Bontrager Race Lite Aero Review

Bontrager Race Lite Aero Wheelset 300x300 Bontrager Race Lite Aero Review

Bontrager Race Lite Aero Wheelset

Bontrager’s name is most recognizable to riders who have had a wheelset from the Race line early on in their career. The lower end models have always been of good quality, fairly light, and affordable. The market for wheelsets under $800 is pretty competitive today, and Bontrager has to raise their game if they are going to stay in the game. Enter the Bontrager Race Lite Aero wheelset – will it live up to it’s name?

Not exactly what it claims

Don’t let the name fool you. These aren’t aero wheels. The 31 mm rim isn’t going to slice through the air like a deeper section rim. Bontrager claims that these wheels descend from their prestigious Aeolus line, but apart from a smooth rim to tire connection, there’s not a lot that Aeolus would admit to about its alleged ‘aero’ cousin. The bladed spokes aren’t spectacular, and without recessed nipples and a deeper section rim it seems a little much to call these wheels ‘Aero’. At 1775 grams, we are not talking about a light wheelset either.

Good points?

The Race Lite Aero wheelset isn’t expensive, at around $600 for the pair (it only comes in a clincher version). In our tests, they were stiff, and rolled well, but while the hub may be updated for 2010 it was nothing to go crazy over. There was little real innovation in the lacing, but we did like the flush rim that smoothes air flow over the width of the tire.

If you want a sturdy, respectable wheel for training, then these wheels look good and they certainly are tough. We hammered ours on a long training ride and they never threatened to slip out of true, and even in grit and on  wet roads, the hubs, while not silky smooth, rolled just fine. None of this made up for the weight though. For serious training and maybe even racing, these wheels are just not light enough.  Big-power riders will find them strong and stiff, but lighter riders and those with less power output will really notice the drag from the Race Lite Aero wheelset.

Should you buy this wheelset?

The short answer is no. If you want a sturdy training wheel and don’t care about the weight, then you can find two pairs of plus-1700 gram wheelsets for this price. Even the comparably heavy Mavic Cosmic Elite and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelsets are at least $100 less. If you want to race seriously, these wheels aren’t going to be light enough. If you want to step up your riding, or start out racing, and don’t want to spend  a fortune, then there are lighter models to choose from. At around 675, the Mavic Ksyrium Elite tips the scales at a significantly lighter 1550g, and for only $500 you can find the Reynolds Solitude and drag only 1512g. So, Bontrager may be making an impression at the top end of the wheelset market with the Aeolus line and the Race XXX Lite, but those with less cash should spend their money elsewhere.

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