BONTRAGER AEOLUS PRO 5 TLR
Bontrager, Trek’s in-house component brand, is known for their quality and high-performing products. When John Degenkolb victoriously crossed the finish line of Stage 9 at the 2018 Tour de France, it was on a pair of Bontrager wheels. While Bontrager produces high-performing, high-cost wheelsets, they apply much of the same technology of their highest-end wheelsets to their more affordable products as well.
The Aeolus Pro series is Bontrager’s mid-tier performance-oriented carbon wheelset. They are available with either disc or rim brake hoops and in two depths—35mm and a more aerodynamic 50mm. Bontrager wants to dispel any worries you might have about purchasing a pair of carbon hoops and includes a two-year warranty with all their carbon wheels.
Bontrager sent us a pair of the Aeolus Pro 5 Discs, the 50mm wheels. The carbon rims have the same 19.5mm internal and 27mm external width that Bontrager has used for years. The Pro 5s are engineered using the brand’s OCLV carbon manufacturing process but use a lower grade of carbon than the higher-end options.
The 5s are designed with the Bontrager’s D3 blunt profile, which was originally developed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency on their top-tier race wheels, and is used to create the Aeolus Pro’s shape. The shape is specifically designed to reduce drag on the leading edge of the wheel and tire.
Bontrager was one of the pioneers of road tubeless technology. Their TLR (tubeless-ready) design incorporates a variety of specific Bontrager TLR tires for a simple tubeless setup. To make things even simpler for the conversion, both the needed valves and rim strips are provided in the package.
Name-branded, 24-spoked hubs keep the costs low. The Center Lock disc hubs will fit 12mm thru-axles, but standard quick-release and 15mm thru-axle kits are also available for purchase. The Pro 5 hubs are compatible with Shimano and SRAM 10- and 11-speed, but for anyone wanting to run a 1x drivetrain, the hubs are not compatible with a Shimano XTR mountain bike cassette.
Unfortunately, the hubs have relatively small bearings. Small bearings tend to wear out quickly and will need to be replaced, but it’s a small price to pay in basic maintenance that every wheel needs sooner or later.
What stands out while riding the Pro 5 is how well they absorb road vibrations. We set ours up to run tubeless, and the wheels floated over cracks and road deformities. The rims are forgiving and damp out the road vibrations that the tubeless tire pressure misses. Thankfully, the wheels are plenty stiff as well.
The aero advantage is noticeable in the ride quality of the mid-depth rims. While not the lightest at 1760 grams (front is 775 grams and rear is 922 grams), but once rolling over 18 mph, the wheels maintain their speed well and feel like they’re pushing you along. Our test riders commented on how much faster these wheels felt than the lighter, lower-profile and more expensive Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 C40 hoops.
On windy days the wheels are pushed around, but only when the wind is hitting them at angles close to 90 degrees. They handle much better than similar wheels with their blunt-nose shape, and Bontrager’s D3 design is to thank for that.
Available as either a front wheel for $580, a rear for $720 or as a wheelset for $1300, Bontrager’s Aeolus Pro series offers an impressive bang for your buck. Bontrager’s trickle-down top-end technology is what sets these wheels apart from many of their competitors, and the aerodynamics are apparent on the road and feel like they’re worth every penny. The wheelset isn’t the lightest we have at the office, but is easily one of the most practical and affordable wheel combos we have. While the hubs could be improved for added longevity, the Pro 5 is a valid choice for those interested in a quality pair of aero wheels that will change their ride without denting the wallet.
• Grandfathered top-end tech
• Small hub bearings
Weight: 1697 grams