35mm Wheels vs 50mm Wheels

Following on from my recent article (To go deep or very deep?) where I discussed how the trend for many pros is to use deep section wheels, even on a very hilly or even mountainous parcours. The choice seems to be not if you should get deep section wheels, but just how deep ones you should get.

35mm Wheels vs 50mm Wheels
Thus still being a little undecided myself I thought that I would pick two common, yet still generally considered fairly moderate sizes (35mm and 50mm) and take a close look at each and discuss their relative strengths and weaknesses to hopefully help me and you decide which wheels would be the correct choice for the style of rider you are and what type of riding you mostly do.

For the purposes of this article, I have picked a manufacturer that produce both size of wheels and thus can compare the main differences between them:

3T-ORBIS-II-T35-FR3T Orbis II T35 Ltd Wheelset

  • Price: US$930 / 840Euros / £600
  • Weight: 1250g
  • Rim Width: 25mm

With a total weight of just 1250 grams, these 35mm wheels are certain to excel in hilly terrains where weight is obviously a major consideration. However remember that a lighter wheel will also make it easier for you to accelerate (and decelerate) them up to speed and thus, ignoring any aero qualities, a lightweight wheel is also a good choice on any course including flat ones where you will be making many accelerations.

Whilst not as deep as the 50mm wheel from 3T (see below), they still have the same number of spokes (20F/24R) and the same 25mm rim width and thus as long as you combine them with the correct width of tire, they should still offer an improved aero performance when compared to a standard box section rim. It will just not be as good as the 50mm version.

Also remember that this lower depth of rim will be easier to handle and probably have a better performance in strong cross winds.

Thus I would tend to classify a 35 as an “all around” wheelset, but with an emphasis on a very hilly or mountainous terrain, or for someone who just prefers a shorter profile because of wind. The will also be a good choice should you make a lot of attacks during racing or race on circuits where there are many violent changes in speed like tight town center criteriums.


3T ORBIS II T50 LTD Wheelset3T Orbis II T50 Ltd Wheelset

  • Price: US$1000 / 910Euros / £660
  • Weight: 1380g
  • Rim Width:25mm

With a weight of 1380 grams, the 3T Orbis II T35 Ltd Wheelset are still considered fairly lightweight, but with their deeper 50mm profile will have a better aero performance than than shallower wheels.

Obviously due to their increased weight, accelerating and decelerating them will take a tad more energy than that of the slightly lighter 35mm wheels, but once you get them up to speed, they will “want to” continue rolling a little more.

Thus if you are the type of rider who often finds yourself in a breakaway (especially a lone escape) where the speed is high, but at the same time relatively constant these attributes will really be of an advantage and I think on all but the hilliest circuits outweigh the slightly higher weight.

So once again, I would still consider them as a good choice as a “all around” wheelset, but this time the emphasis would be more on flat to rolling terrains.