The classic Italian brand builds a set of fast, durable wheels
If you were attuned to cycling when quill stems were a common sight, you’ll remember that many of the best goosenecks bore the “TTT” mark. Those days are gone, but 3T lives on, and today the company produces a host of products, including the thoroughly modern Accelero 40 Team wheels.
After a few months on these alloy/carbon wheels, it’s clear that they’re well-suited for big, strong criterium riders who need a stiff wheel that can handle abuse.
More spokes, big rims
If you’ve ever trashed a pair of flimsy wheels, you know that two primary factors make the difference between heartbreak and happiness — spoke count and rim strength. Well, the Accelero has both covered with 18 spokes in the front and 24 in the rear. The rims’ ETRO measures a whopping 17c.
Compare that to Mavic’s Cosmic Carbone SLS, another aluminum/carbon hybrid wheelset, which sports spoke counts of 16F/20R and an ETRO of 13. The Mavics are priced at $1,300, compared to the Acceleros at $1,500, but the 3T wheels weigh 95 grams less at 1,600 for the pair, suggesting there’s a bit more technology invested in making the hubs and rims lighter to accommodate for more spokes.
Perhaps the Giant P-SLR 1 wheelset we tested earlier this season is more analogous to the Acceleros. The Giants are nearly the same weight and cost only $100 more, but they have two fewer spokes on the front and four fewer on the rear. Again, 3T wins on durability.
On the road
Once we stopped nerding out on spoke counts and rim widths, we put the 3T wheels through their paces, and the results were not surprising.
Since it’s autumn, the Acceleros found their way onto a cyclocross bike, one of the best ways to test a wheel’s durability. Fortunately, they handled the abuse with without issue. Plus, we appreciated how their stiffness helped us hold tight lines on rough corners and off-camber terrain. The wider rims also made for better tire shape and volume, even with fat ’cross tires. The shape with a 25mm road tire is excellent as well.
In their natural habitat — the tarmac — the 3T’s stiffness continued to impress. It’s also worth noting that the SRAM/Shimano freehub was compatible with both our 11-speed ’cross bike and 10-speed road bike.
The road is also a good place to enjoy the aerodynamic benefits of a deep rim, which 3T claims to be significant. According to a white paper it published in 2011, 3T studied about 1,000 different rim section designs. After much testing, 3T put its design head-to-head with a Zipp Firecrest and purports that it “was more consistent through a range of yaw angles than the competitor [Firecrest].”
They felt fast to us, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to confirm the aerodynamic benefits of the wider rim profile. Stability in crosswinds was average; not terrible, but not better than the class-leading options from Zipp, Hed and Enve.
The Accelero’s rim design does have an unusual quirk. The wide rim holes that allow the spokes to pierce the carbon fiber are susceptible to water if, for instance, you’re washing your bike. Although a few small drain holes are in place, the rims audibly sloshed with water after a thorough cleaning, and it took a bit of doing to get it out. We imagine this being problematic if you had to slog through a downpour.
Also, it’s worth noting that this rim design has internal nipples, so you’ll need to remove tires and rim strips to adjust the spokes.
Neither of these issues presented themselves on the road. We avoided the rain and weren’t able to knock the Acceleros out of true — they’d probably be a good tool for a criterium rider demanding a stiff, tough wheel.
Pros: Stiff design, wide rims and more spokes combine to offer a burly, fast wheel that 3T claims is very aerodynamic.
Cons: Rim design may be a deal breaker if you ride in wet weather.
The Bottom Line: Many pre-built deep rim wheels skimp on spokes, but the 3T Accelero 40 Team promises to be a bit stiffer and more durable than most, but wet weather specialists need not apply.