Name-brand carbon wheels at a good price: Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 TLR

Plus new saddles and helmet from Trek's in-house brand

As with its longtime rival Specialized / Roval, Trek has been pushing hard on both the design and perception of its house-brand wheels. The new Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 and Pro 3 Disc wheels seem to be relatively high-end options for a relatively good price.

In recent years, riders have had two basic options for aero carbon wheels: well-known but expensive options like Zipp or much cheaper but much less established consumer-direct brands.

While Bontrager certainly has spendy hoops in its arsenal — and its engineers and marketing staff will tell you the Bontrager can go toe-to-toe with the Zipps and ENVEs of the world in a wind tunnel and on the road — the Wisconsin brand also sells scores of workhorse alloy wheels.

Bontrager used its existing Aeolus rim shape for the new disc- (shown) and rim-brake Pro 3 wheels
Bontrager used its existing Aeolus rim shape for the new disc- (shown) and rim-brake Pro 3 wheels

At $1,200 / £1,200, the new Aeolus Pro 3 wheels aren’t cheap, of course, but they are roughly half of what a top-end carbon clincher set normally costs. This puts them in competition with consumer-direct brands like HiFi, Boyd and FLO — but with a much bigger brand name and a much bigger engineering department.

Aeolus Pro 3 tech details

The 35mm rim shape already existed in the Bontrager line, the result of many an hour of computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing.

The Aeolus Pro 3 Disc set we received for testing weighs 1,610g. The build is straightforward, with spokes laced two-cross on both sides of both wheels. Some brands, such as Specialized’s Roval, will opt for one-cross or even radial lacing on the front wheel’s non-disc disc. Bontrager chooses durability, with 24 spokes front and rear.

The Pro 3 Disc comes set for 12mm thru-axles, but can be converted for quick release and 15mm use.

For the Pro 3 Disc, Bontrager doesn't get cute, opting for 2x lacing front and rear
For the Pro 3 Disc, Bontrager doesn't get cute, opting for 2x lacing front and rear

The Aeolus Pro 3 rim brake wheelset weighs a claimed 1,506g. This set has a new carbon brake-track texture that Bontrager claims increases stopping power and efficiently dissipates braking heat.

It has 18 front and 24 rear spokes.

Both sets can be used as regular clinchers with the included rim tape or they can be set up tubeless with the included TLR plastic rim strips that snap into place in the rim bed, which is 19.5mm internally.

If you want to go tubeless, you just snap in the included soft plastic strips. Otherwise you use the included rim tape for clinchers and tubes
If you want to go tubeless, you just snap in the included soft plastic strips. Otherwise you use the included rim tape for clinchers and tubes

Both sets have 24-point engagement and 3-pawl rear hubs.

The wheels are available now.

New Bontrager Velocis helmet

Bontrager has also announced two new premium saddles and a new flagship road helmet.

First off, let's take a look at the new Velocis helmet. The original Bontrager Velocis was a much more traditional looking helmet, a good looking one with all the features you’d expect, but it was a little outgunned by competition from Giro, Kask, Met, et al, when it comes to aero considerations.

The idea behind the new Velocis was for a Ballista, but with more vents (Ballista being Bontrager's aero-road lid). Its seems the company didn't stop there, as aside from the new more rounded shape, it has also extended the protection coverage at the rear, added in a new pad system, MIPS, and a unique closure system designed in conjunction with Boa.

Bontrager's newly redesigned Velocis lid gets aero styling, MIPS, and a BOA closure system
Bontrager's newly redesigned Velocis lid gets aero styling, MIPS, and a BOA closure system

The pads use a material from Boulder, Colorado based 37.5 Technology. They're constructed in a very open, honeycomb-like pattern (covered with a soft touch fabric) which 37.5 claims regulates heat better. Additionally, the open cell design not only makes sweat evaporation faster, it actually cools whilst it does it. 

We rode the new Velocis on two consecutive (and very, very hot days) in Wisconsin and came away impressed with the fit and comfort. The Velocis now also includes a custom MIPS system with the MIPS film piece cut away to closely follow the deep internal channeling of the EPS core. 

Adjustment and fit is handled by a Boa dial, with a custom wire pathway (developed with Boa) and this addition of a large micro-adjusting dial makes on the fly adjustments simple and quick.

Bontrager worked closely with BOA to design a dial ratchet system specifically for helmets
Bontrager worked closely with BOA to design a dial ratchet system specifically for helmets

Bontrager is backing up the Velocis with a free-crash replacement policy for the first year of ownership, which is good to see on a premium priced ($199, £169) lid.

As for aero-performance Bontrager claims that the Velocis is a full 10.8g of drag more efficient than a Giro Synthe MIPS at 30mph.

XXX and HiLo saddles

The showstopper of the new saddle range is the new all-carbon XXX road saddle; it’s a project that came about after last year’s ultra light Emonda SLR 10 

Bontrager's saddle design and engineering team was a little miffed that Trek chose to use a Tune Kom-Vor Plus saddle (79g, with a 90kg weight limit) so they set about making something both more anatomically shaped and lighter, with the added caveat of no rider weight limit, too. 

The result is the deeply channeled XXX with an astonishingly light 68g weight and no rider limit. We haven’t had chance to try it out yet, but Bontrager does have one on the way to us. The shaping is based around that of the Montrose, which we’ve found a nice place to sit. The only downside of the XXX is the price - £349.99 (US$ TBC).

Bontrager's new XXX saddle is handmade in Waterloo and tips the scales at a measly 68g
Bontrager's new XXX saddle is handmade in Waterloo and tips the scales at a measly 68g

For TT and Tri fans Bontrager also has the new HiLo saddle, which in its Pro level guise (£169.99, $US TBC) tips the scales at 236g. This deeply channel divided blunt nosed design uses a new ‘Airfoam’ core with a much lower durometer than standard foams making for a much more compliant seat. 

The grooved hull is designed to flex and the heel of the saddle has integrated twin mounts for an integrated speed storage system. This is designed for single or twin bottles, plush provision for a CO2 cartridge, multitool, and Velcro hoops for a spare tube or tubular tyre

Bontrager's new HiLo pro saddle is its latest design for TT and tri riders, and at 236g with carbon rails it's no heavyweight either
Bontrager's new HiLo pro saddle is its latest design for TT and tri riders, and at 236g with carbon rails it's no heavyweight either

The unit’s bottle cages sit a little higher than your average seat-mounted bottle carrier and Bontrager claims that this feature aids the Speed storage system to be aero-drag-neutral.

The HiLo also has an add-on rear mounting accessory holder
The HiLo also has an add-on rear mounting accessory holder

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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