Bontrager Aeolus TLR Pro 3 Wheel Review

Bontrager Aeolus TLR Pro 3 Wheels

Bontrager’s Aeolus TLR PRO 3 wheels demonstrate the intent of the brand to find segments of the market which are not overrun with products. These wheels fall in what I would call the “mid range: high performance” section of the market. They are full carbon rims of medium depth and wide profile (27mm externally). Retailing at $2000, they are not “cheap”, but are significantly more affordable than the Zipp or Enve offerings of similar specification.

Bontrager has manufactured these wheels in Asia rather than the USA and have made some compromises with spoke/nipple choice and free hub internals in order to achieve this lower price. Admirably, these compromises are small and do little to affect the immediate performance of the wheels. With 18 DT Aerolite spokes on the front and 24 on the rear, the wheels weigh in at a reasonable 1509g.

It is worth a quick comparison to the model above these wheels, the Aeolus 3 TLR D3. They have the same shape rim and a higher specification of spokes and free hub. The D3 model boasts an impressive total weight of 1348g, over 150g lighter than the Pro 3s. However, the cost of saving this weight is a full $2000. That’s right, the Pro 3s deliver specifications that are not far off the flagship model, Bontrager seem to like producing wheels with 35mm rim depth. My experience riding wheels at this depth suggests that there is good reason for the favoritism.

The Aeolus rims performed convincingly in all conditions, spinning up climbs well, feeling responsive and zippy. The wide profile provided plenty of lateral stiffness, and the wheels powered out of corners during some local crit racing. The medium 35mm deep rims were stable in windy and wild conditions too. The Aeolus Pro 3 really do fit the bill as an all-round workhorse wheelset with solid performance in just about any setting.

In what seems to be an ever increasing trend, Bontrager provide these wheels as clincher and tubeless ready. The tubeless setup is completed courtesy of a plastic snap-in strip that sits in the rim bed. For this test the wheels were fitted with Bontrager tubeless tyres. These tyres provided very good road-feel despite not being particularly light (around 300g each plus sealant and strip inserts).

In some ways, they felt like riding tubular tyres, with a supple and connected sensation, especially when rolling over smooth tarmac. During early stages of testing I also had some minor sealing issues (slow air leak), which, anecdotally, is not uncommon in the still emerging road tubeless market. The rim’s textured brake surface provides excellent performance, backing up the marketing claims. Braking power and control was some of the best I have encountered on carbon rims.

There was no sign of shuddering or squealing under short, hard braking or extended braking during long descents. In essence the Aeolus Pro 3 wheels are a fantastic performing wheelset at a extremely competitive price point. Some may love the tubeless tyre setup; for the rest of us, these hoops are still light, stiff, slippery and fast in just about any riding situation.

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