Road Bike Wheel Test: BONTRAGER AEOLUS PRO 37

High-end performance at a reasonable price

As we all know, wheel upgrades remain the most popular and sought-after accessory for riders looking for easy performance gains. Generally, riders want to have wheels that are light, reliable and can be used in a range of scenarios at a price point that does not cripple the bank account. 

Using its vast resources to satisfy market demand, Trek’s in-house wheel brand, Bontrager, has made updates to its line of Aeolus carbon wheels that are intended for any road or gravel surface. 

THE TECH

The Aeolus Pro 37 features Trek’s OCLV (Optimum Compaction Low Void) Pro carbon layup that has this complete wheelset sitting on the scale at 1505 grams (686 grams front, 819 gram rear). The Bonti wheels are compatible with 12mm thru-axles and come out of the box with an HG freehub body (but no quick-release end caps). New this year is the rim shape, which features a wide 28mm outer and 21mm inner rim width, and a shallow 37mm rim depth. 

Sticking with current trends, the Aeolus Pro 37s are tubeless-ready and include a TLR rim strip and valve. A nice name-brand upgrade are the DT Aerolite straight-pull spokes, which are accompanied by DT Swiss 350 hubs that are intended for Centerlock rotors.

Bontrager has found good fortune over the years by offering a broad range of wheels. The new Pro 37 wheels find a middle ground in price between Bontrager’s new $900 Aeolus Elite 50 (lacking the latest OCLV Pro carbon layup and lighter weight) and the ultralight $2400 RSL wheelset.  

THE RIDE

The Aeolus Pro 37 set has a modern 21mm inner rim width, which isn’t the widest, but it’s ideal for 25–35mm tires. Of course, you could mount wider gravel tires on these with no problem during your adventure ride. 

While we were skeptical of the TLR setup, we did attempt to get both wheels set up with this system. We found that the valves had trouble sealing against the TLR liner, and air kept releasing where we supposedly would have an airtight seal. To combat this, we took a rubber grommet from another tubeless valve to promote an airtight seal between the valve and rim strip. Success! We got this to work on one wheel, but ended up going to traditional tubeless tape when we failed to properly set up the rim with the TLR strip. 

If you choose the TLR route we recommend special care in placing the strip over the rim because once they are wrapped into place, moving them is beyond difficult. RBA’s tip: place a valve through the rim strip first, then seat the rest of the strip so it is aligned right where you will need it. Once the tires were inflated and popped onto the rim, we did not have any issues of holding an airtight seal during our test rides.

“If full-gas sprinting is your jam, you will find these stiff wheels as a great complement to the power put into the bike.”

For setup, the supplied freehub is an HG 11-speed. Unfortunately, the wheels only come with this freehub option, but other options are available for separate purchase. Luckily, being a DT Swiss hub, it was very simple to swap over to an XDR freehub for our test rig.

On the road, the set feels rigid while being fast-rolling with consistently smooth engagement. The wider rim width did boost our 25mm tire up in size ever so slightly. However small this increment may be, though, it did allow us to run lower pressure while still having the sidewall of the tire holding support. 

While the 37mm depth is not all that deep, the wheels still offer a bit of aero advantage while remaining stable even when being hit with nasty crosswinds. We felt that the new OCLV carbon shape really helped shed whatever wind direction we were faced with.

THE VERDICT

In the long run, the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37 wheelset might be a bit underbuilt for rough gravel travels, but that is not a total loss. Primarily intended for road use, we felt the wide profile with a shallow rim depth felt light and easy to maneuver. 

The supplied tubeless strip didn’t pair well with the supplied valves, but with a quick swap of the valve the issue was solved.

If full-gas sprinting is your jam, you will find these stiff wheels as a great complement to the power put into the bike. Sorry, weight weenies, it may not be the lightest option on the market in this price range, but it is a higher-end wheelset with a ton of value at a reasonable price point.

PUNCH LINES

Good value for a carbon upgrade

TLR tubeless can be tricky to set up

Might need QR end caps

STATS

Price: $1300

Weight: 1505 grams

www.trekbikes.com

carbonBontragerwheelsrimsroadproduct test