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If you've got a newish Trek then it's likely it will have come with a tubeless-ready (TLR) Bontrager wheelset, and this Road TLR Conversion Kit has everything you need to make the leap to tubeless tyres. The tyres themselves are good, especially the 25mm version, and although you can go tubeless for less than the £140 this kit costs, it's designed to work with the wheels and does its job well.
In the kit you get two rim strips, two removable-core valves (with tool), sealant and, of course, the tyres. The R3 TLR tyres retail at £39.99 each; there's also an R4 TLR that's a bit lighter, with a dual compound tread, but that's a tenner more expensive at each end. The two rim strips are specific to Bontrager's wheels, although to be honest they'd probably work with other wheels with close to the same internal rim dimension. Instead of being sticky they have a thin edge that sits against the rim wall to make the chamber airtight. Fitting them is a once-only job, as removing them messes up the edges and they don't seal the next time. Not that I'd know. Oh no. Loosely fitting the valve in place is a good idea, to make sure the holes line up.
The tyres are a close-but-not-thumb-destroying fit, and sealing them for the first time was pretty straightforward. The 23s just needed a normal track pump; the 25s we seated with the help of Bontrager's Flash Charger TLR floor pump which is designed for that very job. If you don't have a special pump, or a compressor, and the tyres won't seat with a track pump, a CO2 canister is your friend. Best practice is to use the CO2 to get the tyre seated, then deflate and add the sealant: the low temperature of the gas can affect the latex solution.
I've had pretty good experiences with getting the R3s sealed. The 23mm versions were easier; the 25mm tyres took a few days of topping up before all the gaps were plugged, but after that they were dandy. Out on the road both sets exhibited plenty of grip and felt fast, but my preference was definitely for the 25mm carcass over the 23. One of the joys of tubeless is that you can run them just that bit softer without worrying about pinching them, but the 23mm was just too small for me to be able to do that and not worry about my rims.
In terms of ride feel the 25mm was noticeably plusher without sacrificing any speed that I could discern. And anyway, all the pros are on 25s these days, right? They're 15g heavier per tyre, but I'll take that. At 295g the 25mm tyre is a similar weight to a race tyre and a tube. You need to account for a bit of sealant too, so overall tubeless probably works out just a touch heavier. For me it's worth the trade-off because you can run them a little bit softer for extra comfort and grip, and you're never stuck at the side of the road in the rain wrestling with tyre levers. Well, almost never. I've only ever had one puncture on tubeless, which was a shard of metal that cut a 1cm gash in the sidewall. I've pulled out thorns and seen little holes bubbling and fizzing away, and those things with an inner tube would probably mean time in a lay-by.
The R3s are good. My current tubeless favourite is the Hutchinson Sector 28 for its bigger chamber and great feel, but the Bontragers are polished all-rounders with masses of grip. If you're already running tubeless and you're looking for racy rubber, they're worth considering on their own. As a full upgrade kit this TLR box makes a lot of sense if you've already got a compatible set of wheels. It's not the cheapest way of going tubeless but it does have everything you need, designed specifically for your wheelset, and fitting and sealing the tyres is as easy a job as I've yet encountered with tubeless. Go for the 25mm version.
Good tubeless conversion kit with everything you need. Except the wheels.
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Make and model: Bontrager Road TLR Upgrade Kit
Size tested: 700x23 tyres
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Everything you need to upgrade your Bontrager Tubeless Ready (TLR) Road wheels to tubeless.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Includes two R3 TLR tires
Includes two TLR aluminum road rim strips and matching TLR road valves
Includes a 2oz (59ml) bottle of TLR Sealant, enough to fill two TLR road tires
Includes a valve tool to aid in the installation of TLR Sealant
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a solution in a box. If you have TLR wheels and want to go tubeless, it's the simple solution.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Rim strip is a once-only affair so don't mess it up.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes if I had TLR wheels
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes if they had TLR wheels
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tyres are easy to seal, kit is comprehensive.
Age: 42 Height: 189cm Weight: 91kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.