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The Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite Road tyre offers plenty of grip, a supple ride and decent puncture protection. Rolling resistance is impressive too, and it's not a bad price either.
Bontrager says that the R3 is one tyre that can do it all: 'Fast enough for race day, yet durable enough for every day.' That isn't too far off of the mark.
You can tell a lot about a tyre just by taking it out of the box, especially by the way that the rubber feels. The R3 has a soft and tacky compound which it calls TR Speed and it offers loads of grip out on the road.
Taking corners and roundabouts flat out, I certainly felt confident that the Bontragers weren't going to wash out when really cranked over onto their edge. The compound really feels like it grabs hold of the asphalt in the dry and it also works in the wet too, although obviously not to the same degree.
Some soft rubber compounds can wear very quickly compared to a tyre that is aimed more at durability and reliability than performance, a winter tyre for instance. This was difficult to gauge over the test period, having only covered around 500 miles on them, but if they show up any issues, I'll be back to update the review.
They feel fast too. Rolling resistance seems to be minimal and the 120 TPI (threads per inch) carcass and flexible sidewalls make for a comfortable ride even when pumped up hard.
For the thousands of miles I ride each year I rarely suffer with punctures (hopefully the Puncture Fairy is on furlough at the moment and not listening), and that that didn't change with the R3s. They use a nylon breaker strip under the tread, which Bontrager calls Hard-Case Lite, to ward off intrusions and while I can see a few small cuts and nicks on the surface from small stones and flints, nothing has penetrated past the strip so far.
Fitment was easy on the couple of wheels I tried. When I saw the TR logo on the box I hadn't realised that referred to the compound name rather than 'tubeless ready', so I confess I had a few fruitless attempts at trying to get them to pop onto the rims. Once I realised my error, and with a tube installed, they popped straight on and won't be an issue to get them off if needs be at the side of the road.
Bontrager does offer a tubeless version, the TLR, for £49.99.
As well as the 25mm on test, the tyres also come in 23mm and 28mm sizes. Bontrager says that it tweaks the tread design across the different sizes to reflect the type of riding they are likely to be used for.
I think the rrp of £34.99 is very good for a tyre of this quality; it's light, too, at just 207g on our scales.
The Michelin Power Road tyre that David was impressed with cost £42.99 for instance, and offer many of the traits that the R3 shows.
I'd even go as far as to say that these Bontragers are as good as one of my favourites, the Schwalbe One Evolution. That'll set you back a cool £52.99 at full retail.
Overall, Bontrager has done a very good job in creating a tyre that delivers loads of performance and grip while keeping the price down.
Top quality when it comes to grip and rolling resistance while not costing the earth
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager R3 Hard Case Lite tyre
Size tested: 700x25
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 says, "A lightly-treaded road tyre with proprietary TR-Speed compound and improved Hard-Case Lite puncture protection for unmatched speed, confidence and durability.
'The all-new R3 Hard-Case Lite road tyre rolls faster, with added traction and a longer-lasting tread. The proprietary TR-Speed compound and updated Hard-Case Lite puncture protection increase both speed and durability while the lightly treaded design adds traction. With R3 you get a faster road racing tyre that delivers added confidence through every corner."
I think the R3 is a very good all-round performer.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Designed for speed, traction and durability while racing and road riding
Proprietary TR-Speed compound provides confident, fast-rolling performance
Hard-Case Lite with improved Nylon105 beaker belt provides lightweight puncture protection, great ride feel and extra durability
Fast-rolling, lightly-treaded design adds traction and confidence
Low rolling resistance and excellent cornering grip
Tread styling gets more aggressive as size increases to suit intended use better
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
An easy to fit tyre that gives all the performance you need for a bit of speed work.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great performance across the board.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
As long as the longterm wear rate doesn't let it down then there is very little to dislike.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The price is very good when you compare it to the Schwalbe and Michelin mentioned in the review. It also undercuts the likes of the Goodyear Eagle F1 (£45) and the Vittoria Rubino Pro at £49.99, both very good tyres.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A really impressive tyre that delivers on speed, comfort and grip for a very good price.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!