Just In: Bontrager Brings Tubeless to Carbon With New Aura 5 TLR Road Wheels

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (32)

Based on Eurobike (and we’re sure soon to be Interbike), more an more manufacturers are getting comfortable with Road Tubeless, which means the inevitable use of carbon for  the wheels. Bontrager along a with a few other manufacturers is ahead of the game and revised their entry level aero Aura 5 wheels to accept their TLR technology. The result is a 50mm deep aero wheelset with an aluminum brake track, straight pull spokes, an 11 speed freehub and tubeless compatibility. According to Bontrager, these are their first carbon Road Tubeless wheels, but probably not the last…

Get the full scoop plus first impressions, next.

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (46)

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (38) Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (35)

Like the rest of Bontrager’s tubeless wheels, the Aura 5s utilize the plastic TLR rim strips to seal the 23mm external, 17.5mm internally wide aluminum rim bed. The light weight strips snap into place and are removable if you are very careful. The wheels use Alpina alloy locking internal nipples which aren’t accessible once you install the TLR rim strip – remember to check the true of the wheels before you mount up the tires. In order to clear the 50mm carbon profile, extra long tubeless valves are included with removable cores. In the box you will also find standard rim strips, the TLR rim strip, front and rear internal cam RL skewers, and a tubeless valve core removal tool.

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (37) Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (36)

The aluminum rim is then capped with an aerodynamic carbon cover for an ACC (aluminum composite construction) aero wheel that offers an aluminum brake track and no rider weight limits. Like other aero wheels with similar designs the carbon is flexible and therefore carries a warning label not to hang the bike from storage hooks with these wheels. A large drain hole is added to the side of the rim to allow any water to exit the carbon portion of the rim.

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (33)

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (34)

Also new for the Aura is the addition of stacked lacing on the hubs that provides a better bracing angle which results in a stiffer wheel build. The stacked lacing is something Bontrager is building into many of their new wheels including the RXL TLR’s we recently reviewed. The front Aura uses radial lacing with 18 spokes, while the rear uses 24, both with DT Swiss nail head 14/15G bladed spokes.

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (31)

The hubs offer fully sealed bearings with press fit end caps and the continued use of a 3 pawl freehub that is updated for 11 speed use.

Bontrager Aura 5 Weights

On our scale the wheels without any additional parts came to 1715g for the set. Add in the skewers, TLR rim strips and valve and you’re looking at 1926g all in.

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (47)

First Impressions:

Coming off the RXL TLR wheels, I was surprised to find that the Bontrager R3 Tubeless tires were quite a bit harder to install on the Auras even with pre-stretched tires. The key there is that when I say they were harder, that meant that I actually had to use a tire lever compared to the RXLs I prepped with no tools at all. Compared to other Tubeless road tires and wheels the Auras are about average for installation difficulty while the RXLs remain some of the best. Once mounted though, a high quality floor pump was able to seat the tires with an ounce of sealant in each wheel poured in through the valve.

Bontrager Aura 5 TLR Wheels Road tubeless (49)

After sailing through the set up, once mounted on a bike the wheels instantly offered the ride quality I’ve come to expect from tubeless road set ups. Utterly smooth, the 25mm Bontrager R3s cruise along the pavement. Initial impressions are that these seem to be stiffer laterally than the RXLs which is a trait the racers will love – not to mention the added aero benefit. The Aura 5s aren’t the lightest on the market, but they’re reasonably priced at $1199.98 and are one of the few options for tubeless, aero profile wheels that you can beat on daily.

Comments

reallydoe - 09/10/13 - 9:48am

Is this actually new? It’s an aluminum rim with a carbon fairing.
When someone comes out with a true carbon tubeless road setup, then it’ll be worth being excited about..

