Bontrager Kovee XXX TLR 29 wheelset review

Built from Trek OCLV USA-made carbon laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs

29er Cross Country Wheels
Bontrager Kovee XXX

The Bontrager Kovee XXX is a cross country racers dream wheelset.

What is it

The Bontrager Kovee XXX TLR 29 wheelset is race ready out of the box with a single purpose in mind: help make you faster. At 1390 grams the Kovee is light and strong, built from Trek’s own OCLV USA-made carbon and laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs. A 29mm inner rim width lets you run lower pressures, meaning a comfortable, smooth ride. Bontrager’s Kovee line is purpose built for racing, but riders may soon find this to be their everyday wheelset.

Pros
  • Race ready performance
  • Wide 29mm inner rim diameter
  • Low weight without sacrificing strength
  • Made in the USA
  • DT 240 hubs
  • Easy tubeless set up
  • Subtle graphics package
Cons
  • Not hookless
  • Expensive
  • Rigid ride
Mtbr’s Take

Bontrager has worked with World Cup athletes and world class engineers to develop their new Kovee wheel line. Cutting no corners, the Kovee XXX is a wheelset that delivers a world class ride. USA made OCLV carbon hoops are laced with DT Aerolite spoke connected to DT 240. This performance driven build shows commitment to both rider and craft.

Bontrager’s past XXX mountain wheelsets have featured off-brand hubs or alloy rims that were light yes, but needed constant maintenance and truing. Not so with the Kovee XXX, this wheelset is like a bomb proof luxury car, delivering outstanding performance day after day out. But reliable performance is mandatory when paying $2250 for a wheelset you plan to ride over rocks and off drops.

Bontrager Kovee XXX

Bontrager’s Kovee is not only fast but looks great on the all black Trek Top Fuel 9.8 SL

We swapped out the Kovee Pro’s that came stock on the Trek 9.8SL for the Kovee XXX. Climbing was immediately easier, the low rotational weight making out-of-the-saddle efforts smooth and quick. Stiffness could be felt in the corners, where you could observe some flex in its predecessor. Indeed, the Kovee XXX wheels carried speed in and out of the corners extremely well. Over rocks and roots rigidity is noticeable.

Rim Strip and Width Detail

Bontrager’s proprietary rim strip had to get wider to accommodate the 29mm interior of the Kovee XXX.

The 29mm inner width lets the rider run lower pressures, taking some of the bite off a stiffer ride. Sprinting in and out of corners is what surprised me the most, usually a wheel that carries speed well is hard to spin up but the Kovee XXX could jump up to cruising speed effortlessly.

240 Hub

A sign of quality and dependability, the DT Swiss 240 hub.

After many miles in mud, rain snow, and even ice, the DT Swiss 240 hubs were smooth as expected. Are the Kovee XXX worth the $2250 asking price? That depends on what’s important to you. If you want reliability, ease of service, durability, and top line performance then may well be yes. But if you’re looking for a wheelset to trash during race season and move on to the next, better to stick to more economical alloy options.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
Price: $1050 front, $1200 rear
More info: www.trekbikes.com

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Jordan Villella

Jordan comes from the steep streets of Pittsburgh PA, where he learned to dodge cars and rip single track. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of the cycling industry: from turning wrenches, store design, clothing production and bike park creation. Jordan spends his free time racing cross country and cyclocross around North America, though he has been know to enduro every now and then. His love of cycling is only second to his love of his family and punk rock.


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