Bontrager LT2 Team Issue TLR tubeless gravel tire review

Middle of the road compromise rolls fast and resists puncture

Gravel Tires
Bontrager’s updated LT2 tire receives a lighter Team Issue casing that is tubeless ready.

Bontrager’s updated LT2 tire receives a lighter Team Issue casing that is tubeless ready.

Lowdown: Bontrager LT2 Team Issue TLR Tubeless Gravel Tires

When we told Bontrager that we were planning a gravel tire test earlier this year (part 1 and part 2), they said they had something in the works beyond its current line of tubeless cyclocross tires. Not long after a pair of LT2 Team Issue TLR tires arrived in the 32mm width. Only now are they ready to tell the world about them. Read our full review below to learn more.

Stat Box: Bontrager LT2 Team Issue TLR Tubeless Gravel Tires
Weight: 400g Price: $60
Options: 32mm and 38mm widths Rating: 4 Stars 4 out of 5 stars

Pluses
Minuses
  • Good puncture resistance
  • Don’t mount easily on Stan’s rims
  • Fast rolling, crowned profile
  • Puncture resistance comes at the price of weight

Review: Bontrager LT2 Team Issue TLR Tubeless Gravel Tires

The LT2 Team Issue TLR uses the same tread pattern of a tire that Bontrager already had in its line-up that was aimed at recreational riders. With the Team Issue version, Bontrager uses a lighter casing and adds tubeless compatibility. The tire will be offered in both the 32mm width reviewed here, as well as a larger 38mm size.

The tread pattern is a series of diamond lugs that work well is loose conditions and maintain a fast-rolling center peak.

The tread pattern is a series of diamond lugs that work well is loose conditions and maintain a fast-rolling center peak.

Unfolding them, the casing is robust, the tread promising. On the scale, the two tires averaged 400 grams, slightly below Bontrager’s claimed 410 grams. While not featherweight, this was a good start. For reference, Panaracer’s Gravel in a 32mm size is 90 grams lighter, though they also run a tad smaller at 31.8mm on the same rim.

Bontrager LT2 Team Issue TLR
 
The consistent overall shape of the Bontrager LT2 Team Issue TLR made it easy to scrape mud off. Other tires with deeper tread or file centers with large side knobs make this a bit tougher.

When I went to install them on a set of Stan’s Iron Cross wheels, though, I ran into trouble. The bead was far too tight. Slightly bummed, I pulled out a pair of Bontrager tubeless wheels and they went right on and sealed quickly. This was something that I had seen before, with the Schwalbe G-One similarly too tight to use on Stan’s rims. This is, unfortunately, the burden we all bear as our industry struggles to create standards for tubeless tire fitment. Interestingly, after they spent time mounted on the Bontrager rims, I was later able to install them on the Stan’s rims I had initially tried. The bead must have stretched enough to make it possible.

Once rolling I was instantly surprised at how well the 32mm tires performed. The LT2s measured 32.4mm wide on the 20c Bontrager rims, a bit oversized. I was initially skeptical of the somewhat narrow tires as I typically prefer a 38mm or 40mm tire for gravel rides. The series of small knobs rolled quickly and provided excellent stability through loose sections. The side knobs provided good bite while cornering, too, perhaps not on par with heftier options like WTB’s Nano, but impressive for such a quick tire.

It was when I took the tires to the Land Run 100 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in March that I put the LT2’s to a real test. I brought with me two sets of wheels, one if the weather looked dry, another if wet conditions presented themselves. The red clay mud of the Stillwater area is legendary for ruining drivetrains — and morale. This is where the narrower width of the Bontrager tires can in especially handy. They plowed through wet mud and provided extra clearance in the sticky stuff.

Thanks to the consistent overall shape of the LT2’s I was able to quickly scrape mud off once it had accumulated. Because the majority of the mud was in the opening 30 miles of the race, by day’s end the tires had effectively shed any dried bits and rolled exceptionally well into the finish line. I never experienced a puncture while riding several hundred miles on the LT2s.

With tubeless compatibility, though not easy with Stan’s rims, a tough casing and a great tread pattern, the Bontrager LT2 Team Issue TLR tires are a killer gravel option. They are on the heavier end of the gravel tire spectrum. At the other end of that spectrum are Maxxis Ramblers, which offer similar weight but measure over five millimeters wider.

Ultimately, one of the most difficult decisions gravel riders make is in trying to balance puncture resistance with a competitive weight. It’s not hard to eliminate punctures. Schwalbe Mondial touring tires do essentially just that. But the ride quality is poor in comparison to more supple casings, and the extra weight is measured in portions of pounds, not grams.

Or you can go the other way, installing feather weight tires and then spend your time tiptoeing around courses, fingers crossed. So, it is actually a great compliment when you describe a gravel tire as a good, middle of the road compromise. Bontrager’s LT2 Team Issue TLR is just that.

For more info, please visit www.trekbikes.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)
About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview.


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