Before Keith Bontrager was assimilated by the Trek Corporation and his name appeared on their whole gamut of finishing kit he was a renowned mountain bike frame builder and his off-road heritage is visible in these Jones CXR cyclo-cross tyres that look like a small mountain bike tyre, or one that's far away.
The claimed 34 width is spot on measured outside knob to outside knob, which means you're going to have to look elsewhere for rubber if you're planning any races where the UCI might be brandishing their rule book. The Jones CXR is a directional tyre, running the same way front and rear and getting them on is quite a floppy affair, the bead being not particularly tight on a selection of rims, this bodes well for less sweary puncture mending in the cold and mud with freezing fingers, especially on some rims where they literally fall off without a tube to hold them on, but the other side of that baggy coin is the extra care needed when re-inflating to double check that the tyre bead is well seated on the rim and the inner-tube isn't bulging out about to explode, especially on the other side of the wheel when you're merrily thwapping away with the track-pump. Just sayin'.
Despite their rugged dwarf MTB tyre appearance they feel surprisingly chirpy on road, this might be down to both their light weight and the fat arrows of the central tread forming a smoother running strip than your standard CX tyre and in a similar fashion they skip merrily along hardpack off-road where the rounded profile of the tyre and useful side knobs mean they can be leant over nicely without any surprises when the grip suddenly falls off a cliff.
The Jones CXR is happy to be treated aggressively, very much like the mountain bike tyres they're inspired by - well, as much as a 34mm tyre can be treated like a mountain bike tyre anyway - and are happy to be steered away from the tame off-road of a CX race course and onto more challenging territory. These Bonty tyres were raced and ridden over pretty much every type of terrain you could imagine, in the dry, the wet, and all degrees of dampness in-between and not at any point could the tyres be used as an excuse, more's the pity. They even work well in most mud conditions where the tread, even if it doesn't shrug clag amazingly thanks to the intermediate spacing of the lugs, has enough gumption to poke its way through and offer just enough traction to get by. And even in the thickest clayey mud where the Jones does just sausage up and grip is suffocated by the kind of thick stodge where to be fair most but the best mud specific tyres would struggle its slip and slide is still predictable and forward progress can be made with an acceptable amount of sideways, and as soon as a firmer surface returns the tyres clear fast enough to carry on for another lap of the park, or just one more hill.
Light and with a tread pattern that works well in pretty much all but the muddiest of 'cross theatres the Bontrager Jones CXR is a great multi-season go-to tyre for riders that point their CX bikes both between the race-tapes and further afield through the trees.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Jones CXR 700x34 Cyclo-Cross Tyre
Size tested: 34mm
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?
The blurb is mostly true, depending on your definition of 'mud'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
700x34, Aramid bead, 127 TPI casing.
A CX tyre that works well in most conditions.
These Jones CXRs have been ridden A Lot and they're wearing well, the rear only now is showing signs of slight erosion.
Weight - 324g and 329g (tested, claimed 350g). Noticeably light, but not fragile.
Cushy enough for an hour of pain, and longer.
For a bit-of-everything tyre that's also long-lasting they're great value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really jolly well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Its good behavior in most conditions.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really, it got a bit out of its depth in cloying thick sticky stuff, but then it's not a mud specific tyre, so that's ok.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun