I remember Bontrager parts back when Keith Bontrager started making them. It was very cool stuff. Once Bontrager was purchased by the Great Trek Bicycle-making Conglomerate, I kind of lost track of them. At that point, they became run-of-the-mill house-brand OEM parts to me. Sure I knew there was nothing wrong with them, but I never saw anything interesting, either.
Maybe my impression of the parts was accurate at the time. I'm not sure it is now.
A few riding buddies of mine ride various bikes made by the Trek congomerate. I noticed they always had nice-looking Bontrager components. I figured the "XXX-Lite" line was probably pretty nice, but again, I wasn't excited about it.
Am I the only one who has largely ignored this parts-company-within-Trek?
Then, the other day, I was wondering how Ricky's road bike could be so light. After all, he was only running house-brand Bontrager XXX-Lite wheels with other matching Bontrager parts.
So I did a little research and found their stuff is really light. I mean, crazy light. Now granted, light doesn't always mean good, but consider this: The people I know whose bikes came with Bontrager parts haven't replaced them. And I know some fairly bike-abusive people.
They also look to have some nice road tires coming out. The R4 Road tire utilizes 220 tpi casing and weighs a paltry 165g for the 700x23c version. They also have an interesting sidewall design that fits around the bead of the rim for a more seamless sidewall/rim interface--supposedly great for improving aerodynamics.
For wheelsets, they have an impressive array of carbon-rimmed clinchers--though, they aren't priced like house-brand wheels. They even have carbon clincher mountain wheels (26 and 29-inch varieties).
I admittedly have very little experience with Bontrager parts, but I'm definitely going to do some investigation the next time I'm buying.
Go check them out at www.bontrager.com and let me know of your experiences/impressions/feelings about Bontrager.