Designed for their top level Trek Factory Racing pro athletes, the all-new Bontrager Kovee XXX wheels tip the scales at a claimed 1,290g. For smaller, lighter riders like Emily Batty and Jolanda Neff, that’s a lot of rotational weight to drop, making it easier for them to drop the competition. We got our hands on an early set to see if those weights hold up on the scale, and on the trail…

Seriously lightweight XC MTB wheels

Bontrager did more than just make a really lightweight set of carbon rimmed wheels. They did it with a really wide rim, made it strong enough that there’s no rider weight limit, and they come with the brand’s two-year no-matter-what free replacement (or repair) warranty.

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels tech details and actual weights

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels tech details and actual weights

The OCLV carbon rim comes in at a claimed 365g weight, and it’s 29er only. Claimed internal width is 29mm, external is 34mm, and the depth is 29mm. One of the big differences with these rims is the internal bead shelf height and profile. Bontrager’s tubeless-ready wheels ship with their internal liners, and these do, too. And for all their other tubeless carbon rims, they strongly recommend that you use that liner to provide the best possible tubeless experience as it sets up the proper bead height inside the rim and completely seals things airtight.

With these, their racers wanted the lightest possible setup, so they had to revise the shaping so it could work just as well (or at least, very close) with rim tape, too. Which is good, because there’s a big weight difference (keep reading for actual weights). So, these wheels ship with both liners and rim tape, take your pick.

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels tech details and actual weights

To keep overall weight super low, they use their branded Centerlock hub shells with DT Swiss 240 hub internals. They’re laced 28/28 front and rear with DT Aerolite bladed spokes.

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels tech details and actual weights

They use Bontrager 54-tooth Star Ratchets for the fastest engagement you’ll get out of a DT hub, and it’s pretty fast. They’re still using the dual-sprung ratchets, not the new Ratchet EXP one-sided design, which isn’t really shipping yet. Price for the complete wheelset is $2,399.

Kovee XXX actual weights and measures

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels actual weights

Out of the box, the wheels weigh in at just 595g (front) and 697g (rear) without rim tape or anything else. Combined, that’s 1,292g on our scales. And that’s with an XD driver body, which is how it comes as stock. That’s a first, but you can still get it with a standard Shimano freehub or the new Shimano Microspline. They come as 15×110 and 12×148 Boost only with tool-free end caps.

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels actual weights

Add the included rim tape and weights only nudge up to 602g (f) and 705g (r), so only a 15g gain for using tubeless rim tape.

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels actual weights

Add 10g of valve stems and the total for a rideable wheelset comes in at 1,217g. Their rim strips weigh in at 67g each, so they would add 119g after subtracting for rim tape, putting the wheelset at 1,421 if you use the liners.

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels actual rim widths

Our calipers measured about 28.5mm internal and 34.5mm external…close enough to claims for us.

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels tech details and actual weights

First impressions

We received these just before their announcement and only got one ride in with them, but the difference is immediately noticeable. With most lightweight carbon XC wheels coming in around 1,500+ grams for the set, dropping ~200g or more (that’s about 0.44lb!) off the unsprung rotating mass is a huge advantage. I felt it most when marching up the grunty little power climbs, with each effort sapping noticeably less power from my legs.

Turning felt quicker, too, and the front end of the bike was really easy to lift. All things to be expected, but to actually feel them is so satisfying.

first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels tech details and actual weights first look at new Bontrager Kovee XXX ultralight and wide xc mountain bike wheels tech details and actual weights

I only changed the wheels for their first test ride so I could see what they alone were doing. The Kenda Booster Pro 29×2.2 tires ended up measuring about 0.1″ wider on these rims than the prior wheels I had mounted, pushing them out just past 2.3″ wide. They still had a nicely round profile, but that extra little bit of volume let me run a little lower pressure, too.

I’m a full blown weight weenie, but these are doubly impressive for their ability to feel strong and pack a great warranty. I’ll be running them for a while to see how they hold up in the long term under my ~198lb rider+kit weight.

Bontrager.com

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Klaster_1
Klaster_1
3 years ago

That’s like 400g too heavy to be called ultralight. Even my 29mm ID 29er wheels were 1000USD cheaper and 140g lighter.

thesteve4761
thesteve4761
3 years ago
Reply to  Klaster_1

So you expect them to be 890g a set and $1499? Good luck.

