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Bontrager wasn’t the first manufacturer to take its rims wide, but with the new Aeolus Pro 3V TLR, they are taking width to new levels, all in the name of creating a wheel designed for the high volume tires of today’s gravel and adventure scene.
- The new carbon Aeolus Pro 3V TLR wheel is 32mm wide externally and a whopping 25mm wide internally.
- Bontrager recommends not riding anything narrower than a 32mm tire on the rim.
- The wheel is tubeless ready with Bontrager’s plastic rim strip system.
- They feature a new Rapid 108 Drive rear hub, 12mm through axles and are disc brake only.
- The wheels weigh 1575grams and cost just $1300.
The Aeolus Pro 3V TLR was designed from the ground up for gravel and adventure, meaning it was designed natively for high volume rubber. It’s 25mm—and that’s internal width! Yup, 25mm wide internally and 32mm wide externally. It should go without saying, these are disc brake only wheels, and one of the first wheels to truly take advantage of the drop bar bike’s move to disc brakes and the extra tire volume they allow. The side wall of a wide tire is supported much more evenly when the rim is almost directly below it, none of its flexibility or volume is diminished diving into a narrow rim channel. This leaves more flexibility for impacts and dramatically improves the rubber’s ability to contour to rough surfaces.
These wheels are based on the tried and true Aeolus platform — OCLV carbon, D3 shape — but with the new width and a new Rapid Drive 108 hub for a snappy response to power. They are tubeless ready, 12mm through axles and as we mentioned before, disc only. 24 straight pull Sapim spokes are used front and back, The extra width means extra material which means a few extra grams, but considering the price — just $1300! — we call 1575 grams for the set a huge win.
Bontrager recommends a 32mm or larger tire and we’ve managed to sneak in a brief test on both 32mm and 40mm tires; the performance is really quite stunning. The 40mm tire feels like a 47mm tire on a 650b rim over nasty surfaces, and perhaps even more impressive, the 32mm tire soaks up bumps like a 40mm tire. With these wheels we can down size the rubber, more than making up for any added grams in the rim, and still confidently tackle very difficult terrain — from rocky fire roads to soupy gravel. Initial impressions are a 32mm tire on these rims feels better than a 40mm tire on most 17mm internal width rims, yet jumps up to speed as quickly as you’d expect from a 32mm tire.
The latest generation of Bontrager TLR tires are an entirely different, and much easier tubeless install experience than the first generation. The white tubeless TLR rim strips go on by hand without any cursing as do the 40mm Bontrager GR2 tires—but those with less than gorilla thumbs may need a lever for the last couple centimeters of bead. Using a Bontrager TLR Flash charger pump, the bead seated on the first try, even holding air with no sealant. We had the same experience with both a 32mm IRC Serac CX Tubeless and a 40mm Schwalbe G-One Bite TLA Tire on the new wheels.
Like all Bontrager carbon these days, the Aeolus Pro 3V TLR is very easy to live with. The TLR system makes tubeless setup very easy, and should anything happen to your wheels Bontrager offers a Carbon Care Wheel Loyalty Program that replaces or repairs them for no cost in the first two years of ownership. That’s some serious peace of mind when deciding just how much you want to stay with lead group as they rocket through a minefield of flinty rocks at 50kph at your next gravel event.
Look for more detailed ride feedback in an upcoming issue of PELOTON Magazine very soon.
1575grams, $1300; trekbikes.com