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Any input on new Bontrager components?(8 posts)

Any input on new Bontrager components?floatch
Mar 19, 2002 8:54 AM
Trek has spec'ed their new 5200's with some Bontrager components, mostly labelled "Bontrager Race-Lite." The wheels & hubs, seatpost, and stem & bars are labelled thusly.
Does anyone have any weights or input for these components?
I'm considering upgrading some stuff to save weight, such as the seatpost, bars, and stem... but I'd like some info before I start swapping. Thanks!
re: Any input on new Bontrager components?laffeaux
Mar 19, 2002 3:12 PM
My opinion is a bit biased, but I'll give it any way.

Keith Bontrager is one of the most respected names in mountain bikes. He started building in the early 80's and his contributions to mountain biking are unquestionable (light weight mtb rims being fore most). Bontrager frames, components and wheelsets were traditionally some of the best thought out components on the market. Keith's moto was "strong, light cheap. Pick any two."

In '97 Trek bought out Bontrager. Since that time the Bontrager name has gone from a small quirky Santa Cruz company to large corprate Wisconsin company. Other than the Bontrager name and (I'm assuming some consulting from Keith), the Bontrager components are Trek components. Bontrager rims are great (I have two sets), however they really lack quality control and their 390 gram rims can weight anywhere from 410 to 460 grams.

Five years ago I'd say if the Bontrager name was on it, it was a good to great product (I own two Bontrager frames). Today, Bontrager offers a full line of products form crappy entry-level components to well-designed high-end parts. Trek used to have System 1, 2 and 3, then they had Icon, now they have Bontrager. It's all Trek parts and Trek engineers. It's about making parts to fill markets, instead of making parts because you love bikes.

I have a set of Race Lite mtb wheels and they're great. Trek makes good stuff. Too bad that a small company with unique ideas had to disappear along the way.
That's kinda what I figured.floatch
Mar 20, 2002 3:43 AM
I'm a mountainbiker, and I remember Keith's ads in Dirt Rag magazine. They were small ads in the back, often with pictures of his dogs... remember those? I guess it never dawned on me that the parts on my new ROAD BIKE were made by the same guy. I guess they're not.
re: Any input on new Bontrager components?Galibier
Mar 20, 2002 7:03 AM
Let me first say that I don't know diddly about Bontrager products, new or old. However, just because an item is mass produced does not mean it is poorly designed or manufactured. In fact, in most instances, mass-produced items are more consistent in quality (for good or ill) than small-production hand-crafted products. If the Bontrager components are still designed by Mr. Bontrager, why does it matter that they are now mass produced? It seems to me the important question is this: did Trek purchase the Bontrager talent, or just the Bontrager name?
I think it's more about big guy vs. little guy...floatch
Mar 20, 2002 10:13 AM
I posted this same topic elsewhere on these discussion boards, so bear with me. Like I said earlier, I remember Keith's ads from dirt rag magazine (small somewhat underground mountainbike 'zine) and I remember the dawning of the popularity of the mountainbike. I was working in a shop, building, repairing, and selling insane numbers of bikes, and Bontrager components were always something cool you'd find on a bike owned by someone who knew what they were doing. People who work in shops will tell you that boring soul-less bikes come in and out of the shop every day, but a cool, well-loved bike makes an impression. Bontrager parts used to be strictly aftermarket parts you'd find on bikes owned by people who loved them. I guess it just bums me out that they're everywhere now. I'm happy for Keith, and I love my new Trek 5200, so I guess I'm full of baloney.
Big vs little guylaffeaux
Mar 20, 2002 11:02 AM
Besides the "soulfulness" of the little parts maker, the biggest change is that Bontrager used to not make any crappy components and now they do. In the past, if it carried the Bontrager name it was a good solid durable part. The small guy can't compete with the large companies on price, so they have to differentiate on quality (or go out of business). Now that Bontrager is Trek, they produce parts at all levels. They have some really good stuff, but they have some really crappy stuff too. The Bontrager mtb cranks/rings are notorious for being weak and bending. The reason is that they are a low end part. Bontrager never made "low end" parts until after Trek came in. It's just part of a business growth. It's no different from Shimano that makes Dura Ace and crappy department store bike components - they build to meet many price points. I miss the days when the Bontrager name represented "high end" only.
and any opinions on the carbon aero wheels? nmk mand
Mar 20, 2002 9:32 AM
Race Lites Holding Up After 1KSingleThreaded
Mar 20, 2002 8:57 PM
Speaking only for the Race Lites on my 2002 Zurich, they seem to be holding up pretty well, as in they are still as true as the day I bought them and at 245 lb I'm putty a little hurt on them. The front wheel (20 spoke) has always creaked when ever I've gotten out of the seat to climb and now that it's Spring I'm starting to do a lot more speedwork so I'll really start straining them. We'll see how they hold up in 3-4 weeks.

I also don't have a good handle on the quality of the drag, rolling resistance of these wheels. Perhaps, its the small moment of inertia relative to a MTB wheel but when you spin this wheel it seems to come to rest alot sooner (as expected) than my Stumpjumper wheel that would just go forever. I would like to see how this tests against other wheels. The Bontrager website has some comparison information for Drag, Moment of Inertia, etc against the XLite, Rolf Vector Pro, and standard wheelsets, but the Race Lite entries are all N/A. Perhaps their test numbers weren't worth bragging about.

Anyway I'm looking for a reason to upgrade these wheels but haven't found a good enough reason yet.