Home
Verdict: 
Good tubeless conversion kit with everything you need. Except the wheels
Weight: 
911g
Bontrager Road TLR Upgrade Kit
7 10

If you've got a newish Trek then it's likely it will have come with a tubeless-ready (TLR) Bontrager wheelset, and this Road TLR Conversion Kit has everything you need to make the leap to tubeless tyres. The tyres themselves are good, especially the 25mm version, and although you can go tubeless for less than the £140 this kit costs, it's designed to work with the wheels and does its job well.

In the kit you get two rim strips, two removable-core valves (with tool), sealant and, of course, the tyres. The R3 TLR tyres retail at £39.99 each; there's also an R4 TLR that's a bit lighter, with a dual compound tread, but that's a tenner more expensive at each end. The two rim strips are specific to Bontrager's wheels, although to be honest they'd probably work with other wheels with close to the same internal rim dimension. Instead of being sticky they have a thin edge that sits against the rim wall to make the chamber airtight. Fitting them is a once-only job, as removing them messes up the edges and they don't seal the next time. Not that I'd know. Oh no. Loosely fitting the valve in place is a good idea, to make sure the holes line up.

Find your local dealer here

Buy this online here

The tyres are a close-but-not-thumb-destroying fit, and sealing them for the first time was pretty straightforward. The 23s just needed a normal track pump; the 25s we seated with the help of Bontrager's Flash Charger TLR floor pump which is designed for that very job. If you don't have a special pump, or a compressor, and the tyres won't seat with a track pump, a CO2 canister is your friend. Best practice is to use the CO2 to get the tyre seated, then deflate and add the sealant: the low temperature of the gas can affect the latex solution.

I've had pretty good experiences with getting the R3s sealed. The 23mm versions were easier; the 25mm tyres took a few days of topping up before all the gaps were plugged, but after that they were dandy. Out on the road both sets exhibited plenty of grip and felt fast, but my preference was definitely for the 25mm carcass over the 23. One of the joys of tubeless is that you can run them just that bit softer without worrying about pinching them, but the 23mm was just too small for me to be able to do that and not worry about my rims.

In terms of ride feel the 25mm was noticeably plusher without sacrificing any speed that I could discern. And anyway, all the pros are on 25s these days, right? They're 15g heavier per tyre, but I'll take that. At 295g the 25mm tyre is a similar weight to a race tyre and a tube. You need to account for a bit of sealant too, so overall tubeless probably works out just a touch heavier. For me it's worth the trade-off because you can run them a little bit softer for extra comfort and grip, and you're never stuck at the side of the road in the rain wrestling with tyre levers. Well, almost never. I've only ever had one puncture on tubeless, which was a shard of metal that cut a 1cm gash in the sidewall. I've pulled out thorns and seen little holes bubbling and fizzing away, and those things with an inner tube would probably mean time in a lay-by.

The R3s are good. My current tubeless favourite is the Hutchinson Sector 28 for its bigger chamber and great feel, but the Bontragers are polished all-rounders with masses of grip. If you're already running tubeless and you're looking for racy rubber, they're worth considering on their own. As a full upgrade kit this TLR box makes a lot of sense if you've already got a compatible set of wheels. It's not the cheapest way of going tubeless but it does have everything you need, designed specifically for your wheelset, and fitting and sealing the tyres is as easy a job as I've yet encountered with tubeless. Go for the 25mm version.

Verdict

Good tubeless conversion kit with everything you need. Except the wheels.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Bontrager Road TLR Upgrade Kit

Size tested: 700x23 tyres

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Everything you need to upgrade your Bontrager Tubeless Ready (TLR) Road wheels to tubeless.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Includes two R3 TLR tires

Includes two TLR aluminum road rim strips and matching TLR road valves

Includes a 2oz (59ml) bottle of TLR Sealant, enough to fill two TLR road tires

Includes a valve tool to aid in the installation of TLR Sealant

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It's a solution in a box. If you have TLR wheels and want to go tubeless, it's the simple solution.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Rim strip is a once-only affair so don't mess it up.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes if I had TLR wheels

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes if they had TLR wheels

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Tyres are easy to seal, kit is comprehensive.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 189cm  Weight: 91kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

 

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

11 comments

Avatar
joules1975 [460 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Now wait for the 'I don't see the point of tubeless', 'what's wrong with tubes', 'I've been using tubes for x years with no issues, so why change' and the general 'if it ain't broke...' comments from all those who can't cope with new tech and/or change of any kind.

