Bontrager’s updated affordable wide-rimmed carbon all-rounder wheels are built tough with friendly handling, balanced, speed sustaining ride feel and warranty to match. They’re a bit on the hefty side for carbon hoops though
- Secure tubeless setup
- Rapid-reacting hubs
- Carbon Care warranty
- Friendly handling
- Heavy for carbon
- Slightly expensive
Bontrager has been evolving its Aeolus carbon wheel family for longer than almost anyone else, and it was a very early Tubeless Ready adopter, too. The latest Pro 3V are on-trend with the best gravel bike wheels with width, toughness and warranty, and a solid, friendly-handling vibe and new ultra-fast-reacting hubs.
The 3V is a high-volume version of the Aeolus 37 Pro, meaning you get a wider 25mm (up from 21mm) internal bed that’ll handle tyres up to 55mm. The Pro version uses a more affordable, heavier composite lay up than the top-of-the-range Aeolus RSL 37V TLR wheels.
Tubeless compatibility is achieved with a snap-in plastic rim strip that makes for a tough and tight seal once you’ve installed it. Make sure you line up the valve hole accurately when fitting though (we’d actually pin it in place with the valve as soon as possible) as the rim strip is a pig to slide around once it’s on. They add a fair chunk of weight too, so you can set them up with standard tape if you’re watching the grams which brings weight nearer 1,600g.
The rims are hooked so none of the best gravel tyres are off-limits, but like many carbon rims, Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V can hold water after particularly wet rides so check for any swilling about inside if you’re been out in grim weather or using a hose to wash them down otherwise you’ll really be ballasting your bike.
Thankfully the slow pickup DT Swiss Star Ratchet freehub of the previous 3V wheels has been replaced with a new Rapid Drive 108 system for faster engagement as well as a great freewheeling noise. The hubs still spin very smoothly with minimal freehub drag and the wheel has a noticeable speed sustain effect once you’ve got it cruising. While they don’t feel like they’re carving through the wind like a knife, the fat rim aerodynamics give totally trouble-free handling in all conditions and the wide, tubeless rims make them awesome for rough roads or full-on gravel/off-road work. Overall they’ve got a really well-balanced feel that’s accurate and precise enough for efficient line choice but not punishing if you get that choice wrong or there’s simply no smooth option to hit.
While you could find alloy wheels for a similar weight at a significantly lower price, all Bontrager carbon wheels are lifetime warrantied under its ‘Carbon Care’ programme, so if you do clobber them too hard on a rock or pothole or suffer any other sort of riding incident, you're covered. The gravel/all-road wheel game is extremely competitive at the moment though and Bontrager faces serious competition from other brands.
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- Best budget gravel bikes: Gravel grinding on a budget
Tech specs: Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR
- Size: 700c
- Width: 25mm internal
- Weight: 1,720g (with rim strips and valves fitted)
- Price: £1,200 / US $1,300 / AU $2,200
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