Tubeless-ready carbon clinchers aren’t supposed to be affordable. Wide, fast-rolling wheelsets are only for riders with fat wallets. Well, up until recently, those beliefs were true. And, among a handful of now-affordable carbon wheelsets, the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 TLR Disc wheelset stands out with fast-rolling hubs, versatility and easy tubeless setup.
Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 TLR Disc Features:
- D3 Dual Directional Design profile cuts drag at tire-leading and rim-leading edge
- OCLV Pro carbon offers an optimized blend of weight, stiffness, and durability
- Tubeless Ready (TLR) rims allow for quick transition to tubeless system
- Stacked lacing alignment provides a better spoke bracing angle for a stiffer wheel
- 35mm depth OCLV Carbon rim (27mm outer, 19.5mm inner width)
- DT Aerolite spokes and Alpina locking nipples
- Center lock disc hubs with 12mm thru-axle front and rear
- Bontrager 3-pawl hub with 24 point engagement
- Shimano/SRAM 11/10-speed, SRAM XDR available separately
- Includes TLR rim strip, TLR valve, valve core removal tool, and traditional rim strip
- Weight: 790 grams (front) and 955 grams (rear) — with TLR strips and valves
- MSRP: $1299.98
Tons of value with Aeolus Pro 3
Carbon clinchers were once reserved for exclusive, top-dollar builds, but several brands (including Bontrager) are turning that convention on its head. As carbon wheels are coming down in price, the quality is also surprisingly good. Bontrager’s Aeolus Pro 3 disc wheelset is affordable and have proven to be quite capable after a season of road and light gravel use.
Available as standard equipment on several Trek models, the Aeolus Pro 3’s are also a worthy addition to any value-oriented bike build you may have in mind. When I say “value,” I don’t mean cheap. I’m talking best bang-for-your-buck type of thing. If Shimano Ultegra Di2 or SRAM Force eTap aXS are your budget, these are in the same vein and will perform admirably.
When it comes to disc wheelsets, the first question anyone asks is “What’s the internal width?” Well, The Aeolus Pro 3’s offer a modern 19.5mm width, which isn’t the widest, but it’s great for the 25-35c tires you’ll commonly mount on them. Yes, you could mount wider, gravel tires on these just fine, but if that’s really your jam, you’d be better off going with the Aeolus Pro 3V.
I’m a fan of Bontrager’s TLR rim strips. They provide a solid, reliable tubeless platform that ditches fragile tubeless tape in favor of a lightweight (65g) plastic strip that locks into place. Take care placing them because once they are locked into place, moving them is extremely difficult. My pro tip: place the tubeless valve through the rim strip first, then seat the rest of the strip. Bontrager includes valves and you’re welcome to use any sealant. I’ve used Bontrager and Muc-Off sealant in my tests and both have performed well.
For my initial testing, I paired the Aeolus Pro 3’s with Bontrager’s latest R3 25mm and 28mm tires. If you’re rolling with tubes, those tires are great options, but I’d skip the 25’s and go right to the 28’s. On these wheels, both R3 tires measure out to right about 25 and 28mm. So, you can run tubes, but with Bontrager’s TLR strips, these wheels are made to run tubeless, so that’s where I spent most of my miles.
Go tubeless. (You’re welcome.)
If you’ve been hesitating going road tubeless, these wheels are a great way to squash any hesitations you’ve got. Throughout my testing, I’ve run Bontrager AW2 TLR 28, Zipp Tangente Speed RT28 and Pirelli Cinturato Velo 28 tubeless tires with much success. The AW2’s are a little difficult to mount and offer a little less supple ride than the others, but each one works without hassle. Once the bead is locked-in, air pressure is maintained well and I’ve had zero issues with flats over hundreds of miles.
Overall, my favorite tubeless tires for rolling fast and smooth are the Zipp’s. In fact, with those tires, the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3’s roll as well as some of the most expensive wheelsets I’ve tested (Bontrager Aeolus XXX 4 and Zipp 454 NSW). I put all wheels through the same roll-to-stop test and, honestly, the Pro 3’s are right up there with some of the best wheelsets (quite an accomplishment). They roll smoothly on the road too — spinning up quickly and tackling both rolling terrain and extended climbs with panache.
At 35mm, the Pro 3’s aren’t all that deep, but do offer a bit of an aero advantage when run with 25-28c tires. You’re not going to get the straighline aero from a 50mm wheel, but you also get supreme stability, which isn’t a bad trade-off. Even during the strongest crosswinds, the Pro 3’s remain unaffected. If you ride in frequent, gusty crosswinds (like Utah’s mountain canyons), the Pro 3’s are a great choice. The rim shape sheds crosswinds without flinching.
The Bontrager hubs roll smoothly and engage with vigor. And, unlike the Aeolus Pro 3V’s, they are relatively quiet when coasting. I swapped to an XDR driver for my last bit of testing and just remember to get the right endcaps to go along with that driver — they are sold separately. Whether you go 11 or 12-speed, electronic or mechanical, there’s a driver for your needs.
- Solid value
- Easy, consistent tubeless performance
- Roll very well — nearly as good as the best wheels on the market
- That TLR rim strip is well worth it
- Centerlock makes for easy rotor swapping
- Nice to have bladed spokes at this price
- Aren’t as light as comparable wheels (but they will cost you)
The Bottom Line: Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 TLR Disc Wheels
Affordable carbon clinchers don’t come much better than the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3’s. They offer a good internal width for road and light gravel use and they roll fast. Best of all, you’ll enjoy supreme stability in crosswinds and easy tubeless installation.
The Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 Disc TLR wheelset is affordable and performs well above its pay grade. I love how smoothly and fast they roll -- particularly when used with fast-rolling tubeless tires. The TLR rim strip makes going tubeless a breeze and the 19.5mm internal width works well with modern tubeless tire widths from 28-35mm.