Aerodynamics are critically important to the rider who wants to go faster.
Drag slows you down. The faster you are, the more drag slows you down: aerodynamic advantage wins races
This realization hit cycling like a thunderbolt in 1989 when Greg LeMond, riding an early aero setup, won the final day's time-trial
on the Champs-Elysées to snatch overall victory from Laurent Fignon in the Tour de France.
All race bike components have adapted to this reality in the years since. So too have the UCI's rules, repeatedly revised to ensure no rider get an unfair advantage from aerodynamic componentry.
3T has long operated on this frontier between technical advancement and fair play, testing the boundary between what's possible and what's permissible. Four years before LeMond's defining Tour victory, 3T built the bullhorn bar that Francesco Moser rode to the world hour record. It was the blueprint for every TT bar that followed.
Fast forward to 2008: 3T builds Ventus, the most radical, slippery aerobar ever. Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre rides it, so too Fabian Cancellara and Gustav Larsson, gold and silver at the Beijing Olympiad.
In early 2009, with the Tour of California in progress, the UCI says it will enforce
with immediate effect its widely-ignored
rule on aero form factor. For pro road racing, Ventus is history. As race teams
scramble to re-configure their TT bikes for the Giro, 3T embarks on a furious bout of creativity that results in 4 new aerobars that fit the UCI's 3:1 gauge. That aerofoil basebar now serves in bars for race-winning riders in time-trials, triathlons, and track races.
Like other component builders, 3T tests the aerodynamic performance of its new product designs theoretically, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and empirically, in the wind tunnel.
Our mix of creative engineering flair and careful, methodical wind-tunnel development served us well when we set about our biggest product challenge of the modern era: building wheels. Using a heavy-duty CFD system, 3T developed a new rim profile whose drag numbers matched the best,while offering other significant advantages. First
prototype trials at the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel confirmed predictions.
We carried out more extensive tests at the Mercedes Petronas wind tunnel to
compare them with the best existing wheels. Close analysis of the test data reveals that 3T Mercurio has a consistent, low drag figure at all yaw angles, making it unconditionally stable in the turbulent air of real-world racing.
Download the white paper How 3T re-invented the wheel
Download the backgrounder VENTUS, Cali, and the 3:1 form-factor row