If you read the 3T press release for the Mercuriuo wheels you might agree they sound pretty impressive. The story goes that a Formula One engineer brought some fresh and sensible ideas to the table. He moved weight away from the rim to the hub. Made the rims stronger and lighter with no holes drilled in them only molded slots for spoke heads and rim width and shape that makes the wheel more stable in cross winds. Also a braking surface that's proven to provide more friction and manage heat build up better than any other.
Read the the 3T info sheet here
But what happens when you get to ride the wheels? Do all these ideas translate into real world performance or do they remain on the pages of cycling magazines as nothing more than good ideas that sold you some expensive wheels?
I got to ride the 60mm Mercurio Tubular wheels in Utah for a few days and have to say that they are fantastic wheels. Light, stiff but not harsh and the breaking was good. I felt confident on twisty descents at 45mph and they looked great on my bike. With all of this I still cannot say the new 3T wheels are a better ride than some of the already established wheel brands.
If you find yourself trying to make a decision between the new 3t wheel and lets say the 404 or Enve Smart System it's going to be a tough decision if you are looking for some proof that one is better than the others. Manufacturer spin should be taken with a pinch of salt and written reviews with a double dose of the same. Reading this review probably is not helping the decision so lets boil it down a little further.
Smooth and light. The 3T Mercurio spins up fast and feel stiff enough in the rear to be a real race wheel but it's not for a heavier sprinter. It's well suited to a rouler or ironman distance traithlete.
Always a concern with carbon rims but something that seems to have become more of a talking point than a real issue with the current crop of wheels available. 3T claim to have developed a braking surface that offer more grip than others they tested. Seems to work well enough for me on the steep slopes around Deer Valley in Utah, using Swiss Stop yellow pads I felt confident and no ugly squeaks only a jet engine type sound as I slowly increased braking.
There is a slight pulse from the rims - all the carbon wheels I have tested have some degree of this. Campagnolo and Fulcrum rims are the best in this area, 3T are right in the mid-zone with Zipp and FFWD. You can feel it but it's not a deal breaker.
Cane Creek hubs:
3t licensed the hub design from Cane Creek probably because it worked perfectly with the slotted spoke hold design and was a already proven design. I sold a good few pair of the original Cane Creek wheels years back and had nothing but good luck with them. No returns - No warranty's which is good news. I will say it's a bear to true them. The nipples are at the hub and you need to have your wits about you to get them straight.
Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM:
Something really neat about the 3t wheels is the dual compatible free hub. Begs the question why this has not been done before and leaves me feeling this is almost too good to be true but it's true and it's something that might be a deal-maker if you have more than one bike with either group set. The carefully designed slots of the free hub accepts either Campagnolo 10/11 speed cassettes or Shimano/SRAM 10 speed. Well done 3t
Cross winds and stability:
Good all round yet hard to quantify. The 3t Mercurio tubular I tested was good but there is no such thing as having the cake and eating it, deep carbon rims offer an aerodynamic advantage but get buffeted in crosswinds and the Mercurio are no different. The new wider more rounded carbon rims like the Mercurio and the 404 are notably better than the older style sharper point rims.
Life is too short to ride anything you don't love. If you have a bike with 3T components and feel the wheels are exactly what you need to round it out them don't over think it and go for the 3t's they will deliver performance equal to the top models of the already established brands.