For quite some time, I’ve recommended Bontrager’s wheelsets. On a ride with a friend from SRAM, another rider asked my opinion on wheelsets. I looked at my friend, then told him to take a look at Bontrager’s offerings. We had a good laugh about that, but it stands true to this day and the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 51’s are again a great example of just why Bontrager’s wheels are so easy to recommend.
Bontrager Aeolus Pro 51 TLR Wheelset Features:
- Pro OCLV carbon layup
- Optimized rim profile for aerodynamics and stability
- Reliable hubs with DT Swiss 350 internals
- Versatile 51mm depth
- 23 mm inner and 31.3 mm outer width
- Centerlock rotor compatibility
- Lifetime warranty with 2 years CarbonCare
- Disc only design
- Weight: 740 g (front) and 875 g (rear), 1615 g total — TLR strip is an additional 65 grams each
- MSRP: $1399.98 (set)
Stable, fast and versatile mid-depth wheels
While attending the virtual product launch this spring, Bontrager made some significant claims about their new wheelsets. I have long been a fan of their wheels, but these wheels made the previous designs look like amateur hour on paper. With 3D modeling technology that allowed for thousands of micro-iterations, the shapes are unique to each wheel depth and are optimized for the intended use. At 51 mm deep, the Aeolus Pro 51’s represent the Goldilocks model in the line and are easy on the wallet at $1399.
As with the Aeolus wheels in the past, these stick with proven DT Swiss hubs (350’s here instead of the 240’s on the Aeolus RSL’s) for smooth, serviceable hubs. The bladed, straight-pull spokes further optimize aero performance and keep the weight down to a reasonable 1615 grams. No, they don’t win any weight weenie awards, and they are barely lighter than the Vision SC55’s, but the overall shape takes the prize over comparable wheelsets on the market.
I’ll admit that mid-depth wheels (40-60 mm) do look awesome on just about any bike. And, even on my Open UPPER gravel bike, they can turn heads. Looks aside, this depth wheel set is well-suited to just about any type of riding, so that’s what I’ve proceeded to do. Fast flats, rolling terrain, long, alpine descents and, most importantly, endless road climbs. I’ll admit that the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37 remains my top choice for long climbs, but these don’t yield much and perform swimmingly everywhere else.
Without question, my favorite attribute of the Aeolus Pro 51’s is their stability. They are rock solid! Crosswinds don’t even phase these wheels. I have shallower wheels, costing much more than these that get blown around in crosswinds while the Aeolus Pro 51’s don’t move at all — no matter the yaw angle. If you’ve ever felt crosswind-induced instability, but want a deeper-section wheel, these are the wheels for you. I love the confidence I have when descending notoriously-blustery mountain descents. It’s a concern that has now been completely eliminated and should allow more novice riders to enjoy the benefits of a deeper wheel profile.
The same analysis that optimized these for stability has also further optimized them for speed and aerodynamics. I feel like I can spin them up quickly and maintain momentum like a freight train. On rolling hills and flats, I can push myself to the limits. Unfortunately, I don’t have an aero road bike in the stable at this time, but if I had something racier, I’m sure I could challenge most of my PR’s on rolling segments.
Speaking of efficiency, these roll among the upper end of the pack in my standard roll-to-stop testing. Several wheelsets costing two or three times as much may roll a little more efficiently, but the overall value of the Aeolus Pro 51’s quickly erases those micro gains.
During my testing, I used the all-new Bontrager 28 mm AW3 Hard Case Lite clinchers and Bontrager R3 32 mm tubeless tires. I’m fine with the added weight of the TLR rim strips, so I used those with both tire options. I could mount or dismount either tire by hand and with the rim strips, tubeless is an absolute breeze. Tire pressures were in the 70-75 psi range on the AW3’s and 60-65 psi range for the R3’s. With that 23mm inner width, I could roll lower pressures and the tires fill out to a plump 29.4 and 33 mm wide, respectively. The wheels have now taken on everything I can throw their way — including gravel.
