- Updated sub-tread nylon/aramid layer aids in warding off punctures
- New version 78% better protection against punctures than predecessor
- Puncture protection independently validated by Wheel Energy, the industry benchmark for third-party tire-testing
- Textured shoulder tread and smooth-rolling center provide excellent traction in all types of weather and road conditions
- Siping channels move water away from the tread for better cornering traction
- Easy to install
- Optional reflective sidewall model offers greater viability in low light at the same price
- Backed by the Unconditional 30-day Bontrager Guarantee
- Not tubeless compatible
- Only offered in black
Diameter/Width: 700×25, 700×28, 700×32 and 700×38
TPI: 60 TPI
Weight: 260g (700×25)
Type: Clincher (Not tubeless compatible)
Material: Trek’s proprietary TR-Endure long-life rubber compound and nylon/aramid sub-tread weave (see below diagram)
Available: Online and Retail
How Obtained: Company Sample
RBR Advertiser: No
Ride for Miles with Confidence
In late February, Bontrager released the newest version of the AW3 Hard-Case Lite and Hard-Case road tires. The new AW3 has significantly improved puncture protection, with the new AW3 Hard-Case Lite significantly outperforms its predecessor, offering 78% better protection against punctures. According to the company, these improvements in puncture protection were independently validated by Wheel Energy, the industry benchmark for third-party tire testing.
The new AW3 features an updated sub-tread layer made with a weave of nylon and aramid that provides more protection. Additionally, the AW3 uses a proprietary TR-Endure compound that’s long-lasting and durable with a textured shoulder tread and smooth-rolling center for excellent control when cornering. In wet weather, siping channels move water away from the tread for better cornering traction.
Bontrager sent me the Hard-Case Lite 700×28 for testing and review. Installation was straightforward, with the tire going on the rim with minimal effort (I ride aero wheels). The tread is directional so look for the arrow indicating orientation. The AW3 is designed to be used with an innertube and is not suitable for tubeless setups.
Over a 1500 Miles and Counting
As of writing this review, I have over 1500 miles on the tires in all types of weather and road conditions. I can honestly say I’m impressed. My rides included downpours, tons of road debris, potholes, and a bit of gravel. I’ve had zero flats, and the tires are holding up great. I did find one small cut the other day in the rear tire that wasn’t very deep, but I decided to fill it with Super Glue just in case.
If you are a weight weenie, take note. Before swapping out the tires, I rode Bontrager R3, which are slightly heavier (285g vs. 260g for 700×25). The AW3 is available in four widths (700×25, 700×28, 700×32, and 700×38), making them ideal for a feisty group road ride or commuting on city streets.
Be Seen in Low Light Conditions
For added visibility in low light conditions, the Hard-Case Lite is available with reflective sidewalls in all sizes. This is ideal for commuters or those who like venturing out in the rain or dark.
As the company’s marketing tag line states, “set-it-and-forget-it.” The new Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case Lite tires are a vast improvement over its predecessor. Ride for miles in confidence with little worry of punctures or flats. Plus, with the Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee, you have 30 days to test the tires.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women’s cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri’s full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.