Even with new wheels popping up seemingly every day, it still seems that 3T believes that they can not only be competitive in the high end wheel market, but can be dominant above all else. Obviously, that is a tall order these days with Zipp putting out some serious firepower in the form of the Firecrest, along with many other companies building lighter, stronger, faster carbon wheels that are all vying for what is a fairly small market due to the price.
Regardless, 3T feels they can do it better, and as proof, offer up their first carbon wheel: the Mercurio 60 LTD. While the Mercurio may seem like just another me-too carbon tubular at first glance, if you look a little further you will realize that even though 3T is late to the game, the wheel’s tech seems like it could be well ahead.
Check out the radical spoke bed after the break!
Most of the brilliance of the Mercurio revolves around their unique method of attaching the spokes to the rim, which results in zero cuts to the carbon fibers. Richard McAnish, an ex-Formula One engineer from Ferrari is the one to thank for the radical design. Rather than build the rim and then mill or drill out spoke holes to place the spokes into, T shaped spoke pockets are actually molded into the rim which yields a completely smooth tire bed. 3T states that the rim was designed using unidirectional carbon fiber in tension that wouldn’t have been possible if fibers were cut due to drilling spoke holes. To take things a step further, 3T also goes on to say that spoke tension was a critical element to the composite layup, utilizing an internal composite “truss” system to connect each spoke pocket.
In order to ensure perfect alignment of each spoke, every spoke combination has a rim that is perfectly matched, meaning since the rear has drive side spokes that are two cross, and radial non drive spokes, each spoke has its own specific slot on the rim.
Clearly, since the spokes are slotted into the rim, tension and truing adjustments have to be made at the hub which prompted 3T to create a new hub. However, due to the fact that Cane Creek already created a bulletproof hub with the nipples centered at the flanges, licensing the design would save 3T untold amounts of time trying to create their own. While no longer in production from Cane Creek, the nipple-at-hub design offers more benefits than just making the Mercurio design possible, as mechanics will undoubtedly love it as they will no longer have to remove a tubbie just to true a wheel. Add in the fact that just like when Cane Creek used the design, having the nipples centered at the hub lessens the wheel’s rotational inertial.
Even though the design of the hub is licensed from Cane Creek, 3T decided to produce the hubs themselves to ensure every aspect of the hub is to their liking. Every hub will feature the ability to easily swap aluminum freehub bodies so that each wheel is compatible with both Shimano/Sram, and Campagnolo cassettes.
While only their first offering, 3T has initially released the Mercurio 60 LTD, which is a 60mm deep, 23mm wide carbon tubular. The 60 will soon be followed up by a 40 and an 80 as well, with the Accelero clincher line close behind, ultimately giving 3T a planned 8 different wheel models.
In an attempt to improve carbon rimmed braking results, the carbon rimmed Mercurios will feature a Formula 1 derived brake track coating that should exhibit similar braking performance in both wet and dry conditions. Weight for the Mercurio 60 LTD rims is around 390 +/- 10g with a complete wheelset weight of under 1,400g. Pricing for the 60s will be around $2750 for the set.