Review: Line Pro 30 Carbon Wheels

Wallet-friendly Bontrager Line carbon wheels get a welcome redesign but the riding experience remains the main attraction.

Earlier this year Bontrager served up two new mountain bike wheelsets namely the Line Pro 30 and Line Elite 30. Both are available in a 27.5 or 29 option and use the same new rim design which includes a bigger radius on the outside of the hook, a shallower profile and a thicker hook wall. The changes are intended to improve the strength of the wheel, reduce the chances of pinch flatting and to offer more vertical compliance. I have spent a few months putting them through the wringer and here’s my take on them.

CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin

At around half the cost of the brands sub 1 300g top of the line Kovee XXX offering, the new Line Pro 30 carbon wheels are positioned as a robust option for all trails. The reworked carbon layup, revised profile and new hook wall changes the nature of the ride and sharpens the appeal of carbon wheels for all riders. Bontrager says the new rim shape absorbs impacts (watch the video below) and transfers that energy more efficiently, thereby making this their strongest wheel ever.


SPECIFICATIONS

The Line Pro 30 wheels are a tubeless ready system which means the valves and rim strip has already been installed for you.
RIM MATERIAL – OCLV Pro Carbon in a lighter lay-up
RIM DESIGN – Low profile and hook bead
RIM HEIGHT – 27mm
INNER WIDTH – 29mm
OUTER WIDTH – 38mm
HOOK WIDTH – 4.64mm
SPOKE COUNT – 28 front & 28 rear
SPOKES – Double butted, Straight, DT Swiss Competition Race
NIPPLES – Alpina alloy 
HUBS – Machined Bontrager with 3.3 degrees engagement
DISCS – 6-bolt disc design
RIDER WEIGHT LIMIT – None
GUARANTEE – 30-day unconditional exchange or refund. Lifetime warranty
INTENDED USE – Cross-Country and Trail
WEIGHT – 1 760grams (810g front & 950g rear)
PRICE – R11 999 front & R13 499 rear


THE TECH

Typically, wheels at this price point have more of a value-driven hub specced which usually has poor engagement. Bontrager hasn’t skimped here and the Rapid Drive rear hub features an impressive 108 points of engagement.
The Bontrager rim strip adds around 50g to each wheel and some weight weenies might be tempted to run the wheels without them but they do an excellent job of locking the tyre in place.
Spokes are straight-pull as opposed to a J-bend and this should improve the strength, weight and stiffness of the structure whilst reducing maintenance.
The hook wall is almost 5mm in size which is around double the width of the previous iteration of this wheelset. Adding material here has increased the strength of the system and Bontrager says the shaping of the outside edge reduces the chance of pinch flatting. The inner width of 29mm is on trend with what riders are after and it’s a size that will optimize the profile of most tyres whilst correctly position the shoulder knobs for better corner grip.
CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin
The shallow rim design (lower profile) is intended to dampen the spikey ride feel which some deeper section carbon wheels have. With understated graphics and a black on black colourway the look and feel of the Line Pro 30 is anything but budget.

RIDE IMPRESSIONS

CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin
For this test I used a 115mm rear travel Trek Top Fuel 9.7 which is an endurance style cross country bike with geometry optimized for speed.
CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin
The Line Pro 30 wheels are around 450 grams lighter than the stock wheels that this bike is sold with and that is a monumental weight saving which is noticeable from the first ride. From a performance point of view, the reduction in rotational mass is highly evident both when accelerating or holding pace up a long climb. Maintaining a rhythm on longer climbs definitely requires less effort. The durable build means lower tyre pressures are possible and that improves grip and rollover when climbing.
CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin
In terms of strength and durability – well I haven’t had any issues after two months of hammering them on some pretty rocky trails with pressures as low as 18psi. After we shot these photos, I changed to a set of XC race tyres from Schwalbe which offer less protection than the Bontrager XR3 tyre. Whilst running soft pressures I have not had any issues with sidewall damage which is the intended outcome of the larger radious hook wall design of the rim.
CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin
On narrow trails and anywhere that your steering needs to be precise, the stiff and reliable feel of the wheels is very noticeable. It’s is a very accurate wheelset.
CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin
During the test period, I included some back-to-back comparison rides with the top-of-the-line Kovee Pro 30 carbon race wheels. Now what was interesting is even though the Kovee Pro 30 carbons are super light race wheels, I preferred the softer ride experience of these Line Pro 30 wheels – and so did my wrists. Worth noting is I used the same tyres, same pressures and rode the same rocky trails for the back to back comparison tests. Again, the Kovee Pro 30 carbon is a faster wheel for sure, but the compliance within the Line Pro 30 is a better ride feel.
CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin
I think the other big bonus with this wheelset is their brute strength which adds to their versatility. They cope really well with big hits and will not be out of place on a trail bike, enduro bike or an eBike.
CAPE TOWN - 24 August 2020 - on the Missing Link trail below the 12 Apostles in Cape Town. Photo by Gary Perkin
Worth mentioning is Bontrager offers a lifetime warranty on the Line Pro 30’s and there is no rider weight limit either.

THE TAKEOUT

I think Bontrager have struck a good balance between the compliance of an alloy wheel with the efficiency, low-maintenance and brute strength of a carbon wheel. If you are an endurance racing snake chasing podiums then the Line Pro 30’s are not for you. They are well suited to weekenders making the switch to a light, strong and compliant wheelset to race or rally.

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