro segment, available in 27.5″ and 29″ in Boost hub spacing only.

The Bontrager Line 30s are understated in appearance, with the graphics sealed under a clear coat, so no peeling stickers!

Bontrager’s name is a very reputable one; they only do quality stuff, found primarily on Trek bikes. Though over the last few years we’ve seen products like their tyres, saddles, shoes, helmets and wheels become some of the best, and worthy to fit on any brand of bike. We doubt we’d have the same confidence with many other bike brand’s in-house componentry lines.


Cool, so they aren’t over the top expensive, and we dig Bontrager’s stuff. How did the wheels ride?

Stiff, very stiff. We fitted the Line 30s to our Norco Sight after an excellent term riding the Wheelworks Flite Wide Alloy wheels; a 35mm wide aluminium wheelset handbuilt in Wellington, NZ. The Wheelworks wheels felt great, they had a huge air volume and we relished in running lower tyre pressures for traction and feel. Swapping to the narrower profile Bontrager wheels which measure 29mm internally, the bike instantly felt less supple, but definitely more direct and laterally stiff.

Upgrading to carbon wheels added rigidity and speed to our Norco.

The freehub in the rear wheel feels nice and solid with great engagement and a sophisticated sound of quality. We only serviced it once, and give the sealing and ease of serviceability two thumbs up. And after five months of hammering, they are straight and true, never requiring any attention with a spoke key to tension or straighten.


Stiff is good, right?

Well, yes, and no, the best wheels achieve a balance. We’ve ridden wheels that are too stiff that lack feel and compliance, and on the other hand, we’ve found plenty of wheels with underwhelming performance due to their lateral rigidity.

We’d say they the Bontragers are on the stiffer end of stiff-o-meter providing a very direct feeling when you move the bike around and jump hard on the cranks. Holding a straight line through a rock-strewn trail or sliding the wheels sideways with the rear brake on displayed a wheel with good feel and a nice balance of stiffness and compliance.

Rolling along the 1700g set of wheels feels light and fast, a worthy upgrade to add some speed to your steed, for sure.


Arrgh, the terror of the tubeless rim strips!

In our first impressions piece on the wheels, we praised the hard plastic tubeless rim strips. We expected them to be robust, removable without the need for sticking tape, and to provide a firm connection between the bead of the tyre for a strong bond between tyre and rim. But my-oh-my was that last part true. The tyre and rim strip practically glued together after three months of use, the Schwalbe Performance Nobby Nic and Magic Mary with a standard dose of Orange Seal tubeless sealant were stuck on the wheels, no matter how hard we tried.

The hard plastic tubeless rim strips are a great concept but drove us up the wall.
We traded the supplied strips for standard tubeless rim tape.

We did find the thick plastic strips to make tyre installation a little tight, but it was the removal that had us swearing and bringing out unconventional techniques in an attempt to release the tyre’s bead from the inside of the rim strip. It broke us. We eventually (many failed attempts) broke the tyre away using a thin tyre lever, and have since removed the supplied strips and installed plain old tubeless rim tape, and we’ve not encountered any issue since. No rolling tyres off at low pressures, leaking air or anything. Maybe it was an unfortunate combination of Orange Seal sealant and Schwalbe tyres? We don’t know, but that’s just what happened.


Yay, or nay?

Our great experience with the Bontrager Line 30 wheels on the trail was a little marred by the tubeless strip saga; we can’t say the same for everybody experiencing what we did.

We like their understated appearance, stiff and precise feeling on the trail, the easy to service and well-sealed freehub and of course the impressive pricing, under $1700.


Want more specs, pricing and compatibility options?

Wander over to Bontrager’s wheel lineup page on their site for more: https://www.trekbikes.com/au/en_AU/equipment/cycling-components/bike-wheels/mountain-bike-wheels-wheelsets/c/E418/

Tested: Zelvy Carbon Funn PDL Wheels

We have spent two months on these Zelvy wheels, with wide carbon rims, Funn hubs and dialled custom coloured stickers. Did we dig them? Does a bear s#*t in the woods?_low0389


Who’s Zelvy, and what are these wheels?

Zelvy is an Australian based brand doing many things with carbon including bars, bottle cages, chain guides, carbon rotors and rims for road and mountain bikes. For a young little company based in Toowoomba, QLD, they already have had a big impact on the scene by providing high quality products direct to the consumer at reasonable prices with excellent warranty terms.

All wheels are pre-built for despatch and Zelvy also carry all spares for all the hub options available. For the maddest Zelvy fans, there is the Podium Elite Program, a membership rewards program that can include everything from discounts, to free crash replacements.

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This isn’t our first experience with Zelvy Carbon wheels, though, we had a great set of 35mm wheels on our Trek Fuel EX 29 early last year, they gave that bike some serious grip and sturdiness that it needed to push it a little harder.  zelvy-wheels-2Check out that review here – Zelvy Carbon 35 29er Pro wheelset.


