Bontrager have unveiled a range of tubeless-compatible road wheels for 2013, and completed the Aeolus carbon wheel line-up with the addition of 35mm, 70mm and 90mm clinchers.
Flying under the marketing banner of “tubes blow, flats suck” Bontrager’s TLR tubeless technology arrives with a three-strong collection – the Race TLR, Race Lite TLR and Race X Lite TLR.
Bontrager claim improved puncture resistance and the ability to run tyres at a lower pressure without risking pinch-flats. The more affordable additions are an attempt to broaden the market for this technology.
The company has a long history of developing tubeless systems for the off-road market. The TLR road range borrows the same moulded plastic strip to seal and protect the rim.
Each of the three wheelsets comes with the strip and a valve. Bontrager sealant and tyres are also available. The sealant is a latex-free formula which contains particles of mica which Bontrager claims is effective in sealing gashes in road tyres running at a high pressure. The valve has a removable core in which to inject the sealant.
The wheels start with the entry-level Race TLR hoops (£220), which have a claimed weight of 1,690g. The Race Lite (£450, 1,500g) and Race X Lite (£750, 1,480g) wheelsets have a stacked spoke pattern on the driveside of the rear wheel and straight-pull spokes to improve wheel rigidity and achieve a uniform tension between the drive and non-driveside spokes.
While there’s little weight difference in the Race Lite and Race X Lite wheels, which are both Shimano 11-speed compatible, the upgrade comes by way of Bontrager designed, DT Swiss assembled hubs on the top-end wheels.
To complete the wheel system, Bontrager have introduced two tubeless-ready tyres – the R2 and R3. The R2 has a 60tpi casing and weighs 320g, while the R3 has a more supple 120tpi casing and weighs 270g. Both are available in 23mm and 25mm sizes to account for the resurgence in 25mm, in both the pro peloton and for recreational riders.
The tyres have a kevlar bead, rather than carbon, as carbon stretches under inflation and that is often compensated by an undersized bead. Bontrager believe their high-modulus kevlar bead is resistant to stretch and is easier to install.
Bontrager have packaged together a TLR Road Upgrade Kit containing tyres, rim strips, valves, sealant and a valve tool to help riders make the switch to tubeless. Price TBC.
Meanwhile, the Aeolus range is now complete after the addition of the 35mm (Aeolus 3, £899.99/£1,099.99, 650g/790g), 70mm (Aeolus 7, £949.99/£1,149.99, 790g/890g) and 90mm (Aeolus 9, £949.99/£1,149.99, 880g/1,020g) clincher models of the carbon wheel.
Bontrager unveiled the super-aero Aeolus D3 rim profile last year but, while the initial range included a full tubular line-up, riders wanting a clincher were restricted to the 50mm Aeolus 5 (£899.99/£1,099.99, 700g/850g).
A quick recap on the D3 (Dual Directional Design) rim profile: it’s 27mm wide at the widest point, with a blunt, rounded nose which Bontrager claim is effective in reducing drag and instability over a wide range of yaw angles.
Bontrager believe they’re the fastest wheels in the world, best paired with their R4 Aero tyre, with its 220tpi casing and aero wings.