Stayed true for 4,000 miles
Good quality bearings – hubs roll nice and smooth
Weaknesses: Developed cracks around rear rim spoke eyelets at 4,000 miles.
These wheels came on my 2007 Trek Pilot 5.0. To be fair, they stayed true for 4,000 miles and worked flawlessly with no problems that whole time. Bearings are top notch and seem like there is no rolling resistance.
HOWEVER, at 4,000 miles, a rear spoke broke. I managed to adjust tension on other spokes well enough to finish 30 more miles of riding. Right after the ride, took bike to LBS and it was discovered that the rear rim was developing cracks around the spoke eyelets. This appears to be a design defect with these particular Bontrager Race wheels where the spokes were grouped in pairs which created stress points on the rim. To be fair again, Bontrager/Trek appears to have corrected this problem and if you look at the design of the newer Bontrager Race wheels, the spokes are now evenly spaced, not paired. Only time will tell if this design change solves the problem.
I had the rear wheel replaced with a Mavic Aksium which appears to be a good quality budget road rim. Don’t know if it’s the placebo effect or real, but the bike feels more stable. Front Bontrager Race wheel is still OK. According to LBS mechanic, front does not take anywhere near the load the rear does. However, I will be keeping an eye on it.
Weaknesses: Prone to failure. At about 10 months and 4000 miles the front wheel wouldn't hold true. After 2 LBS attempts and a couple by me, came to the conclusion that the nipples were stripping. About a month ago and at around 4500 mile, I noticed a crack starting at a nipple hole, drive side, rear. Yesterday (one year and about 5000 miles), as I was replacing a couple of nipples in the front, I looked hard at the rear and found large cracks at every drive side nipple hole.
- I'm a 215 pound rider and a some of the rural roads around here get rough.
- I didn't buy the wheels on a bike, there were new, unused takeoffs bought from a Trek dealer
- The wheels very well may be replaced under warranty by Trek. Just took them in yesterday and don't know now,
The wheels did have a superior ride and feel to the OEM wheels that came on my Bianchi Via Nirone and they did last a year of almost daily riding on often rough roads. Maybe with a lighter rider they would have lasted longer. One thing is for sure and that is this isn't a wheelset made for big people and rough roads.
While at the Trek dealer's shop yesterday, I checked out the current version of the wheelset as installed on a new Madone. It's obvious that the new Bontrager Race wheels have undergone a redesign from my version. I've read that the source of the cracking problem has been identified and cured. If the wheels are warrantied and the new ones are of the new design, I'll very possibly keep them as a secondary set for emergencies and to put on the Bianchi when its time to sell to get a new bike.
If the wheels are replaced under warranty, frankly I'm going to sell them to carry some of the cost of the wheelset that I just bought.
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: August 9, 2012
Strengths: Fast, light but always out of balance
Weaknesses: Most dangerous wheel around. I was riding on a sharp downhill when a tractor trailer passed me and forced me on to the shoulder. I hit a rough patch, not broken, but uneven and the bike,a trek madone exploded in vibration. I could only hold on to this bucking bronco. Intuitively I knew if I tried to brake I would be thrown. I managed to ease the brakes on after 100 yards and slowed gradually and then stopped and examined the tires and wheels. I could see nothing but later my bike mechanic spotted tiny cracks in the rims. This was the closest I have come to death biking. I immediately went on line and read wheel reviews. I bought ROL race and loved them. I broke two spokes and thought, "oh no, not another piece of worthless product," when ROL called me up and asked if I had had a problem. It seemed someone had over tighten the spokes and they were recalling and rebuilding the wheels. I got an overnight fedex package the next day, I shipped the wheel back to them and had a rebuilt wheel 4 days later. That is how defect wheels should be addressed. I felt like a value customer, not a number with a $ sign attached.
Do not under any circumstance buy these wheels! Trek has chosen to ignore the flaws in these wheels, hidden their head in the sand. I wonder how many people have been killed in similar circumstances. I think trek has become a money grubbing profit oriented corporation rather than a bicycling company that takes care of its customers. These are dangerous wheel and no one should have to suffer the experience that I went through, too bad trek is irresponsible.
Bike Setup: Trek Madone ultegra with ROL race wheels
Date Reviewed: June 18, 2012
Strengths: handling in cross winds
Weaknesses: none, yet
I am only reviewing the front wheel. I had this wheel, a 2009, on my back up bike. Recently I substituted this inexpensive Bontrager for the more costly Mavic Ksyrium on my 53cm 2003 Litespeed Veneto. Reason for wheel swap is that the Litespeed turned out to be dangerous in cross winds and in head winds, apparent after moving to Colorado from the Northeast. Reason was, indeed, the bladed spokes on the Ksyrium, combined with my light weight (130 lbs). All the difference in the world with the Bontrager! No longer have any problem with wind. Bontrager spokes are narrower and spoke pattern aligns right and left sides so the gaps for cross winds are 72 deg rather than 36 deg. My mechanic and my friends were right: Mavic Ksyrium is an inappropriate front wheel for light weight riders in high mountains. I'll stay with the Bontrager front wheel. Weight of the Bontrager is very slightly greater than that of Ksyrium, and I do not notice this at all. Just road Ride the Rockies with the Bontrager and was smiling at 12,000' in cross winds. Met a very strong young rider who was having trouble in cross winds due to aero rims. Highly recommend this Bontrager, or any similar design. I have left the Ksyrium rear wheel on the Litespeed, and will remain free of the crack problem reported for the Bontrager Race rear rim. Ksyrium rear wheel does not seem to contribute significantly to cross wind problem.
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: December 10, 2011
Strengths: Look good and came with a very nice bike attached.
Weaknesses: Last less than 3k miles when ridden carefully on good pavement by a 190 lb rider.
The Bontrager Race wheelset came as stock on the two Madones that I bought for my wife and myself. My wife has less than 1K miles on hers, mines has just over 2600 miles and I just noticed that every drive side eyelet is cracking. This is obviously mad materials, or perhaps bad craftsmanship. My guess is that they sourced much too soft of an aluminum alloy for this application. I'm just barely into my second rear tire!
Similar Products Used: Trek Matrix rims that came as stock on my Trek 1500. They were the only rims I've ever worn out (softened to the point that they stopped holding the tire bead), and they were at least 15 years old and probably had close to 100K miles on them.
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