Avatar
2 Wheeled Idiot [432 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I'm all for new tech and all....but £140 for two tyres, a rim trip, some valves and a bit of goop is a teensy weensy bit ridiculous isn't it?  40

Avatar
StraelGuy [952 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Sorry Jules, I started using tubeless a couple of weeks ago (Scwalbe Ones) and I love the system so far  16 .

The cost isn't too bad, the RRP of Schwalbe One tyres is about £55 an end.

Avatar
monty dog [463 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

OK, the tyres are £40 each which is fairly reasonable these days, but that's 60 quid for 2x use-once rims strips, sealant and a couple of valves?

Avatar
Toro Toro [173 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

You can pick them up for about half that, too.

Edit: cross-posted, I mean the Schwalbes.

Avatar
joules1975 [460 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
guyrwood wrote:

Sorry Jules, I started using tubeless a couple of weeks ago (Scwalbe Ones) and I love the system so far  16 .

The cost isn't too bad, the RRP of Schwalbe One tyres is about £55 an end.

Just being mischievous and hoping that the Luddites on these forums will get stuck in to something other than disc brakes!

As for the price of these. Gp4000 are £55 each rrp and pro 4 are similar. So add in rrp for couple of tubes and the £140 doesn't look to bad given you'll never need to buy replacement tubes for these thanks to elimination of punctures.

Only issue I have is other than virtual puncture proofness, the other potential advantages of tubeless are yet to be realised on road bikes - they don't roll any better than things like gp4000 and don't offer noticeable weight reductions or any more comfort due to their heavier construction. I love tubeless on the mountain bike and have dabbled with it on the road, but not 100% convinced.

I hope the tyre manufacturers really up the r&d on tubeless and start producing lighter and more supple road tubeless tyres soon!

Avatar
therevokid [1013 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

joules ... you missed out carbon and bolt thru axles for the disc brake
argument  3

+1 the improvements to the tyres needed. I'm also sold on the idea
on my mtb, but not yet convinced on my best bike. I'll take the
"penalties" on the winter hack though  1

Avatar
Alan Tullett [1570 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

What happens if you do get a nasty gash in the tyre 50 miles from home? Are there patches for the tyre? Do you take a spare tubeless?

Just asking.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6304 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Alan Tullett wrote:

What happens if you do get a nasty gash in the tyre 50 miles from home? Are there patches for the tyre? Do you take a spare tubeless?

Just asking.

i usually take a spare tube and a tyre boot. i needed them one time, too

Avatar
joules1975 [460 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Alan Tullett wrote:

What happens if you do get a nasty gash in the tyre 50 miles from home? Are there patches for the tyre? Do you take a spare tubeless?

Just asking.

I don't get this question, cause if you had a nasty gash with a standard tyre you'd have the same problem, so the solution is the same. Either carry a tyre patch or spare tyre (doesn't have to be tubeless) and a spare tube.

When running tubeless on mtb or road I always carry spare tubes, but generally when the tyre goes that badly, you'd be knacked whether tubeless or tubed. In fact, tubeless road tyre are less likely to gash in the first place!

Avatar
fukawitribe [1929 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Dave Atkinson wrote:
Alan Tullett wrote:

What happens if you do get a nasty gash in the tyre 50 miles from home? Are there patches for the tyre? Do you take a spare tubeless?

Just asking.

i usually take a spare tube and a tyre boot. i needed them one time, too

This - and you may just get away with the patch.