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Bontrager R3 tyre



Fast, grippy and relatively cheap - but keep them for the Sunday best bike

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Bontrager's road 'R' tyres come in a range of four options - top of the tree being the R4 with these R3s a notch below.

Out on the road the low weight of 185g per tyre makes them easy to whip up to speed while the 120tpi casing has enough suppleness to iron out small road imperfections, even pumped up to their 125psi maximum.

Grip is very good thanks to a soft rubber compound and on a dry day you can really bank the bike over and be confident it's not going to slide out from underneath you. The R3s give a lot of feedback to your hands so when they do start to break traction you can easily feel it coming and adjust your speed and position to counter it.

On the flat, rolling resistance is low and speed easily maintained, how much of this is down to the 'Slick Aero Wing Technology' is anyone's guess though. This is the name given to Bontrager's design of sidewall profile which fills the gap between tyre and braking surface once the bead is hooked into the clincher rim. It doesn't work with every rim though; ironically my deep section aero wheels still had a gap but the Campag Zondas I also tried them on fitted absolutely flush.

Like the Ultremo ZXs these replaced, the R3s are performance tyres and won't last long if you use them every day or in bad weather. I did get some wet miles in though and while the puncture protection belt kept things inflated, small stones and flints did leave marks in the rubber.

If you do happen to flat the R3s are very easy to remove and refit just using your hands so you shouldn't be left at the side of the road cursing your bloodied knuckles and snapped tyre lever.

Seven colour options in the 700Cx23mm size should enable you to colour match your bike, but the 700Cx25mm and 650Cx23mm sizes come in black only.

All in all the Bontrager R3s are impressive race tyres virtually matching the Ultremo ZX's for performance and grip. Taking into account that at £29.99, the RRP of the R3s is 12 quid cheaper per tyre than the Ultremos, they are a performance bargain.


Fast, grippy and relatively cheap - but keep them for the Sunday best bike. test report

Make and model: Bontrager R3 tyre

Size tested: 700x23C

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?

Bontrager pitch the R3 as a performance/sport tyre which is about right for the performance and price.

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

Puncture protection belt

Aramid bead

120 threads per inch carcass

Aero side walls

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:

Fast rolling and grippy.

Rate the product for durability:

Don't expect to get mega mileage out of them but keep them dry and they should see you through a race season.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

A quoted 185g is pretty good in terms of the competition.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Even at max pressure they aren't bone shakers.

Rate the product for value:

£30 places them in Conti GP4000 territory, and I rate the performance of the Bontragers much higher.

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

Performed well - as a race tyre the performance/price is a good compromise.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The grip level is confidence inspiring.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Wet weather durability isn't the greatest I've experienced.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 34  Height: 180cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Genesis Flyer  My best bike is: Ribble Gran Fondo

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,


As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for, and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

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