TESTED: Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR Disc Wheels

In addition to its solid program of carbon wheel development, Bontrager has been near the forefront of road tubeless technology for several years thanks to its TLR (“tubeless-ready”) lineup of aluminum wheels and tubeless tires. And now that the bicycle industry at large is moving towards wider (external and internal) rim widths, there’s also a commensurate demand for more tubeless wheel and tire options. Bontrager has combined all of those elements into one package. Meet the Aeolus TLR family of tubeless-ready carbon wheels.

THE TECH
All told, Bontrager’s line of carbon TLR wheels runs six-deep, and four aluminum tubeless models are also available. An evolution of the brand’s popular Aeolus carbon tubular and clincher family, the all-new Aeolus 3 TLR wheel comes in two distinct versions—disc brake and non-disc brake—and they sell for the same price of $2849.98.

Bontrager sent us a set of the Aeolus 3 TLR disc wheels, which share many of the same key measurements as the rest of the carbon TLR family—specifically, the rims measure 27mm wide with 19.5mm internal widths. The internal width is significant because it reflects the wider-is-better trend that the sport and industry have begun to embrace. The extra width allows the tire beads to sit further apart from one another, thus negating the light-bulb shape seen afflicting tires on rims with narrow internal widths. With a wider internal width, there’s less deformation in the tire shape, which allows for greater traction, particularly in loose or wet conditions.

The Aeolus 3 TLR measures 35mm deep, the shallowest of the line, and is crafted from Bontrager OCLV carbon fiber manufacturing process. The brand’s D3 profile was originally developed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency on Bontrager’s highest-end race wheels and carries over to the new TLR models. The hubs on this disc brake version of the Aeolus 3 feature Centerlock rotor mounts, as well as interchangeable end caps, meaning that you can use these wheels with either traditional quick-release skewers or thru-axles. Bontrager says that there is no rider weight limit for the Aeolus 3 TLR wheels.

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THE RIDE
Road comfort
Compared to other carbon clinchers of similar depth, the Aeolus 3 TLRs ride quite comfortably. They have noticeably less vertical compliance than shallower rims, however, but the trade-off for increased aerodynamic efficiency makes it worth it. Indeed, once up to speed, these wheels roll quite smoothly and steadily. Also, their ability to run tubeless tires is a boon for comfort since one can utilize lower tire pressures without fear of pinch-flatting.
Climbing
The Aeolus 3 TLRs have a very respectable weight of 1565 grams (plus quick releases), keeping them in the realm of steep-climb-friendly. For light- and middleweight riders, the wheels offer plenty of stiffness for quick accelerations uphill, although not as much as some other carbon hoops we’ve recently tested.
Windy conditions
Although they measure 35mm deep, the Aeolus 3 TLRs handle crosswinds and blustery conditions exceedingly well. Like other Bontrager wheels featuring the company’s D3 profile that we’ve tested, the latest Aeolus 3 TLRs have a wide profile with a blunt leading edge, making for an incredibly stable feel.
Cornering
There’s plenty of stiffness to keep the Aeolus 3 TLRs tracking well through corners, but not so much that any cracks or road deformities would significantly throw them off course. Their 27mm width helps reduce tire deformation as well, creating a larger contact patch with the road.
Durability
The carbon Aeolus 3 TLRs look and feel incredibly well-made. Yes, they’re a high-priced item, but fortunately their build quality appears to justify the expense. We will note, however, that we had some extreme difficulty mounting tires onto the rims. Bontrager’s own TLR tires were especially troublesome, but even a variety of other clinchers from different brands were irksome at best. We attribute this to the rim’s need for a tight fit in order to ensure a well-sealed tubeless setup.

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PUNCH LINES
• Tires difficult to mount
• Ideal for all types of road riding
• Four total depth options

STATS
Price: $2849.98
Weight: 1565 grams, plus 138-gram quick releases
Rim depth: 35mm Rim width: 27mm (external); 19.5mm (internal)
Spoke count: F-24/R-24 Spoke type: stainless steel
Spoke pattern: 2-cross
Notes: Includes quick releases, valve extenders, rim strips. Available in both Shimano/SRAM- and Campagnolo-compatible versions.
www.bontrager.com

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