3T prides themselves on manufacturing very lightweight and aerodynamic bike parts. Their first venture into wheels is no exception. First seen at the 2011 Giro d’Italia, their Mercurio carbon tubular wheels have arguably the most exciting technology for tubular wheels yet. With two and a half years in production, 3T has launched the most anticipated wheelset for 2012.
A few years ago 3T wanted to enter the wheel market with a benchmark offering. To avoid another ‘me too’ line they started studying aerodynamics to create the most aero rim profile for real world riding. Many of their competitors focus largely on wind tunnel testing and ignore the inconsistent profile of riding outdoors. To this end 3T developed a shape that in their studies out performs all of the current wheel designs.
Their next effort was to keep this new wheel in line with their company’s commitment to light and stiff. 3T engineers borrow an internal rim construction that is very similar to the design of an old style suspension bridge. This design makes the rim even stronger under load by taking advantage of load bearing engineering principles.
Building on the internal rim construction 3T re-thinks spoke design. Traditionally, wheels have drilled spoke holes and have pressure points that add stress and need a thicker wall. 3T eliminated this issue by putting the spoke heads in cutouts along the rim’s carbon, thin wall. By inverting the spokes the rims weigh less, creating low inertia that translates to higher, faster acceleration. The spoke exits the rim on one side and crosses over to the opposite hub flange while staying perfectly straight. This non-traditional spoke and flange design eliminates unnecessary stress on the spoke and nipples.
In this ground up wheel design 3T manufactures and owns the hub design on the Mercurio. The bodies are made with a high-precision 5-axis CNC rig. This rig can carve shapes from almost every material and is used by auto-parts and aerospace-parts manufacturers. The bearing races are co-machined for the best alignment. The steel bearings are of aerospace quality and can be changed out for ceramic bearings.
The rear hub has a taller drive side, giving a wide supporting angle to the spokes. The spokes have large and easy to access nipples and thanks to their straight design, they can handle a lot of tension.
The free hub body is compatible with Campagnolo, Shimano, and SRAM. This means you can switch out groupsets between brands without having to change your free hub body on your new favorite wheels.
To dramatically improve braking 3T added what they call a ‘surfacing veil’ to the braking area. This ‘veil’ uses technology borrowed from Formula-1 car racing wheels to ensure consistent braking in all weather conditions. SwissStop says this is the best braking surface they’ve ever tested. This surface is also scuff resistant, adding lifetime value to the rims.
The 3T Mercurio LTD 60mm wheels may be the stiffest, lightest and fastest wheels you will ever ride. With the attention to detail and a bar-none design they out perform all their competition in every key area: aero, weight, speed, handling, and braking performance.
Sold as a 700cc set. 1390 grams for the pair. Freehub body supports Campy/Shimano/SRAM with no changes.
3T Mercurio LTD 60MM Carbon Tubular Wheelset Specs
Front Spokes: 18 Bladed Steel spokes
Rear Spokes: 24 Bladed Steel spokes
Hub Body: Campy 10/11, Shimano and SRAM
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