3T has a glorious history in cycling going back to the 60s. They got their start with handlebars and stems and produced some of the classic models of the 70s and 80s.
Last decade, 3T reinvigorated their product line by introducing a new range of handlebars and stems. Most recently they expanded their range to include wheels.
Their first wheel, called the Mercurio, uses a full-carbon tubular rim. For 2013 the focus is on the clincher rims known as the Accelero. Most 3T products are offered in three levels with Pro being the standard level, Team offering an upgrade
in price and performance, while Ltd sits at the cost-no-object level. The subject of this review is the Accelero Team 60. While the Accelero Pro uses a full alloy rim and the forthcoming Accelero Ltd will have a full-carbon clincher rim, the Accelero Team uses a hybrid rim with a structural carbon section bonded to an alloy outer section providing aluminium brake tracks for fussfree braking.
Both the Mercurio and the Accelero are offered in two depths: 40 and 60. I was supplied with the 60, which actually
measures 63 mm deep. The shape of these rims is in the latest aerodynamic fashion, with a blunt inner edge and wide section. In fact, they are wide enough that with a 23 mm tyre mounted I can see both rim sidewalls at the same time. They are noticeably wider than my traditional width rims. Conveniently, flicking the quick-release lever on my brakes set the pads
at the perfect distance from the rims. If these were my wheels, I would reset the brakes to suit the width but this was a convenient mode of running fat wheels on my bike – remember that if you ever get a chance to try some wide rims on your own bike.
The hubs are 3T’s own. They have exceptionally smooth bearings in them, with the axle feeling more like it was suspended by magnets than steel balls. The freehub body conforms to the new standard for Shimano or SRAM cassettes with 11 sprockets (with a Campagnolo version also available). A spacer is included for those of us still on 10 (or fewer) speeds. That freehub ratchets with a fairly aggressive and loud sound – not the noisiest I have heard but definitely not quiet. The spokes are Sapim CX-Ray straight pull (18 radially spoked in the front, 24 in the rear with radial on the non-drive and crossed on the drive side). Skewers are very light with a titanium shaft.
Each wheel was accompanied by a data sheet showing several facts about the wheel build. The tension of each spoke was
graphed showing how they compare to each other and to the range permitted by 3T standards. A second graph
revealed the lateral and radialspeaks volumes about the quality of the rim they started with as it is impossible to have even tension on a rim that starts out with wobbles in it.
These wheels are about 25% heavier than my own wheels (claimed weight of 1871 grams) but I can’t say I noticed this difference except on steep pitches over 10% slope. The two instantly obvious changes were the speediness and the noise. From rolling down the very first hill it was obvious that these things are fast, perhaps as much as three kph faster at top speed than the moderately aero wheels I normally ride. The deep, hollow carbon section acts like a speaker diaphragm and amplifies road noise. I like the sound but not everyone I rode with agreed.
Wheels this deep and this heavy have a purpose, and it is not as your everyday wheel choice. No, these speedy wheels would be excellent for a time trial (or triathlon) or a flatter (and less windy) road race. I used them in two club races and they were the perfect wheel for days where there was hardly any wind and no big hills. I also used them for several weeks of training rides. They were solid and responsive, feeling entirely right during climbing efforts and interval sessions. One of the traits of wide aero wheels is supposed to be reduced crosswind sensitivity. I can verify that this is the case for the Accelero. Despite their incredible depth I found them controllable on moderately windy days. However, these are definitely not all-occasion wheels. On one particularly windy day I did end up in the ditch when a nasty gust pushed me off the road (thankfully the ditch was grass rather than gravel). For a lighter rider (I am around 90 kg), wheels this deep would be a real problem in the wind. I needed to purchase new tubes to use these wheels. I had 40, 50 and even 60 mm length valve stems, but the 60s were only just visible in the rim. I didn’t even know you could get 80 mm valve stems, but they worked a treat. During the test I carried a valve extender so I could use any replacement tube in an emergency. I put around 1000 km on these during the test period, long enough to get to know them, but not nearly enough to comment on durability. An advantage to deep section wheels with few spokes is how tight those spokes have to be to keep the wheel together, and so it proved on the 3T wheels. The Sapim spokes were very tight on day one of the test and none had changed by the final day. The hubs ran smoothly throughout. I enjoyed the understated look of the “stealth” graphics and 3T offers a bright “team” option too, so whichever style you prefer they have it covered.
There are many wheels to choose from in a crowded marketplace. For me, these ones stand out thanks to good components assembled well into a fast wheel. If their specific utility suits your needs, give them a look.
Distributed by Echelon Sports