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.
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.
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.