TheKaiser
TheKaiser
3 years ago
Reply to  thesteve4761

Where is this 890g figure coming from? These wheels are claimed to weigh 1290?

Frank
Frank
3 years ago
Reply to  Klaster_1

Klaster, please do tell what are these lighter/cheaper but still wide wheels?

TheKaiser
TheKaiser
3 years ago
Reply to  Klaster_1

Yeah, as Frank said, please tell us your build spec, as that sounds fantastic. Not trying to be a hater, but you could really help some people out if you offered some more info.

Klaster_1
Klaster_1
3 years ago
Reply to  TheKaiser

Sure, it’s Extralite Hyperfront and Extralite Hyperrear2 hubs, Berd Polylight spokes, CarbonBicycle BAMDH293525MRCSA rims (they do a 375g XC version on demand) and Pillar PT 734 aluminium alloy nipples. LightBycicle RM29C06 Flyweight rims are 100g less and only ~100usd more per piece.

DingDang
DingDang
3 years ago
Reply to  Klaster_1

Ran the Klaster numbers – according to published weights and prices:

Front hub 78g
Rear hub 163g
Spokes: 144g (3g/spoke x 48)
Rims: 680g (pair) – 24.5mm internal
Nipples: 14.4 (.3g/nipple x 48)

Total: 1079 grams

$708 Extralite Hyper hubset
$384 Berd spokes ($8/spoke x 48)
$390 CarbonBicycle 24h rims
$8 Pilar nipples (although Berd recommends a double square nipple for building)

$1490 total

*** Does not include labor…..would I ride these wheels? No.

Carbonazza
3 years ago
Reply to  DingDang

Maybe you never tried. Like Klaster_1 I ride this kind of wheels for years without any issue. MTB, gravel and road.

Aaron M Weiss
Aaron M Weiss
3 years ago

we are one revive wheels are lighter with the same hubs….just sayin’

thesteve4761
thesteve4761
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron M Weiss

No, they aren’t the same hubs. The hubs used here are the same as found in DT’s XMC1200’s, which drop about 20-30g vs a standard pair of 240s straight pull. You can’t get these hubs anywhere but here or in a DT wheelset. We Are One uses J bend, so add another 20-30g on top of that.

Also, the revive is 4mm narrower, intended for smaller tires, and only 10g lighter.

Just sayin.

Also, BR- the wheels are very clearly 24 hole, not 28 hole.

Aaron M Weiss
Aaron M Weiss
3 years ago
Reply to  thesteve4761

Aall I know is, the revives with 240 CL hubs build up to a 1275 gram wheelset. Different parts or not, the wheels are lighter…and they have a lifetime guarantee. Not 2 years. just sayin’

Aaron M Weiss
Aaron M Weiss
3 years ago
Reply to  thesteve4761

All I know is the WAO revive wheels build up to a 1275 gram wheelset with a 240 hub (different hub or not) and they have a lifetime warrantee. Not 2 years….just sayin’

Aaron M Weiss
Aaron M Weiss
3 years ago
Reply to  thesteve4761

and the WAO are cheaper. so there’s that too.

DingDang
DingDang
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron M Weiss

Addressing the weight thing…..

710g We Are One Revive 25mm internal rims
122g 240 DT Straight pull front hub
231g 240 DT Straight pull rear hub
235g 28 Aerolite spokes
24g 28 Squorx nipples

1322 grams total according published weights

FritzP
FritzP
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron M Weiss

And the Revive are 25mm internal. The same 27mm inner width Faction rim is a better comparo but weighs 420g each, 55g heavier than the Bontrager rim. 110g heavier for the wheelset if built the same.

Maus Haus
Maus Haus
3 years ago

Tyler you have no body fat. How are you 200lbs? Damn dude… looking forward to seeing how the wheels hold up long term riding.

sissypants
sissypants
3 years ago

This is a great weight, but it isn’t cheap or, honestly, a “good deal”. I understand there is a cut to the local dealer here as well as the Trek brand, but factory-direct offerings are just so much better bang-for-buck. What is the difference between Bontrager rims and some of the factory-direct carbon rims? I’m assuming Bontrager uses Toray carbon fiber, (30% T1000, 70% T800 in this case), and I’m assuming their rims are also made in one of the factories that sell consumer-direct from nearly identical molds (Light Bicycle, Nextie, BTLOS, Carbonfan, EIE, TanTan, Hongfu, Dengfu, ICAN, Yishunbike, …).

