The 3T Strada ICR Force eTap AXS 2×12 is designed to offer aero bike speed without compromising comfort.
Optimised around 30mm-wide road tyres, it combines large aerofoil tubes with the kind of skinny back end you might expect on one of the best endurance road bikes.
Alongside a refined frameset design, the Strada ICR now has fully internal cable routing and is available in both 1x and 2x forms at launch.
Though the Strada ICR provides a fast, smooth and engaging ride, in a package that’s refreshingly orthodox (by aero road bike standards), it perhaps doesn’t stand out from the crowd as much as it once did.
On top of this, a relatively high price and some peculiar spec choices make it a somewhat tougher sell in the face of fierce competition in the aero road bike category of Bike of the Year.
3T Strada ICR Force eTap AXS 2×12 specification
The Strada ICR is 3T’s third iteration of the Strada platform.
The original, 1x-only 3T Strada was both groundbreaking and something of a near miss.
The Strada ICR marks a fresh start, then.
Though the general concept remains the same, 3T says it has taken advantage of recent changes to the UCI’s technical regulations to make this latest version of the Strada even more aerodynamic.
Though 3T doesn’t make any specific aero claims about the Strada ICR, it shares some of its visual DNA with Cervélo’s S5 (one of the best aero road bikes). Once you learn legendary bike designer Gerard Vroomen was heavily involved in the design of both bikes, it makes sense.
Up front, the nose of the bike extends forward like the bow of a ship, while the top of the down tube is shaped to capture the airflow off the chunky front tyre.
Around halfway, the down tube flares out again to help divert airflow around a water bottle.
It’s a neat idea, though it appears to be optimised for only a single bottle cage placed low on the down tube. Using two means moving the down tube bottle up so the upper portion is higher than the flare in the down tube.
It seems odd to conclude that managing the airflow around bottles is important, yet also assume a rider would only want one.
In any case, the aero penalty for using two (if there is one) isn’t noticeable while riding.
3T has also developed its own fully internal cable-routing system, based around its Apto stem.
Did we need another proprietary cable integration system? Perhaps not (the Strada Due, paired with an electronic groupset wasn’t exactly a mess of cables), but it would be unfair to single out 3T when almost every brand is at it these days.
In contrast to some, 3T’s execution does at least allow for a relatively wide range of adjustability and maintains a more traditional appearance.
Though it’s only compatible with 3T’s Apto Integrale stem, that stem is available in lengths from 70 to 130mm (in a +/- 6-degree angle).
Likewise, any round, 31.8mm handlebar with a port for hydraulic hoses at the rear of the clamping area can be swapped in, if desired.
3T Strada ICR Force eTap AXS 2×12 geometry and ride feel
3T has revised the sizing chart, but the geometry remains largely unchanged since the original Strada.
As far as road racing bikes go, it’s all fairly typical. On my size-56cm test bike, there’s 393mm of reach and 565mm of stack.
The head tube angle sits at a racy 73.2 degrees. The seat tube angle is a little slacker at 72.5 degrees, but the inclusion of an inline seatpost means the effective saddle position is still relatively forward.
This is useful on an aero road bike, because a more forward saddle position can help open up your hip angle when riding in an aggressive position. In theory, that means less cramping at the hips and, potentially, an easier time producing power in a crouched position.
Overall, the Strada ICR offers sharp and engaging handling, while still feeling stable over rough roads and at high speeds.
It’s impressively smooth and sure-footed, too, no matter the road conditions.
The wide tyres (the 700 x 25c Pirelli tyres measure 29.5mm wide at 55psi / 3.8 bar) help here. However, given my Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc has similarly voluminous tyres (on narrower rims), and isn’t as mellow, it seems the frameset and wide wheels are working some magic too.
It’s a similar sensation to riding the latest Cervélo S5, which I tested with a similar build (and even wider tyres).
Compared to many aero road bikes, which typically transmit a lot of feedback through the saddle and bars, the Strada ICR feels noticeably faster and more composed on the broken back roads I traverse frequently in testing.
It never felt quite as fast on flat, well-paved roads as the pricier S5 (£9,599), or as sprightly on steep climbs as the Giant Propel Advanced Pro 0 AXS (£6,399).
However, you can push very hard on fast descents on the Strada ICR, with the confidence road imperfections aren’t going to bounce you off course.
It’s also fair to acknowledge I tested the Strada ICR in January, when the conditions (and my fitness) were comparatively poor.
|Seat angle (degrees)||72.5||72.5||72.5||72.5||72.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||69.5||71||72.7||73.2||73.2|
|Rear center (mm)||405||405||405||405||405|
|Seat tube (mm)||487||500||506||518||533|
|Top tube (mm)||507||529||550||571||592|
|Head tube (mm)||119||119||143||172||202|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||71||69||69||69||69|
3T Strada ICR Force eTap AXS 2×12 finishing kit
The Strada ICR uses the 3T Apto Integrale stem (110mm on my size-56cm test bike).
The face plate is reverse-threaded for a tiny potential aero gain, but this makes accessing the bolts using a torque wrench with standard bits all but impossible.
Attached to that is a 3T Superergo LTD carbon handlebar. It performs admirably, but the 42cm width feels too wide on a modern aero bike.
Oddly, 3T hasn’t specced its own aero road handlebar, the Aeroflux, which could have been a better fit.