Why the different width rims? And does it work?

The front rim’s internal width measures 36mm and rear is 30mm wide internally. The different internal rim widths allow for better tyre profiles (a wider, more aggressive tyre at the front paired with something slightly thinner and faster rolling on the rear). It sure makes a lot of sense to us and addresses a criticism we tend to have with wide rims – drag.

35mm rim up front, we changed tyre pressures to suit the terrain, but got as low as 16 psi.
35mm rim up front, we changed tyre pressures to suit the terrain but got down as low as 16 psi.
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Hookless, tubeless ready and wide.

35mm of rim width up the front gives the bike a whole lot to lean on in the turns, with the front tyre taking a seriously broad shape with huge air volume. The effect is instant, traction in spades! With lower tyre pressures the tyre conforms to the ground more, the width of the rim allows the low pressure without it squirming or rolling around like it would on a traditional width rim (around 19-23mm). And out back the slightly narrower rim doesn’t feel as draggy on the tarmac as the front wheel, a very good thing when it comes to acceleration, it’s the rear wheel that you need to wind up to get moving, after all.

Narrower tyres on the rear are common place on bikes, so why no the rim too?


How’d they feel?

We talk about ‘feel’ a lot in reference to carbon wheels; it’s the way they feel lively and energetic underneath you that we like. There’s the low weight to high stiffness ratio of course, but carbon seems to absorb shock whilst remaining stiff better than aluminium rims.

The Zelvy’s use traditional spokes and nipples which is handy for whoever has to maintain them, the spoke tension felt quite light to us, coming off a set of SRAM and Wheelworks wheels with much higher tension. On the trail, they felt smooth and direct, a nice balance between too stiff and wobbly.


Tough enough?

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The new-look carbon marble for 2017, very nice indeed!

Absolutely, they are tough enough for us on a 160mm travel enduro bike on Sydney’s rocky trails, three days at Mt Buller (the Delatite was particularly hard on wheels during opening weekend) and hammering the Flow and All Mountain Track at Thredbo during the Cannonball Festival. The wheels remain straight and true to this day, without taking a spoke key to them at all. Thumbs up, Zelvy!

During one particularly frightening moment on the freshly updated Abom DH track in Mt Buller we got offline and totally wailed a microwave-sized rock with the rear wheel, it was quite ugly to say the least. The tyre stood no chance, pissing out sealant everywhere reducing us to a halt. To the wheel’s credit the tyre didn’t unseat itself from the bead, so we continued to ride gently down the track to the waiting shuttle, once at the top we repaired the tyre without taking it off the wheel with a couple Dynaplugs, and pumped it back up, made easier with the tyre still stuck to the rim wall. We were back riding again in no time, and despite the monumental impact the wheel is 100% fine, that’s confidence inspiring for sure.

Long runs of Thredbo and racing at the Cannonball Festival certainly puts a set of wheels to test.
Long runs of Thredbo and racing at the Cannonball Festival certainly puts a set of wheels to test.

Funn Fantom hubs ok?

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Wind them up, hear them sing. These are great sounding hubs with very positive engagement.

More than ok, we found them to be stellar performers the whole time. The small brand Funn is best known for their bars and flat pedals that Sam Hill used for years, but we’ve not used their hubs until now. Firstly, they sound great! Not too loud it’s distracting or off-putting, but the rear wheel has a zinging freehub that changes pitch as the speed increases, everyone who heard or rode the bike was impressed (the important things in life…).

Secondly, the engagement is super quick and positive too with a 6-pawl design that engages every 3.5 degrees, adding to the fast reaction of the light rims, and hub bearings don’t show any signs of contamination or fatigue. We’re going to continue to use these wheels for a few more months as we have a BOX Components drivetrain to fit on the Canyon, the cassette uses a Shimano freehub body which is easily interchangeable with the SRAM XD Driver we have on now.

Zelvy offers three hub varieties with their MTB wheels, Funn, Industry 9 and ONYX. With Funn the lowest price option, perhaps not such a flashy name but we’re more than happy with them and are very competitive at 530 grams.


Custom process.

These wheels are sold online with international shipping; the process is pretty easy too with an option for each step of the way; choose wheel size, hub model, from rim width, front hub axle width, rear rim width, rear hub axle width and finally sticker options and colour.

We’d be daft not to mention the customisable stickers that are an option; they offer fifteen custom sticker sets on every wheel purchase. White and silver are the standard colours, but for twenty dollars extra you can buy any of the other thirteen options. We were pretty darn impressed with the job they did matching the wheels to the Canyon Strive, blue/orange fade and all!

Now that is colour matching!
Now that is colour matching!

