Prologue: Coming off a 107km TT yesterday on Zwift (at a spicy 32.6 km/h), I wasn’t going to go on an all-out speed test, but rather wanted to give the wheels a good all around test. So, I figured doing a 50k route that I’ve done a lot before (it’s my fall back medium ride) would give me the best comparison. These are the 3Sixty5 Cycling Fat60 Carbon Clinchers in 25mm, with Bitex hubs and CX Ray aero spokes. Tubes are Michelin A1 Latex and tires are Continental Grand Prix TT, inflated to 100psi. Braking provided by Swiss Stop pads for Bontrager. Comparison is to my former Bontrager Approved Alloys weighing in at 2,200g versus 1,670 for the 3Sixty5’s.

Notes on Installation: These were mounted on my 2IMG_20170310_181413_017014 Trek Madone 3.1, and there was just enough brake clearance. In fact, about 2km into the ride I opened the brake half-way as I was getting rub on cornering. 2014 was just before the explosion in larger width
wheels and tires, so check out clearance before ordering any wide rims. Tire installation was also quite tight and required a touch of dish soap to work the last of the tire on. If I puncture out on the road, it might be a heck of a tube change.

The Ride: In addition to testing out the new wheels, this was my first road ride (apart IMG_20170402_145407_336from commuting) after a long Canadian winter. So, as you can see from the picture, I was quite pleased to get out. Although the wind is usually out of the west around here, the weather app said it was out of the north. However, they lied. Sure enough, the wind was out of the west which means that there was a good 12km straight into a headwind. Although not terribly pleasant, this allowed for a true test of how the wheels handled both head and cross winds. The ride was mostly flat (which is really the only option in southwestern Ontario), although I did hit up ‘snake hill’, which offers a pleasant couple hundred meters at just under 10% gradient. The only thing particularly lacking was any tight cornering apart from a couple fast 90-degree corners.

Speed: In spite of plenty of cross and head wind, I had no problem holding a pace over 30km/h. The wheels simply cut through the air far better than narrow alloys. Where last year I would watch my pace fall to 28 or 29 in the wind and have to try to make it up going back, there were no such concerns with the 3Sixty5 Fat60’s. Climbing was a bit harder to measure as my front derailleur didn’t seem to want to drop out of the big ring, so I was doing some grinding. However, for those climbs where the derailleur cooperated, such as snake hill, I was consistently a gear less than I would use last year. For example, on snake hill I was able to save a ‘rescue gear’ and never needed it, versus going right to the top of the cassette last year. Descending was even better, as I hit 63.7km/h going down Byron Baseline without starting with a standing sprint. Speed just seemed to be on tap for free.

Handling: To be honest, I was a bit nervous how these would handle. I’ve heard so many horror stories about people riding with deeper wheels, and have seen many a fellow triathlete blown off the road at spring races such as Woodstock Triathlon. However, this was barely a problem. Even in gusty cross winds there was hardly a difference from the shallow alloys. Sure, I had to have two hands on the bars in the worst of it, but never required a death grip. When traffic was quiet I was comfortable taking a hand off to drink even while the wind blew. The only noticeable wobbles were when large vehicles passed close up Carriage Rd at 80-100km/h…which is inevitable. I should note that I weigh in at a relatively meager 141 lbs or 64 kg, so even the lightest riders should have no problem handling these.

Feel: Road feel was definitely aided by these taking 25mm tires and my inflation of 100psi versus the 115-120 I might put in them to race or do a race simulation. That said, you could put in 80psi for more comfort, but today the roads were absolutely covered in early season gravel. There are some fairly gnarly roads on this route particularly around a truck customs station, as well as up Brigham Rd. It took me a bit to get used to the noise you get through the carbon rims, particularly when climbing or sprinting (whoosh, whoosh, whoosh), but the drama of the noise didn’t translate into any particular discomfort through the seat. Although these might be a stiffer set of wheels, ultimately I would say that tires, frame, and seatpost have far more to do with any noticeable difference in comfort than the wheel itself.

Conclusion: These are some proper good wheels. Shedding weight while adding width and depth, plus faster hubs, is about the best recipe for upgrading the speed of your bike that exists. Prices as more than competitive, and I’ll definitely shop 3Sixty5 Cycling again to add a disc for my TT bike.