In the AeroGeeks garage, products come and go quite frequently. We send big ticket items back when our review process is over and look forward to unboxing the next item in the queue. But every once in a while we have an especially hard time boxing certain products back up for shipping because we genuinely do not want to end our time with them. With Bontrager’s D3 Aeolus 3 wheelset, we find ourselves having a particularly difficult time pulling them off of our test road bike, and for good reason–these are as close to the perfect all-around wheelset as we’ve tested to date.
If that sounds hyperbolic, you’ll have to forgive us; there’s a lot to love about the Aeolus 3’s that contribute to our admiration. Start with the fact that they tip the scales at under 1500g. Add that to the blunt profile of the D3 rim shape and the provided R4 Aero tires that blended perfectly with the lip of the brake track, and you may understand where we’re coming from. According to Bontrager’s own white paper on their D3 lineup (http://media.bontrager.com/images/features/201108_aeolus/bontrager_aeolus_d3_wheels.pdf), the aero shape of the D3 with the addition of the R4 Aero is close to a Zipp 404 Firecrest in terms of aerodynamics – a claim we cannot substantiate. But spin them up for the finish line sprint and we could be forgiven for thinking that Bontrager cannot be far off.
In our time with the Aeolus 3, we had the opportunity to lead the pack at 25+mph as well as cruise solo at a more stately 22. We rode them in near-zero wind as well as 20mph crosswinds, as well as perfect tarmac and what could only be described as a Slip’n’Slide. Throughout it all, the wheelset did not so much as nudge us unpleasantly and displayed a braking performance that, for run of the mill cork pads, was quite good. In fact, had we more time, we would procure a set of Black Prince pads to see what the braking performance is like with top-end stopping power.
What the D3 Aeolus 3s boil down to is one of the most well-rounded sets of wheels in a very long time, especially when paired with their intended tire combination, the R4 Aero. If you live in an area where there are more than just flat expanses and climbing is part of the ride profile on a regular basis, we’d be hard pressed not to recommend them. If you ride the peloton on Saturday and hit transition on Sunday, these are the dynamic wheels you’ve been waiting for. In short, if weight matters at all, and your budget will support them, buy a set and never look back. We’re certainly considering doing exactly that for our personal road racing setup.