Pretty impressed then?

These Zelvy wheels have been fantastic during our review, after two and a half months of pounding on our Canyon Strive, they’ve exceeded our expectations, and we’re happy to recommend them for someone looking to upgrade a vital part of their bike or add confidence to a race rig.

Click to build your own, and confirm pricing.

Tested: Stan’s Not Tubes ZTR Bravo Wheels

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Stan’s No Tubes may have cut their teeth in leading the charge in the early days of tubeless tyre conversions, they reinvented themselves as manufacturers of some of the lightest and most advanced rims and hubs, and are very highly regarded by riders in the know.

Who is Stan? Check out our interview with the man named Stan here: Interview: Stan ‘No Tubes’ Koziatek.

The ZTR Bravo is their latest all-mountain/enduro wheelset, used by the likes of Martin Maes on the Enduro World Series circuit. There’s a lot going on in these wheels, aside from their low weight the rim profile and construction is designed to reduce likelihood of pinch flats and improve compliance for a faster rolling wheel.

The BST (Bead Socket Technology) refers to the low profile rim sidewalls with no bead hook, this is said to help prevent pinch flats as the tyre won’t fold inward as far when compressed to the limit, when compared to a traditional hooked bead rim. There’s also the benefit of increased air volume to let the tyre conform to the terrain with greater ease.

The rims are 26.6mm wide inside, which might not sound as wide as many of the current trend of wheels coming out, but they claim there’s a point where too wide is not ideal.

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For more background on the features, check out this video from Stan’s No Tubes:


On the trail

The Bravo wheels went onto our Trek Remedy 27.5 test bike with a pair of WTB Trail Boss 2.4″ tyres, they sealed up with a cup of Stan’s Sealant and with only a track pump they went up just fine.

Whether it was the WTB tyres or the wheels, it was quite a tight fit but with a bit of elbow grease and tyre levers we got them on and lit up the trails straight away.

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These wheels certainly do feel very fast there’s no doubt about it, the low rolling weight is clear as day when you get on the pedals, the bike responds to your braking and pedalling energy instantly. Get the bike up to speed and it’s easy to keep it there, quite the ideal scenario really.

They don’t have that harsh stiffness that some carbon wheels have, kick the bike out sideways and the rear wheel doesn’t skip across the surface of the trail with a chattering sound, they feel slightly softer in this instance and maintain contact with the dirt nicely.

In the name of testing we put these wheels through absolute hell, there was never a tentative moment on the rocky trails, we wanted to see if we could pinch flat the tyres, dent the rims, put them out of true or worse. But despite our trying we never had one issue, nothing.

The rear hub is a rear loud one, whilst some love the noise of a loud freehub we’re divided. _LOW7359

The ZTR Bravo’s are not cheap, but we rate these wheels very highly, they have massive appeal to the rider looking to upgrade from classic narrow aluminium wheels, these will lift your ride to the next level.

Flow’s First Bite: Stan’s No Tubes ZTR Bravo Wheels

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Available in 26, 27.5 and 29″ in Team and Pro variants the ZTR Bravo is their new all mountain/trail/enduro wheelset with 28 spokes, low profile hookless sidewalls and an internal width of 26mm. By the sounds of it, they’ve applied the mantra – wider and stiffer isn’t always better.

Stan’s motivation behind the BST (Bead Socket Technology) low profile rim sidewalls with no bead hook is to help prevent pinch flats, as the tyre won’t fold inward as far when compared to a traditional hooked bead rim. There’s also the benefit of increased air volume which is a no-brainer.

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Low sidewalls with no bead hook.
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26mm internal width.
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The rims look significantly lower in profile than regular rims.
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The carbon is designed to absorb impacts for a faster rolling wheel.

Opting for a 26mm internal (32mm external) width for greater tyre support than a narrower rim, these aren’t wide as some of the new breed of ‘wide rims’ (Ibis 35mm, Specialized 30mm etc) claiming that there’s a point where wide becomes too wide.

The Bravo wheels also come with Stan’s new NEO hubs, a completely new hub for them, available in Shimano and SRAM freehubs.

Another interesting feature is what Stan’s calls ‘RiACT’ a certain compliance is built into the rims via a dedicated carbon layup, said to help absorb impacts on the trail for faster rolling. More on that in the video below.

NEO hubs, new from Stan's.
NEO hubs, new from Stan’s.

Pro – $2990 – Neo Ultimate hubs with 5° engagement and Sapim Custom Force triple-butted spokes.

Team – $2528 – Neo hubs with 10° engagement and Sapim Race double-butted spokes.

We’ll be fitting these to our Trek Remedy long term test bike for a thrashing, currently the Remedy is running on Shimano XTR Trail wheels, this should be a good comparison for sure. Stay tuned.

