Italian company 3T has been ramping up its wheel range for several years, and for 2016 it's stepped into the disc brake market with the all-new Discus range of disc-specific wheels. This Discus C35 Team wheelset offers top-level performance, good stiffness and a competitive weight.
The Discus C35 Team wheelset is the mid-range offering, and features carbon fibre rims wide enough to accommodate the latest wide tyres, and hubs with modular end-caps to accept any of the current wheel axle systems being used by the latest disc-equipped road bikes.
> Contact your nearest 3T dealer to order – find yours here
The rims are constructed from high modulus carbon fibre and, with no brake track, the shape is very rounded from the bead edge to the nipple holes.
The rims are 32mm deep and 25mm wide, with an internal width of 18mm, making the rim walls a chunky 3.5mm thick. That's a generous width, but the minimum of what we'd expect in a modern wheelset, as the trend is very much for wider tyres and rims.
What these clincher rims aren't is tubeless-compatible, which to my mind is a missed opportunity. Tubeless is gaining more acceptance every year and tyres are getting better all the time.
With no agreed axle standard on the many disc brake-equipped road bikes coming to market, 3T has wisely developed hubs with interchangeable modular end-caps. This is common on mountain bike wheelsets. With no tools required, the hubs can be made compatible with regular quick release bikes or bolt-thru axles (12 and 15mm at the front, 135x12mm and 142x12mm at the rear, covering every 'standard' currently in use). Swapping end-caps is an easy job and makes them a smart investment for the future.
The rear hub has a freehub that is compatible with Shimano and SRAM 10/11-speed cassettes, and there's a Campagnolo version available. If you're using a single-ring SRAM 1x drivetrain you're limited to an 11-36t cassette, as there is no SRAM XD driver body option (which would let you run a 10-42t 11-speed cassette).
The disc rotors are attached to the hubs using Shimano's CenterLock standard, with an adapter if you want to fit a 6-bolt rotor to the wheels.
The hubs and rims are laced together with double-butted aero Pillar spokes, with 24 in both wheels. It's usual to have more spokes in a disc brake wheel to deal with the extra forces. The spokes are straight pull (rather than J-bend) with asymmetric rim drilling designed to reduce the spoke tension between the drive side and non-drive side. The spoke nipples are hidden in the rims, a win for aesthetics but bad for easy maintenance. Luckily I didn't have to take a spoke key to the wheels during the test period.
With the hubs in plain old quick release setup and without the skewers, the wheelset weighs 1,550g (720g front, 830g rear), heavier than 3T's claimed 1,425g. If weight is a concern, the Ltd Edition models save a bit of weight (claimed 1,350g, and with CeramicSpeed bearings) but make a bigger dent on your bank balance (£TBA). And if your budget won't stretch to either of these wheelsets, 3T is offering the Pro wheelset with an aluminium rim (£TBA).
Performance: Really good ride quality and wide tyre compatibility
I took advantage of the wide rim and fitted a pair of 27mm Challenge Paris-Roubaix tyres, and with regular quick release axles, slotted the wheels into the Bowman Pilgrims I've been riding for a few months. I've put a lot of miles on this bike and have used different wheelsets, including Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail aluminium wheels and Zipp 303 disc wheels, so I've got some good benchmarks for comparison.
The first thing I noticed after fitting these wheels is just how responsive and lively the bike felt. The wheels give the bike an extra level of tautness, whether sprinting out of slow corners, accelerating over the brow of a hill or winching up a steep ascent. Even with regular quick releases, there's no noticeable flex or disc brake rub from the front end when leaning very heavily on the handlebar, such as when scaling a 25% climb in the lowest gear, suggesting a very high level of stiffness.
The wheels display good aerodynamic performance too. Of course, there's no road.cc wind-tunnel to validate the aero efficiency, but the seat of the chamois sensation is very telling, especially compared with the deeper section Zipp 303 wheels. At lower speeds, the 3T Discus wheels have the edge, and it's only at very high speeds where the Zipps gain an advantage. I rode the 3Ts in a wide range of conditions, and the low-profile rim and blunt shape deals with strong crosswinds very well, making them more usable than the Zipps.
