What is it?
A lightweight, trustworthy alloy wheelset that excels on the road and in the gravel - explicitly designed for high volume tires? The new Bontrager Paradigm Elite boasts a 25mm width and a rapid drive 108 hubs that offer quick engagement.
- Price: $900 for the set - rims strips and values included.
- 25mm inner rim width (30mm outer) offers a fantastic ride and profile for high volume tires.
- Rapid Drive 108 road hubs provide quick engagement.
- Weighing 1525g for the set they are lightweight for an alloy wheelset.
- The polished finish and subtle graphics package promise to match many bike setups.
- Rapid Drive 108 hub engagment drags in sub 30 deg temps.
- Wheels required quick truing after a rough gravel ride.
- 30mm rim width may not fit some road disc framesets.
Trek has jumped into the gravel and all road sector with both feet and now they're bulking up the alloy offerings to match the carbon. Bontrager is no stranger to the limits of alloying having offered great high-end alloy options in the past, most famously paired with DT-Swiss hubs and trademark asymmetrical rims. In recent years the brand has moved to more affordable carbon options and left alloy to more entry-level configurations. It wasn't until the Paradigm wheel that Bontrager started to push the limits of alloy again and spotlighting them on its Boone and CheckPoint off-road drop bar offerings. The Paradigm line is for the rider/racer that values performance as much as the cost, and we can say the Paradigm Elite line delivers.
Coming in at $900 for the set and weighing just above 1500g - the Paradigm Elite 25 TLR is a modern alloy wheel. Offering a wide 25mm internal/30mm external rim with stacked lacing and offset spoke bed - the wheel is both smooth and responsive under the pedals. Built in-house at Bontrager Wheelworks the set is assembled in the USA. Both wheels arrive with Bontrager rim strips, alloy valves/core, core removers, and DT-Swiss center-lock rings. The tubeless setup is simple but requires some knowledge of the Bontrager tubeless system - newbies may fight to get the holes to line up - its best to install the valve core into the rim with the strip to prevent moving.
Tires and sealant install is a breeze, and I can get many tires to inflate and seat with a conventional floor pump. For most of my time with the wheels, I rode on the new Bontrager 700X35 GR-1 Team Issue gravel tires. The full profile of the rim gives the 35mm tires a great contact patch and full feel on off-road sectors. On the road, the Paradigm Elites spin up quickly and hold speed on long flat sections of road. The lightweight build of the Paradigm Elite 25 TLR excels on short, punchy climbs and off-road undulating gravel. The contact patch created by the full rim offers to corner confidence and grip on sandy and burned out roads.
I took the Paradigm Elites on many different routes and testing conditions; dry roads, wet road, gravel, and straight up single track. They performed great in all conditions, especially on gravel and the road less traveled. After my explorations in the wooded single track, they did require some light truing, but that could be chalked up to my road off-road hucking. In the lower spring temperatures the Rapid Drive hub experienced some lag and pulled on the chain, I imagine that a lower viscosity oil can remedy that no problem.
The price and performance of this wheelset put them into a high-value category, especially for those gravel and cyclocross racers that require two or more sets of wheels for a season. I recommend the Paradigm Elite 25 TLR for any rider looking for an all-around wheelset that excels in the gravel and all road conditions. Prime for cyclocross, gravel, and a multitude of conditions - the Paradigm Elite 25 TLR is a winner all around.