Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR review

Consistent and reliable grip that delivers speed on all types of trail

2018 Tire Buyer's Guide 27.5 Plus Tires
Bontrager XR4

The Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR has a stiff sidewall yet feels supple and plush on rough terrain.

What is it

The Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR is a trail ready, all condition tire, ready to grip and rip everything you roll at. Mtbr tested the 27.5×2.8 plus version of the Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR. It also comes in 27.5×2.4, 27.5×2.6, 29×2.4, 29×2.6, and 29×3.0.

  • Consistent and reliable grip
  • Corners well
  • Good braking traction
  • 120 TPI casing
  • Multi-conditional use
  • Open tread allows for mud clearing
  • Easy tubeless set-up
  • Wears quicker than others in plus class
  • Naming convention can be confusing
  • Cost nearly $100 per tire
Mtbr’s Take

After riding the Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR tire in nearly every condition, I am hard pressed to find one it cannot handle. Bontrager bills the XR4 as an aggressive trail tire, but tread pattern and 120 TPI casing make it much more versatile.

Medium knobs all around offer consistent performance in corners and braking, though cornering knobs could be a bit higher for really digging in. That said, bite is still adequate. The Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR carries speed on flats and flowy sections of trail better than most race tires I have ridden. Grip and control, especially when braking and driving in loose terrain is the Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR’s sweet spot.

Bontrager XR4

L shaped side knobs are shallow, but still allow riders to dive in and out of corners confidently.

I paired up these Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR tire with Stan’s Baron wheels, which have an inner rim width of 35mm. This increased the footprint of the XR4’s voluminous casing. Mounting was a snap and a pop, as I was able to set them up tubeless with no compressor, just a standard floor pump.

The Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR have a secure bead, not tight, but it does require a tire lever to get on and off. The Bontrager Inner Strength casing feels well made and consistent, with smooth lines and rubber distribution throughout the casing.

Bontrager XR4

The Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR’s staggered solid center line knobs create excellent braking and acceleration.

Riding hours on rocks, roots, and even some city curbs have yet to cause a flat or even a leak. And while the Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR’s round profile may throw you off, don’t second guess. This tire can rip turns and bite in hard when you sprint out of turns. An open knob pattern carries speed well on flats and flowy sections of trail. Sharp block like knobs shed mud debris well enough and will not affect braking grip.

This tire excels in control and grip, most notably in braking traction. I took chances on descents, braking late, knowing that my tires will slow me predictably. I attribute this to solid centerline knobs and rubber compound choice. The Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR’s have a 61a/50a dual-compound, which is used in all of Bontrager’s top-tier tires.

Bontrager XR4 27.5 2x2.8 Plus

The Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR’s measured the equivalent of 2.74” on our Stan’s Baron rims.

Bottom line, while you can never say a tire does everything well, the Bontrager XR4 Team Issue TLR’s come pretty close. They may not be the fastest on pedal heavy sections of trail or fire roads, but when your bike is pointed downhill into gnarly roots and slick rocks, this is a great tire to have. That’s why we can enthusiastically recommend them for riders looking for a super tactile feel, and great grip over rough terrain.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Price: $95
More Info:

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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  • ColinL says:

    Only the plus sizes cost that much. The XR4 2.4 is $55 which is a bargain. They do wear fast on the rear, but not noticeably fast (to me) on the front.

  • root says:

    Um, pretty much all premium MTB tires cost more than low end car tires. Low end car tires are cheap, and ride like krap. I bought a set just to get my car rolling (which for the set was cheaper than the set of tires on my MTB) and gave them away as soon as I could. They drove horribly, I considered them almost dangerous.

  • N says:

    I’ve got the 60TPI 29×2.6 version of these on my Krampus. Seems pretty similar to DHF/DHR for knob height and pattern, maybe not quite as tall of knobs. Definitely more traction than the 29×3 Chupacabras I ran on the original build.

  • Plusbike Nerd says:

    Nice to see that this tire is true to size. A true 2.8 tire should measure 2.8in on an i40mm rim and 2.75in on an i35mm rim. Bontranger tires are usually the most expensive tires you can get. I think Trek makes them for their new bikes but doesn’t expect to sell many as replacements. There are many other similar great tires of this type for much less money and especially if you buy them online. The 27×2.8 Maxxis Minions are one example which you can find online for about $75.

  • James says:

    Have this tire on front (it’s a 26 x 2.35). Bought is for $55 CAD several years ago.
    Love this tire absolutely awesome. Way waaaay better than the Nevegal it replaced.
    Never lost traction ever, loose or hardpack up or down or around.
    Long wearing too no torn knobs, sidewalls tough.
    Paired up with an XR3 on the rear is a great combo !

  • Matthew says:

    Not a fan of this tire. Came stock on my Fuel EX8. Anything but perfect conditions and they really want to slip and slide all over the place. Even on just humid days with no rain they won’t grab tree roots or rocks. Won’t stay on off camber rocks in any conditions and just generally are unpredictable. Tried many different combos of air pressure and while it helped these tires won’t be on the bike come next spring. I will say they are right on the money in sizing. On the i29mm rim they are exactly 2.4 and the I’ve had 0 problems with punctures or holding air pressure so there is that.

    • Matt says:

      – hi other Matthew here, same situation, on my remedy 8 tho… exactly same issue as you described, no puncture issues either. tires absolutely unpredictable as can be. im a huge fan of trek… but bontrager is just garbage. period.
      i have some minons on now and wont be looking back

  • JtotheC says:

    Ready to replace my plus tires, deciding between 2.6 & 2.8. And WTF, 2.6 is $65 but 2.8 is $95?!

  • Keith says:

    Can’t wait to get a different tire, after 2 pinch flats on rear started running 10 -15 lbs more than recommend. 3 pinch flats later going to dumpster. Ran tubeless for years no problem get these – walk home city

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