3T Strada first ride review

The future of road bikes is super weird, but fun

The 3T Strada is a full-on aero bike that takes unusually fat tyres, stops using discs, and works only with 1x drivetrains. Our man Russell Eich gave it the once-over at Bike PressCamp 2017, and now I’ve taken it for a ride at the Eurobike Media Days and done some childish skids on it.

3T Strada spec as tested

  • Frame: 3T Strada full carbon, 142x12mm rear, BB386EVO, 970g +/- 3% claimed weight (M)
  • Fork: 3T Fundi full carbon, 100x12mm thru-axle
  • Levers: SRAM Force 1 HRD
  • Brakes: SRAM Force HRD hydraulic disc
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM Force 1
  • Cranks: SRAM Force, 44t X-Sync chainring
  • Cassette: Shimano 11-40t
  • Chain: SRAM PC1130
  • Wheels: 3T Discus C60 Ltd
  • Tyres: Continental GP4000S II 28mm
  • Stem: 3T Arx II Team stealth 80mm
  • Bar: 3T Aeronova Ltd Stealth
  • Saddle: Fizik Antares VSX
  • Seatpost: 3T Charlie Sqaero Strada (frame-specific)

3T Strada — the future of road bikes or just a weird niche?

Is the 3T Strada the future of road bikes?
Is the 3T Strada the future of road bikes?

Does the whole concept of the Strada sound slightly silly? The good people at 3T think this is what the future looks like, and they could well be right.

There’s been a clear trend towards fatter tyres on road bikes, while disc brakes and aero features are all the rage too.

The likes of SRAM have been pushing 1x drivetrains for the road too, but this is perhaps a more controversial design choice.

1x has all but taken over on the trails, but the advantages don’t seem quite so clear cut on the road, where striking the right balance between gear spacing and total gear range can be a struggle.

3T has a cassette of its own in the works that will go some ways to addressing this, but prototypes have yet to put in a public appearance.

The idea is that the first five cogs will be spaced at one-tooth increments, while the remaining six will take care of the low range needed for climbing.

3T Strada first ride impressions

I got to test the Strada on some varied terrain in northern Italy
I got to test the Strada on some varied terrain in northern Italy

I took a Strada, kitted out with SRAM Force 1 and some choice 3T components, on a short road loop with a good mix of terrain including a few hills and some rapid, if not very technical descending. I also rode a tiny bit of gravel, just because I could.

Despite its wacky spec, the Strada is basically a race bike in spirit, and this is reflected in a ride that’s purposeful and lively, and a position that's fairly aggressive.

While confident disc braking offered no surprises, the 1x gearing proved more effective than I’d anticipated

My medium test bike had a reach and stack of 381mm and 536mm respectively, although a super short 80mm stem meant I kept banging my knees on the bars when I was out of the saddle. That'll teach me to pay more attention when I'm collecting a demo bike...

I got on fine with the 3T Aeronova bars incidentally, but my colleague Russell found them slippery and un-ergonomic, so they're clearly not for everyone.

The Strada's frame is properly stiff under acceleration, and the bike feels taut and precise on the road.The Discus C60 Ltd wheels are deeper at 58mm than I’d normally choose to ride at my weight and the front did catch a bit of wind, but it wasn’t unduly alarming.

The bike is also impressively smooth. It’s certainly down to that fat rubber in part and the comfy Fizik saddle helped too, but my initial impression is that vibration is really well damped, suggesting that those skinny, super-dropped seatstays are more than mere gimmick. 

The Strada didn’t feel unpleasant on the little bit of forestry trail I took it along, and on tarmac it was positively delightful.

Although it's not really a gravel bike, the Strada's smooth ride means it doesn't feel too out of place on fire road
Although it's not really a gravel bike, the Strada's smooth ride means it doesn't feel too out of place on fire road

While confident disc braking offered no surprises, the 1x gearing proved more effective than I’d anticipated.

With the big 11-40 cassette and a 44t chainring, the total range is comparable to that of a normal compact road setup, but shifted slighted lower for easier climbing. (For gear inch nerds, it offers 29.4 to 107in of range according to the trusty Sheldon Brown calculator.)

With an 11-40 cassette, there's loads of range, but the gears aren't all that closely spaced
With an 11-40 cassette, there's loads of range, but the gears aren't all that closely spaced

That’s low enough for seated climbing on fairly serious gradients, and only lacking in top end for really high-speed downhills.

For the relaxed riding I was doing, I didn’t feel I was missing gears, but I suspect I’d feel differently for fast group riding on the flat, where riding at a slightly sub-optimal cadence would be more punishing.  

3T Strada early verdict

I can’t say if the Strada really is the future of road cycling, but it’s certainly a capable, fun bike.

It’s definitely more of an everyday aero machine than a gravel bike. The clearances with a fat 28mm tyre are bordering on the comical, and a bit of wet grit is all it would take to strip the paint off the back of the seat tube and the underside of the fork crown.

Have you hugged your tyre lately? Clearances with a fat 28mm tyre are tight
Have you hugged your tyre lately? Clearances with a fat 28mm tyre are tight

If it’s full-on fat-tyred antics you’re after, the Exploro is going to be a better choice, but for general road riding on less-than-perfect surfaces, the Strada makes a lot of sense.

I remain skeptical about 1x for the road. It has a minimalist aero appeal and it’s certainly beginner-friendly having just one shifter to worry about, but modern front derailleurs are so good that personally I’d still rather have both closely-spaced gears and wide range, rather than just one or the other.

Shifting rings up front can be disruptive when you’re riding technical trails on a mountain bike, but it’s just not that great a hindrance on tarmac.

Leaving aside drivetrain considerations, the price will be the main sticking point for most riders. There's no getting past the fact that the Strada is fearsomely expensive. It's a pretty unique machine however, and if you've got the cash and the concept appeals, we doubt you'll be disappointed. 

3T Strada pricing and availability

The Strada will be sold as a frameset only, costing $3,800 / €3,800. Pricing in other territories is still to be confirmed, and the bike will be available from August 2017. 

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 174cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 53kg / 117lb
  • Waist: 71cm / 28in
  • Chest: 84cm / 33in
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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