We chatted with some of the Tech team behind 3T at Eurobike a couple of months back and they were keen to introduce us to their all new Discus disc-brake road line-up. To address the leap over the last year or two in the number of disc brake bikes in the road, gravel, and cyclocross markets, 3T wanted to develop some wheel solutions that would combine the better stability of wider rims and a bit of an aero boost from mid depth profiles. With five wheelsets on offer ranging from the 32mm deep, 575€ aluminum C35 Pro to the 58mm deep, 2600€ carbon C60 LTD, we settled on the mid range C35 Team carbon wheelset that we could put to the test as a set of cross clinchers with some autumn training and a bit of racing, and then throw on some fat slicks for gravel and endurance riding come spring. Roll past the break with us to see our first ride impressions and get the details like actual weights, and compatibility…
First off we don’t tend to do much cross racing on clinchers, since pinch flats are a pretty common and unwelcome occurrence at true cyclocross pressures down below 30psi where the grip lives. So most of our extensive cyclocross race testing happens on tubulars, and we’ve got a couple of those reviews in the works this season too. We have been toying a bit with tubeless for cross racing this season, and although it has been touch and go with a couple of race altering failures, these 3T wheels are not tubeless ready. Their rim profile does not have a proper shoulder to hold a tubeless bead in place, and 3T does not recommend setting them up tubeless.
All that being said we have actually tested these wheels on a few cross courses so far, including two races, and have had pretty good experiences, with no pinch flats yet (knocking on wood.) The wheels actually served in one race on a pit bike to get me to the finish, after a tubeless tire suffered a tiny sidewall scrape and bled out a bunch of air without sealing, so they earned a bit of thanks for that. I have actually been pretty conservative and have set the wheels up with supple Challenge open tubular clinchers with latex tubes and have kept tire pressures between 29-32psi (~5psi higher than we would use with tubulars.) It appears that the relatively wide bead hooks (~3.4mm) and the flexibility of the latex tube are working together to limit low pressure flats.
The entire Discus line shares a set of 3T branded forged aluminum, centerlock hubs with 24 straight pull spokes front and rear. The spokes are bladed Pillar 1425s in black and use hidden, aluminum nipples. We’ve been riding the wheels for just about 6 weeks time and even though we’ve tried to beat them up a bit on some trails and cobbles, they thankfully haven’t needed any truing as of yet.
The hubs came pre-setup with quick release axles, but include a full set of modular endcaps and axles to quickly and easily convert them from QR to 12 or 15mm thru-axles in the front, and QR to 135 or 142 x 12mm in the back. We’ve been riding the wheels with 6-bolt rotors on adapters as we have a bunch of those lying around the shop.
The C35 rims use a dramatically offset design to balance spoke tension. The front wheel has the spoke drilling of the carbon rim set to the driveside to balance the disc brake mount, which is noticeable as a mold line runs offset to the centered valve hole. The rear rim shifts the spokes in the other direction to provide more even spoke bracing relative to the cassette body. This gives the wheels more equal spoke tension both front and rear, and should result in a wheel that stays true longer.
The rims themselves are unidirectional carbon, 32mm deep and 25mm wide, with a blunt U-shape that gives them a predictable ride in cross winds, while keeping drag down. Their internal rim width is 18.2mm, which makes them wide for road wheels, but in the middle of the growing cross and gravel options. We’ve ridden them on a few windy days, and never felt much wind action on the wheels, although at such a shallow depth we would have been surprised to. They do seem to handle well in deep sand. Some crossers prefer deep profile rims to keep sand from rolling over the wheel when it gets soft and deep. But there is a certain point where I feel I’m not able to pedal anyway, and this handled some 10cm/4″ deep ruts that I feel were around my upper limit of ridability anyway.
Our rear Discus C35 Team wheel weighs 840g in the quick release configuration, including 10g for the centerlock rotor lockring.
The front Discus C35 Team wheel weighs 722g, again setup QR and with the lockring. That brings the total up to 1542g if we pull the lockrings off. That’s about 115g heavier than advertised on 3Ts website, but just 40g heavier than what 3T had previously told us, with enough variation depending on which axle standard is used to leave a bit of room for error. The Discus C35 Team is a premium carbon wheelset with an 1800€/$1900 retail price, so we would love to see them be even lighter. But the target of this wheelset is not weight weeenies who would already be shunning disc brakes, but rather those looking for a wheel set to take a bit of abuse on rough and gravel roads and on the cross course, while still benefitting in the aero department from that stable blunt-nosed rim profile.
While it’s still hard to pry tubulars out of our hands once cyclocross race season comes around, there is a lot to be said for the real-world ridability of a good set of clinchers. The relatively wide and blunt shape seems to do well to offer a balance of a well-supported wide tire shape for cross and gravel rubber, with good aerodynamics. The wheels have stiff and consistent handling without feeling overly harsh. Part of that is certainly helped by the fact that we have only ridden the wheels with 300tpi open tubulars and latex tubes, but if you are spending this much on a wheelset in the first place, nice rubber is only logical.
I’ve been surprised by the pinch flat-resistance of the rims, and will try to keep pushing the limits at low pressures to see how that continues over time. File tread season seems to be mostly wrapped up here in Europe (at least until everything ices over in a couple of months), so we’ve already swapped on some proper mud tires and will see how the wheels (and their bearings) stand up to a bit harsher environment. As is stands, the Discus C35 Team does well to live up to 3T calling it a mid-range disc brake wheelset. I’d say the pricing pushes it up to premium, but that’s for the wallet to decide. In any case, we look forward to putting more time in on the wheels both with cross tires and both narrow and fat road slicks.