As discs have become standard-issue on cyclocross bikes and are now emerging as a viable option on road bikes, we are all searching for affordable, durable and flexible disc-specific wheelsets. Bontrager’s wheels have remained solid performers for years and the new Affinity Elite TLR Disc wheelset has proven to be one versatile set of hoops for road, gravel and cyclocross.
Affinity Elite TLR Disc Features:
- Stacked Lacing provides a better spoke bracing angle for a stiffer wheel
- TLR rims allow for quick transition to tubeless systems
- OSB reduces wheel dish, improving stiffness and stability
- Interchangeable axles for compatibility with more frames and forks, sold separately
- 6061 alloy rim with 23mm/17.5mm width, 3 pawl drive system, DT 14/15G spokes
- Compatibility: Shimano 10/11spd, SRAM 10/11, Campagnolo (freehub sold separately)
- Includes: TLR rim strip, TLR valve stem, internal cam quick release
- No rider weight restrictions
- Weight: 1655 grams
- Price: $799/set
Road, gravel, dirt and cyclocross — all in one
The latest crop of endurance or all-road bikes have met their match with the Affinity Elite TLR Disc’s. As standard-issue on the top-end Trek Domane disc endurance bike, these aluminum wheels have all the ingredients for road, gravel and cyclocross adventure. Bontrager has a lot of confidence in these hoops and encouraged me to use them to the fullest. So, a steady dose of gravel, singletrack and demanding cyclocross has ensued.
Bontrager’s TLR system is certainly one of the best in the industry. The combination of rim shape (including bead hook) and the wall-to-wall TLR rim strip makes for one of the easiest tubeless packages around. I’ve set these up tubeless with the Bontrager CX3 33mm tires from the get-go using the TLR Flash Charger Pump — making tubeless a breeze.
While many road wheels lack the flexibility to adapt to all axle sizes and shapes, Bontrager chose to make the Affinity Elites compatible with all road/cyclocross standards in the field from 142×12 to 9mm QR’s and everything inbetween.
The two bikes I’ve been using for my testing are the BMC GF02 Disc and Argon 18 Krypton XRoad. Both bikes are classified as all-road bikes and both bikes really excel in all disciplines with the exception of cyclocross. That said, I did race these wheels aboard the BMC and I’m sold on tubeless for cyclocross. The lower tire pressures smoothed out the rough terrain and enhanced traction in the loose stuff.
Spin up and slow down
On the road, the CX3 tires roll relatively well. Yes, they are slower than real road tires, but they aren’t that bad. What’s nice about this tire and wheel combination is the flexibility they provide. The Affinity Elite’s are fast and efficient on the road, but provide confidence and lateral stability when tackling rutted dirt and gravel roads. All things considered, I feel like they spin up with ease and not once did I notice any lateral flex — even during standing efforts.
I have mixed feelings about Center Lock rotors. While there’s no denying the ease of swapping rotors, it still remains a bit of an anomaly — unless you are a die-hard Shimano fan. Luckily, the SRAM HSX rotors are compatible with SRAM Force HydroR brakes, so that’s all it took to migrate these wheels onto the zippier Argon 18 Krypton XRoad. Run exclusively with 160mm rotors, these wheels have stopped me efficiently in all conditions.
The only negative with these wheels is they are relatively narrow by today’s standards. Compared to the new Zipp 30 Course wheels, these are 3.5mm narrower internally. My guess is that wider versions of these wheels aren’t too far off, but most riders won’t push these enough to know the difference.
Having such a solid set of aluminum wheels has been fantastic as I’ve wandered well out of classic road bike territory and into near-MTB land and back on multiple occasions. Every time I’ve pushed these wheels they have come back as happy as can be. So far, I’ve had no need to true them, so durability is also proving to be quite good.
- TLR system is really a breeze
- Proven reliable for cyclocross, gravel, singletrack and road
- Smooth-rolling hubs
- Center Lock rotors are easily swapped
- Flexible axle options
- Dependable and easy-to-find DT Swiss bladed spokes
- A little narrow by today’s standards
- My vain side would prefer black nipples
The Bottom Line: Bontrager Affinity Elite Wheels
The Affinity’s have proven to be reliable, durable and capable on all roads. With the 32mm CX3 tires, I’ve pushed these wheels and they have come out rolling fast and as true as can be.