The engineering that went into the Aeolus XXX 6 wheelset is neat stuff. This is our account of Bontrager's premium wheels.
Appearance - The high gloss finish of a Bontrager Aeolus XXX rim looks the business. A laser etched brake track and large laser etched Bontrager logos contrast subtly against the sheen of the smooth gloss surface in direct light. These same features nearly fade out when light isn't focused on them. It's a beautiful combination of texture and lack thereof.
What's not so subtle, yet not overdone, are the red XXX logos. Unlike the Bontrager logos that are etched into the rims, the XXX logo is a sticker that can be peeled off for a more discreet look. The Bontrager machined hub shells that spin on DT Swiss 240 internals keep with the stealth theme of the build and are curvier than previous Aeolus hub shells. Maybe they are more aero, but they are certainly very elegant.
Stability - This is a major talking point for the new Aeolus XXX wheels at all depths. Seeing as the XXX 6 is Bontrager's deepest rim at 60mm, there isn't a better one for testing their highly advanced rim shaping. Adjusting for sidewind forces becomes a forgettable correction on these wheels. It feels like they're just minding their own business out on the road. When the wind pushes, they don't push back. This is a wheelset that delivers on the promise of stability. Not more stable... just stable.
For years, aero wheels have been squeezed for minimal drag to get max speed, but the leaps and bounds made with aero efficiency always carried a shadow of stability performance that lacked in scale. So, we settled with wheels that pushed predictably and called it the nature of the beast. With Bontrager's completely new Aeolus XXX rim technology, stability performance has matched speed.
Speed - Yep, plenty of that. Being armed with Bontrager's deepest rim profile is a powerful feeling. Think of rim depths as turbos. Deeper rims/bigger turbos take a little extra time to get spinning compared to shallower rims/smaller turbos, but their punch at the top end is incredible. You're still getting an aero benefit in the 18-20mph range, but over 20mph is where the wheels 'come alive'. The faster you're traveling, the bigger the benefit. It takes considerably less effort to maintain higher cruising speeds and accelerating from speed is exponentially easier than on shallower wheels.
You'll have a serious advantage in your corner when the ride turns into a drag race if the Aeolus XXX 6 wheels are on your bike. Under hard acceleration, the XXX 6 rear wheel feels nice and tight, which inspires hard charging in situations where your speed is fluctuating. We expect the shallower XXX 4 and XXX 2 wheels to be more responsive while trading-in some of the top end speed belonging to the deeper XXX 6 rims.
Braking - Power, predictability, modulation... all there. Nothing dramatic to report, much like their stability. Not too much bite. Not too little bite. Noise is barely noticeable with the textured brake track. Pulling on the brakes feels like operating a dimmer switch, as opposed to flipping a breaker switch. Be prepared to open up your brakes almost all the way to get some daylight between the brake pads and the rim.
With the brakes set up properly you'll have no shortage of control when it's time to slow the bike down. Bontrager also makes a disc brake version of all three rim depths to compliment your disc brake equipped drop-bar bike. Braking performance will be phenomenal, as it's one of the major advantages disc brakes have over rim brakes.
Bontrager is pumping out serious performance from Trek's headquarters in Waterloo. The Aeolus XXX is a premium product that doesn't just look good. Backed by Trek's Carbon Care, you can confidently enjoy them to their fullest.