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