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Bontrager Aeolus Elite 50 wheels review

Aero heavy hitters from Trek’s parts brand

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0
GBP £849.00 RRP | USD $1,128.00 | EUR €1,029.00 | AUD $1,533.00
Bontrager Aeolus Elite 50 wheelset for road bikes

Our review

Great-value wheelset outperforming wheels costing considerably more
Pros: Noticeable comfort benefits; high performance
Cons: Possible brand-clash issue for absolute purists
Skip to view product specifications

The Bontrager Aeolus Elite 50 wheelset is the deeper of two options in its carbon wheelset range and should leave you enough change to purchase a good set of tyres.

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The other option is a 35mm-deep wheelset costing the same, but without the increased aerodynamic punch offered by the deeper wheel.

This wheelset will appeal to a range of riders, for whom performance is a priority, be that road racing, triathlon or competitive gravel riders.

Bontrager Aeolus Elite 50 wheels details and specifications

Measuring 49.9mm in depth and 28mm at their widest point, there’s no doubting the wide, blunt-nosed shape is right at the leading edge of current thinking where aerodynamics are concerned.

An internal width of 19.1mm ensures the tyre forms part of the aero profile of the rim and also forms a wide stance for the tyre, providing increased grip and comfort from the larger air cushion.

The Aeolus Elite 50 is the deeper of two options in Bontrager’s carbon wheel range.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The TLR Rim Strip – Bontrager’s own removable system for sealing the rim for tubeless setups – does reduce the effective depth of the rim to 8.5mm, but that makes it around the usual depth.

As well as the TLR Rim Strips and tubeless valves, regular rim tapes are included in case a traditional clincher setup involving tubes is preferred.

You will need to upgrade the freehub body if you’re running a 12-speed cassette.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The freehub is compatible with 10- and 11-speed Shimano and SRAM cassettes, with 12-speed bodies available separately.

A spacer to run better-value groupsets with fewer cassette sprockets is also included. After-sale care is impressive, with a lifetime warranty and two-year crash replacement available for the original owner, and there is no rider weight limit.

Bontrager Aeolus Elite 50 wheels performance

The wheels were impressively round and true out of the box.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The Aeolus Elite 50s have impressive trueness and roundness out of the box at 0.1mm or less in any direction. Spoke tension was equally even at less than 2 per cent across either wheel.

More unusual is the fact that although spoke tension did slacken slightly over the 250km of abuse I dished out, it was uniform and the variance was maintained. There was no perceptible change in how round or true the Aeolus Elite 50s were post-testing.

Long-term maintenance is relatively straightforward, and although the bladed spokes are Bontrager’s own, they are J-bend in nature and replacements should be relatively easy to source.

No proprietary tools or even those unusual for the typical mechanic are necessary to get the hubs apart, although a bearing puller and press are needed for removal and installation of the sealed cartridge bearings.

The wheels have bladed, J-bend spokes.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

Front-axle end caps pull off, as does the rear non-driveside.

An opposite-threaded driveside cap acts as a retaining nut for the freehub, and is undone with a 17mm wrench acting against a 4mm bar (or Allen key) through perpendicular drillings at the exposed non-drive end of the axle.

Freehub engagement is reassuringly solid, with 20 points offering 18 degrees of engagement.

The freehub has 18 degrees of engagement.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

That’s not the fastest hookup I’ve seen, but it’s also not slow and isn’t a noticeable drawback in practice.

At 1,871g, these aren’t the lightest wheels, but the benefits away from the scales far outweigh the numbers.

Surprisingly for a fairly deep wheel, the Aeolus Elite 50 is an extremely comfortable wheelset.

There’s a huge level of vertical compliance built into the carbon rims while maintaining an impressive lateral stiffness.

It feels like a close to ideal blend of damping for road chatter without sacrificing a confidence-inspiring out-of-the-saddle sensation.

It would be reasonable to think that might translate to a less optimal feel when cornering, but if anything the opposite is true.

I found myself cornering with increased confidence, these qualities of the wheels combining with the wider tyre profile to improve grip.

Bontrager Aeolus Elite 50 wheels bottom line

The wheels offer plenty of vertical compliance.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

Keenly priced, these Bontrager Aeolus Elite 50s would be a sensible choice for anyone looking for performance gains across a range of cycling disciplines.

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From road racing and time trials to gravel riding and cyclocross, these wheels wouldn’t be out of place at any level.

How we tested

We’ve assessed seven pairs of road bike wheels around the £1,000 price point over months of gruelling testing.

From varied endurance rides to high-intensity short but hilly blasts, we’ve put these wheelsets through their paces.

Each set of wheels had a list of parameters measured – including trueness, roundness and spoke-tension variance – out of the box, with measurements taken again at 500km.

Wheels on test

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $1533.00EUR €1029.00GBP £849.00USD $1128.00
Weight 1,871g (700c) – including Bontrager TLR strip
Brand Bontrager

Features

Features Supplied with rim strips for traditional clincher and tubeless, lifetime warranty, no weight limit
Freehub Shimano/SRAM 11speed, 12 speed optional
Rim depth 49.9mm
Rim internal width 19.1mm
Rim material Carbon
Spoke count 24 front, 24 rear
Spokes Bontrager bladed, J-bend
Tubeless compatibility Tubeless ready
Wheel size 29in/700c