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Bontrager Revamps Aggressive Trail and Enduro Tires

The XR5 and SE5 Get Updates, and There's an All-New SE6.

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The mountain bike world has seen a lot of change during the past five years or so, and as bikes, terrain, and riders continue to become more aggressive, tires have often had a difficult time keeping up with the joneses. And with so many different flavors and styles of bikes and riders, finding the perfect tire recipe can be a challenge.

The new XR5 and SE5 both offer high rolling speeds for tires sporting such aggressive knobs, and offer a combo of tread, rubber, casing stiffness and weight that’s just about perfect for my needs.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the heavy dual-ply tires that have become so popular with aggressive trail and enduro riders. Where I live, we have dirt and roots, and not a ton of sharp, puncture-inducing rock. Plus, the climbs get pretty steep, and I’ve never been much of a basher anyway. Those boat anchors are just overkill for me. So, I prefer my tires to be on the relatively light end of spectrum of the aggressive trail category while still sporting plenty of tread, tacky rubber compounds and enough sidewall support. Bontrager’s revamped XR5, SE5, and all-new SE6 fit the bill perfectly.

SE6 on the left, SE 5 on the right.

I rarely start out on the topic of weight but when it comes to tires it’s important because small variations in tire weight make big differences in acceleration and handling. These tires strike a really nice balance of weight and protection and support. The SE5 and SE6 that were sent to me came in at 1,040 grams and 1,050 grams, respectively. For soft-rubber, enduro-oriented 2.5-inch 29er tires, that’s really good. The lighter-duty XR5 29×2.5 weighed in at 1,025 grams.

The difference in construction from the XR to SE tires is basically just one layer of puncture-resistant material that apparently doesn’t weigh much. To be honest, I can’t actually feel any difference in sidewall stiffness between the two casings, though I don’t doubt that the extra layer provides added puncture resistance. The fact that they’re so close in weight and stiffness could be a good or bad thing depending on your riding style. For riders who love the feel of Maxxis’ Double Down casing, the SE tires might not be enough. But, I personally have a hard time finding tires that have the super soft rubber compounds I’ve just gotta have that aren’t radically overbuilt for my needs.

The Bontrager SE6 charges hard and boosts cornering confidence.

The XR5, SE5, and SE6, all feature 120tpi casing and a soft, grippy rubber compound that Bontrager calls TM-Grip. The casings have enough thickness to feel solid underfoot, while still being supple over rough stuff. The XR or SE5, with large center blocks, makes a great rear tire that’s aggressive but relatively fast-rolling, while the SE6 is ideal on the front. It has nice big lugs for excellent cornering traction and a predictable breakaway point that allows rewardingly controlled drifting. In fact, both tires have an easygoing feel to the way they break traction. Robust, supported side knobs dig in well and resist the type of folding that makes some tires corner tenuously.

I only have a few rides on the SE5/SE6 combo, all of which have been in dry conditions, but I’m betting they’ll be superb all-rounders as well. We’ll find out, because there’s no way I’m taking these suckers off till they’re bald. I may have found a new favorite tire combo.

Here are some specs straight from the horse’s mouth:

– Bontrager’s most aggressive tread for trail and enduro delivers durable traction in all conditions
– Aggressive two/three center tread with biting side knobs for confident traction in all conditions
– Proprietary TM-Grip compound and 120 TPI construction offers great traction and tire feel
– Durable and strong Core Strength Casing adds sub-tread and sidewall protection
– Tire bead chafer layer adds additional protection against abrasion and punctures
– Tubeless Ready (TLR) for easy tubeless setup and puncture protection

– A durable, aggressively treaded MTB tire that delivers confidence on any terrain
– Dual-blocked center tread with aggressive side knobs for confident cornering and braking traction
– Proprietary TM-Grip compound and 120 TPI construction offer great traction and tire feel
– Durable and strong Core Strength Casing adds sub-tread and sidewall protection
– Tire bead chafer layer adds additional protection against abrasion and punctures
– Tubeless Ready (TLR) for easy tubeless setup and puncture protection

– An aggressively treaded MTB tire with a lightweight construction for confidence in any terrain
– Dual-blocked center tread with aggressive side knobs for confident cornering and braking traction
– Proprietary TM-Grip compound and 120 TPI construction offers great traction and tire feel
– Supple and strong Inner Strength casing provides lightweight sidewall protection
– Tire bead chafer layer adds additional protection against abrasion and punctures
– Tubeless Ready (TLR) for easy tubeless setup and puncture protection