Firing Out of the Gate: My Argonaut Cycles Road with Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR Carbon Clinchers

Apologies for double-dipping in Bontrager today!

It’s been torrentially downpouring for the past few weeks in Austin, which flushes those dirt-obsessed back onto the roadways. My MTBs are gathering dust and yet my Argonaut Cycles road bike has been incredibly happy. Coincidentally, we did a photoshoot here in Texas Hill Country with Bontrager last week, which left me with a set of the new Aeolus 3 TLR wheels to review. So now it’s got a new pump and new shoes to skate around town on.

There’s a lot of made in the USA goodness going on. Check out more below.

Initial Reaction: Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR Carbon Clincher Wheels

Carbon clinchers never really did it for me. I’ve said in the past that I feel like the only bike to truly benefit, in terms of ride quality, from carbon wheels are mountain bikes, especially hardtails. That’s not the case here… at least not so far. I hate it when I eat my words.

Initial Reaction: Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR Carbon Clincher Wheels

I’ve put around 200 miles on these wheels since first getting them handed off to me last week. All of the miles were done within a 20 mile radius of town, on familiar roads, in both wet and dry conditions. After roughly 5 rides, all I can say is HOT DAMN. Cornering is smooth, there’s no movement when out of the saddle, they sound like a thundercloud and with the cork pads and my EE CycleWorks brakes, I never had an issue coming to stop, even in the rain.

It’s safe to say “so far, so good!”

Initial Reaction: Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR Carbon Clincher Wheels

Now onto some specs:
The Aeolus 3 TLR are a 30mm deep carbon clincher rim (Aeolus 5 are 50mm deep and so on) with an internal width of 19.5mm. That’s wide. This allows tires to fill out more and give you what is arguably a better platform for cornering. I usually run a 28mm tire at 60psi for optimum smoothness. Once I get another set of Challenge Roubaix 28mm 300tpi tires, they’ll find a new home atop the Aeolus 3.

They’re also tubeless-ready and could very well be the wheels you train on during the week and race on during road and cross season.

Initial Reaction: Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR Carbon Clincher Wheels

All Aeolus carbon wheels use DT Swiss hubs and spokes and are built in Wisconsin. The rims are made in house by Bontrager and are incredibly clean in construction. The branding is minimal, barely noticeable, save for the wheel’s model name.

Initial Reaction: Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR Carbon Clincher Wheels

Black on black? Cool with me. My only initial inclination I wish they were laced to US-made hubs. White Industries, King, etc. Unfortunately, the Aeolus 3 TLR rims aren’t available separately, opening the door to hub options and lacing patterns. This makes sense though as Bontrager has engineered these wheels to ride and operate under these parameters. A different lacing pattern or hub might change the ride quality. Might.

Initial Reaction: Bontrager Aeolus 3 TLR Carbon Clincher Wheels

Onto lacing. This is preferential and I usually go 3x when I can, or 2x if that’s not an option. Bontrager designed these wheels with racing in mind, both road and cross. They use what’s called Stacked Lacing, or what I like to refer to as racin’ lacin’. For me, I only race cyclocross, so they’ll be my road wheels until season picks back up again. That means a couple thousand miles of Texas roads beating them up before they hit the mud.

It’ll take some more time on them to determine their durability but my initial reaction to these wheels surpasses any other carbon clincher rim I’ve ridden on a road bike. So much so that I felt like writing a quick review… Which will most definitely have a follow up after a few months both on the cross bike and one of my road bikes.

Weight? Oh yeah… that thing.

Since most people worry about weight, the Aeolus 3 D3 TLR wheels come in at 1,348grams and are priced at $2,849.98 for the pair. The weight savings from my old 32h wheels is offset by the new Silca frame pump. Check out more specs at Bontrager and see these wheels in person at your local dealer.

As with all product reviews done here on the site, I’ll be completely transparent. These wheels were given to me to try out, no obligations. I get to ride them for a few months and then send them back. If I like them and feel compelled to shoot photos or talk about them, cool. If not, no biggy. I don’t get paid from companies to review products and the only thing exchanged were high fives.