New Bontrager 29″ MTB wheels are sub 1,200g! More affordable models are pretty light, too

The completely redesigned Bontrager Kovee RSL XC race wheels have been raced under their World Cup riders for more than a year, come with no rider weight limit, handle super wide tires, and weigh as little as 1,199 grams.

This makes them some of the (if not thee) lightest mountain bike wheels on the market, and the Kovee Pro 30 wheelset isn’t far behind at 1,385g while being far more affordable. Yep, their 2nd tier racing wheelset is still lighter than most brand’s top offering. Here’s how they did it…

A 315g XC mountain bike rim

bontrager kovee rsl carbon MTB rim

The heart of the new Kovee RSL and Pro wheels is an all-new rim. Extremely shallow at just 22mm, designed to be compliant, yet stiff, and minimize material and weight without sacrificing strength and durability.

The RSL rims come in at a claimed 315-320g each, and the Pro 30 are 375-380g. Both use the same profile, it’s the materials that differ.

The RSL rims use higher end carbon fiber and resins, and the plies are more precisely cut and placed, reducing overall material usage. Combined, this results in significant weight savings, but a much longer, more expensive manufacturing process.

bontrager kovee pro 30 carbon MTB rim

The Pro 30 rims use more standard carbon materials and processes, so they’re more efficient to make.

bontrager kovee rsl and pro 30 rim profile detail cutaway

The rims use a hooked design, but with a wider, broader sidewall and bead shape. Bontrager tells us this gives them the anti-pinch flat benefits of hookless, but with the added security of a bead hook.

The thicker sidewalls also make them more impact resistant, and an offset spoke bed improves wheel dish. The result is a rim they say is thin enough to be compliant and comfortable, but strong enough to race through the toughest XC courses.

bontrager kovee rsl carbon MTB hub

The Bontrager Kovee RSL wheels come with DT240 Center Lock hubs and the Ratchet EXP XD driver, with TLR rim tape and valve stems pre-installed. Retail is $2,499.

bontrager kovee pro 30 carbon MTB hub

The Bontrager Kovee Pro 30 wheels get Rapid Drive 180 XC hubs with a splined drive ring and 6-bolt brake rotor mounts. MSRP is $1,499, complete wheelset weight is 1,385g (claimed). Choose from XD, MicroSpline and HG freehub bodies for these and the Elite and Comp wheels below.

Define “Cross Country”

pro XC racer riding new bontrager kovee rsl xc mountain bike race wheels

A sub-1200g race wheelset is usually intended for lightweight riders on race bikes. But the new Kovee RSL and Pro 30 have no rider weight limit, are designed for 2.0″ to 2.6″ tires, and, they told us, are fine for 120-130 bikes.

They also come with a Lifetime Guarantee against manufacturer’s defects, and if you, as the original owner, damage them in the first two years of ownership, they’ll repair or replace them for free. All that said, these are intended to be ridden as “cross country” wheels, not abused like trail wheels.

New Kovee Elite 30 and Comp 25 wheels, too

bontrager kovee elite 30 wheelset

The Kovee Elite 30 wheels use the same carbon rim profile, but with an even simpler layup and materials. Claimed rim weight is 420-425g, and claimed wheelset weight is 1,585g. They also get Rapid Drive 108 hubs, but with traditional flanges and J-bend spokes. MSRP is $999.98.

bontrager kovee line 30 alloy wheelset

The Comp 25 wheels use alloy rims and come in at just $399.98. The rims are a but shallower at 20mm deep, and bit narrower at 25mm internal (30mm external). They get the same Rapid Drive 108 J-bend hubs as the Elite wheels, and have a claimed weight of 1,675g.

Bontrager.com

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joe
joe
1 month ago

holy cow that’s light. No weight limit is impressive, and really curious why we are going back to hooked. I don’t see the benefit. Beads are secure in hookless running at XC pressures

mtbinavl
1 month ago
Reply to  joe

Bontrager never went hookless. Some mfg have done hookless (in MTB and/or road), and some haven’t. There are far far more important things to worry about in a wheel/rim

Nick
Nick
1 month ago

Nextie NXT29UML34 has been available for some time

Dinger
Dinger
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

Their warranty stipulations are much longer than their marketing messages and pretty poorly translated. “Proceed at your own risk”.

Wesley meyer
Wesley meyer
1 month ago

Serious question here – this is road wheel light yet MTB wheels take way more abuse than road wheels. Why can’t road wheels be 200g lighter at each level than this for similar pricing?

dave
dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Wesley meyer

mtb RIMS take less abuse than road rims. they are protected by big, fat, low pressure tires and you can bet that racers are running these with tire inserts.

hitting a pothole at 30mph with a high pressure road tire would destroy these rims.

Dano
Dano
1 month ago
Reply to  dave

Actually you can bet that racers are NOT running these with inserts. They are not about to add 200+ grams of rotating weight to short travel XC race bikes. However, the 2.2-2.4″ rubber is certainly adding enough cushion to protect the lighter weight carbon rims, and the suspension absorbs additional shock as well on bigger hits.

Dinger
Dinger
1 month ago
Reply to  Dano

Many (I’d bet most) are running inserts now. There are many in use that weigh ~40-50g/wheel, which is more than light enough considering the benefits they bring.

It is amazing how tough modern carbon wheels have become though.

John
John
1 month ago
Reply to  dave

Higher tire psi protects a bicycle rim from damage better than lower psi. Right?

james
james
1 month ago
Reply to  John

No, because higher the pressure, the more force also transferred into the rim. You can literally feel this difference in your hands and seat bones. Compare a 22mm tire at 120 psi vs 28mm tire at 75 and get back to me. Sure, lower psi might allow an actual rim to be directly hit by a hard edge object, but that’s not what this is about.

Large D
Large D
1 month ago
Reply to  Wesley meyer

Because road wheels aren’t 22mm deep. It’s a mystery why DT Swiss first gen carbon rims were 30mm deep for mtb riding. It made them stiff and heavy.

jawn_doe
jawn_doe
1 month ago
Reply to  Wesley meyer

pressure. road rims need to withstand 2-3x the tire pressure that mtb rims do. that is a weight intensive jump.

Euan
Euan
1 month ago
Reply to  Wesley meyer

Partly because road wheels are built for very high internal pressures – if you tried inflating a tyre to 100psi on these the rims would disintegrate. It’s all about the directions they need to be strong in, not just general strength.