The 2018 release of the 3T Strada pushed the envelope on aero bike design norms. At a time where rim brakes were still the stopper of choice on the Pro Tour and 25c tires were considered a “comfort tire,” the Strada rode onto the scene designed specifically for disc brakes and 28c tires. To see a company best known for handlebars and stems suddenly release a high-performance road bike caught many off-guard, but it didn’t take long for people to catch on to how great a machine this is.
One look at the Strada and it is clear that aerodynamics are the main design focus. It is less surprising when one considers that Gerard Vroomen was the lead designer. Vroomen is perhaps best-known as the co-founder of Cervelo, the first company to introduce aero road bikes to the pro peloton. After leaving Cervelo, Vroomen teamed up with 3T to design the Strada, a demonstration of where the cycling industry would be in five years’ time with race road bikes.
The Strada is a Vroomen-designed bike (says so on the chainstays!) so aerodynamic features are a given. What’s unique about the Strada is that it is aerodynamically optimized with 30 mm wide tires in mind. Even just a few years back, most felt that 23 mm wide tires were the race option; anything more than 25 mm-wide would be sluggish and heavy. Vroomen and 3T disagreed and disagreed strongly. They saw more and more riders transitioning to wider tires for comfort and the ability to ride dirt roads while lowering rolling resistance with wider tires at lower pressures.
Space for a 30 mm-wide tire does not make this bike worthy of Crusher in the Tushar or light singletrack ripper; that is squarely Exploro territory. The Strada is made for flying over asphalt and fly it does. Once you get rolling on the Strada, the bike comes alive and responds to every pedal stroke. The Strada constantly bites at the bit to go faster, beat the light, and catch that next cyclist. It is ready to explode forward at any moment and dive into whichever corner you even remotely glance at, so long as you’re moving with some speed.
The Strada is at it’s best going fast. The wonderfully steep 73.5-degree headtube angle (size MD) and short chainstays make for a very short front center measurement. There are some tradeoffs to this; there is noticeable toe overlap which you will feel while at stoplights, rolling in a parking lot, and even sometimes on tight hairpins. The front center measurement is so short that I once burnt the inner sides of my knees on the tire at times descending on the top tube (not that we condone such sort of riding.)
Even with those small quirks, the Strada is amazing at speed. The Strada rides as if it’s on rails, locked into every corner and ready to explode towards the next one. Flying into a long canyon curve or a tight S-curve combo in a crit at speed, the bike never hesitates and even gives a feeling of excitement while rocketing through tight bends.
Now all of this speed and agility is wonderful, but none of that will do you any good if your bones are rattling for hours after a ride. This is where the Strada’s hyper thin seat stays and those wide tires mentioned earlier come in, as it makes for an extremely compliant for a race bike. The thin seat stays work in conjunction with the 30 mm tires to absorb and deflect road vibration better than any older narrow tire could. The Strada has a wonderfully supple ride as you motor along at new PR levels of speed.
Most aero bikes tend to be designated to flat land and rolling hills territories. The Strada, however, is more than happy to explore long canyon climbs and travel farther vertically than horizontally. The stiff bottom bracket wastes none of the energy you push into it, giving you the sensation of jumping up the climbs with every push from your legs. It’s not the lightest race machine out there, but it’s aero properties make up for any excess weight even on steep inclines.
The lower drag coefficient of this bike makes it an amazing option for rides such as Emigration Canyon where aerodynamics will play a bigger role than weight. As for longer and steeper climbs like a Cottonwood Canyon? I doubt that the low excess weight in the Strada’s frame is enough to be the sole thing holding you back from getting that K/QOM.
A few things to note with the Strada Due after six months of ownership:
- The seat post clamp can be a pain to get free to adjust the saddle height, and you will have to tighten it periodically.
- The saddle rail clamp is could be better designed. It may be ok once set up, but even a slight adjustment might mean you need to fully disassemble it. (The Exploro seat rail clamp was similar but recently got overhauled. Fingers crossed that 3T will do the same for the Strada as the new Exploro one is much improved.)
- The minimal space between the tires and the frame may lead to rubbing. I’ve seen other reviewers have this problem but haven’t encountered it yet. Plan on adding some frame protectors in key areas.
The Strada was originally designed as a 1x-only platform, but the bike in photos is the more conventional 2x-drivetrain Due. Strada Due comes in three stock builds and two framesets. It is an electronic-only groupset frame which may disappoint some. There is a Force AXS build, an Ultegra Di2 build, and a Red AXS build option; the latter two coming with Discus 45|32 LTD carbon wheels and the Force build with alloy wheels. Personally, I feel that some deeper section wheels fit this frame better not only visually but performance-wise as well.
You may have noticed that the build in the photos is not a stock build. It is a custom build built by yours truly, though it stays fairly close to the stock Force AXS build.
Frame: 3T Strada Due Team
Fork: 3T Fundi Team
Handlebar: Zipp SL-70 Aero
Stem: Zipp Service Course
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force AXS eTap
Front Derailleur: SRAM Force AXS eTap
Brakes: SRAM Force AXS Hydraulic
Crankset: SRAM Force AXS 48/35t, 172.5
Cassette: SRAM Force AXS 12-speed, 10-28t
Wheelset: HollowGram KNOT 64
Tires: Schwalbe Pro One, labeled 25mm, measure 28mm
Saddle: Syncros Belcarra V 2.0 (subject to change over time)
Pedals: TIME Xpresso 7
When it comes down to it, the Strada is an amazing bike. A beautiful blend of pure speed and supple comfort. A bike that will entice you to go faster and faster regardless of your surroundings. One with telepathic handling, already diving into the next corner as you exit the current. A bike with wonderful aerodynamics that is never flustered by the wind or incline.
Is it a bike for everyone? Definitely not. The Strada Due is a pure race bike and it won’t be tricked into doing anything else. The sharp handling demands the rider’s focus and will not let you get away with lazy cruising. If you want something that’s more relaxed, or if you’re not the type who worries over your average speed and K/QOMs, then perhaps the Strada is not the bike for you. But if you find delight in speed, fast rides, rubbing elbows with friends, cheating the wind, beating the clock, and getting to the cafe first. Then you would be very hard-pressed to find something that will beat the Strada Due, the Ultimate Sleeper.
Photos by Cody Wignall.