During the winter and early into 2015, I spent some time riding Bontragers AW3 Hard-Case Lite Road tyres. I chose the 23mm version as this was the biggest size I could fit on my Stoemper under the PDC Full Metal Fenders I had in to test. I swapped to the Bontragers from running 28mm tyres from another brand I was testing for another publication. Normally I would have chosen at least at 25mm (or better the 28mm) but I could only fit 23mm.
Swapping from 28mm to 23mm, you’d expect a loss of comfort but frankly I was pleasantly surprised by the Bontragers on the first few rides. It’s a supple carcass and I found the 23mm AW3 as comfortable as the 28mm from another brand (that featured a cheaper less supple carcass in fairness).
Out on the road over some of the worst local training roads near where I live, I also found the Bontragers to be a confidence inspiring tyre that gripped well on all surfaces, whilst maintaining a very pleasing ride quality.
The Bontrager AW3 Hard Case Lite offers less protection that the Bontrager Hard Case series but a less impenetrable carcass means a suppler ride.
Bontrager describe the Hard Case Lite range as their “fastest and lightest puncture protection, just enough to keep out typical road debris without the extra bulk”. It’s a single layer protection system.
The difference to the Hard Case range is that this has 3 levels of puncture protection rather than one. It does have an anti puncture layer like the Hard Case Lite but additionally has an anti-cut casing and an anti-pinch sidewall.
I had no punctures even regularly and deliberately choosing particularly badly surfaced local roads to ride on.
If you want more/maximum puncture protection, or if you’re a commuter or ride particularly flinty lanes, the Hard Case line may be a better and tougher choice but I was very pleased with the Hard Case Lite. In fact, I enjoyed them to the point that they went back on my bike for this winter and I’ve been out on them again.
The Bontrager Hard Case Lite have shrugged off the winter weather and detritis with commendable ease. They roll well, are comfortable, offer dependable grip and they feel quick – so you’re not sacrificing speed in choosing them. They’re also showing little signs of wear even after I sought out some of the nastiest, most poorly maintained roads around where I live through the winter.
I haven’t found anything to complain about with these tyres, I’ve even looked at online user reviews which are almost all positive and especially complimentary about wear rates (or lack of). I’m pretty sure I’d have preferred them in a 25mm or 28mm but I didn’t have the choice for how I’d configured my bike. If you don’t have the same limitations, I would recommend choosing the wider sizes.
They’re well priced compared to some of the choices from other brands with a retail price of £34.99 each and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed riding them.
The Bontrager AW3 Hard Case Lite is a folding bead clincher tyre and available in 23, 25 and 28 mm widths.
You can find out more here: http://www.trekbikes.com/gb/en_GB/equipment/cycling-components/bike-tyres-tubes/bontrager-aw3-hard-case-lite/p/10961
You can buy some if you’re interested here and they’re on special at the time this post was published: http://tidd.ly/d13a61da
Thanks for reading.