They're very tough wheels too, and will also suit gravel and adventure bikes, and even cyclo-cross bikes. They've dealt with high impact strikes from rocks and holes when taken off-road, and on the road, with a 27mm tyre, they're silky smooth, soaking up a lot of the small vibrations that can otherwise unsettle a smooth ride.
> Check out our guide to the best disc brake road bikes here
Durability has been excellent. The spokes have stayed well tensioned with not a squeak of noise from the wheels throughout the test period. The wheels are very smart looking too, it has to be said, the stealth graphics should look great on any bike and go well with the tan sidewalls of the Challenge tyres.
With the aftermarket disc brake carbon wheel market starting to expand as the disc road bike market matures, there are some really good upgrade choices if you want to inject more performance or drop some weight from your disc road bike. With their top-level performance, good stiffness and competitive weight – even if it's heavier than claimed – 3T's Discus C35 Team wheelset should be seriously considered.
Fast, strong and reasonably light carbon fibre disc brake wheels with futureproofed hubs
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
Make and model: 3T Discus C35 Team wheelset
Size tested: 700x25, 32mm deep, 18mm internal
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Discus C35 Team is the mid-range wheelset of the 3T Discus range: 25 mm wide, all-carbon-fiber rims offer a 20% overall weight savings over entry Pro model. Center Lock disc-brake hubs with 24 bladed spokes front and rear offer industry-standard fitment for quality disc-brake setups. 3T linear+ system optimizes build quality. Asymmetric rim drilling reduces difference in spoke tension between drive side and non-drive side. Hubs have light-alloy oversize spindle with modular end-caps that can be easily swapped from quick-release to thru-axle as needed; rear width can run 135 mm or 142 mm to fit latest CX and gravel-grinder thru-axle framesets. Carbon-fiber rim is 32 mm deep, with a blunt profile for stable aerodynamic performance at typical angles to the wind; wide tire bed provides a really firm base to run the latest, race-weight fat tires at lower pressure, with the advantages of:
– wider contact surface
– less rolling resistance
– reduced incidence of punctures
– better handling control
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rim Size: ETRTO 622 x 18C, (28/700c), 25 mm wide, 32 mm deep
Rim Spec: clincher, full carbon, offset double-angle drilling
Spokes: straight-pull, stainless-steel, black finish, double-butted aero, Pillar 1425, 24F/24R
Nipples: light alloy, inverted, spherical washer
Hubs:Center Lock, alloy body and spindle, alloy freewheel, adjustable bearings, black satin anodized
Front Hub Spec: QR100/TA100x12/TA100x15 modular end-caps
Rear Hub Spec: QR135/TA135x12/TA142x12 modular end-caps
Rear Hub Compatibility: 10/11s Shimano/SRAM type cassette*
Quick Release: alloy lever and nut, steel skewer
Weight: 1425 g
* Campagnolo freewheel body available as 3T accessory, not compatible with sprockets requiring SRAM XD driver body
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Very well made carbon rims and aluminium hubs, with the modular axle end-caps easy to change without tools.
Rate the product for performance:
Top level performance that befits the high price tag, with good stiffness, durability and a decent weight.
Rate the product for durability:
Carbon wheels are generally very tough and that's certainly the case with these.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
They're heavier than the claimed weight, which is disappointing, but the actual weight is good for the specification and price.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
The wide rim works well with wider tyres - I ran 27mm - and even at low pressures there's no tyre roll. The wheels also give a smooth ride over rough and broken roads, soaking up the vibrations.
Rate the product for value:
You can get much cheaper wheels if you swap to aluminum rims, but in the carbon disc market these are well priced compared to other offerings.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A really nice set of wheels with good ride quality and impressive performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The interchangeable hub axle end-caps that accommodate any of the current standards. Nice wide rim profile too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Rims aren't tubeless-compatible.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A high-performance carbon fibre wheelset for the growing disc brake bike market, hitting the sweetspot of price, weight, stiffness and ride quality. If they were tubeless-compatible rims they would score a bit more highly, but you may not feel as passionate about tubeless as me.
Age: 31 Height: 180cm Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
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