With an aero frame design, 1x specific drivetrain, disc stoppers, and massive tires, the 3T Strada is a bike ahead of its time. Will it find a market?
Gerard Vroomen, co-founder of Cervelo back in the day, is known for his unconventional designs. In recent years, he's focused his attention on the all-road and gravel segments. The end result was the Exploro, an aero gravel bike unlike anything else.
With that bike now on the market, Vroomen turned once again to the road. His goal was to create what the road bike of the future might look like. It's called the Strada. To get there, he honed in on areas in which current bikes could be improved, as well as looking at the next big trends.
The first place we'll start on this tour of the future is tire size. Once upon a time in a place that feels very far away, 23c tires were considered massive. Most riders now consider 25c to be standard issue, and the market appears to be moving towards 28c. In general, wider tires are more comfortable. They also offer reduced rolling resistance due to the shorter contact patch and a casing that deforms less.
The downside to wider tires is aerodynamics. The problem Vroomen argues is that we're testing wide tires on rims and frames designed around skinnier options. If you optimize the frame and rim around a wider tire, the gains will follow the thinking goes. The Strada is designed around a 30c tire. More specifically, it's designed to be aero in the real world. That means realistic speeds and water bottles.
Ditching the front derailleur allows for better air movement in what is normally a crowded junction.
To help achieve the aerodynamic transition of air to the rear wheel, Vroomen ditched the front derailleur. When you add up the crank, chainrings, front derailleur, water bottles, and leg movement, there is little room in this area for airflow. By eliminating both the front derailleur and one chainring, Vroomen explains you free up space, you free up speed, and you simplify shifting.
Now, 1x on the road sounds like a scary proposition. Some of us have mountains to contend with, but 1x and 2x drivetrains have virtually the same range. The real thing holding back the widespread adoption of 1x drivetrains? The lack of a good cassette.
The Strada is pictured here with a 11-40 Shimano XT Cassette. The 3T cassette won't go on sale until later this year.
A standard road cassette has 1 tooth jumps, but the overall range for a 1x setup is too narrow. A CX or MTB cassette has a much wider range, but the two-tooth jump is a deal breaker for many. To solve these issues, 3T has developed its own cassette. The first five cogs will have narrow 1 tooth steps, then jump two teeth every cog for more range. This combination attempts to blend the best of both worlds (and offers a 350% gear range).
The last element we'll touch on is that this model is disc brake only. By not catering to the rim brake market, Vroomen didn't have to compromise the fork or frame design. For example, the fork has only a minimal crown. This reduces the total frontal area and allows the wheel to tuck into the downtube for improved aerodynamics. Both the Strada and 1x cassette won't ship until later this year. We'll keep you updated on pricing and availability.
For more information, visit www.3tcycling.com.