We're proud to announce that 3T have joined the Bespoke Cycling family, makers of the innovative and groundbreaking Exploro aero gravel race bike radical Strada disc-equipped aero bike with no front mech ...
We're really pleased to be able to announce that 3T's stunning Exploro and Strada bikes will now be available through Bespoke Cycling. The Italian company has a long history of making the finest lightweight racing components like handlebars, stems and seatposts, but in recent years it has turned its attention to bikes with spectacular results.
Related reading: Learn more about gravel and adventure riding in our feature guide
The Exploro kicked it all of. A bike like nothing we've ever seen before. The gravel scene is well-established over in the US, where cyclists regular take to dirt and gravel roads to steer clear of busy roads, and long-distance races have sprung up all over the country. This enthusiasm for off-road capable road bikes has spread to Europe and we're seeing a lot more interest from people wanting a bike that can tackle a lot more than just roads.
The man responsible for the Exploro was Gerard Vroomen, the founder of Cervelo and more recently Open, with the UP one of the first dedicated gravel bikes with a few neat tricks up its sleeves, such as compatibility with 650b wheels and mountain bike tyres.
To create the Exploro, Vroomen has brought his aerodynamic understanding to a gravel bike, this is a bike intended to be ridden fast and raced hard over mixed and varied surfaces. There's clearance for 2.1" mountain bike tyres as well as 40mm tyres on 700c wheels, disc brakes, internal cable routing and a dropped chainstay to increase clearance.
- Read Barry's first ride on the Exploro here
It's the first time we've seen aero fused with off-road capability. The Exploro has aerodynamic tube profiles that have been designed to be optimal at a realistic 20mph, not the 30mph+ that is often used for testing aero road bikes. The fat 50mm wide downtube is intended to work better with the 40mm tyres the bike is designed for and also to reduce drag around two water bottles.
"A muddy Exploro with 40mm knobby gravel tires and 2 water bottles is faster than the equivalent clean round tube bike is with 28mm slick road tires and without bottles," says the company.
The Exploro had quite an impact when it launched, and clearly set out 3T's intention to bring something new to the market. But it's the more recent Strada that has really taken the industry by surprise.
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.
The Strada is a road bike that has been designed around 28mm tyres and disc brakes, so far so normal, but it has a fully aero frame with minimal clearances to reduce drag, and there's no front mech. It's fully designed to work solely with single ring drivetrains, the kind made popular by SRAM in the mountain bike, cyclocross and gravel market in recent years.
To find out a little more about the new bike, we caught up with Gerard Vroomen recently.
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 no 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.
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."
The bike is designed around wider 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.
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