The new Bontrager Aeolus carbon road bike wheel lineup gets three different wheels to suit completely different budgets. From the surprisingly affordable Elite model, to the top of the line RSL being the lightest aero wheel they’ve ever made, all feature new profiles and builds.
Prices range from $900 up to $2,400, with depths from 35mm to 50mm, they mix new rims with new hubs to create aero road wheels that get more riders onto a carbon fiber, tubeless-ready, disc brake rim. And they make it easy. Here’s the details, starting at the top…
2021 Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37 carbon road wheels
For the RSL and Pro level wheels, Bontrager developed an all-new 37mm deep wheel. They wanted a shallower depth to save weight, but still wanted it to be aerodynamic. As with most wheels, their benchmark was the Zipp 303, albeit the prior generation ones and not the latest 303 Firecrest that debuted in May.
The drag data was averaged over a -20º to 20º range, with extra steps near the 10º angle to provide higher resolution at the typical stall angle. The takeaway is that the wheels have low drag, and the shallower depth also helps them maintain better stability in a crosswind.
As for lightweight, they managed to cut 55g off their prior top-level wheelset, even with this new 30% deeper rim. Claimed rim weight for the new RSL 37 rims is 380g, and wheelset weight is 1,325g. At least, that’s the raw wheelset weight…
The wheels ship with tubeless valve stems and Bontrager’s tubeless rim strips, which snap around the inside of the rim for quick, painless tubeless setup. This avoids having to tape the rims, but they add about 54g per rim. They also come with a roll of regular cloth rim tape for anyone who still wants to use a tube and tube-type tire.
Bontrager’s reps told us these are the first rims that they’ve actually tested for use with standard tubeless tape (they recommend 25mm wide Stan’s NoTubes or DT Swiss tape), giving weight weenies the option of the easiest possible setup, or the lightest possible setup. We’re reviewing this wheelset and have some thoughts on using tape, stay tuned…
The Aeolus RSL wheels use new Bontrager-designed hubs with the latest DT Swiss Ratchet EXP 240s internals. They’re laced with 24/24 2-cross DT Aerolite spokes and have no rider weight limit. Retail for the complete wheelset is $2,400, check it out here. There’s also a tubular version available.
These, and the others below, ship with Bontrager’s Lifetime Warranty against defects (for the original owner), and their 2-year Carbon Care program that will replace the rims should you manage to damage them. Speaking of the rims…
2021 Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37 carbon road wheels
The new Aeolus Pro 37 uses the same new 37mm deep rim shape, but with a different layup. The RSL model uses a higher level, lower weight OCLV layup. Remember, OCLV is Trek’s acronym for Optimum Compaction, Low Void carbon construction.
The Pro rims have a claimed rim weight of 430g for the Pro model. They also use the OCLV process, just with a different layup and carbon selection.
(UPDATE: All three wheels use rims made in Asia, not in Trek’s Wisconsin headquarters.￼)
The hubs are also Bontrager’s, but with DT Swiss 350s internals. Claimed wheelset weight is 1505g without any rim strips, tape or valve stems. Retail is $1,300.
Now, here’s how they all compare:
At the hubs, all three are Centerlock disc brake only, 12mm thru axles only, and come with standard 10/11 speed freehub bodies…XDR available separately. The RSL and Pro are use a modernly wide 21mm internal width, compatible with 23mm to 32mm road bike tires, but optimized for 700×25 and up. They’re sticking with a hooked design for now. The Elite level wheels carry over with the prior generation’s rim profiles…
2021 Bontrager Aeolus Elite carbon road wheels
The Elite wheels come in 35mm (1,665g/wheelset) and 50mm depths (1,730g/set). They, too, are OCLV carbon and come with the same warranty and replacement offer, and no rider weight limit. For $900, they’re a great entry point for carbon fiber, tubeless-ready wheels with a strong warranty behind them.
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