Many riders go to great lengths to find the lightest and most efficient tire set up on the road. Others, just want to finish their ride without getting a flat. For that second group, there are tires like the Bontrager Hard-Case family. These reinforced tires blend advanced puncture protection with a high-performance road tire – and they’ve just gotten even better.
Specifically, we’re talking about the all-new Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case and Hard-Case Lite tube-type tires. That AW stands for All-Weather, which is intended to make this a tire that you can mount up, and forget about. Wet weather, rough pavement, big impacts, debris on the road – Bontrager claims they’re no match for the new AW3s.
It’s worth highlighting that the point of these improved designs is to better protect your tubes from getting punctured. These are not tubeless-ready, and Bontrager specifically recommends against trying to set them up tubeless.
All AW3 models feature a slick center tread for high rolling efficiency, but the shoulders feature siping to channel water away from the tread along with recessed dimples for extra cornering traction. The tires also feature their new TR-Endure rubber compound which is said to maintain excellent traction while improving the durability of the tread.
AW3 Hard-Case Lite
But as they say, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Thanks to a new aramid/nylon weave for the puncture protection layer under the tread, Bontrager claims the tire keeps its suppleness but drastically outperforms the last model. According to independent testing by Wheel Energy in Finland, the new AW3 Hard-Case Lite is 78% stronger in terms of puncture protection compared to the previous AW3 Hard-Case Lite tire.
As the name would imply, the Hard-Case Lite is the lighter of the two, but still features the Aramid/Nylon weave under the tread and a reinforced chafer for sidewall and bead protection.
The AW3 Hard-Case Lite tires are offered 700c x 25mm/28mm/32mm/38mm with a 60tpi casing, folding bead, and claimed weights of 260g to 450g.
For even more puncture protection, the Hard-Case adds a bead-to-bead nylon layer. That’s in addition to the Aramid/Nylon sub-tread layer and the reinforced chafer. Like the HCL, the Hard-Case tires come in 700c x 25mm/28mm/32mm/38mm with a 60tpi casing, folding bead, and claimed weights of 315-505g.
Can you see me now?
These tires should be popular with commuters and cyclists who spend a lot of time riding in wet weather, so there’s a reflective sidewall option as well. It’s only offered on the AW3 Hard-Case Lite tires, but it does come in all four sizes – 700c x 25-38mm. The reflective strips only add about 5-10g per tire.
Bontrager sent out a few different tires for us to check out ahead of time with 700c x 28mm and 38mm, both in the AW3 Hard-Case Lite. Tyler’s 28mm tires came in a bit more than claimed at 318/320g compared to Bontrager’s figure of 300g. I also got a pair of 28mm tires, that came in closer at 305/307g for the set.
Our 700c x 38mm tires were closer to claimed – only off by one gram.
Pricing & Availability
Regardless of model or size, all of the AW3 tires will sell for $59.99 a piece. The tires are available now through Trek dealers and retail partners, and include their Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee – if you don’t like them in the first 30 days, they’ll take them back.
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