Review: Bontrager Hodag Tire and Jackalope Wheels fat bike tubeless system

A true tubeless fat bike system

26er Fat Bike Tires Wheels
Bontrager Hodag tire and Jackalope wheels are mounted on a Trek Farley 8. The Hodag is seen here accelerating on a snow trail. Photo by S Lorence

Bontrager Hodag tire and Jackalope wheels are mounted on a Trek Farley 8. The Hodag is seen here accelerating on a snow trail. Photo by S Lorence

The Lowdown: Bontrager Hodag Tire and Jackalope TLR 26 Wheels

The aim of Bontrager‘s first fat bike tire was a versatile weapon that would be fun to ride on snow, sand, dirt, and even pavement. Trek’s apparel and component arm also wanted a tire and wheel system that would be tubeless compatible at extremely low pressures (sub-5 psi). Have they succeeded? The answer is a resounding yes. This fat bike tire is indeed a winner in all conditions. Traction is available in spades and it is predictable, delivering a balance of stability and agility. Bontrager’s TLR tubeless system is a breeze to install and inflate, and it brings the proven Bontrager solution to the fat bike world without the need for homebrew DIY tubeless. That’s a good thing; being able to run tubeless is critical for fat bikes because the tubes are so heavy — and fixing a flat on the trail more difficult.

Stat Box: Bontrager Hodag Tire
Size: 26″ x 3.80 TLR FT/RR/PR: Dual
TPI: 60 Weight: 1244g
Durometer: 60a MSRP: $149.99
Bead: Aramid Rating: 5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 5 Chilies-out-of-5
Type: TLR/Clincher

Stat Box: Bontrager Jackalope TLR 26 Wheels
Size: 26″ Weight: 1305g
Hub:  135mm or 150mm front MSRP: $482.99 front; $516.99 rear
Spoke Butting: 14/15 Rating: 4.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4.5 Chilies-out-of-5
Rear Hub Spacing: 170/177×12 Shimano/SRAM 10spd, and SRAM XD 11spd rear, cups included

Pluses
Minuses
  • Grip is very good in a variety of terrain
  • The $150 price tag is no chump change
  • Rolling resistance is decent even on pavement
  • Only 60 TPI version is available
  • The tire construction and rubber quality is extremely high
  • There are no wider versions of the tire available yet
  • The rounded profile of the tire makes it very predictable on corners
  • Durability and longevity of the tire is excellent
  • It is a true tubeless system that is easy to mount and gate holds its pressure
  • The width of the tire is as wide as most 4.0 tires

The cool folks from North Central Cyclery, IL show how easy it is to set up the Hodag and Jackalope tubeless

Full Review: The Lowdown: Bontrager Hodag Tire and Jackalope TLR 26 Wheels

Bontrager brings its expertise in tire design to the 3.8 Hodag, which is as wide as many claimed 4.0 tires from other brands. The tire weighs in at 1244 grams with the TLR and Inner Strength casing.

The Bontrager TLR system is successful when it comes to tubeless primarily because the company focused on fit and bead mating issues to maintain a proper tubeless seal. This is key on a fat bike tire, as the tube itself can weigh over 400 grams, so a tubeless setup offers significant weight savings.

The tread pattern of the Hodag is open with a tighter center channel. Profile is rounded for consistent cornering and side knobs are well supported.

The tread pattern of the Hodag is open with a tighter center channel. Profile is rounded for consistent cornering and side knobs are well supported.

Additionally, low pressures are the norm for fatbikes, with 2-8 psi common. At these levels, a reliable tubeless system is key to avoid burps and loss of seal during aggressive riding. Reliability is further enhanced by Bontrager’s Inner Strength sidewall cut protection system, the same preventative measure found on its enduro tires.

At 3.8, these aren’t the widest fat bike tires on the market, meaning they’re better suited for riders who tackle a variety of terrain rather than snow-only practitioners who are better off with something in the 4.5-5 range.

The reason to downsize is that the super wide tires can become lumbering beasts that tend to steer themselves at high speeds. Extra wide tires also have so much rotating inertia that they can slow you down in non-snow conditions. Super wide tires also mean wide bottom brackets and rear axles that can interfere with a rider’s pedaling motion.

That’s why Bontrager made the decision to make a tire that is capable in the snow — and on the trail. Its designers believe that most of the snow ‘ability’ of a bike is driven by air pressure. The deeper the snow, the lower the air pressure. We tested Hodag on the Trek Farley fat bike and it is a perfect match. The bikes are designed to be agile and fun in all conditions — just like the tire.

For more information visit www.bontrager.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Steve says:

    Jackalope 26x?

  • Don says:

    3.8? I’m sorry but that’s not really fat anymore. Husky, but not fat. Bonty needs a 4.8

  • mikeetheviking says:

    Industry states “Fat” begins at 3.8, So this is basically the skinniest “Fat” tire out there:) I guess sometime it’s good to be skinny and fat. I’m glad Bontrager is headed this direction, especially with the new Hodag size 27.5 x 3.8….. Bonty be pavin’ dem trails baby! Ans sidewall protection! Bout time we started seeing more fat tires with sidewall protection….

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