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 nearly all the wheelsets in the value-carbon category have one or more major performance weaknesses that limit what you can do with them and this Bontrager doesn’t.
While the Aeolus Pro 37 doesn’t perform at the level of $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 $1300 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 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 its 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 over the rim bed’s spoke holes.
To go tubeless, Aeolus rims require plastic strips that added over 100g to these wheels and aren’t easy to install. I snapped one and couldn’t get the other one centered correctly. You can also use rim tape to seal the beds for tubeless or tube-type tires, but that takes a bit of experience to get right.
I also found installing my recommended Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL tubeless tires was a lot of work to mount and more work to get off than you’d ever want to deal with on the road. That’s just what happens with this tire and some rims, but this is one of those bad combinations. The tubed Grand Prix 5000 version mounts easily.
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, this model year 2020 Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37 TLR wheelset is only made with a disc brake option and is “tubeless ready”. As per my comments above, I’d recommend you ride it with a tubed-tire setup.
The wheelset with the easy to install cloth-like straps for tubed tires weighed 1519 grams on my scale. 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 joins. 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 its 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 attaching 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 was 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 crash replacement policy for these and all their carbon wheels is very strong. They will replace or repair your wheels for free within 2 years of when you bought it no matter how they get damaged and provide a 50% discount to repair or replace them for as long as you own them after that.
They offer the industry standard 2-year materials and workmanship warranty. You can also return them if unused within 30 days for a full refund.
Price: You can use this link to order the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37 for $1300 direct from the Trek Bikes store.
For a slightly deeper option better suited for wider tires and maintaining higher speeds on flat and rolling terrain, I recommend the Pro 37’s big brother, the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 51, also for $1300 direct from the Trek Bikes store.
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You can read my evaluation of other wheelsets in this category in the post The Best Carbon Wheelset for the Money – Part 2.