Made a promise to myself that when I upgraded to Cat 2 this season, I would reward myself with a set of carbon tubulars. After some research and comparison, I decided to go with the Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 tubulars.
At this price point, most of the wheelsets are very competitive in weight. What becomes a more important question for CX is durability. And the two primary places we see this is in the rim and the hub. Spokes to some degree, but when costs are compared, the first worry is the rim (the most susceptible component) and then the hub.
While hub durability is secondary to the rim, I really didn't have much to go off of for the rims when purchasing the wheels since the two major players in my research were sporting new rim technology. So I put more emphasis on hub durability since I would be abusing these wheels in the wonderful world of CX. And I am happy to say the DT Swiss internals on the Bontrager wheels did not disappoint, but that really isn't a surprise at all.
What I have been surprised about is the durability of the Bontrager rims. I have been running 28-30 psi in a pair of Tufo Primus tires and I weigh about 160 pounds, give or take a few if I was out on the town the night before. And after nearly a full season of racing, some mis-adventures on the bike, and some ill timed bunny hops, these rims still look and work great. They have only needed extremely minor truing, but that is to be expected as you break a wheelset in.
My girlfriend and a handful of other people that I have talked to can't say the same about another well know brand and their carbon rims. She broke her rear rim on a course that I raced with my Bontrager wheels (only a few races into the season). And now she is very tentative when it comes to riding her carbon wheels, which is really a shame. (I do have a friend with that brand of wheel who has had extremely good luck with his rims of that brand). But I also haven't heard of anyone else having issues with their Bontrager wheels. Everyone that I have talked to that has a pair has loved them (except maybe for when it gets wet, time to grab the aluminum wheelset).
The D3 profile also fits very well with CX tires. I have been a XC mountain bike racer for over a decade and definitely throw my bike into the corners, sometimes probably harder than I should. But even with a few rear wheel skids through corners, more than plenty off camber turns and hard pavement cornering, my tires are still firmly glued to the rims.
My only regret is that I don't have the money to buy another set of Aeolus 5's to mount some file tread tires on.
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