As well as having more aerodynamic tops, the Aeroflux has narrower hoods and flared drops. This means it could solve the width issue too, while still offering a wider hand position on the drops for sprinting and descending.
You could swap in the Aeroflux handlebar post-purchase, of course. But at €375, it’s not a cheap upgrade.
The D-shaped carbon seatpost is also from 3T, and does an admirable job.
The saddle is Fizik’s well-regarded Tempo Argo. I found it to be generally comfortable, although perhaps a little wide for my rear-end. Choosing a bike saddle is highly personal, though, and it’s easy to swap out if required.
3T Strada ICR Force eTap AXS 2×12 groupset, wheels and tyres
Though a few years old, it’s still a fine performer. Shifting is a little slower than with the latest Shimano Di2 groupsets, but is nevertheless reliable and accurate.
3T specs a 46/33-tooth chainset with a 10-36 tooth cassette. The wide-ranging cassette is great, and the jumps between each cog are well spaced.
The chainrings feel too small for a bike designed for racing and fast group riding, though.
SRAM’s 48/35-tooth chainset would have been a better choice, because it gives a top gear slightly larger than a 52x11t, while still offering a very easy bottom gear for climbing (when combined with the same 10-36t cassette).
Braking is good, with plenty of power and modulation. The SRAM CenterLine rotors (160mm front and rear) howled like a pack of wolves when wet or mucky, though, which isn’t ideal if you’re sharing the road with horses, pedestrians or other cyclists.
Though stock builds are specced with Fulcrum Rapid Red 900 alloy wheels, my test bike came with 3T’s Discus 45 | 32 LTD carbon wheels.
Externally, these rims measure 45mm deep and 32mm wide. Internally, they’re 25mm wide, which balloons the included 700 x 25c Pirelli P Zero Velo clincher tyres out to nearly 29.5mm.
In short, it’s an excellent wheelset, which brings a responsive ride quality and a pleasing sensation of aerodynamic efficiency.
The rims certainly get the most out of the nominally narrow tyres, too, offering excellent comfort and grip.
All that’s to be expected, though, given the 3T Discus 45 | 32 LTD wheelset (£1,799) costs nine times what the basic Fulcrum wheelset does (£199.99).
This brings the total price of this Strada ICR to £7,398, meaning there’s a significant premium over rivals such as the Giant Propel Advanced Pro 0 AXS (£6,399) or Aeroad CF SLX 8 Disc eTap (£5,999). Both of those bikes also include a power meter.
The tyres seem an odd choice, given the P Zero Velo has been discontinued. However, 3T said these were included due to limited availability of the stock Pirelli P Zero Race tyres, which come on bikes sold to riders.
3T Strada ICR Force eTap AXS 2×12 bottom line
While the original 3T Strada stood well outside the aero road bike category in 2017, things have moved on considerably in the intervening years.
While it once felt radical, the Strada ICR’s signature blend of aerodynamic efficiency and comfort has since been adopted by many of its mainstream rivals.
3T can be credited with moving the needle, though, and will likely feel a degree of vindication for doing so.
The Strada ICR undoubtedly offers excellent ride quality, confident handling and a take on front-end integration that still enables a good degree of personalisation.
Some of the spec choices miss the mark slightly, though, and it’s fairly expensive if you opt for the upgraded wheelset.
Aero Road Bike of the Year 2023 | How we tested
If you’re trying to ride faster, then aerodynamic drag is usually your biggest problem.
Previously, though, picking a dedicated aero road bike meant compromising on things such as comfort and practicality. Fortunately, such issues are (largely) problems of the past.
Today’s aero bikes are fast on the flats and no slouches up hills either. Most now include clearance for wide tyres and the best have front ends that don’t require a degree in mechanical engineering to work on.
With that in mind, we put the contenders to the test on the twisty, technical and rolling hills of south Bristol.
As with all road bikes, we considered how easy each bike is to live with, and how easily the stock setup can be adjusted to suit your personal needs and riding style.
Many of the bikes featured in this year’s Aero Road Bike of the Year test are at the upper end of the pricing scale, with premium groupsets and parts showcasing the best contemporary equipment. However, most are also available in cheaper specs if your budget doesn’t stretch as far.
Our Aero Road Bike of the Year contenders
- 3T Strada ICR Force eTap AXS
- Giant Propel Advanced Pro 0 AXS
- Ribble Ultra SL R Enthusiast
- Trek Madone SLR 7
|Available sizes||XXS, 51, 54, 56, 58|
|Bottom bracket||Token thread-fit, BB386EVO|
|Brakes||SRAM Force AXS hydraulic disc with SRAM CenterLine rotors|
|Cassette||SRAM Force AXS, 10-36T|
|Chain||SRAM Force AXS|
|Cranks||SRAM Force eTap AXS|
|Fork||3T Fundi Integrale|
|Frame||3T Strada ICR 2x|
|Front derailleur||SRAM Force eTap AXS|
|Handlebar||3T Superergo LTD carbon|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM Force eTap AXS|
|Saddle||Fizik Argo Vento R5|
|Shifter||SRAM Force eTap AXS|
|Stem||3T Apto Integrale Stealth|
|Tyres||Pirelli P Zero Velo, 700 x 25c|
|Wheels||Discus 45 | 32 LTD|