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Bontrager Debuts Carbon Clinchers

  • By Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
  • Published Jun 28, 2012
  • Updated Feb 19, 2013 at 11:31 AM UTC
Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

Four new carbon clincher and three road tubeless wheelsets, tubeless-ready tires, an aerodynamic road bar, and a brand new, lower price-point helmet are all their way from Bontrager, the company announced on Wednesday in Belgium. The new goods are at least a few months away, but will be hitting shops mid-to-late fall and provide increased options both in performance and price point.

D3 Clincher Wheel Line

The Aeolus D3 tubular lineup has been around for about a year, as has the 50mm Aeolus 5 D3 clincher. We have tested and enjoyed both — the 50mm tubulars are part of a VeloLab review in the July issue of Velo Magazine, and we found them to be the most versatile wheels in our lineup. The 50mm Aeolus 5 clinchers feel very similar, with just a bit of added weight.

Now Bontrager is adding three new rim heights to the carbon clincher lineup: the 35mm Aeolus 3, 70mm Aeolus 7, and 90mm Aeolus 9. All three, as well as the Aeolus 5, feature full-carbon rims laced to Bontrager hubs using DT Swiss internals with 18 front and 24 rear spokes. Any of the four will set you back $2700 per set.

Rim shapes fit the latest wide trend, at 27mm wide at the brake track across the range. Unlike Zipp and Hed, though, Bontrager has not focused its trailing-edge shape on crosswind stability, instead opting for a bit less overall drag. The goal, the company says, is to produce a shallower rim with the same low drag as a taller one so crosswind stability is improved automatically, thanks to decreased surface area, and lower drag can be achieved with a shallower rim height.

“Zipp went after stability, with a super blunt trailing edge, so they gave up a bit of pure performance,” Bontrager wheel product manager Darren Snyder said. “Bontrager has leaned more towards producing the lowest-drag wheel, and let the rider chose which is the fastest wheel for the day.”

The approach is certainly different, with most brands clamoring for the “most stable” label. In our own testing we noticed that the Aeolus 5 was slightly more prone to be blown off course by wind gusts than the taller Hed Stinger 6 and Enve 6.7, but they also tested nearly as quickly in the wind tunnel as those taller options. (For the full details on that test, pick up the July issue of Velo)

The Aeolus 3 is aimed squarely at shallower multi-purpose wheels like the Zipp 303 Firecrest clincher, with a competitive claimed weight of 1450 grams and drag figures that mimic those of the taller 303 until over 10-degress yaw, when Zipp pulls ahead.

The Aeolus 5 clincher weighs 1520 grams, again very competitive with other similar offerings. It is intended to compete with the Zipp 404 and Hed Stinger 6, and Bontrager data indicates it does sit closely in line with both. According to Bontrager’s testing, the 5 doies stall later than the Zipp 404, at 15 degrees yaw instead of 12.

The Aeolus 7 weighs a claimed 1700 grams, and the 9 weighs 1910 grams. Both are aimed at the TT and triathlon set, and obviously come through with the lowest drag figures in the range. The Aeolus 9 with Bontrager’s aero-profiled Aero 4 clincher tire can produce negative drag under certain conditions, according to Bontrager’s wind tunnel testing. Other tall wheels, including Zipp’s 808 Firecrest and Mavic’s new CXR80, make similar claims.

All four models will be 11-speed Shimano compatible with the swap of the freehub body. None have a weight limit.

Learn about Bontrager’s new road tubeless wheelsets, tubeless-ready tires, aerodynamic road bar, and brand new, lower price-point helmet at Velonews.com.

FILED UNDER: Bike / Gear & Tech TAGS:

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