BONTRAGER AEOLUS PRO 37 – BEST VALUE FOR TUBED CLINCHER TIRE USERS
The Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37 is a wheelset that seems designed for the value carbon road disc rider from the get-go. It is a capable performer in all the key areas I look for in an all-around road disc wheelset.
“Capable performer” may read like a backhanded compliment. I don’t intend it to be. It’s just that most of the wheelsets in the value carbon category have one or more major performance weaknesses that limit what you can do with them. This Bontrager doesn’t.
While the Aeolus Pro 37 doesn’t perform at the level of US$,£,€2000 and up carbon road disc wheelsets, its ride gave me equal or better performance across the board compared to other wheelsets I’ve tested within hailing distance of the Aeolus Pro 37’s US$1500, £1250, €1800 price-point.
It accelerates well and climbs without restrictions. It was plenty stiff enough for me doing either of those efforts and when I powered up for some town-line sprints.
Shod with 25C Continental Grand Prix 5000 tubed clincher tires at 70 psi for my roughly 145lbs/66kg weight, I found this Aeolus Pro 37 wheelset’s comfort and handling good – neither outstanding nor lacking.
The DT Swiss 350 rear hub freewheels with nary a whisper, allowing you to enjoy the peace of your ride or the calls from paceline mates. Audible preferences aside, they perform inconspicuously, neither rolling or engaging noticeably better or worse than most hubs in the value carbon price range.
I rode these wheels with standard clincher tires and tubes and I’d recommend you do as well. Bontrager includes a cloth-like strap that simply stretches over the wheel’s sidewalls and snaps into place to cover the rim bed spoke holes.
To go tubeless, Bontrager ships these wheels with plastic strips that added over 100g to the total weight and aren’t easy to install. I snapped one and couldn’t get the other one centered correctly. You can also buy what I found to be quite good Bontrager rim tape to seal the beds for tubeless or tube-type tires, but that takes a little bit of experience to get right.
While I recognize everyone has different tastes and therefore don’t usually share my opinion on the looks of a wheelset, I will say that if you prefer stealthy-looking, matt-finished rims with sufficient badging to let people know what you are riding, these Bontragers will be right up your alley.
Design: As with most bike wheels introduced lately, the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37 TLR wheelset is only made in a disc brake option and is “tubeless ready”. As per my comments above, I’d recommend you ride it with a tubed-tire setup or tape the rims rather than use the rim strips if you want to ride tubeless tires.
The wheelset with the easy-to-install cloth-like straps for tubed tires weighed 1519 grams on my scale. Taped wheels will weigh much the same depending on the tape you use. With the plastic tubeless strips, the weight increased to 1648 grams.
The rims I rode measured 21.2 mm wide on the inside (between the rim hooks) and 27.8 mm on the outside near where the tire and rim join. With the 25C Continental Grand Prix 5000 tubed tires at my benchmark 100psi, the tires measure 27.6 mm wide. At a more comfortable 80psi, they run 27.4 mm. True to the Pro 37 TLR’s name, the rims measured 37.0 mm deep.
The carbon rim’s profile starts off on the inner spoke edge with a softened V profile and quickly adopts a U shape as it travels toward the outer tire edges. The spokes are bladed DT Swiss Aerolites attached to the rim with external alloy nipples. The hubset is also a DT Swiss branded 350 model.
Quality: While I’ve usually found Bontrager wheels to be very well built, the easy-to-break, hard-to-center tubeless rim strips that I wrote about above were disappointing.
The rim and hub shell finish are first-rate. The decal labels also appear to be well adhered and integrated nicely into the rim design.
Bontrager’s durability policies suggest a high level of confidence in its carbon wheels. You can ride the wheels and still get a full refund within 30 days of your purchase if you decide you don’t want to keep them. They also come with a lifetime materials and workmanship warranty.
The crash replacement policy for these and all Bontrager carbon wheels is decent if not the best. They will replace or repair your wheels for free within 2 years of when you bought them if you damage them while riding.
As they are owned by Trek which has one of the largest dealer networks, you can take your Bontrager wheels to any bike shop that sells Trek products for warranty or crash replacement service.
Price: Use these links to order the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37 for US$1500, £1250, €1800 direct from Bontrager.
For a slightly deeper option better suited for wider tires and maintaining higher speeds on flat and rolling terrain, I suggest you consider the Pro 37’s big brother, the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 51 which sells for the same price at Bontrager.
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You can read my evaluation of other wheelsets in this category in the post The Best Value Carbon Wheelset.