BONTRAGER KOVEE RSL CROSS COUNTRY WHEEL REVIEW

A high-end XC carbon race wheel with great performance and a rather reasonable price tag

BONTRAGER KOVEE RSL CROSS COUNTRY WHEEL REVIEW

Tech features:

Kovee is the model name for Trek’s cross-country wheelset line. Its RSL versions of the wheels, tested here, are the higher-spec, lightweight models. These wheels can be seen used as original equipment on top-end Trek models like the Supercaliber Gen 2, but also as an upgrade option for any rider.

They come complete with a low-profile, 29mm-internal-width rim and DT Swiss 240 hubs. The RSL rim uses Trek’s most premium OCLV carbon blend for both weight savings and stiffness. A new shallow 22mm profile and wider inner rim width are designed for compliance and tire support, while wider bead hooks add durability and help protect against pinch flats.

The wheels come as a tubeless-ready rim with the TLR rim strip and valve pre-installed for easy setup. They come in Boost 110/148 spacing with 24 spokes front and rear with Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes and locking nipples. All Bontrager carbon wheels are warrantied for life for the original purchaser and come with the added protection of Carbon Care. If your wheel sustains damage from riding within two years of ownership, Trek will replace them for the original owner. There is no rider weight limit on these wheels.

 

Field test results:

We set out to put these wheels through their paces aboard an XC bike where they wouldn’t look like original equipment. While many Bontrager wheels are sold this way, Trek is adamant the technology in these are worth a look for any rider looking for an upgraded wheel. Setup proved easy, with the pre-installed rim strip taking several of the steps out of the process. We tested to make sure the rims would allow our test tires to snap into place with ease with only a floor pump, and they did.

This rim profile gives the tire a properly supported feel without the tire squirm that can happen with narrow rim designs. The RSL wheels feel responsive and accelerate more quickly. Their lack of weight does not equal a significant decrease in stiffness. In fact, their ride characteristics felt more rigid than similar wheels overall. The RSL hubs have the familiar feel of a DT Swiss 240 star ratchet with its pleasant buzz, providing a feeling of quick engagement when we needed it most. We’ve had nothing but good luck with those hubs on countless test bikes.

The weight savings feel fantastic and snappy on the trail and do not sacrifice stiffness or efficiency. This is a fast-feeling wheelset built to find its way to the finish line tape first. The RSL would be our choice for race day every time. The wheels feel flat-out fast. Bottom line, it’s Trek’s attention to detail in components like the Kovee wheels that makes their bikes so great.

The Kovee wheels deliver every bit of performance and technology you’d find in an aftermarket wheel with a higher price tag. If you’re looking for an edge on race day, the Kovee RSL wheels deliver great ride quality and muted aesthetics that would look great on a huge range of bikes, not just the ones that say “Trek” on the downtube.

 

HITS:

• Very light
• Great ride quality
• No rider weight limit
• Relatively affordable

MISSES:

• None

STAR RATING: ★★★★★

Weight: 1,234 grams
Price: $1,299
Contact: www.trekbikes.com

 

 

 

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