So, let’s talk about gravel then. As an update (2/2/2022), I can say that these wheels are also pretty stellar for gravel — if you’re okay with dings and scratches on the face. With that much exposed carbon, you’re bound to have lots of rock dings and such. If you’re okay with the prospect of superficial dings and scratches on these pretty wheels, I say go for it. The 23mm inner width allows the Zipp Tangente Course G40 tires to measure out to 42 mm and provides a solid foundation for even the roughest gravel courses. I will add that with that big of a tire on there, you do notice crosswinds quite a bit more (but, there’s nothing you can do about that if you want a nice gravel tire).
- STABLE in crosswinds
- Easy on the wallet
- Nice all-around depth
- 23 mm internal width supports wider tires better
- DT Swiss internals add confidence
- Tubeless setup is a piece of cake
- TLR rim strips are durable for multiple tire changes
- Exposed nipples make for easy servicing
- Availability may continue to be spotty for awhile
The Bottom Line: Bontrager Aeolus Pro 51
Not only do mid-depth wheels look awesome, when properly engineered, they perform awesome — even for average cyclists. Yes, we all dream of deeper wheels and the performance gains they provide, but even at 51mm deep, similar wheels to the Aeolus Pro 51’s will get tossed around in crosswinds. I can set these up tubeless in a jiffy and they roll very well.
Buy Now: Visit TrekBikes.com (or pre-order at your local dealer)
Bontrager has optimized these new wheelsets to the Nth degree and it shows. For $1400, the Aeolus Pro 51's represent a new benchmark in aero carbon wheelsets for the masses. You'll see these spec'd on several Trek bikes for 2022 and they are a worthy upgrade to any premium bike. Most of all, I can't state enough just how stable these are in crosswinds! That rim shape instills confidence in a way no other similar-depth wheels have done in the past.
Hi Jason—I was set on purchasing the Pro 37’s but your review of the Pro 51’s has me second guessing that decision. I like the 23mm internal width and the deeper rim for aero purposes. Although hills are not a regular in the landscape I ride I am really slow on the hills that do show up. I am wondering if there is a noticeable difference between these wheels on the hills and then in maintaining speed on the flats. Thanks for the informative review.
It is nice having the deeper rim and wider internal width. I really like the Pro 51’s. They are a touch heavier on the climbs, that’s for sure. But, it’s not like you’re going to be challenging for the KOM, so enjoy some added width and depth for all-around performance.
Thank you for your reply Jason. I put in an order for the Pro 51’s. Assuming they stay on schedule, I will have them for the start of the next biking season in March.
Enjoy! They really are a great wheelset for the money!
Would you say the same thing for the aeolus pro5 (50mm deep, 1600g) rim brake over pro3 (35mm deep, 1505g). What do you think about having shallower front 35-37mm and deeper back at 50-51 deep. Do we lost every aero gain ?
If stability is your goal, that’s a great option. The new Aeolus Pro 51’s are so stable that going that route is pretty much unnecessary though. There is a little loss in efficiency going that route.
Under what example conditions would you recommend the pro 51 over the pro 37s and vice versa? I know that you mentioned that the Pro 37s would be preferable for long climbs but how long is long and how much of a difference in experience are you suggesting? Is the 100g difference or so really that noticeable?
This is about to be my first carbon wheelset and likely to be my only carbon wheelset for some time so really want to get it right.
I am considering the Pro 51s for my 2020 Emonda SL Disc. However, I also have a chance at a barley used set of XXX4 wheels. I live in FL and ride most of the year on flat and rollers. But I do take the Emonda 2-3 x per year to a mountain event in GA, NC or CO. Having ridden both wheels would you recommend one over the other. I should also mention I have a 2019 rim brake Domane with Zipp 303 firecrest (2019 version).
