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BONTRAGER R4 320 Hard-Case Lite Tyre

BONTRAGER R4 320 Hard-Case Lite Tyre click to zoom image
  
Pricing
RRP £54.99
OUR PRICE £49.99
USUALLY AVAILABLE WITHIN 3-10 DAYS


Qty marked * exceeds current stock level.
Options 700 x 25c Black/Natural - USUALLY AVAILABLE WITHIN 3-10 DAYS
Description
The R4 clincher gives unequalled road feel and racing performance in an extremely durable hand-built tyre. Add Hard-Case Lite for lightweight puncture protection and you've got the perfect racing tyre.

- Lightweight 320 TPI hand-built clincher
- Excellent for road and criterium racing
- Super supple polyamide synthetic fibre reinforcement for added casing strength
- Hard-Case Lite has Lightweight sub-tread material protecting against punctures
- Aramid bead (foldable)
- Clincher tyre
- Weight: 230g


Bontrager R4 320 Clincher tyre review, road.cc, July 2015 (see here for full review):
"Nothing quite gives the pro look like some tan-wall tubulars on your race bike. If you're not into your tubulars, then the Bontrager R4 320 is about as near as you'll get in clincher form, with near-tubular levels of suppleness and grip.
The R4 320 shares much of its construction with a tubular: its 320TPI (threads per inch) polyamide-reinforced polycotton casing is the same as Bontrager's R4 race tubular, and the 60a durometer tread is glued on in the same way. Instead of sewing it up with a tube inside, you get a Kevlar bead for your 700C wheels.
The R4 320s arrive completely flat, because that's how they're produced, rather than moulded like a vulcanised tyre. That makes fitting them for the first time a bit of a faff, although not as much as some other open tubulars I've tried, the Challenge Paris-Roubaix being a notable example. Once they're on and inflated they start to take on a bit of shape, so refitting them the next time isn't as hard.
Swapping to these tyres from a decent set of 25mm vulcanised tyres made a noticeable difference to the feel of the bike. They really float, these R4s. The supple case doesn't seem to be overly affected by the fact that Bontrager have sensibly added a Hard Case Lite puncture strip under the tread, and it soaks up road chatter brilliantly. It's like knocking 10psi out of your tyres in terms of feel. The levels of grip are excellent from the rough-slick tread, giving tons of confidence when you're leaning into a fast corner.
If you're looking for a 23mm then you're out of luck: Bontrager only do the R4 320 in a 25mm. At 250g per end they're hardly heavy, although there are lighter 25mm race tyres out there. All the pros use 25mm these days, anyway. Join the revolution.
Puncture protection appears to be anecdotally okay, in that I've not managed to flat either of these tyres yet. The puncture strip will help there, although the sidewalls are pretty vulnerable to thorns and such. They're not Gatorskins, obviously. But they're better than some race-orientated rubber.
Mostly I've used these for racing and dry, sunny good-bike runs: that's what I reckon they're ideal for. Grip in the wet is very good too, mind. As regards longevity, the polycotton carcass will degrade a bit more quickly than vulcanised rubber, and the tread is thinner than a moulded tyre too, and fairly soft. So realistically you'll not get many seasons out of a set of these, and at £54.99 each they're far from cheap. But if you want some lovely tyres for racing, which look good and perform superbly, then these are some. It's up to you whether they're worth the money. For the right kind of usage, I think they are."

Verdict
Super-supple race tyre with great feel and grip.


Bontrager R4 320 Clincher tyre review, Road Cycling UK, June 2015 (see [url=http://roadcyclinguk.com/reviews/bontrager-r4-320-tyres-review#q12UTdlbGSXdBBxE.97]here[/url]):
"A good set of tyres plays a hugely important part in your bike setup. They're the only part of the bike that's actually in contact with the road, so the rolling resistance of the tyre has a significant impact on speed, and when you're cornering, the quality of the tyre plays a huge part in keeping you upright. Generally speaking, more expensive tyres are made from softer rubber, which also improves grip and is another reason why it's a smart move to invest in this part of the bike.
With the R4 320s, Bontrager have basically made an open version of their high-end R4 tubulars, using the same compound and width as well as keeping those very pro-looking tan sidewalls. Don't confuse these with the already existing R4 Road or R4 Aero, they're different tyres that have been around for a while now. With the 320s, Bontrager have also removed the quandary as to what width tyres you should ride as here there's only one choice: if you want a set you're getting 25mm, because that's all there is. Seeing as 25mm has all but become the standard for road tyres, that limited choice isn't the end of the world.
Casing is a premium 320 tpi (threads per inch) which means they're supple and flexible, but the trade-off is that as a result they won't be as tough and resistant to punctures. The R4s have Bontrager's Hard Case Lite puncture protection underneath the tread, but as you'd expect from a tyre designed for racing, it's more of a cursory nod to staving off road shrapnel rather than a concerted attempt to prevent anything from piercing the exterior. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you'll be stopping every few miles to stick another patch on your inner tube, but if you commute through a city don't be tempted to stick these on because those little bits of road detritus that your usual hard-wearing tyres see off with no trouble may well have you stopped by the side of the road swearing when you're riding these.
I had one puncture during testing, and it was a nasty tear right through the tread in the middle of the back wheel. I couldn't find the culprit when I stopped to repair the tube, but given the size of the tear whatever caused it must have been pretty sharp indeed. But although my regular test route includes some pretty shoddy roads and a few paths that barely qualify as ‘roads', that was the single puncture I suffered during testing.
The ride quality of a tyre like this is what really matters. They're designed for racing (or, if you don't race, as a Sunday best tyre), not necessarily all-out durability, and on the performance front these really shine. Perhaps the biggest compliment is just how confidence inspiring the grip is. The best tyres are marked out by the way they leave no doubts in your mind as you head into a corner at high speed and these are right up there in that regard. There's a definite sureness about the way they hold the road even if you're leaning hard into a corner, and that breeds the confidence to keep pushing hard. On top of that, and purely subjectively of course, they roll very well and tick along very nicely indeed, although I have no way of empirically testing that out. Still, a fast and grippy tyre is a good thing indeed, and the suppleness and 25mm width lends itself to comfort.
Weight-wise, their 226g is pretty good for a set of 25mm tyres, and they're easy to fit although that obviously depends on the rim (you scoff, but even subtle variations can make fitting certain tyres a nightmare). I fitted these onto three different sets of wheels to check, and although they were pretty tight, they didn't verge into the territory of being full on frustrating.

Conclusion
The Bontrager R4 320 tyres are made for going quickly, not for all-weather durability. If you commute on them (which would be madness at £55 each) or want them to regularly ride on roads littered with debris, then you're probably barking up the wrong tree, but save them for races or slip them on for fast rides, you'll be rewarded with a very capable set of tyres that have grip in abundance and make cornering a joy."


RCUK 100: The 100 Hottest Road Cycling Products of 2016 (see [url=http://roadcyclinguk.com/gear/reviews/components/cycle-tyres/bontrager-r4-320.html#zPzM3oZwY0PiMBjz.97]here[/url]):
"Supple tyres with a high thread count that ride like a dream.
Outside of the tyre's ride properties though, the R4s have one significant thing in their favour. And that's their colour. Gumwall tyres are old school, classy and super cool.
If we had our way, gumwall tyres would be mandatory across the board because they're fantastic. If you want these in all black, tough, Bontrager don't do them. And you need to have a word with yourself."

As with any product, specification is subject to change without prior notification. You are advised to confirm current specification before buying.
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