Peter - 09/10/13 - 10:09am

@reallydoe:

Well, it’s “new” in that the prior iteration of the wheel wasn’t being sold as tubeless ready. It’s not 100% clear whether these rims are different from the prior Aura 5s or whether they’re simply the Aura 5s packaged with a TLR conversion kit. Either way, it’s not a bad price if you want the aero benefit of a deep-section rim and the ride quality benefit of going tubeless. I’ve been on the RXLs tubeless for a while now and really love the feel of them, except for the wheel flex which these seem to address.

wako29 - 09/10/13 - 10:11am

@reallydoe:
Well, the wheels themselves ARE brand new and very updated versions of the previous Aura 5. And I can COMPLETELY be wrong here, but this is the first tubeless aero offering I’ve actually seen. Although, there were a ton of offerings at Eurobike and likely someone came out with something then. Don’t be hatin. I agree that a fully carbon tubeless system will be awesome, but I really think that these would be great for someone who wants a damn reliable aluminum wheelset with the benefits of tubeless and aero.

AndyS - 09/10/13 - 10:32am

Gentlemen, Easton does have an aero road tubeless approved option. BR covered this a month or two back. I recall another brand having a road tubeless option as well…

Chicken in a Biskit - 09/10/13 - 11:18am

Can I just ask, why would anyone prefer a full carbon clincher over something like this anyway? As far as I can tell, full carbon clinchers aren’t much lighter than a setup like this, the braking is mediocre in the dry and terrible in the wet, and you can’t really run them in the mountains because you run the risk of the braking heat damaging your tire or tube.

I understand that carbon clinchers have gotten better and there is no longer the risk of the rim failing due to braking heat, but whats the appeal?

Something like these or Hed Jets just make way more sense to me all around.

Murphy - 09/10/13 - 11:19am

I think the new Easton EC90 Aero 55 does that. Maybe the increased air pressure is why some road companies are going back to aluminum for their early forays into tubeless on the road?

LUKEE - 09/10/13 - 12:15pm

@murphy- actually much of the delay in a carbon clincher that is tubeless compatible stems from a very serious issue with tubeless tire design. With the tube present the pressure is distributed around the casing. In a tubeless tire, the stress becomes more centralized at the bead. We learned about this from madfiber. One of our customers bought a pair of clinchers with the idea that he would run them tubeless later on. Initially madfiber stated that their wheels were tubeless compatible but later stopped recommending it. At interbike we asked them why and they said they were seeing massive deformation of the carbon at the rim wall, almost like the rims were becoming wavy. It turned out that the increased pressure from the tubeless bead was causing a crushing effect on the rim. After we heard this it made sense. Think about stan’s rims (they are great without a doubt), we have had riders whose wheels were tensioned perfectly but as soon as they went tubeless all of a sudden all their spokes are super loose (especially with the road rim)

kurti_sc - 09/10/13 - 1:17pm

I think it’s quite funny that AndyS used the terms ‘Easton’ and ‘recall’ in his statement. heh heh.

nathan - 09/10/13 - 2:38pm

LUKEE: No. That’s a physics fail. The only place a tire can exert force is on the bead. Any outward force on the casing is on the bead. Similarly any force on the bed of the rim is really on the bead. What you are saying is akin to if you stand on a scale, then press up on your chin you’ll weigh less.

MarkV - 09/10/13 - 3:57pm

Zzzzzzzzz

Mitch - 09/11/13 - 9:00am

Giant did this wheel but actually solid, lighter, and 2 years ago with the PSLR-1.

that guy - 09/11/13 - 3:57pm

But it’s still not true tubeless is it, no bead locking bead hook or sealed rim. Its only a matter of time till someone breaks there necks on these “kit wheels”.

jinxtown - 09/16/13 - 5:59pm

I’ve been running my 404s tubeless for a year now. No rim deformation and braking is actually quite good. I’ve fiddled a lot with tubeless over the years. I have Hutchinsons on them that hold air better than tubes. i run 90psi withiut problems…i weigh 170. With some stans tape, valves, and sealant it’s pretty simple. I also have been running Alpha 340s with the bontrager r3s and can tell you the r3s on a tubeless ready rim need a lot more attention than Hutchinsons on my 404s. I love all the benefits of tubeless…better ride and no flats…haven’t had one in 6-years!

Dustin - 09/17/13 - 8:25am

mad-fiber makes some baller tubeless wheels. mostly carbon, alloy rim bead.

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