I have nearly 2000 perfect miles on a very similar 1290g set of Chiner carbon wheels with DT 350 hubs that I bought for $700 shipped. It also has 2-year warranty, DT 54t ratchet upgrades also available. I’m hard-pressed to see where the $2399 price tag came from, other than some quality hubs.

Robin
Robin
3 years ago
Reply to  sissypants

You should revisit the assumptions you’ve made.

STF_ill (@stf_ill)
3 years ago
Reply to  sissypants

lmao are you from the year 2015?

STF_ill (@stf_ill)
3 years ago
Reply to  sissypants

lmao are you from 2015?

thesteve4761
thesteve4761
3 years ago

Similar molds and material do not an identical rim make. Ever tied to sue a Dengfu after you lose your teeth in a crash? yeah, thought so.

Lmac
Lmac
3 years ago
Reply to  thesteve4761

If I crash, why would i sue the wheel manufacturer? You’re trying to imply that direct to consumer rims will fail and cause a crash but there are countless riders out there telling you that we are riding these rims hard and they are not breaking. Meanwhile, branded rims are by no means immune to failure. You’re operating on the presumption that because some hipster didnt take them out of a box and hand them across a counter to you, wheels are somehow more prone to failure- that’s a false logic.

Thesteve;761
Thesteve;761
3 years ago
Reply to  Lmac

And you’re operating under the assumption that things don’t occasionally fail due to manufacturing defects, causing crashes that cost you teeth.

You read far more into what I said than was there.

Dinger
Dinger
3 years ago
Reply to  Lmac

“What is the difference between Bontrager rims and some of the factory-direct carbon rims?”

A billion dollar US based company with a team of designers and engineers to ensure the product is safe and take responsibility for it if it is defective.

“there are countless riders out there”

Countless riders building custom wheels from parts with no brand support? I bet it’s not nearly as many as you think.

Heffe
Heffe
3 years ago

Do they have an equivalent wheel for cross?

Dinger
Dinger
3 years ago
Reply to  Heffe

Bontrager makes several different carbon wheels that work really well for CX. I think the Paradigm CX is the best bang for buck CX wheel going. Light with a CX specific alloy tubular rim which is relatively inexpensive to replace if you bang it up too badly.

Doug
Doug
3 years ago

You forgot to mention that all XXX wheels are molded, laid, cured, and built in house in Waterloo WI.

offrhodes
offrhodes
3 years ago

I want to know more about the Kenda Booster tires.

Slammed
Slammed
3 years ago

Factory built wheels just seem to have such horrible value. You can easily build a 1000g wheelset for the same price or less with after market stuff. I guess 300 grams is just the price you pay for being able to go to your lbs and instantly order them.

Marc L
Marc L
3 years ago
Reply to  Slammed

I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but could you price out this 1,000g Boost 29er wheel (parts/prices/vendors)? DT hubs so that we’re talking like-for-like.

FritzP
FritzP
3 years ago
Reply to  Slammed

Slammed, please spec out for me some 29er wheels built with 29mm inner width rims that weigh 1000g. I’m sincerely curious.

PD
PD
3 years ago

I see 24/24 spokes. 24 Aerolites means lack of stiffness.

Jeb
Jeb
3 years ago
Reply to  PD

Spokes have almost nothing to do with wheel stiffness, rims are the determiner here and carbon is so stiff that very few thin spokes is all that’s needed to build a quality wheel. More spokes is nice in case you break a spoke the wheel isn’t unrideable and you can get home. Thicker spokes add some impact durability, but nothing to the strength of the wheel.

Tom
Tom
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeb

Afraid this goes against everything we know about wheels – spokes have a high degree of impact on wheel lateral stiffness. Vertical stiffness no, but then carbon wheel are seldom lacking in vertical stiffness. Re impact durability, that’s ALL down to the rim, all other spokes remain in tension so thicker spokes have next to no effect on impact durability, though more spokes will help marginally.

VeloFreak.
VeloFreak.
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom

you both have no clue what you are talking about. no clue at all. zero.

Tom
Tom
3 years ago
Reply to  VeloFreak.

So instead of offering information, you offer crap. Good on you, many friends, eh? BTW, kind of hard to trust a guy who can’t spell “been”.

