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[First Look – Orbis II] Time to consider 3T’s aero wheelsets (Review)

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This spring I just stepped up my game….and flew past a balance of style and substance with a recent purchase of 3T’s new Orbis II Team carbon clincher wheelset. They’re pretty new to the market so I thought I’d drop a few notes on how they are turning out, and my decision for choosing them.

3T has been a high-end component brand for quite some time with notable innovations in road, mountain bike, and time trial, and triathlon arenas.

What 3T isn’t known for are their wheelsets, which have really entered the high end carbon market only in the last few years. So while I’ve decided to up my cycling game with a pair of carbon clinchers, why did I find this year’s model interesting?

2016 Offerings are Up to Par
3T has made several design iterations over the last few years and from their webpage, it looks like their design has finally caught up with other leading carbon wheelsets.

Up to just recently, 3T only offered a carbon tubular (Mercurio) and an alumnimum/carbon hybrid offering (Accelero), at least from a quick google search. While they were innovative with their design, they came with a few downsides that people online had mentioned, including weight (for the hybrid) and wet weather problems.

They seem to have addressed these question marks with this year’s launch of their Orbis and Discus lines of carbon wheelsets for both caliper and disc brake road bikes, respectively.

The specs as stated from their website include, 50mm deep rims, 25mm wide at brake track, 1610g list weight, offset drilling, all compete well against more popular offerings in the market (check out this product comparison from the brilliant website of In the Know Cycling). With toroidal rims to tackle crosswind conditions, I decided to take the plunge with their 50mm clincher model in the OrbisII C50 Team.

Can't wait for better weather so I can give these a try. @3tcycling #3torbisii #cycling #carbonfiber

A photo posted by icyuen (@icyuen) on

As a nice Christmas present from the wife, I opened them, giddy as a school girl on Christmas Day. In the two boxes of fun came the wheels, wheel bags, brake pads, and quick release axles. I supplied the tyres (went with GP4ksII, inner tubes, and a set of valve extenders.

After waiting until the winter West Coast conditions have improved, I finally switched over to these wheels and had a few rides out on them. My observations so far:
– I’m able to carry my momentum at speeds >30kph much more easily. Unfortunately I don’t have a power meter (I welcome any donations), but my subjective feeling is that it’s not as challenging to hold my speed. There definitely is a sense of less resistance, that allows one to feel more “in the zone”. My recent #2 placing of all time on a Strava segment may be a result of the improved aerodynamics, but it may also be due to the fact no one else rides up my driveway.
– The wheels are stiffer than my H Plus Son Archetype hoops. This could be the straight pull spokes, or the carbon layup, but my 25mm tyres and carbon seat post will help reduce any added vibrations from riding. The plus is cornering is even crisper than before.
– This upgrade has improved my style points and I must say these hoops look pretty darn sexy. I thought my setup was great before, but man, this is like wearing Zara and discovering Armani. Or going from homemade espressos to this.
– With past concerns about how poor braking is on carbon wheels, I was pleasantly surprised to see that braking worked quite well for this product. On their website, 3T mentions a high temperature braking surface, and in the short time that I’ve tried them, they’ve responded close to braking on aluminium rims. That said, the brake compound is definitely softer than my stock Shimano brake pads I was using previously. I’ll be curious to see how long they last and at higher speeds and in the rain.
– I wish I had weighed them before installing them to determine their actual weight (may do that later). However, my aluminium rims were roughly the same weight as the Orbis’ stated weight, and from lifting both while switching them out, I didn’t notice a significant difference.

Suggestions for improvements:
– Since I’ve only put a few rides in so far, I figure I’m going to leave this empty for now, and will update this when I collect more information.

Summary:
While I haven’t had much of a chance to try out other aero wheels before, the 3T orbis II C50 wheelset matches up in weight, design, and aethetics to make it very competitive option in the carbon clincher segment. With their new 2016 lineup, I would 3T should be in the discussion when choosing a set of carbon wheels for your next wheelset upgrade.

To pick up a pair, you can find them on 3T Cycling’s website here. To note, they do ship to the Canada, the States, making it easier to find yourself a pair in North America.

Thoughts, comments? Please feel free to drop me a note below.


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Bowman Palace Review

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It’s been roughly 1500km into my use of my Bowman Palace bike here in Canada’s Pacific Northwest including:
– multiple cat 1 mountain climbs
– 300km 2-day ride hilly group ride through Washington and Oregon (Seattle to Portland)
– daily commute
– there have been a few reviews online already but perhaps my thoughts with a few more kms on the frame would help curious people
I thought this would be a good time to review the bike and ride so far.


Why the Palace?
A good place to start is with my riding interests:
Everyone has different riding interests and my purchase of this bike was for these purposes:
Ride Type: I like to ride for fitness purposes and enjoy all-round road riding
Main reason for riding: exercise and enjoyment. Always looking to improve my Strava times
Not interested in formal racing and only for the occasional commute.