Joel: Great questions. At the end of the day, the difference is small, but noticeable. I feel like the 51’s exhibit more of the sledgehammer qualities than the 37’s do. Meaning, on rolling terrain or gravel, they just maintain momentum that much better. I’m willing to live with that and take the trade-offs on long climbs. For long climbs, I’m talking 800-3000 ft. continuous ascents. We have lots of those here in Utah and after a few minutes, you’ll notice that the 51’s are just a touch slower.
At the end of the day, both are great. And, I’ve ridden the 51’s on gravel and they are a blast — so fast for that kind of terrain and the 23mm inner width is great for wider tires. If you’re riding wider tires, that additional inner width is great.
Mike: The XXX4 and 51’s are similar, but the 51’s are wider and more stable. You live in pretty windy conditions, so the added stability in Florida might be nice. However, if the used wheels are available for a good price, they are still very good wheels. I’m not sure if the 51’s are readily available, but you’d likely have to wait a few months to get them.
The 51’s will be stellar for your usual terrain and won’t significantly bog you down in the mountains. Their added speed and stability on the flats will more than make up for slowness on long climbs.
Thank you Jason. I appreciate the feedback. I ended up purchasing the XXX4 for about the same price as the 51s. They are basically new and for someone like me probably not a difference in aerodynamics I would notice. Again, appreciate you responding!
You’ll love them! Bontrager really makes excellent wheels.
These look great! Forgive me, are they 1615g tubeless ready or bare? You mention another 130g for tubeless strips.
JT… yeah, that wasn’t super clear was it? The 1615g weight is without TLR strips. Those add 65g to each wheel. Again, not the lightest wheelset on the market, still it’s proven to be quite a great wheelset overall.
Thanks for that and the great review.
Really appreciate all the reviews here. Have you looked into the winspace wheels at all? Their hyper line is $1200 (easy to find discount codes for 10% off too) and the specs sound off the hook. I’m trying to figure out the downside there, but I’m not super familiar with all the specs in regards to things like internal width, rolling resistance, etc.
Winspace wheels are from old-school molds. The prices are decent, but every wheelset I looked at features a 19mm internal width, which is great for 25-28 tires. Most modern wheels have a 23mm+ internal rim width for a fuller tire profile and compatibility with modern 28-36c road tires and wide gravel tires to boot.
I don’t know much about their aerodynamics and stability, but there are more modern wheels for a similar price tag.
Hi Jason, I just came across this excellent post. I was researching buying my first set of carbon wheels and almost settled on the Scribe aero wide+ 50s. The price is a little lower, so is the weight. The fact vintage is a known brand and reviews (like yours) are great, I am in doubt. Although I know weight isn’t the most important aspect since aerodynamics are proven to be more relevant, I am struggling with this one. Any help would be appreciated.
Hard to know exactly what you’re looking for. Scribe wheels are nice, but remain narrow by today’s standards. The Aeolus Pro 51’s have endured plenty of road and, now, gravel miles. You really won’t notice that little extra weight — only on long, steep climbs really.
Jason thanks for this great review on the Aeolus Pro 51’s. My shop suggested these wheels and looks like it is a great purchase. This is first time with carbon wheel set and price point is decent.
The Bike I have is Domane SL5 2022. Keep up the excellent reviews for us novice riders.
Right on! Nice bike and wheels. You’ll dig them.
I have a 2022 Domane SL5 and am debating on the Pro 37 and Pro 51 wheelset upgrades. I have read both of your wheelset reviews and am still stuck. I live in Coastal Virginia and typically ride flat to moderate rolling areas. Some areas open and accessible to wind and other areas somewhat secluded. I like the weight of the Pro 37 wheelset but am questioning the aero vs the Pro 51s. I’d like to put 28mm tires on this set of wheels. I am somewhat of a road biking newbie and average 20 miles per ride several days a week at an average 16mph pace. What would you recommend?
I really do still love and use both wheels, but I would lean towards the PRO 51’s if I had to pick one. That would be my suggestion. You’ll get a fuller tire profile with the 23mm internal as well. The weight difference isn’t huge enough to really worry too much about.