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Inside 3T Cycling: Handmade Torno Carbon Cranks & More

3T Handmade Carbon Cranks: A Look into the Italian Production

Earlier this autumn, I embarked on a trip to northern Italy to participate in the 3T Jeroboam gravel event. While there, I visited 3T Cycling’s small factory in Bergamo to witness the intricate process of handcrafting their Torno carbon cranks. Additionally, I had the opportunity to discuss their plans for expanding their production capabilities. Let’s delve into the details of 3T’s handmade carbon cranks.

3T’s Acquisition of THM Carbones

When 3T Cycling acquired THM Carbones, a boutique component maker, their intention was not only to diversify their brand but also to enhance their in-house production capabilities. The primary goal was to leverage THM’s expertise in German carbon development and manufacturing. Since its revival in 2007, 3T had been exploring cost-effective ways to bring production back to Italy. This acquisition paved the way for future advancements.

The Introduction of the 3T Exploro Bike Frame

In 2016, 3T introduced their first bike frame, the Exploro. This unique carbon aero gravel bike sparked conversations about the possibility of producing carbon bikes in Europe. However, the cost was still a limiting factor. It wasn’t until 2018, with the collaboration of THM, that 3T successfully developed their Torno carbon cranks. These cranks are now entirely produced in-house at 3T’s facility near Bergamo, Italy.

The Manufacturing Process of Torno Carbon Cranks

So, how exactly are these carbon cranks made? The Torno cranks are meticulously crafted one at a time using resin-transfer molding. This process allows for precise control over the resin-to-carbon ratio and eliminates the need for a cooled or rushed environment. 3T selects a variety of carbon raw materials, stored at room temperature, to create the cranksets. Different layers of carbon fiber are carefully chosen, resulting in two spec-levels of the same crank.

Comparison of 3T Torno LTD and Team Carbon Cranksets

The Torno LTD crankset, priced at 1050€, is constructed from thinner, finer, and higher modulus woven and UD fibers. Its raw material cost is over 5 times that of the Team edition. The LTD layup is more complex and closely guarded, consisting of up to 3 times as many layers as the Team crankset. Despite the additional complexity, the extra cost of 250€ is surprisingly small. The Torno Team crankset, priced at 800€, is made from a simpler mix of carbon but still matches the LTD in strength and stiffness with only a 50g weight penalty.

The Intricacies of Crafting a Torno Carbon Crankset

3T provided us with a glimpse into the production process of the Team version of the Torno cranks. Each individual patch of fiber is cut and sorted according to its place in the cranks. While the specific breakdown of layers remains a secret, we do know that the Team cranks are wrapped around a preformed foam core in the mold. The layup process involves a structural outer woven layer, alternating UD layers, and other woven layers. The absence of resin during the layering process allows for precise fiber placement. The RTM process, developed in collaboration with THM, is carried out using a small number of custom molds. The molds are heated and include ports for injecting resin. The entire process results in cranks without voids, eliminating the need for additional finishing or processing.

The Future of 3T’s In-House Carbon Production

Currently, 3T produces Torno cranks at a relatively low volume. However, their focus on in-house carbon production extends beyond cranksets. During my visit to the factory, I caught a glimpse of their frame R&D projects. Interestingly, 3T has established a subsidiary company called Composite Jazz to manage their in-house carbon production. This subsidiary operates independently from their Taiwan-based wheel and cockpit component division. The future of 3T’s carbon production holds exciting possibilities, and if you’re curious, you may find some clues on the Composite Jazz website.

3T’s commitment to innovation extends beyond carbon cranks as they continue to Review and develop wheels and frames.+



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