Bontrager Race Lite Wheelset Review
The Bontrager Race Lite Wheelset (Model #07019) is the more affordable brother of the Race X Lite wheelset. As with many things in cycling, the Race Lite wheelset benefits from trickle down technology, developed and used in more expensive wheels.
The new spoke lacing pattern in the Race Lite wheelset has been coupled with an updated rim and overhauled hub, which has meant that Bontrager has been able to maintain a low spoke count (18 front, 24 rear) but has also meant an increase in durability. This is an important feature in the new Race Lite wheels, as there were common complaints previously that spokes were breaking on a regular basis. The spokes are stainless steel and bladed for increased aero-dynamic benefit. The rear hub is of the sealed bearing variety, and will easily cope with either a Shimano or Campagnola freehub body. The overall weight of the wheelset is 1711 grams, with the price of the wheelset at around $600.
Having read previous reviews of the Race Lite, we were not optimistic. Reports of spokes breaking were all too common, especially at rider weights of 200lb or more. But, we were pleasantly surprised, even with a heavy rider in the test team! The wheels felt very smooth on the flat, and responded well under power. They felt stiff under acceleration, with no detectable flex, which is saying something for our 200lb tester! In the corners, the wheels felt fine, and relatively sure footed, while on the descents, they provided a stable platform and soaked up road vibration relatively well. The wheels also remained true throughout the test, which is no mean feat with such a low spoke count.
Going uphill, the Race Lite was stiff under power, but did not feel especially zippy. This may be due to the relatively heavy weight, as at 1711 grams, there are other wheelsets which will save you valuable grams when the road turns upward. If climbing is your thing, there are better options in this price range.
Overall, the Race Lite wheelset performed reasonably well, even if they were a little uninspiring. Bontrager still have a long way to go to prove that the modifications they have made to this wheel will make it durable, but during the test, the wheels held up without any difficulties. However, at this price point, there is fairly stiff competition from wheelsets such as the EA70 which is considerably cheaper, and from wheels such as the Mavic Ksyrium Elite and the Ksyrium Equipe which are as light, if not lighter, and are known for being extremely strong and durable.
All in all the Race Lite performed well, and seems to be a good value wheel, but at this price point the competition is stiff, and there are many alternatives to consider.
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