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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.