3T Mercurio wheelset unveiled

3T, manufacturer of fork, handlebars and cockpit components, used the occasion of its 50th birthday party to unveil the first model in what will be a range of high-performance road wheelsets designed to provide exceptional aerodynamics, stiffness, weight distribution and braking along with reliability and low maintenance requirements.

Named Mercurio and to be offered initially with a tubular rim 60mm deep, the wheelset features a novel spoke location arrangement in a rim profile said by 3T to match the performance of the best of the competition in all but a narrow range of yaw angle or crosswind. The profile has been arrived at using state of the art CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis and iterative comparison and, with a rounded rear end and overall oval  cross-section with tyre attached, is said to offer consistently low drag across a range of yaw conditions where the leading competitor, which is considerably better at one yaw angle, will suffer rapidly changing amounts of drag as airflow fluctuates in windy conditions.

All-up weight for the Mercurio 60 is just under 1400g, but while the weight is low, its distribution is kept as close to the wheel centre as possible to maximise acceleration and responsiveness. The rim weighs a scant 395g at the rear and 387 for the front thanks to an innovative spoke location ‘pocket’ for the head of the spoke that avoids the need to drill the rim and therefore needs no reinforcement.

Developed using the expertise of 3T technical director Richard McAinsh, who joined the company after heading up composites at the Ferrari F1 race team, the pocket is easy to mould, provides direct spoke alignment with the hub and permits high spoke tension. Its location on the side of the rim opposite the flange the spoke meets increases the base of the spoke triangle and enhances lateral rigidity for effective power transfer. Independent wind tunnel tests demonstrate that it has a negligible effect on the aerodynamics of the rim.

A further benefit is that it allows a damaged spoke to be replaced in a tubular rim without having to remove the stuck-on tyre, saving significant work and potential expense.

With the spoke head located in the rim, 3T acquired a patented hub design – it looks like the old Cane Creek hub – that puts the relatively heavy nipple in the hub and keeps inertia low. Access to the nipples for tensioning is easy and the design allows for high spoke tension, itself a factor in extending spoke fatigue life.

Other features of note include a freehub body that will accept both Shimano and Campagnolo cassettes with no modification and, on the rim, a Formula 1-sourced ‘surfacing veil’, which is applied to the braking track. It ensures consistent, predictable braking in wet, dry and intermediate conditions and stays consistent to a rim temperature of 200degC.

Mercurio 60 is the first model to be made in what is expected to be an eight-model range of 3T wheels, three of them with tubular rims of 40, 60 and 80mm depths. The clincher wheels in the programme will bear the name Accelero and will themselves comprise three ranges: the ‘LTD’ all-carbon, ‘Team’ hybrid (carbon with aluminium extrusion attached) and ‘Pro’ all-aluminium rim models.

Prices and availability are yet to be announced with the Mercurio 60 expected to sell for around £1600.

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