TheKaiser
TheKaiser
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeb

How exactly do thicker spokes add impact durability?

thesteve4761
thesteve4761
3 years ago
Reply to  PD

No, it means lower spoke stiffness. Drawing a conclusion on the total system stiffness is absurd without actually testing the system.

Is that armchair comfy?

VeloFreak
VeloFreak
3 years ago

so the rim weights the same as Stan’s Crest, hubs you can get 240’s, or 180’s, or a chinese yuniper or just chinese, and the spokes are off the shelf dt swiss aerolite… they charge altogether 2400$. You can build yourself a similar set for 400-600-800$ max… so between 8 times less to 3 times less…

FritzP
FritzP
3 years ago
Reply to  VeloFreak

The 365g Bontrager rim is 29mm inner width and the wheels weigh 1290g. The Crest is 23mm inner width. The NoTubes Crest custom lightweight wheelset weight is 1528g for $915. The Arch is 26mm inner width at 450g or Flow is 29mm inner width at 527g.

The Bontrager rim has a somewhat unique combination of 29mm width while also quite light.

You’ll need to get some of the better China carbon rims built with CxRay & DT240s hubs to get to the same weight as the Bontragers.

VeloFreak
VeloFreak
3 years ago
Reply to  FritzP

Carbon wheels are ALWAYS heavier than aluminium, unless profile is higher than 38, unless tubular rim. So the cheapo Stans rim will do the job, no need of such a wide rim for an anorexic rider with a 2.0″ tire anyways. I couldn’t care less about stan built wheel, or any other wheel in the market, they are all a rip off. And forget hose 240’s hubs, you can get a 180, or tune, or extralite, will be even lighter than these bontager, and you can get 2-3 pair or wheels, for the same price. Benn there already bro, benn there already.

By the way, say hi to all your colleagues there at TREK marketing HQ. Hi all guys!!!

FritzP
FritzP
3 years ago
Reply to  VeloFreak

You do mean that Carbon wheels are always LIGHTER than aluminum, don’t you? And you left out that at the same weight (and less even) carbon is also STIFFER than aluminum.

Case in point: i had a pair of Roval Control 26er then a pair of carbon Roval Control SL 26er. The carbon Rovals were stiffer cornering while also 200g lighter with the same rim dimensions, same spokes and same hubs.

You can keep your same weight, narrower, flexy Crest Mk3. The wider, lighter and stiffer carbon rim will ride better.

Have you tried wider rims? I’ve ridden 26 & 28mm iW rims with 2.35″ tires and they are great. Wider rims support the tire better allowing lower pressures which translates into better traction/control. And wide alu rims are a good bit heavier…. the 29mm iW Flow is 527g. But, I know, i’m just a victim of all the marketing propaganda hype.

Yeah, i to wonder how long factory wheels (Trek, Enve, Reynolds) will be able to sustain their pricing well north of $2k in the face of the pricing available from smaller companies still with good support and for the less risk adverse, wheels direct from China.

Your characterization of xc racers as anorexic is laughable as are your other assertions.

But VeloFreak, you’d obviously be better off riding fully rigid steel fixed gear with narrow bars, 1.9″ tires on 26″ wheels completely convinced of your own awesomeness. Have at it.

Patrick
Patrick
3 years ago
Reply to  FritzP

Agreed. I recently upgraded from the Bontrager Line Comp wheels to the Line Pro wheels which was essentially just a swap of aluminum rims to carbon fiber rims with identical dimensions. Same tires. The stiffness is absolutely noticeable and I swear I feel the few hundred missing grams as well. I still own a handful of Stan’s Crest, Arch, and Flow rims and it’s just not comparable. Stans is all I rode for mountain, cx and gravel. It’s like greater than Flow stiffness and lighter than Crest weight.

Tom
Tom
3 years ago
Reply to  FritzP

well said, (deleted)

Jeff
Jeff
3 years ago

For tubeless setup, is the bontranger rim strip required or could it be taped using Stan’s tape ?

Dinger
Dinger
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

You could use tape, but the Bontrager strip is vastly superior to taping. Sealing, reliability, bead seat are all improved over tape setups.

Roni JONES
Roni JONES
3 years ago

Why can’t (doesn’t) Bontrager make a road disc wheelset at that weight?

FritzP
FritzP
3 years ago
Reply to  Roni JONES

Check out the Roval CLX lineup. The CLX 32 are very light. I have the clincher version and the wheelset weighs ~1290g. The disc version is a bit heavier.