There’s a lot going on with the 3T Strada aero bike, but the standout feature has got to be the lack of front mech. The bike is specced with SRAM’s Force 1x drive chain, with 11 gears on the back.
3T says that the bottom bracket is the area with the most drag, and by introducing only the single ring, it eliminates the second ring and the front derailleur, “creating space for unobstructed airflow”.
We’ve floated the idea of a one-by future before now, and 3T has clearly had similar thoughts.
One-by systems are more aerodynamic and can weigh less, too. Of course, fans of the classic double ring will point out the issues of chain line and the increased chance of dropping it.
Thankfully, SRAM’s clutch rear mech, a technology borrowed from its mountain bike side, does a good job of keeping the chain in place. Meanwhile, the 44/36 configuration we rode never looked to have an overly jaunty chain line.
“Real world aerodynamics”
As with nearly all aspects of its aero bike, 3T has disregarded conventional industry wisdom when designing the tube shapes of its new bike.
Supposedly, it designed it with “real world aerodynamics” in mind. By that it means airflow doesn’t move straight across tubing, instead it arcs over it, hence the arced tubing.
The Sqaero Airfoil sections arc in the seat tube and the head tube to cover the rear wheel and front wheel and help reduce turbulence and drag, while still respecting the UCI’s rules.
The clearance really is minute, there’s only a hair’s breadth between the top of the tyre and the bottom of the down tube. It’s a similar story at the curve in the seat tube, with the 28mm tyre sitting snug right next to the frame.
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According to 3T, the clearance, or lack of it, is only possible thanks to the disc brakes. Because of this, it has made the bike disc brake specific, meaning you’ll not be able to run any mechanical caliper brakes.
These disc brakes are direct mount, and integrated into the fork at the front, just to make as many aero gains as possible.
28mm tyres as standard
At its base, though, 3T say this bike is designed around comfort. In the design process, the constant was the 28mm tyres, and the frame was designed around those, and it shows.
Despite the some still suggesting that 23mm tyres are more aerodynamic than their larger siblings, 3T say that because the frame was designed around the larger tyres, they’re able to make it just as aerodynamic. We haven’t seen any wind tunnel testing, so can’t attest to this ourselves.
What we can attest to, though, is the comfort. In the short ride we had on the bike, the big rubber did a great job of ironing out the road, while the frame had a nice level of compliance.