Carbon or Aluminium? As nice as having a carbon frame would be, through some extensive research, I’d rather have a high-end aluminium frame or a high-end carbon frame at this time. Seeing that a high-end carbon frame is beyond my price range, aluminium it is.
Geometry: in my comparison of other well known aluminium race frames, the Bowman has a slightly more relaxed geometry that suits my short legs, long torso, and long arms. While Specialized and Cannondale as very accessible in the Pacific Northwest and both make excellent Al road race frames, their race frames are too aggressive for me.
Pricing: At 650 British Pounds, it’s a pretty affordable frameset for customization.
The above has led me to two framesets for final selection: Canyon Ultimate AL or the Palace. Seeing that it would be logistically far more complicated at this time for me to get one into Canada from Canyon, the Bowman was my choice.
Weight: Claimed weight at ~1200g it’s a good starting point for a bike build (Actual weight on my scale came closer to 1400g). It might not be a weight weenie, but I don’t race enough to warrant it.
Aesthetics: With the black and Bianchi Celeste paint job, this frameset takes the cake. I love the eye-catching design, and makes accessorising fun.

Setup:

  • 54cm frameset
  • full 105 groupset, mid-compact groupset with 11-32 cassette, equipped with a long cage derailleur
  • Deda trim
  • H Plus Son Archetype Rims with 25mm Continental GP4000II tyres
  • Fizik Arione seat

With the bike built up, it weighed in at 18.3 lbs with pedals, so it’s pretty much the 18 lbs flat that other reviews have mentioned.

Handling
My benchmark when it came to handling was my first road bike, a 52cm Specialised Allez. Quick without being twitchy, it was great at handling corners. The only except which exception is on fast downhills, which I felt my centre of balance was too far forward for my liking.

Overall, if I were to use a fish analogy for the two bikes, the Allez felt like a minnow, quick and agile, while the Palace felt like a salmon: strong, sturdy and sleek.

It took a bit of time for me to get used to the turning of the Palace, and after a nice downhill from a local Cat 1 climb, I was able to get a good feel of how I should handle this mighty steed. I had to shift my body weight forward as the higher headtube had shifted my centre of gravity higher and slightly back.



Compliance
In addition, I’ve test ridden quite a handful of carbon bikes, including the BMC TimeMachine SL02, Cervelo R2 Ultegra. For a simple comparison, I used the same seat and have alloy stem and handlebars, using silcone gel bar tape on both the Allez and Palace. There are noticeably a few main differences:

The rear triangle feels anchored, always holding onto the road, a welcome difference that is likely to the slightly longer chainstays.

Maybe because it has a full carbon fork, the road vibrations on the front half of the frame are smoothed out considerably, but without losing the feel of the road, which I very much like from riding.

The Bowman Palace feels closer to the carbon bikes I mentioned above than my Allez aluminium. The only thing that I miss is the shorter chainstays for slightly stiffer feel on climbs, as compared to the Allez.

Small recommendations for the future?
I have a small niggle with the rear wheel, as I am not able to remove it without completely removing the QR skewer. One of the reasons is the derailleur hanger is not completely vertical. Also, a small connecting piece of the frame to stiffen the chain stays near the bottom bracket gets in the way of the tyre when removing.

Other that that, I’m very happy with the purchase and I wish Neil and his team at Bowman all the best in their upcoming new models.


[October 2nd, 2015] I was recently contacted by Bowman Cycles team as they offered to replace my rear derailleur hangerr with an updated version. Cheers! Looking forward to the fix for this very small issue.

[October 31st, 2015] Taking the opportunity to put on my fenders for the winter season, I replaced my rear derailleur hanger and the slight angle change made all the difference. No need to remove the QR axles now! Problem resolved.


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Biking is my drug. And spiritual fix.

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Lots of articles have been written about the psychological and physiological benefits of cycling and I can attest to many of those claims. But I think what people speak of, with not just cycling, but with various sports or activities, is that there’s a spiritual element to it.

While different people have different ways to experience that, I’ve learned over the years that often how I “recharge my soul” is through participating in activities that have the sensation of “gliding”, such as swimming, cycling, sailing, skiing, etc.

Several friends have commended me on how I’m able to ride so much, but the to me cycling is like a drug. A narcotic. A Candy Crush on two wheels. Once I get off the saddle, I begin thinking of when I can get on again. It’s addictive, and annoying my wife, but I’m sure other fellow cyclists can understand. It’s easy to get on when you come back refreshed and recharged.

People do mention and talk about that experience on the bike and of riding, but the concept of spirituality in recreation has been muted in this era of Christianity. Here’s one book that I’ve heard of several years ago that attempts to share how skiing can be such a refresher:

But it sounds like some Catholics have it down.

This Franciscan friar living at Huntingdon Beach shares a lot of experiencing God at the beach in this article.

And glad that Pope Benedict is quoted as seeing the recreational experience as a natural part of experiencing God.
“Skiing is practiced in a mountain environment, an environment which in a special way makes us feel small, giving back to us the right dimension of our being creatures,” he said. “It makes us capable of asking ourselves about the meaning of creation, of looking above, of opening ourselves to the Creator.”

Man, it’d be rad to go on a ski trip with the Pope. And shoot the breeze. If I was hanging with Pope Francis, I’d be “Yo, Pope Fran, did you take your Harley up to this resort? What say we go chill at the hot tub now then go feed the poor afterwards? Wanna play Candy Crush?”

So what recreations help you refresh your soul? Feel free to jot below.

I’ll end this post with this recent video about former KART and F1 race car driver Alex Zanardi, and how he started cycling. His quote regarding his winning of the 2012 Para-Olympic gold medal: “I won because I wanted to ride my bicycle.” Amen.


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