New Bontrager AW3 review thread - a great training/ touring/ light gravel tire?

In this thread I want to continuously post my findings with new Bontrager AW3 tire. The reason this might be relevant is because I have not seen it being tested anywhere yet.
Bontrager released its range of new “all-weather” tires, consisting of 3 different models. The more roadbike oriented hard-case lite and hard-case lite reflective and the more gravel/ touring oriented hard-case model.
All models are offered in 4 sizes between 25c and 38c, and can be used TLR (hookless also) and with an inner tube. The major features touted by Trek/ Bontrager are: puncture resistance (78% better than AW2), great all weather performance (with a threaded pattern on the side walls), and versatility (fast enough for road performance, strong enough for gravel).
Obviously, any producer will make shiny claims like that, and it is best not to believe much of it, until indecently proven. I am really waiting for the BRR test on them.
However, the two things that made them very interesting to me, is firstly, that they are a supposed puncture resistant road tire, that is fast enough for anything but racing, that also offers a reflective sidewall. And secondly, that they work on hookless rims (like the AW2 did).
The first point makes them a potentially great training tire for the still grim and dirty season until around May, the second point makes them a tire to work on my ENVE SES 4.5AR wheels for light gravel.
So I ordered a few of them, and rode the first 60k on them.
So far, I have only fit them on my road bike, and that worked very well. No tire levers needed to install, mine are installed with tubes, so no idea how well they work TL.
Ride so far: Good grip, good comfort, no sensation of it feeling too slow… none of that is conclusive, yet.


One image taken in the dark without flash and one with flash. Obviously reflective surfaces have an exaggerated effect when photographed with a flash. However, I have seen them in reality and it is surprising how well they relflect, even after 60k of riding in the wet

Also for the weenies: the tires are officially rated at 305g (hard-case lite 28c reflective), but came in at 321g and 318g for me.
The hard case (these have an extra layer of protection, more akin to the Cintuarto) tires in 32c are rated 415g and came in at 411 and 417g for me.
I will keep you posted about further findings and my experience with the larger ones, that I have yet to install and test.

6 Likes

Currently near the bottom of a long list:

A couple years ago my LBS insisted I try the previous AW3. Two flats the first week and I returned them. Given that I can believe a 78% improvement is both possible and necessary to have a competitive tire.

Bontrager has been improving their tires, for example the R4 320 is a competitive low rolling resistance tire. Very nice to see an update on the AW3. I’m still loving my Pirelli Centurato Velo but they are not hookless compatible (I’ve got hooked rim Enve 5.6 disc).

Please post an update after you have some experience.

Okay, thanks for your post.
2 flats in one week sounds more like bad luck, than bad tires. I have ridden a lot of thin racing tires, and never punctured twice in a week…
I didn’t even know about this rating system on BRR, that makes it very likely to never ever be tested. Fair enough…

I too have ridden a lot of thin racing tires, and agree about luck. However I believe it is two things:

  • luck
  • poor protection layer on that particular all weather tire

Remember that was previous generation tire, before the 78% improved protection.

We have a lot of debris on the road, and roads in very poor condition. Leaving the city I call it pave sector #1 (1.6km) or ‘California Cobblestones’ :rofl: After 5 years of trying a lot of tires, so far the best puncture protection has been Pirelli Cinturato Velo and after taking that picture I counted 20 small holes but never a problem I kept on rolling.

I would definitely like to see the new and improved AW3 reviewed by BRR! Just voted and the count is now 2 :smile:

Thank you for posting about this new option! I’m going to try it soon.

Wheel Energy in Finland did the puncture resistance testing:

Source: https://youtu.be/k6VZ8t5YzO0

1 Like

Wondering if you have any new feedback to add to this since your last post? I’m considering giving these a go.

So, i have ridden these a few hundred kilometers now and they have held up well.
I have a feeling, that they feel slower than standard road tires (GP5000, Turbo Cotton), which is likely, but I cannot confirm anything.
They handle well, are highly visible and feel good enough for anything.
Not super comfy, but good enough.

Do you have any experience with Cinturatos? I am considering these as well. If yes, would you say they’re more comfortable/supple than the AW3?

Interested in how these compare to Conti GP4 seasons?

I think they feel rather similar to the Pirelli 4S in terms of speed. The Cinturato feel slower for me.
I have only ridden the cinturato in super wide (35mm) so they were more comfortable. Not really a fair comparison.
I wouldn’t compare them to 4S tires however, since these have a specifically designer softer rubber compound, that stays supple in the cold. The AW3 are not designed like that (AFAIK).

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I may give the AW3 a try and if they don’t live up to expectations, switch back to IRC Formula Pro RBCCs.

Hi
I have looked at these as well; just to make clear these are only to be run as tubed tires. These are not TLR. The only TLR tires are the R3 TLRs
The AW3 are all tubed only…

Looking at the spec… 305gr for a non-TLR 25c tyre. That’s a lot of rubber on that tire. Full breaker bead? Thats going to be sluggish. This will roll something like a Rubio Pro at best https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/road-bike-reviews/vittoria-rubino-pro-control-2016

I’d say you’re these would land at 17psi -21w at 100psi, so these probably cost about 12w-15w per pair over a GP5K.

But I keep rolling and rolling and rolling on the Pirelli, while the GP5K has failed me multiple times. Guess I prefer to train without any tire drama :man_shrugging:

I only call out the rolling resistance delta