3T has a history of doing things differently and the Torno crankset is certainly another left-field concept — all carbon, all aero and very much 1x specific but six months after its low-key launch, how has the Torno fared?
3T Torno LTD key specs
- Full carbon design: cranks, spider and axle
- 1x specific
- Narrow 142mm Q-Factor
- Proprietary 36, 40, 44t chainring offerings from Wolf Tooth Components
The 3T Torno crankset was supplied with a set of proprietary Wolf Tooth Components 44t, 40t and 36t chainrings.
For the most part, I paired the 44t chainring with an 11-42 cassette for near enough 1:1 gearing ratio.
The Torno was fitted to an Open UPPER supplied with a BB386VO bottom bracket, though a number of other bottom bracket options are available. This crankset came in at 433g with the 44t chainring fitted. For reference, Shimano’s latest FC-R9100 crankset weighs between 609–612g.
I first tested the Torno at the Paris-Roubaix Challenge and followed it up with gravel races including Das Rad Klub’s Dirty Sunday Radoneé, Gritfest, Grinduro Scotland and Duke’s Weekender — all events on terrain designed to shake, rattle and roll your chain right off.
Through the hours I’ve spent off-road, grinding up and over steep pitches of dirt and bombing down fire roads at unnerving speeds, I’m pleased to report that I haven’t once dropped a chain.
A lot of that will be down to the clutch-equipped SRAM Force 1 derailleur, but the custom Wolf Tooth Component’s Drop-Stop chainring works incredibly well.
For a chainring that has endured so much grit, gravel and mud over the last six months, the teeth are in surprisingly good condition (save for the anodizing). There are no signs of the teeth shark-toothing and the Drop-Stop profiling is still very defined.
On the road and on gravel, the full carbon arms left me in no doubts that they’re incredibly stiff.
Some of the gravel races I’ve taken part in featured long time-trial-esque stages where turning over a big gear was vital for keeping chasing riders at bay. However, equally, the much shorter, sharper climbs were aided by a crankset that felt like it was giving nothing away during high torque, high power efforts.
The arms are also decently robust too. I’ve had a good number of awkward pedal strikes on technical off-road trails and though there are some battle scars, close inspection shows no discernible damage to the crank ends.
With a Q-factor of 142mm, the Torno is touted as being very aerodynamic. I was sceptical about a narrower Q-factor at first because it’s something I’ve never really paid attention to (though my colleague Joe Norledge is very much a fan of a narrower Q-factor on his XC bikes).
However, after a few rides, I felt as though, when seated, my pedalling was smoother. Dare I say it, I even felt more aerodynamic too, though it’s almost impossible to qualify that over feeling alone.
Conversely, out of the saddle climbing did feel a little awkward and cumbersome initially. My feet felt like they were too beneath me, too close together and some conscious adaption to my out-of-the-saddle pedalling was required to get my cadence feeling natural.
Half a year on, I’d say it still does feel awkward at times, though only on the very steepest of terrain.
I was told during a bike fit that the narrow Q-factor of the Torno actually suited my knees-close-together pedalling style — the narrow width helps keep hips and knees tucked in, reducing drag, which, of course, contributes to increased speed.
A small benefit to the ludicrously narrow crank arms is very little heel rub. Many cranks have their shiny finish worn away after just a few rides, but this has remained contact-free keeping the arms looking (relatively) fresh.
Big price, big performance
Personally, I would like to see Wolf Tooth and 3T bring out some more options for the Torno.
The option of 50t or bigger chainrings would make 1x TT setups á la Tony Martin a possibility.
Alternatively, ovalised chainrings have their supposed benefits for smoothing out a rider’s pedalling, so that could potentially aid in performance as well.
I could happily recommend entire bikes for the kind of cash the Torno costs (€1,049 without chainring… that’s an extra €100), so it’s near enough impossible to say this is good value for money — it’s a crankset that doesn’t do power, isn’t compatible with any crank arm based systems and there are many cheaper options, so why should you part with so much money?
Simply put, if you’re after a fully performance-orientated aero crankset for a bike that suits a 1x setup then you probably already know you’re going to have to drop a good chunk of money — 3T is a company that dares to do something a little different, and with this comes a price premium.
The 3T Torno’s narrow Q-factor feels incredible when you’re churning over the gears in the saddle making this ideal for high mileage races, such as the Dirty Kanza, where aero-gravel setups are taken seriously.
If you’re not willing to dish out the cash for the LTD version, 3T does offer a Torno Team which comes with a slight weight penalty but will save your wallet a hefty €250.