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Flow’s First Bite: Ibis 741 super-wide carbon wheels

Holy obesity epidemic, what have we got here?! Mountain bike rims have been trending wider and wider in recent years, but the new 650B Ibis 741 (and their 29er version, the 941) take things to a new level of phatness. Ibis aren’t known for their wheels, but we are super excited about testing these.

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Wide, deep and with under-the-radar graphics.

The width of these rims is not a gimmick or simple point of difference – there’s a perfectly sound basis for making mountain bike rims far wider than they have traditionally been. Ibis does a good job of explaining the theory in the video below, but in a nutshell, a wider rim should allow you to run a tyre at lower pressure, with greater stability and less tyre roll and, hence, less chance of burping air from a tubeless setup).

Of course, lower pressure equate to more grip and reduced rolling resistance on rough terrain, but dropping the pressures too far has traditionally meant a squirmy ride and a serious risk of a flat tyre or damaged rim – Ibis say their mega wide rims go a long way towards alleviating both of these problems.

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Very wide. Ibis includes a set of tubeless valves. Because the rim is so huge, the valves are a little longer than standard – worth noting if you’re packing a spare tube on a ride!

So just how wide are they? The 741s have an external with of 41mm and 35mm internal – that’s between 10-15mm wider than your standard cross-country or trail rim in both internal and external measurements. And believe it or not, the weight of these wheels actually puts them head-to-head with some seriously well regarded XC and trail wheelsets – the pair come in at just 1660g including tubeless valves.

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If you look closely, you can see that there’s no bead hook to secure the tyre. We were unsure of the concept when we first rode hookless rims a year ago, but we’ve since clocked up hundreds of kilometres on them without a single issue.

Other noteworthy elements? The rims use ‘hookless’ bead construction (similar to the Specialized Control wheels we tested last year) which gives the rim far greater impact strength and the tyre more volume. They’re also spoked in a very conventional manner, with 32 spokes front and rear in a two-cross pattern which will appeal to the mechanics out there.

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Available with Shimano or SRAM XD driver bodies. The conventional spokes and external nipples should make any maintenance much easier than some.

We’ll be fitting these wheels to a variety of bikes over the coming weeks and months. With the swathe of carbon wheels we’ve been riding lately (ENVE, Specialized and Bontrager amongst them) it will be very interesting to see how these unique offerings compare.

Flow’s First Bite: ENVE M60 Forty Wheels

We know, we know, at times working at Flow really sucks. When a courier stands at your door holding a big black cardboard box with ENVE written on it, you just want to throw the towel in and go home and sulk.

But there are times when we force ourselves to look at the positives, and accept the reality that fitting these wheels to our test bike will make it look totally sizzling hot, to the envy of our mates, but most importantly the riding performance of the bike they adorn will shoot through the roof.

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Oh dear, they do look good.

ENVE wheels are the cream of the crop, and also freaking expensive. The set we’ve got here are worth $3499, about as pricey as wheels come. BUT, we’ve had many stellar experiences with these carbon wheels and as we all know, wheels are one area of the bike that is always worth upgrading. So much of the bikes riding performance lies in its wheels.

ENVE60Forty 4

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Note the square profile of the inner walls? No more bead hook for the tyre to sit into. New technology for ENVE but we’ve seen it on wheels before, and it makes a lot of sense. It further increases the internal volume, plus it is a lighter and stronger section, all good things.

Recently ENVE expanded and remodelled their entire mountain bike lineup. Now you can spend mega bucks on four wheel types, in various diameters to suit four levels of riding. 50 Fifty for cross country, 60 Forty for trail, 70 Thirty for more gravity oriented trail riding, and the downhill specific 90 Ten wheel set.

Tape and valves, is all you need for the perfect tubeless conversion. Simple, and proven.
Tape and valves, is all you need for the perfect tubeless conversion. Simple, and proven.

We’ve just fitted the 60 Forty set in 27.5″ (650B) to our Lapierre Zesty long term test bike. We weighed our pair at 1540g with the tubeless strips and valves fitted, which is pretty damn amazing for a rim with 23mm internal width. The 1650g Easton Haven wheels (no valves) they replace had an internal width of 21mm, that may not sound like much, but the whole internal section of the big carbon rims is also larger in the ENVE wheels allowing for a greater air volume. A greater air volume maximises the benefit of the tyre, effectively giving the bike more cushion and dampening without adding the weight a larger tyre would. The tyres also look bigger.

Carbon wheels also aren’t just about weight though. These guys are known for taking a beating for far longer than a comparable weight set of aluminium wheels, and have a very direct and fast feel on the trail.

DT Swiss 240 hubs, top shelf stuff.
DT Swiss 240 hubs, top shelf stuff.

So, they are fitted to our already incredible bike, and we’ll be giving them hell, so stay tuned for more.

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So dreamy…