Bontrager G5


Like most soft compound tires, my rear tire after one day in the bike park started looking like my 4-5 day-old front tire. There’s nothing revolutionary about the compound Bontrager is using—soft tires just wear out quickly.

I’ll admit that I’d been so impressed with how the G5 worked on the front that I was disappointed when I saw how quickly the rear tire wore down. The wear wasn’t excessive, but I found myself wanting to preserve it for a front tire.

That said, the evenness of how these tires broke down is something worth mentioning. Unlike a Maxxis DHF, where the siped centerknobs start wearing down on their softer compounds almost immediately, the centerknob sipes on the G5 are still holding enough meat to do their job. I haven’t gotten any “undercutting” of sideknobs or braking edges on the centers (so it looks like the knob is only half attached) that seems to plague soft compounds.

Bontrager G5, Blister Gear Review.
Wear on the G5


Just to illustrate why this thing brakes and corners so well (due to proper knob spacing), I took a few measurements. All done on a Mavic 729 rim. Sorry about the High Roller, it was on a narrower rim and the widths wouldn’t be comparable.

Bontrager G5, Blister Gear Review.

There’s a bigger gap (or channel) between the sideknobs and the centerknobs on the G5. And the G5’s centerknobs are spaced out farther from one another than the centerknobs on either the 2.4 Maxxis DHR2 or 2.5 Maxxis High Roller. See? It’s even in the numbers, yo.


My only real complaint with these tires is that there aren’t more of them.

I haven’t gotten a single flat (running tubes the whole time), the tire wears extremely evenly, and I have yet to find any fault with it except that it rolls slowly on the rear wheel. But right now there are only two G5 versions you can buy—a 2.35 and a 2.5, both in a DH casing and a soft compound.

This is one of the most solid tread designs I’ve seen in a long time. It’s similar to the Maxxis DHR2 that I cut—the difference is that I don’t need to cut the G5. This solid design should be available in a hard compound, a 1.5 ply all-mountain version, a UST 2.2/2.1 version etc.

A larger version of any tire has some big advantages, and I’ll be buying the 2.5 as soon as it’s time to replace the front. The bigger the casing, the lower the pressure you can/need to run. I haven’t had many gripes about the 2.35, but a bit more cush wouldn’t hurt.

When these first came out, the 2.35 version tested here was the only one available. Bontrager has a 2.5 on their site now and that’s very reassuring—they have some faith in the design. It’d be nice to see some lighter versions since I want these things on other bikes!

Bottom Line

Bontrager killed it with the G5. I’ve been buying other tires and cutting them to get them to behave like this. This is a less expensive tire without the hassle. And it’s not meant just for big bikes. The 2.35 in a 1000g version would make me very happy.

The G5 likely won’t be as popular as some of the tires that Maxxis or Schwalbe are selling, since it’s not on World Cup winning bikes right now (though it was last year). And that’s a damn shame because, in anything other than total slop, it’s better out of the box than most of the other offerings.

So do your part. If you want one of the best DH tires on the market, grab some G5s. Because I want to keep buying this tire for a while and I’m going to be in a fit of depression if it disappears due to lack of sales.

6 comments on “Bontrager G5”

  1. Kevin,
    Have you had a chance to try out the Michelin Rock’R2? Just curious about them as the G5 still isn’t available in a trail version… yet!

  2. I have a pair of the Wild’R 2s. I honestly think that’s about the best tread design I’ve ever ridden in terms of sideknob stability. It’s unreal how solid those tires are in corners. Once they do break loose they’re entirely controlled as well. If Michelin comes out with a true dh version that’s got a little larger casing, I’ll probably be kicking the G5s out of bed. However……..

    They’re still a good ways from all around perfect. They’re fairly heavy for a trail bike tire and despite all that meat, I’ve still punctured one on the rear within the first few rides. This was on a pair of Mavic Crossmax SX rims which have a pretty hard edge that likes to split beads on tubeless tires, but a tire that heavy shouldn’t puncture at the pressures I usually run. They’re also fairly slow rolling. You’ll definitely notice this, no matter what tires they replace. They also hold mud quite a bit. All those ridges in between the knobs just provide more surface area to hold onto muck and they act like a magnet for it, even in soil that’s not particularly gummy.

    I love the tread design. It brakes well, and corners like no other. They need to figure out some casings though, both for a true dh tire and also a preferably lighter trail version that’s a little tougher. Other tire companies have done it, so I hope they stay with this design enough to get it done.

    • Kevin,

      Awesome! Thanks for the detailed response. I’ll pick one up for the front to try out. Are you running the Mag-x front & Gum-x rear? I’ve been running the HR2’s for a while now with good results but I’m interested in trying something new. Any thoughts on how they compare to the rock’r2s?



    • I actually just set one up tubeless on my dh bike yesterday. Like all dh tires, it seated up fine…..I’ve never had an issue with that with any dh casing tire. So yes, it holds air. I don’t know if it’s going to hold up worth a damn, but with as heavy as these tires are, I’d expect them to. I’ll report back if they don’t. But they mate well to industry nine grade rims for what it’s worth.

  3. Kevin,
    great review thanks. I bought one to go upfront on my trail / enduro bike when the mud hes away a bit. But, wait, Ive been thinking about that. Specifically about ramped edges and front tyres.
    This time of year its not dried yet in the UK so I prefer the Shorty on the rear over, say a DHR11 or Conti Baron as the ramps on those cost traction. Still trying to pedal up those muddy rooty steeps.
    The Shorty Maxterra 2.3 is almost as grippy as the Michelin Wild Mud (magiX) and nowhere near as draggy on a fire road. A shrty’s a pretty good rear all year round here .
    Thinking about the ramps and the way they affect rear traction made me think about the 2.5 MaxTerra (and MaxxGrip) Shortys I’ve been using upfront. They dont have ramps which plainly costs in rolling.
    I am wondering is ramped leading edges give ANY disadvantage upfront at all. And if not maybe the G5 would be just as good as the Shorty in mud ony tne front. (Could be the G5s closed side knob channels will compromise clearing when mud turns to clay, though. I see Mr Gwin opened those channels on “his” version for Onza, the Aquila).
    That Shorty upfront does grip across cambers very nicely (especially in macxgrip compound) but going by your G5 comments maybe the G5 would even beat it.
    Love the detail on tread design man. Thanks for the thorough review.

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