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

bontrager aeolus RSL 37 lightweight carbon aero road wheels

bontrager aeolus rsl 37 wheels drag chart data

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…

bontrager aeolus RSL 37 lightweight carbon aero road wheels

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…

bontrager aeolus RSL 37 lightweight carbon aero road wheels

bontrager aeolus RSL 37 lightweight carbon aero road wheels

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 fiber road bike wheels with tubeless ready 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.)

2021 bontrager aeolus pro 37 carbon fiber road bike wheels with tubeless ready rims

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:

bontrager aeolus 37 rim profile comparison

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

2021 bontrager aeolus carbon fiber road bike wheels lineup Left to right: Elite 35, Pro 37, and RSL 37.

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.

Bontrager.com

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Beautiful wheels, and I am glad they have more affordable models. But, the new Zipp wheels are much more exciting to me (hookless, wider, fully commit to tubeless)

  2. The lower end carbon wheels make ZERO sense to me. There are excellent alloy wheels that are very similar in weight, and cost hundreds less. Spinergy also has a carbon wheel claiming a slightly lower weight for less money than the mid-level wheels.

    As for rider weight limit, just because they don’t list one, doesn’t mean there isn’t one in the box. Allot of companies will not put a weight limit in the spec on their website or elsewhere, but will claim a relatively low weight limit if you actually try to use the warranty. Without a listed rider weight limit, unless your very light weight, the you would be wise to look elsewhere.

    • Agreed 100%. For less than $800 USD you can get Easton EA90’s that come in at 1535g with tape. Yeah, they are 27mm deep, but they are also more than 100g lighter. Maybe we’ll get an alloy revolution when these cheaper carbon wheels fall by the way side.

    • The reason for carbon rims is so designers have more control of shape, with a much lower weight penalty. There are alloy wheels that are as light but there are none that are as aerodynamic and the difference becomes greater if you’re willing to spend money for the better stuff. If aerodynamics aren’t important to you then use alloy wheels and enjoy the extra money you save.

  3. My only real requirement now for a good set of tubeless wheels is how easy the tires are to install on the wheelset. If it takes me an hour to wedge the tire onto the wheel like it does with a Reynold’s rim, I don’t care how great the wheel is, I’m not going to buy it.

    Zipp and Mavic wheels both allow you put on a tubeless tire without nearly the same level of effort as some other brands.

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