The most desired upgrade to existing bikes has always been wheels. The Bontrager Kovee Pro is a 29-inch cross-country wheel with a 29mm internal width and a hook bead that is compatible with tires from 2.0–2.6 inches. They weigh in at a combined a weight of 1610 grams with valves and no cassette, disc, axle or tires. Bontrager started in 1980 as a garage brand in Santa Cruz, California. Founder Keith Bontrager tested unique construction methods with a clear focus on attention to detail and commitment to quality. Today, Bontrager is under the Trek umbrella, designing and testing together and supplying the brand with quality OEM products.
Bontrager uses the same OCLV carbon as Trek on this 29mm internal width, 28-hole rim. The Rapid Drive 108 hubs are Boost 110/148mm, with a 6-bolt disc and Shimano 10-/11-speed driver (SRAM XD driver is offered separately).
The Rapid Drive hub offers 108 points of engagement utilizing a six-pawl, 54-tooth drive ring for durability and easy servicing. The hook-bead rim outers are 36mm wide, tubeless-ready, and come with the tubeless valves and valve-core removal tool. The wheels are laced up with quality DT Swiss Aerolite 14/17-gauge spokes and Alpina alloy locking nipples.
On the trail:
The Kovee wheels had a comfortable mix of stiffness to compliance, unlike some carbon wheels that have a rigidity only beneficial on smooth surfaces. The tires beaded up easily, and a few weeks later when we uninstalled the tires, they were sealed on extremely tight, telling us the hook bead works really well. Our wheelset held up well to fire roads and technical singletrack that you would find on a typical trail ride. The Kovee 30 wheels are designed for cross-county racing. If you are looking for a more aggressive trail-worthy wheel, for a little over 100 additional grams, Bontrager’s Line Pro 30 TLR is another option in the same price point. The cassette has a distinct, loud ratcheting sound that only some appreciate; your riding partners will let you know. Neither wheel came out of true or needed tensioning during or after the testing process. The best thing about this wheelset is that they soared up the trail. The lighter weight of the carbon paired with the stiffness to make for a very efficient ride.