With its stripped back 1x11 gearing, sleek wheel-hugging aero frame and disc brakes, the 3T Strada is one of the most radical new bikes of the past 12 months.
Some might confuse it for a concept bike, merely thrown together by a designer giving a free rein to create a showstopper bike to go on display.
But the 3T Strada is a visionary design that has shed the conservative shackles of traditional road bike design with an eye firmly on the future. And it's a full production bike; you can buy this bike right now and from Bespoke Cycling.
The Strada definitely put the cat among the pigeons when it launched. It's designed solely around four key aspects: aerodynamics, 28mm tyres, disc brakes and a 1x11 drivetrain.
This is an exercise of removing limitations and bringing together some of the current trends that are slowly transforming road bicycle design. It won't be for everyone, it might not even the future, but there's a lot to admire in its radical, groundbreaking and out of the box thinking.
We managed to catch up with its designed, Gerard Vroomen (of Cervelo and Open fame) and asked him about going 1x and removing limitations from current road bike design.
What's the real key benefit of a 1x drivetrain?
The aerodynamics, the ease of setting up the bike, the cost of componentry, but okay that's not so evident in our first attempt at it, but I think really at the lower end that's where the real advantage comes in. Your bike just gets 10% cheaper, so that's a big advantage. Also, the biggest fear for people getting into cycling is the shifting, and the industry has done a terrible job of it. It's ridiculous right. The left is different from the right, they work in opposite ways. And so this takes that fear out of it. And if it looks better. That's where the real advantage comes.
What would you say to traditional roadies that are reluctant to embrace 1x? Is 1x really the future?
Traditional road cyclists get cut by disc brakes that weren't even the road, you know. I guess in a way that's how it's always been. Name me one innovation that traditional roadies complained about and that then didn't become mainstream? Deep section wheels. When we (3T) started sponsoring CSC in 2003 Zipp were the first ones to really have a deep section wheel, and in 2013 there were still pros riding box section alloy wheels, but after 10 years finally, everyone got it. The same with aero frames, that took even longer. But now every brand expect Cannondale has them. And Cannondale is not exactly a traditional brand either.
It's not like I think rim brakes don't have a place in this world and that everything has to have disc brakes, I just think if you're a bike designer you should make a decision on what you think your customer needs and stick with that, not me. "Oh this frame comes with rim and disc brake versions and therefore everything's a compromise!" So I think for disc brakes and for 1x, in five years, even the traditionalists will laugh at how anti they were, this year.
Wide tyres, are they key to the Strada? It's designed strictly for 28mm tyres?
The most important part of the bike is the tyre, the bike is designed around 28mm tyres. Tyres are getting wider and wider, wider tyres are a good thing for comfort so they are here to stay. So everything is designed around the tyre. The gaps are tight but they are designed around this tyre. You see these tight clearances on a time trial bike, and it helps to keep the airflow attached from the front wheel to the frame to the rear wheel.
Are there other limitations in bike design that you're currently working on removing?
All the time. That's what this (points at 3T Strada) right. We looked at about a dozen things and picked the three that we really wanted to target, and there are still nine left. But you know, the other nine weren't that interesting. But yeah we are always looking at that, that's what design is. As a famous designer once said: "design is not finished when there's nothing left to add, but when there's nothing left to take away."
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